SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/7/22)


BANKROLL: $952.95

I’m making an executive decision here. I’m typing my content for Sunday on Friday night out here in California before going back to packing boxes ahead of a move. Between Saturday’s bankroll blurb being a late Pick Four play on a loaded card and the uncertainties moving brings, I’m hammering this out now so I don’t leave my long-suffering editor on the hook on deadline.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: The post-deadline update, unfortunately, isn’t a positive one. Matareya losing as an odds-on favorite knocked out a bunch of Pick Four tickets, mine included. After scratches, I dropped $30.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ve got two tickets I’ll punch in hopes of finishing out the week with a bang. I’ll start $5 doubles in the fifth with #1 JUST AN ANGEL and #5 TRIBAL QUEEN, ones that finish with #9 DELIGHT as a single in the sixth. Additionally, in the eighth, I’ll play a $5 win ticket on #8 PORTILLA, and use that one in $3 exactas above and below #4 EMPIRE HOPE and #5 COLORFUL MISCHIEF.



Best Bet: Goodnight Olive, Race 3
Longshot: Portilla, Race 8


Talkin Pharoah
Certified Loverboy

#8 TALKIN PHAROAH: Ran very well in his debut, where he finished a stubborn second at Keeneland after dueling through solid fractions. Being by American Pharoah, he should love the turf, and the July 19th bullet drill in Kentucky jumps off the page; #7 CERTIFIED LOVERBOY: Flashed brief speed in his unveiling at Belmont Park and is another going dirt-to-turf for his second lifetime start. He’s by Mendelssohn, out of a Malibu Moon mare, and has every right to relish the lawn; #3 CHIRINGO: Hammered for $260,000 earlier this year and has been training forwardly for George Weaver, whose barn has started to heat up this week. Javier Castellano has been making the most of his mounts this season, so seeing him aboard this one is encouraging.


Critical Threat
Blue Jays
Majestic Tiger

#1 CRITICAL THREAT: Was claimed for double today’s tag last time out, but that doesn’t concern me given the aggressive nature of these connections (especially when it comes to this meet). He has several one-mile races on his sheet from earlier this year at Gulfstream that are very good, and repeats of those races would make him tough; #3 BLUE JAYS: Takes a similar drop for the same barn, one that looks to have the rest of this field over a barrel. He hasn’t won in quite a while, but he attracts Luis Saez and could appreciate the shallower waters; #5 MAJESTIC TIGER: Came from well back to be beaten just a neck going seven furlongs here earlier this summer. He’s run well at a mile in the past, and he’d benefit from several of these challenging one another out of the Wilson chute.


Goodnight Olive
Liberty M D
Dr B

#2 GOODNIGHT OLIVE: Has won three races in a row and has not been tested at all during that stretch. She did sit a perfect trip last time out, but she’s also pretty flexible and doesn’t need an easy lead in order to run well. If she moves forward second off the bench, I think she’ll crush this field; #5 LIBERTY M D: Has a record that looks far better if you toss her clunker in last year’s Grade 3 Shuvee going a two-turn route she clearly didn’t like. She rallied to win last time out in a race that fell apart late, and this is another spot that seems heavy on early zip; #4 DR B: Has a ton of back class and ships up from Parx for a barn that’s proven dangerous when it shows up. She makes her third start off the bench here, and she exits a fourth-place finish in a stakes race at Monmouth Park.


Naughty Gal
Promise of Hope
Sabra Tuff

#2 NAUGHTY GAL: Broke her maiden in runaway fashion and seems well-meant heading into the Grade 3 Adirondack. That day’s runner-up has since come back to win, and two of the top three finishers in her June debut also graduated next time out; #3 PROMISE OF HOPE: Won first time out in professional fashion and has been working well here for Tom Amoss, whose barn is due to get going. She’s bred to get better with experience and distance, and I’m expecting her to fire here; #4 SABRA TUFF: Went wire-to-wire in her debut before breaking last in a stakes race at Churchill. Despite the wildly-different setup, she rallied to finish a decent second that day, so there may be plenty of untapped potential here.


Just an Angel
Tribal Queen
Peace Cruiser

#1 JUST AN ANGEL: Did very little wrong in her debut, where she dueled through legitimate fractions before settling for second. That day’s third-place finisher won the race declared a no-contest a few weeks ago, and Steve Asmussen trainees tend to move forward considerably with experience; #5 TRIBAL QUEEN: Finished second in her debut as the 7/5 favorite, but I’m willing to give her another shot. Her last two workouts are exceptional, Javier Castellano rides back for Tony Dutrow, and that experience should help given this quirky seven-furlong route; #8 PEACE CRUISER: Sports a pretty flashy work tab for connections that don’t often rush horses along. She sold for $180,000 this past May, and while seven furlongs is a tough trip for first-time starters, it’s possible she’s ready to navigate it.


