SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/15/20; ALABAMA DAY)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $829.50

Horse racing Jack-of-all-trades (and personal friend) Nick Hines stopped by the “Champagne and J.D.” podcast this week, and we had a really fun conversation that touched on a lot of different topics within the industry. We spoke about his role picking out horses at sales, as well as the recent passing of Mel Stute and what he wishes more fans knew about the sport. My personal highlight, meanwhile, is me retelling one of my favorite stories involving a private clocker and trainer Neil Drysdale (complete with my best Drysdale impression, which is actually not terrible).

The show is up on YouTube, and it’s also been picked up in a piece on the Paulick Report website as well. I’m grateful to Nick, affectionately known as “The Sarge” by his many friends, for taking the time to chat, and I hope you all enjoy it.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Thank you, Hurricane Hill. My longshot of the day prevailed in the seventh and paid $29.80 to win. While double and Pick Three tickets did not cash, a $15 win ticket on Hurricane Hill did to the tune of $223.50.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus primarily on the early Pick Four, which starts in the second race. My 50-cent ticket goes as follows: 4,6 with ALL with 2,3,5 with 10. My goal is to extract some value out of #10 BRAZEN, who figures to be a very heavy favorite in the fifth race of the day. I’ll also single my longshot of the day, #5 QUICK RETURN in the fourth, to kick off a $4 cold double ending with Brazen.

TOTAL WAGERED: $25.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Brazen, Race 5
Longshot: Quick Return, Race 4

R1

Bebe Banker
Invest
Somebody

#4 BEBE BANKER: Takes a big drop in class and cuts back to one turn, and both changes should be beneficial for him here. His effort two back was very strong, and he’s run reasonably well against allowance foes going seven furlongs, which bodes well; #3 INVEST: Comes back to the right level after running for a higher tag last time out at Belmont. That race was also off a very quick break, and he got some more time to recharge before this event; #5 SOMEBODY: Runs fresh for H. James Bond, whose horses have been firing at the Spa this summer. Luis Saez sees fit to ride, and he could sit a prime stalking trip just off of a moderate pace.

R2

Mo Mischief (MTO)
Public Sector
Rip It

#4 PUBLIC SECTOR: Has the highest turf Tomlinson figure I’ve ever seen, and for good reason. His pedigree is as European as it gets, and that 427 number jumps off the page. He’s worked steadily for Chad Brown, who employs Irad Ortiz, Jr., here; #6 RIP IT: Lost all chance at the break in his debut, one I was eagerly anticipating. He may have needed that effort, and if he lives up to the lofty potential provided by his pedigree, he could be a serious racehorse; #5 POLINESIA: Hammered for $800,000 here last summer and is bred to be a good one. This son of American Pharoah may be favored, but he was down at Monmouth with Chad Brown’s second-stringers, and that’s sometimes a red flag.

R3

Reed Kan
Lusitano
Skyler’s Scramjet

#3 REED KAN: Has won two in a row against similar company and has shown he doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well. That could be a huge asset here, as this race has come up heavy on early zip; #1 LUSITANO: Cuts back in distance and drops in class for an astute barn. He’s got plenty of back class, and the presence of aggressive gate rider Luis Saez may tip trainer Joe Sharp’s hand when it comes to tactics out of the gate; #4 SKYLER’S SCRAMJET: Found the winner’s circle for the first time in a long time earlier this meet. This is a slight step up in class, but it wasn’t long ago he was second in the Grade 1 Carter and perhaps he’s going in the right direction.

R4

Quick Return
Papa Luke
Farragut

#5 QUICK RETURN: Has run second twice when in for a tag and takes a slight step up in class. However, this field didn’t seem to come up all that strong for the level, and I love it when a speed horse gets blinkers for the first time. He’s a threat to wire this group at a price; #3 PAPA LUKE: Looms the one to beat off of two runner-up finishes at this level. Based on Beyer Speed Figures, he’s a formidable favorite, but he had every chance last time out earlier in the meet and couldn’t get the job done, which is a red flag; #2 FARRAGUT: Was third in the race my second selection also exits. If my top two picks cook each other on the front end, this is the one they may have to hold off, and I like the pattern of improving Beyers.