Pink Hue

#9 DELIGHT: Was all but eliminated at the start of her debut, but she stayed interested enough to salvage third money. Her pedigree says stretching out to two turns won’t be an issue, and if she gets clear sailing this time around, I’m expecting a big performance; #3 GIFTED: Has every right to be a strong runner for an ownership group that’s excelled with homebreds. She’s by Tapit, out of a mare that was Grade 1-placed at two, and has a female family that includes champion Dreaming of Anna, the dam of sire Fast Anna (among others). Bill Mott’s numbers with firsters are just so-so, but ignore this one at your own peril; #4 PINK HUE: Figures to take money in her debut for Chad Brown, and for good reason. She’s a three-quarters sister to Group 1-placed turf sprinter Man of Promise, and her dam is kin to a pair of stakes winners as well.


With The Moonlight

#2 MCKULICK: Has never run a poor race and put forth a career-best effort to win the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks last month. She did so rating behind a moderate early pace, and given that this barn has half the six-horse field in this Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks, I’m expecting one of her barn buddies to go early; #3 WITH THE MOONLIGHT: Shipped across the Atlantic and ran second to McKulick that day. William Buick sticks around for the mount, and he piloted her to a very impressive score in her 3-year-old debut this past spring at Newmarket; #4 WALKATHON: Comes in on a three-race win streak and bested my top pick in the Grade 3 Regret. That was a quirky turf course that Churchill Downs has since stopped running on, but there’s no denying the progress she’s made since being switched to the grass by Ian Wilkes earlier this year.


Colorful Mischief
Empire Hope

#8 PORTILLA: Ran a big race in her 4-year-old debut, when she battled through the stretch to just miss at Churchill. That day’s third-place finisher came right back to win at Horseshoe Indiana, and I think this one figured some things out in her time away from the races. A move forward gives her a big chance at a nice price; #5 COLORFUL MISCHIEF: Tried winners and two turns for the first time a few weeks ago and settled for third money. She cuts back to one turn and won at this distance two back over an impressive next-out winner; #4 EMPIRE HOPE: Won at first asking for Chad Brown and steps up in class. Second-out improvement is never out of the question with this barn, but her lone race to date didn’t come back with the best speed figures. I think she’ll need to move forward considerably, and that I’ll need more value than I’m likely to get.


Plum Ali
Love And Thunder

#4 PLUM ALI: Chased some very nice fillies last time out when fourth in the Grade 2 Nassau at Woodbine, which boasts a one-turn mile. This horse’s best recent efforts have come around two-turn configurations, including a score in a similar-level stakes race at Aqueduct in April; #1 LOVE AND THUNDER: Runs the same race every time out, it seems, and it wouldn’t be stunning if her usual effort got her the money here. However, her running lines indicate she regularly finds trouble, and the rail draw on the inner turf course isn’t kind to horses like this. Still, if I’m asked to take a short price, I prefer this one to…; #5 JOUSTER: …who did run well to win the Perfect Sting but did so with a picture-perfect trip. Prior to that effort, she hadn’t won in more than a year. It’s possible she’s moved forward, but I just can’t stomach the short price she’ll likely be come post time.


Digital Software

#1 DIGITAL SOFTWARE: Comes back off a long layoff and is protected from being claimed, which is one of my favorite angles in racing. It hints at some confidence from the barn, and this one has run well here in the past. He’s clearly had his issues, but if Chad Brown’s got him going the right way, the 4-1 morning line could be an overlay; #10 MERCI: Takes a big drop in class and keeps Joel Rosario, which are both noteworthy ahead of the Sunday finale. He fits on figures, but Christophe Clement has won with just one of his last 10 “allowance to claiming” droppers on this circuit since July of 2020; #13 SKYLANDER: Needs a scratch to draw in off the also-eligible list but deserves a long look if he does. He’s never run for a tag before, and his last-out effort was a dirt allowance race won by graded stakes winner Keepmeinmind. This is a far, far softer spot, and he’s a contender if he’s allowed to run.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/8/21)


BANKROLL: $1,178.90

The next few days will feature the return of sales to Saratoga Springs, and with that has come the return of some of my favorite people in racing. After last summer featured no fans in the stands, it’s fun to be able to use this space for shout-outs like this again, so I’m going to enjoy it.

Joe, get cups of Big Red Spring water for everyone. Natalie, make sure Joe drinks all of them or gets them thrown in his face. Nicole, stop levitating as a result of being back in Saratoga. Penelope, take pictures of the responses to this (especially Joe’s).

Most importantly, though, I hope you’re all enjoying being back in town. Don’t work too hard!

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Bolshoi Ballet was up far closer to the pace than I thought he’d be in the Saratoga Derby Invitational. When he got swallowed up at the top of the stretch, my Pick Five and doubles tickets turned into confetti. I dropped $34.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on a pair of competitive 2-year-old races. #7 FABULOUS FANNY is working like a runner ahead of her debut in the sixth, and #8 MAINSTAY impressed me in the Grade 3 Schuylerville and should run a better race in the eighth (the Grade 2 Adirondack). I’ll have $10 win tickets on each runner, and I’ll play a $2 Pick Three starting in the sixth that singles both of those horses and uses #3 VIADERA and #7 REGAL GLORY in the seventh (the De La Rose).



Best Bet: Mainstay, Race 8
Longshot: Dream Lith, Race 6


Spun d’Etat
Shaker Shack
Chloe Rose

#5 SPUN D’ETAT: Takes a big drop into straight claiming races after spending most of her career going against optional claiming foes. There seems to be plenty of early speed signed on, and that could set things up for this one to come pick up the pieces late; #2 SHAKER SHACK: Hasn’t run a bad race in five starts this season and even won a $200,000 stakes race for New York-bred runners two starts ago. She’s a nice horse, but her accomplishments beg the question, why are her connections willing to lose her for $32,000?; #4 CHLOE ROSE: Thumped a weaker group earlier in the meet and was claimed by one of the hottest barns on the grounds following that race. These waters are deeper, but she doesn’t have to improve much on speed figures to have a big shot here.


Brown entry
Penny Saver
Love to Run

BROWN ENTRY: I prefer #1A MCKULICK, who’s by the great Frankel and has a terrific bottom-side pedigree as well. She’s a half-sister to stakes winner Just Beautiful, and her dam is kin to a runner that won a Group 2 in Italy; #2 PENNY SAVER: Wasn’t disgraced in her debut, when she ran second behind next-out Schuylerville winner Pretty Birdie. Her dam was Grade 2-placed on turf, so there’s plenty of pedigree saying she’ll like the grass, and her recent workouts look very sharp; #3 LOVE TO RUN: Sold for $640,000 at auction earlier this year and is bred to be a very nice turf horse. Her dam threw stakes-placed turfer Thanks Mr. Eidson, and this is another first-time starter with some fast works on the tab.


No Payne
Kreesa La Wrote

#1 CAUMSETT: Gets a tepid nod in a turf sprint that hits me as pretty wide-open. She’s shown plenty of early zip, though, and this race seems fairly light on that elsewhere. I think she can make the lead from the rail and potentially get comfortable in a hurry; #6 NO PAYNE: Improved second off the bench when third in a turf sprint at Belmont. Joel Rosario sees fit to ride back for Ray Handal, and further progression would put her right there; #2 KREESA LA WROTE: Ran probably the best race of her career earlier in the meet, when she was second at this route of ground. She’s beaten several rivals that also show up in here, and while David Donk’s won just once at the meet, his charges have finished second five times as of this writing, so his horses are running just fine.


Easy to Bless
Harper’s in Charge
Off We Go

#6 EASY TO BLESS: Was a good second when beaten a neck by a class-dropping Brad Cox trainee last time, and she’s won five of nine career starts. How she’ll respond to a new barn is anyone’s guess, but the outside draw is a big plus and her best race would likely beat these; #3 HARPER’S IN CHARGE: Stopped to a walk in her first start since November, one where Test runner Bella Sofia cruised to a runaway victory. She may have needed that race off of such a long break, and if she’s back to the form she showed in her first-out score at Aqueduct, she’ll be a contender; #1 OFF WE GO: Was regarded highly enough by her connections to be entered in a pair of stakes races in the past. She was fifth of 14 in a race on the Breeders’ Cup undercard, and she’s been working well for Tom Amoss since shipping to Saratoga last month.


I’m Blaming You

#8 DISTRACTANDATTACK: Comes back to the turf after a pair of races rained off the grass and onto the main track. He was second in the most recent one a few weeks ago, his early speed makes him a wire-to-wire threat, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back; #5 BABAGRAM: Showed speed in his debut for a barn whose horses tend to need a race or two to get going. I’m expecting a step forward, especially since he showed enough to originally be purchased for $180,000 several years ago; #4 I’M BLAMING YOU: Didn’t show much when seventh at this route earlier this summer, but that was his first race since September and he drops in for a tag for the first time here. He may go favored, and I can see why, but his form and figures don’t tower over this group, and at his likely price, I can’t endorse him on top.


Fabulous Fanny
Popular Vote
Dream Lith

#7 FABULOUS FANNY: Hammered for $400,000 at auction and has been working like a very good horse for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen. First-call rider Ricardo Santana, Jr., will have the mount, and if she runs to her works two and three back, she could be a handful; #1 POPULAR VOTE: Raced greenly in her debut, when she checked multiple times and seemed to take a significant amount of dirt in her face. She should be sharper at second asking, and while the rail draw is a concern, she’ll have every chance if she takes a logical step forward; #8 DREAM LITH: Is very well-bred and comes in off a sharp gate drill for an astute trainer. Her second and third dams both won Grade 1 races, and I think she could conceivably wind up with a piece of this at a big price.


Regal Glory
Raven’s Cry

#3 VIADERA: Got very good last year when she won three stakes races in a row, including the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar. That run started with a win in the 2020 renewal of the De La Rose, and she’s worked very well ahead of her debut in this year’s event; #7 REGAL GLORY: Won two graded stakes races at the Spa two summers ago and was most recently fourth in the Grade 1 Just A Game. The top two finishers from that event came back to run 1-2 in the Grade 1 Diana, and this one’s best can absolutely win this; #5 RAVEN’S CRY: Seems like the best of the rest and has been very competitive at this level for most of the season. She won a listed stakes race at Sam Houston back in April and cuts back to a mile after running fourth going slightly longer at Indiana Grand.


Wicked Halo

#8 MAINSTAY: Ran an exceptional race in the Grade 3 Schuylerville, as she lost significant ground at the start. She still ran second and was more than five lengths clear of that race’s third-place finisher. If she gets a cleaner break in the Grade 2 Adirondack, look out; #2 ONTHEONESANDTWOS: Won her debut and then ran second in the Debutante at Churchill Downs, where she was beaten just a length and earned an 81 Beyer Speed Figure. That’s the highest last-out number of any runner in this field, and I like that she’s shown an ability to rate and pass others; #7 WICKED HALO: Set the early pace in the Debutante, and did so while going very, very fast. She went :44 and change for the first half-mile, and while this is a good group, she may not need to go quite so quick early on. If she gets comfortable, perhaps she’s classy enough to get the job done.


Creative Flair
Con Lima
Rocky Sky

#7 CREATIVE FLAIR: Ships across the Atlantic for an outfit that must be respected whenever it shows up stateside. This filly has not run a bad race this season, has shown an ability to get this distance, and seems to have enough tactical speed to make her own trip in the Saratoga Oaks; #5 CON LIMA: Has finished either first or second in all but one of her 12 career starts, and that effort came in a dirt race. She was a close-up second in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks last month, and Flavien Prat has been called in to ride for newly-enshrined Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher; #6 ROCKY SKY: Makes her first stateside start after being shipped to the Chad Brown barn by owner Peter Brant. She ran well last time out to take a minor stakes race in Ireland, and we’ve certainly seen this outfit enjoy great success with European invaders in the past.


Water’s Edge (MTO)
Chrome Dixie

#3 ALBIE: Exits a race that’s come back pretty well. The winner was narrowly beaten earlier this week, while the third-place finisher easily took an off-the-turf race. Danny Gargan’s enjoyed a very strong meet, and he’s got a live one in the Sunday finale; #10 CHROME DIXIE: Stretches out to two turns for the first time but is bred to want some distance. He’s by California Chrome, out of a Dixie Union mare, and comes out of a race where he was a good second going seven furlongs downstate; #5 SARATOGA FLASH: Has taken steps forward in each of his last two starts. He broke his maiden two back, then showed an improved late kick in his first start against winners. His lone two-turn effort to date at Gulfstream wasn’t bad, and regular rider Jose Ortiz should have plenty of options given this colt’s apparent versatility.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/4/19)


BANKROLL: $977.10

The early portion of Saturday’s card at Saratoga featured at least two 2-year-olds to keep an eye on moving forward. Second-time starter Our Country had some trouble in his debut but stepped up in a big way in the opener, pulling away with authority late. He covered the two-turn race’s last sixteenth of a mile in less than six seconds, which is no small feat for even an older horse, let alone a 2-year-old making his second career start.

Meanwhile, first-time starter Glory Road reminded everyone that, yes, Todd Pletcher still knows how to train 2-year-olds. The first-time starter came from out of the clouds to win at the seven-furlong distance, which is never an easy one for a debuting runner to navigate. His female family is strong (his second dam is a full sister to Grade 1 winner Finder’s Fee), and sire Commissioner was no slouch, either.

One of the most fun parts of each Saratoga meet is seeing promising 2-year-olds flash immense potential. It looks as though these two could have bright futures, and there are undoubtedly more exciting 2-year-olds coming up later in the meet.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: We scratched out of everything when World of Trouble didn’t run in the Troy.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on midday doubles that may extract some value out of my best bet of the day. That’s #4 SANTA MONICA, who is a single for me in the fifth (the Grade 3 Waya). She starts $10 doubles that end with #4 BLUE BELT, #9 SUMMER BOURBON, and #10 SUNDAE ON SUNDAY, all of whom figure to be solid prices in the sixth.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Santa Monica, Race 5
LONGSHOT: Blue Belt, Race 6


Pure Wow
Ill Will
Daphne Moon

#1 PURE WOW: Showed speed when third in her debut earlier in the meet. Joel Rosario hops aboard, and experience is often a huge advantage in 2-year-old races contested at seven furlongs; #6 ILL WILL: Showed late interest on the turf last time out and has worked well since that effort. This barn’s horses often improve with experience, making her dangerous at a price; #4 DAPHNE MOON: Fetched $525,000 at auction and has worked well leading up to her debut. This barn can win with first-time starters, but it’s tricky to back debuting runners at this distance.


Data Driven
Curious Cal

#2 DATA DRIVEN: Makes his first start off the claim for new trainer Danny Gargan, who’s enjoying a strong meet. This is a class drop for him, and he should be running well late (good luck, Dan Feiss!); #5 CURIOUS CAL: Has won two of three starts this year for Jorge Navarro and comes up from New Jersey. He’s won here before and is a threat to go wire-to-wire; #1 ORPHEUS: Hasn’t won in a while, but was a good second at this level earlier in the meet. He should be running well late at a bit of a price.


Gold for the King
Celtic Chaos
T Loves a Fight

#6 GOLD FOR THE KING: Returns to the state-bred ranks after tackling the likes of Catalina Cruiser downstate. He’s got enough speed to press the pace, which will be helpful given the rail draw; #2 CELTIC CHAOS: Likes Saratoga and has a history of doing his best running in the final quarter-mile. His last-out win was impressive, and the 100 Beyer Speed Figure represents a new career-high; #1 T LOVES A FIGHT: Has run well at Saratoga and enters this event on a three-race win streak. This is a sizable class jump, but it’s tough to argue with the connections taking a shot.


Sketches of Spain
Sparkling Sky
Livin At the Beach

#5 SKETCHES OF SPAIN: Is bred to be a strong turf horse and debuts here for powerhouse connections. Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides for Chad Brown, and she’ll be tough if she’s ready; #8 SPARKLING SKY: Fetched $650,000 last September and may be prepared to run a big one right away. She’s worked well over the Oklahoma turf course, which makes sense given that she’s a daughter of More Than Ready; #7 LIVIN AT THE BEACH: Ran third in her debut downstate and stretches out here. Improvement is logical at second asking, and she may be a bit of a price.


Santa Monica
Gentle Ruler
Fools Gold

#4 SANTA MONICA: Looms large in this spot after two straight graded stakes wins this spring. If you toss her Breeders’ Cup dud last fall, she hasn’t run a bad race since coming to North America; #6 GENTLE RULER: Has won four in a row at four different tracks, including a Grade 3 at Delaware Park last time out. There isn’t much speed signed on here, and she may inherit the lead by default; #2 FOOLS GOLD: Was second in a stakes race last time out at Belmont, which came in her first start beyond a mile and a sixteenth. Javier Castellano rides back, and she’s another that could be close to a slow early pace.


Summer Bourbon
Blue Belt
Sundae On Sunday

#9 SUMMER BOURBON: Was claimed back by Rudy Rodriguez and could sit a great trip behind a fast early pace. He’s shown a solid closing kick in several starts at this level, including a romp at Aqueduct back in March; #4 BLUE BELT: Seems like the main speed and hasn’t finished out of the money since November. If you’re playing vertical exotics, he seems like a must-use; #10 SUNDAE ON SUNDAY: Has won two in a row at Finger Lakes and ships in for an astute barn. It helps that he’s a closer, and that could make it easier for him to pick up a check.


Ruler of the Nile (MTO)
Final Frontier
Battle Station

#1 FINAL FRONTIER: Was a close-up third in a swiftly-run race in May that doubled as his first outing since November. He’s crossed the wire first over this turf course before and draws favorably here; #9 BATTLE STATION: Chased the classy Om last time out at Churchill and loves this route. He’s 2-for-2 at Saratoga, including a solid win in an allowance last summer; #2 PAGLIACCI: Rallied to take a starter allowance less than a week ago and is wheeled back quickly by Linda Rice. That’s usually a sign of confidence, although this field seems tougher than what he beat last time out.


Behind the Couch (MTO)
Chiclet’s Dream
Star of the East

#8 CHICLET’S DREAM: Returns to the scene of an impressive victory last summer and almost certainly needed her most recent outing at Belmont. She was running very well late that day, and this two-turn trip should be more preferable; #3 STAR OF THE EAST: Rallied to earn the diploma last time out and tries winners for the first time here. There’s some speed signed on, so another strong effort could very well be in the cards; #2 WAY SMART: Hasn’t run since December but is dangerous if she’s ready. Jose Ortiz gets on for a barn that’s quietly had a stellar season to date.


Henley’s Joy

#4 ROCKEMPEROR: Was closing very well when third in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby and nearly overcame a terrible post. He draws much more favorably here and has every right to turn the tables in the inaugural Saratoga Derby; #10 MOHAWK: Ships in for Aidan O’Brien after capturing a Group 3 event last time out. He’s repeatedly tried some of the best horses in Europe and even won a Group 2 at Newmarket last fall; #1 HENLEY’S JOY: Pulled off a 20-1 shocker in the Belmont Derby and won’t be anywhere near that price here. A repeat effort makes him a contender, but a bounce is logical given that his last-out effort was by far the best he’s ever run.


Magic Dance
Frank’s Rockette
Miss Peppina

#8 MAGIC DANCE: Pulled away to take the Debutante at Churchill last time out and draws favorably in this event. When Asmussen gets a horse good, they tend to stay good, and she’s done very little wrong; #2 FRANK’S ROCKETTE: Romped in her debut in June and jumps into the graded stakes ranks. She’s worked well here and certainly merits respect for Hall of Famer Bill Mott; #6 MISS PEPPINA: Rallied from way back to graduate at first asking last month at Belmont. 2-year-olds don’t often close in their debuts, and she ran like she’ll appreciate the added distance she gets in this spot.


Patagonia (MTO)

#10 DOSWELL: Has been a beaten favorite in both of his starts this year, but doesn’t seem to run up against a strong field for the level in the Sunday finale. He’s got a strong closing kick and figures to be the one to hold off late; #3 MALTHAEL: Came back running when second in a similar spot on Independence Day. His running lines are dotted with the names of stakes-caliber runners, and he’s got plenty of back class; #8 STANDUP: Hasn’t run since a failed shot in stakes company back in February. He’s been gelded since then and is a contender if he runs back to his debut effort.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/11/18


BANKROLL: $622.50

Today’s big event on track is the Grade 1 Fourstardave, but it could very well be overshadowed by an annual event taking place at the Top of the Stretch. That’s the Saratoga Stumble, being run by our own Sam Hollingsworth. The premise is something like this: The entire town of Mechanicville shows up, buys matching t-shirts, and drinks itself into oblivion. Apparently, it’s a blast.

To those stumbling along today: Have fun and be safe. Most importantly, though, make sure Sam pulls through in one piece!

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: I bet Thirteen Songs thinking she’d close into a fast pace, not that she’d help make said fast pace. We dropped $20.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I apologize in advance to my editor, because my play comes late in the card. It sure seems like #5 MR CUB is the lone speed in the Lure Stakes (race 10), and I need to play him. I’ll put $10 on him to win and place, and I really hope we get the 6-1 morning line price.



Best Bet: Lyrical Lady, Race 3
Longshot: La Naturel, Race 7



#6 PROGNOSTICATION: Hasn’t run in 10 months, but is protected from being claimed, which is always an encouraging sign. He could benefit from the likely race shape and figures to be running well late; #1 LEMONIST: Has been gelded since his last start in December and sports a pair of flashy local workouts. This is the weakest field he’s faced since breaking his maiden in 2016; #8 GOSILENTLY: Has hit the board in each of his last 11 starts, most of which have come for today’s connections. He just missed here last summer and figures to be prominent early.


Chief Executive
Calumet entry

#4 CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Has several strong local works ahead of his debut for prominent connections. It’s tough to debut going seven furlongs, but he’s bred to be a good one and has worked accordingly; CALUMET ENTRY: #1A SOUTHERN PHANTOM could win at second asking, but he’ll be bet heavily for reasons that have very little to do with his ability. He may need to show more early speed here than he did in his debut; #8 EXCHEQUER: Fetched $150,000 at auction last fall and has worked well for red-hot connections. He may be bred better for turf, but his talent could be enough to get him home on dirt.


Lyrical Lady
Virginia Eloise
Mucho Amor

#3 LYRICAL LADY: Was one of the most impressive debut winners of the meet and figures to be favored in the Grade 2 Adirondack. She won by nearly six lengths and appeared to have plenty left in reserve; #5 VIRGINIA ELOISE: Finished well in her debut at Belmont and is bred to want lots of distance. She showed she could rate a bit that day, and that could come in handy here; #1 MUCHO AMOR: Graduated at Keeneland and sports a recent bullet workout on the training track. Wesley Ward is one of the top 2-year-old trainers in the country, and he cannot be ignored here.


Starting Point (MTO)
Teachable Moment
Noble Nebraskan

#8 TEACHABLE MOMENT: Closed to be third in his debut and has a pedigree that hints he could embrace more ground. Improvement is logical at second asking, especially for these connections; #12 NOBLE NEBRASKAN: Sports an impressive pedigree and merits respect if he draws in off the AE list. It’s tough to debut at this route, but he’s worked well and may be a nice price; #2 WINNING FACTOR: Was second in the race my top pick exits and stretches out after some solid local workouts. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because he’s not necessarily bred to want two turns. DIRT SELECTIONS: STARTING POINT, IAN GLASS, TEACHABLE MOMENT.


Payne (MTO)

#3 UNLOCKTHEPOTENTIAL: Stretches out after being beaten less than a length in his first start since October. He likely needed that race as a tightener, and that day’s winner ran well in the Quick Call earlier this week; #6 LUNAIRE: Hasn’t won in a while, but has shown an ability to run well late, and that’s valuable given the early pace signed on here. He could shake up the exotics at a price; #2 MOROCCO: Was almost certainly short last time out in his first start since the fall, and the blinkers come back on in his second start off the bench. That could get him more involved early at a big number. DIRT SELECTIONS: PAYNE, CLUTCH CARGO, MESOTHERM.


Road Home
Empire of War
Chase and Colorado

#5 ROAD HOME: Closed to be second in his debut for a barn that doesn’t often win with first-time starters. There’s reason to expect improvement here, and if that happens, he could be tough; #7 EMPIRE OF WAR: Has worked well on the training track ahead of his unveiling. Todd Pletcher’s runners must be respected, although this one may be better-bred for turf; #4 CHASE AND COLORADO: Is the other Pletcher-trained first-time starter. He’s by Tapit, which means he likely wants as much ground as possible.


Aunt Babe (MTO)
La Naturel
Conquest Tizfire

#5 LA NATUREL: Has yet to run a bad race in her career and is a closer in a race that seems to boast tons of early speed. She was third beaten less than a length earlier in the meet, and we may get a price given this trainer’s small barn; #2 CONQUEST TIZFIRE: Was second in the race my top pick exits, but has had ample chances to win and seems to prefer settling for minor awards. She looked like a winner in mid-stretch last time, but she let the eventual winner battle back; #4 MAJESTIC WON: Took to the turf well last time out, when she graduated by nearly three lengths downstate. Luis Saez signs on, and this one figures to be involved from the outset. DIRT SELECTIONS: AUNT BABE, DANYELLI, QUEEN MUM.


Delta Prince
Heart to Heart

#2 DELTA PRINCE: Has come out of the shadow of older sister Royal Delta and turned into a top-class turf horse. His win in the Grade 2 King Edward was strong, and he could sit a perfect stalking trip behind a hot pace; #5 HEART TO HEART: Is one of the most fun horses to root for given his longevity and the fact that he may be better than ever at age seven. He won two Grade 1 races earlier this year, but the presence of #6 VOODOO SONG means he almost certainly won’t be alone on the lead; #3 DIVISIDERO: Is a deep closer that will benefit from a fast pace. He may want a bit longer, but the quicker they go early, the more he’ll like it.


Breaking the Rules
Always a Suspect

#3 MASK: Cuts back to seven furlongs, which may be the trip he wants. He may not have turned into a top-class 3-year-old, but his best race could win this and he should be able to sit just off the pace; #5 BREAKING THE RULES: Was second in a swiftly-run allowance last time out and seems like a one-run sprinter that should get better as he gets older. A fast pace would benefit him, and this distance likely hits him right between the eyes; #4 ALWAYS A SUSPECT: Likes Saratoga and exits a win earlier in the meet (albeit against weaker foes). All three of his starts over this track have been solid, and Robertino Diodoro has a strong record with new acquisitions.


Mr Cub
Conquest Panthera

#5 MR CUB: Could be the lone speed in this race, which is always dangerous on the inner turf. He was beaten just a half-length in the Grade 2 Wise Dan last time out, and he could be talented enough to lead this field the whole way; #7 CONQUEST PANTHERA: Hasn’t won in a while, but chased Delta Prince in the Grade 2 King Edward and can show some early zip if he has to. Luis Saez hops aboard, and he’s riding as well as anyone at the meet; #9 ZENNOR: Has won three in a row, including this race last year, but he has not started in more than a year. If he comes back ready to run, he’s obviously a contender, but that’s a sizable “if.”


Shanghai Dreams
Hit a Provisional

#13 SHANGHAI DREAMS: Is emblematic of an oddity here, as several major contenders reside on the AE list and need scratches to run. She debuted with a fourth-place finish in a very solid race for the level and drops in for a tag; #12 HIT A PROVISIONAL: Rallied to be second at this level in her debut and is another that needs some luck to draw in. This barn has quietly gotten off to a solid start at the meet, and she could improve in her second outing; #10 FANCYCASE: Seems best of the main body of the field given the early speed she’s flashed of late. The body of the field seems light on horses that can pass others late, so the speed could be helpful.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/12/17


BANKROLL: $911.75

Longtime readers of The Saratogian will remember that I was a full-time sportswriter there for about a year and a half. Among the best perks of the job was where the office was. The front steps of that brick building on Lake Avenue were a full pitching wedge or less away from The Parting Glass, Gaffney’s, D’Andrea’s, and a number of other fun places, as well as the police station (which the news department certainly found handy!).

I’m not criticizing the decision to move, as the rationale for it makes sense. With that in mind, though, it was pretty tough to leave that building for the last time in October of 2013 after filing the recap of a Saratoga Springs-Shenendehowa football game. I imagine the friends and colleagues I have that work for The Saratogian felt similarly this week.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: We got blanked after neither of our key horses in doubles won (although longshot of the day Jewel Heist ran a huge race in defeat). As such, we dropped $24.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the fifth race, which houses my best bet of the day. That’s #4 AZAR, and I’ll key him in $5 exactas above and below #9 MADE IN DETROIT and #10 ITALIAN CHARM. I’ll also single him in $5 doubles that start in the fifth and use #3 CHANNEL CAT and #8 SPORTSWEAR in the sixth.



Best Bet: Azar, Race 5
Longshot: Promotional, Race 8


Scarly Charly
Will Did It
At Guard

SCARLY CHARLY: Takes a colossal drop in class, but if he’s anywhere close to his best, he’s strictly the one to beat. The recent bullet drill inspires confidence, and he ran well here twice a year ago; WILL DID IT: Makes his first start for Gary Gullo, who excels with new acquisitions. He hasn’t won in a while, but there’s some speed signed on and he’ll be running well late; AT GUARD: Beat weaker foes earlier in the meet and makes his first start for a new barn. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but a repeat performance may be good enough to win.


Base Command

AIRTOUCH: Fetched $450k at auction last summer, and for good reason. This dam threw Grade 1 winner Sweet Loretta, and this son of Tapit has been working very well ahead of his unveiling; BASE COMMAND: Made up a lot of ground in his debut, rallying from 11 lengths back to be beaten less than a length. This barn’s runners tend to improve with experience, and the added distance should be a plus; INDIMAAJ: Is by Tapit and out of a Grade 1 winner that’s produced a Grade 1 winner. He’s worked steadily, and while this barn’s runners tend to benefit from experience, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was ready to run right away.


Killybegs Captain (MTO)
Dr. Edgar
Driven by Thunder

DR. EDGAR: Stretches out on turf for the first time, which is unusual given his pedigree. He’s never been better than he is right now, and he merits my top pick in a confusing race with many horses stretching out; DRIVEN BY THUNDER: Ran well in his turf debut last time out. His best race came at a challenging, seven-furlong distance, so he could take to the distance; SIX SHILLINGS: Was a good second earlier in the meet going shorter. It’s unclear if he wants this sort of distance, but class-wise, he fits. DIRT SELECTIONS: KILLYBEGS CAPTAIN, DRIVEN BY THUNDER, PIONEER SPIRIT.


Pure Silver
Limited View
Sly Roxy

PURE SILVER: Has done nothing wrong in two starts, including a stakes win last time out. The rail draw is a concern, but she should have enough speed to overcome it; LIMITED VIEW: Scratched from the Schuylerville due to pre-race antics, but that may have been a blessing in disguise, as the winner freaked. This seems like a softer spot, provided she holds it together; SLY ROXY: Ran away with an off-the-turf race earlier in the meet. It’s unclear how strong that race was, but she’s bred to be a good one and could have untapped potential.


Old Upstart (MTO)
Italian Charm

AZAR: Spent most of 2016 against top-class competition, so it’s jarring to see him in for a $25k tag. Anything close to his best would make him very difficult to beat; ITALIAN CHARM: Makes his first start since March and has been gelded since his last outing. He reeled off three wins in a row last year and finished just two lengths behind eventual Grade 1 winner American Patriot two back; MADE IN DETROIT: Turned heads with a wire-to-wire romp downstate back in June. He had a dream trip that day, and these are deeper waters, but he seems like the main speed. DIRT SELECTIONS: AZAR, OLD UPSTART, RICH DADDY.


Variant Perception (MTO)
Channel Cat

SPORTSWEAR: Couldn’t possibly be bred any better. He’s by the undefeated Frankel, out of a Group 1 winner, and gets the two-turn turf route his pedigree screams for; CHANNEL CAT: Was a close second in his debut, which came last month at Gulfstream going much shorter. He’s bred up and down for more distance, and he should improve given that he gets it; HAVE AT IT: Is by Kitten’s Joy and out of a multiple Grade 3 winner. He’s worked consistently ahead of his debut. DIRT SELECTIONS: VARIANT PERCEPTION, SUPER SERMON, PETE MARWICK.


Wyatt’s Town
Song of the Nile

COLTANDMISSISSIPPI: Sold for $400k back in 2015 and has a strong series of five-furlong drills ahead of his debut. This is a tough distance to debut at, but the work tab tells the story of a horse who may want this trip; WYATT’S TOWN: Was third in his debut, but didn’t have the best of experiences that day. Improvement is logical at second asking, especially for a barn whose horses often improve with seasoning; SONG OF THE NILE: Fetched $575k last year at auction and has worked like a promising horse. This barn’s first-time starters don’t usually win, but he can’t be ignored in what looks like a loaded race.


Off Limits
Rachel’s Temper (MTO)

OFF LIMITS: Burned plenty of money in 2016, but seems to have figured things out in two 2017 starts. She was a good second in a stakes race last time out, and this seems like a much softer spot; PROMOTIONAL: Won here last year and has been facing top-class horses since then. She may want longer, and this may be a prep race, but if she’s right, she’s a contender at a price; ALL IN FUN: Hasn’t won in a while, but is another that’s been running against substantially better horses. She won here last year, and this barn merits respect. DIRT SELECTIONS: PUCA, RACHEL’S TEMPER, ALL IN FUN.


Gift Box
Lewys Vaporizer

GIFT BOX: Makes his 2017 debut and looks to pick up where he left off. He was fourth in the Travers behind Arrogate, and while this distance isn’t ideal, his talent may be enough to get him home; CERRO: Has won three of his last four and ran a big race last time out at Churchill Downs. John Velazquez rides, and it’s safe to assume his new owner claimed him with Saratoga in mind; LEWYS VAPORIZER: Is a proven sprinter with top-end early speed. His race here last year was forgettable, but his best effort would make him the one to catch turning for home.


Disco Partner
Time Test
American Patriot

DISCO PARTNER: Has reeled off three wins in a row, including a record-setting performance going six furlongs and a subsequent romp at a mile. He’s never been better than he is right now; TIME TEST: Cuts back in distance after two second-place finishes downstate. He won a Group 2 at this distance overseas, but the question is, is he past his peak?; AMERICAN PATRIOT: Flopped at Royal Ascot but won a Grade 1 at Keeneland two back over a top-class field. He appears ready to run, and his best race would make him a player in this top-class event.


Danny’s Rush
Source Control
Grand Valour

DANNY’S RUSH: Cuts back in distance after being badly beaten going much longer. His best races have come going short on turf, and a repeat of his effort two back (which came against better horses) could win this; SOURCE CONTROL: Rallied to be second at this level last time out at Belmont. The pace was fast that day, but with this large field, such a scenario could easily repeat itself; GRAND VALOUR: Is a bit of an unknown since he’s making his career debut, but this barn can get first-time starters ready, and Javier Castellano signing on is a big plus. DIRT SELECTIONS: DAB, QUAI VOLTAIRE, GREAT BLAKE.