R5

Brazen
No Lime
Fevola

#10 BRAZEN: Takes a huge drop in class down to the $16,000 claiming level in his first start since being gelded. It wasn’t long ago he was 9-1 when running against highly-touted prospect Cezanne at Santa Anita, and between his early speed and the cushy outside post, I think he’s a very likely winner; #2 NO LIME: Was second in his seasonal debut, which doubled as his first outing in nine months. The recent sharp half-mile work indicates he came out of that race well, and he should be rolling late once again here; #3 FEVOLA: Takes a big drop after fading against starter allowance foes downstate in his first try against winners. His effort two starts ago was very good, and it’s possible he needed his last-out effort after a layoff of more than four months.

R6

Engrave
Restored Order
Calibrate

#1 ENGRAVE: Gets a tepid nod in a wide-open, prospect-filled 2-year-old race. This son of Flatter hammered for $900,000 at Keeneland last year and has been working well for Chad Brown. I’m not crazy about the rail, but if he runs to the workouts, he could be special; #10 RESTORED ORDER: Is one of only a few in here with experience, as he ran third in his unveiling at Gulfstream. He’s been off since May, but a recent big drill from the gate suggests he’s moving forward nicely for Todd Pletcher; #6 CALIBRATE: Fetched $340,000 at auction and seems to be coming to hand ahead of his unveiling. Steve Asmussen has already had a strong summer with 2-year-olds, and this could be another good one. If there’s hesitation here, it’s only because the pedigree suggests he’ll do his best running on turf.

R7

Big Thicket (MTO)
Mo Ready
Sanctuary City

#6 MO READY: Had a nightmare trip in his first start since December when he didn’t have anywhere to run until the final sixteenth of a mile. Between that journey and this being his second start off the bench, I think significant improvement is in the cards; #2 SANCTUARY CITY: Was second in the race my top pick exits and got the trip that one didn’t. He’s run well in both of his 2020 outings, and his last-out effort showed two-turn routes won’t present problems for him; #8 JIMMY JAZZ: Is a consistent sort that usually gets a check. His last two races in particular have been fine, and his trainer has quietly finished in the money with seven of his 12 starters at the meet as of this writing.

R8

Decorated Invader
Field Pass
Gufo

#2 DECORATED INVADER: Is one of the most talented horses in his crop and looms large in the Saratoga Derby. He’s won three in a row this season, the pedigree says this distance won’t be a problem, and he’ll be a logical short-priced favorite; #7 FIELD PASS: Has won four of five this year, with the lone defeat coming when he broke slowly in the War Chant three back. This is a class test for him, but a repeat of his effort in the Grade 3 Transylvania would give him a shot; #5 GUFO: Is the other half of a powerful 1-2 punch for Christophe Clement, who also trains my top pick. This one, however, can’t be ignored given his four-race win streak and the presence of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

R9

Swiss Skydiver
Spice Is Nice
Harvey’s Lil Goil

#5 SWISS SKYDIVER: Stretches out to a mile and a quarter in the Grade 1 Alabama after running second against the boys in the Grade 2 Blue Grass. The winner, Art Collector, may be the second choice in the Kentucky Derby. If she takes to the added distance, she’ll be tough to catch; #2 SPICE IS NICE: Ran well to top allowance foes last time out and is bred to love the 10-furlong route she’ll get. This daughter of Curlin has some early speed and should sit a prime stalking trip, and trainer Todd Pletcher has remarked she looks like a horse that will adore this distance; #6 HARVEY’S LIL GOIL: Became a dual-surface stakes winner last time out when she won the Grade 3 Regret on turf at Churchill. Perhaps that’s her preferred surface, but given the pedigree (by American Pharoah, out of a Tapit mare), this distance shouldn’t be a problem, and that may be enough to get her a piece of it.

R10

Maxwell Esquire
Qian B C
New York’s Finest

#1 MAXWELL ESQUIRE: Was impressive in victory earlier this meet and steps up to a higher condition here. However, he’s run well against stakes company in the past and this race should set up well for his late-running style; #7 QIAN B C: Is another consistent closer that figures to get a strong setup with so much early speed signed on. His lone poor effort since the start of 2019 came in his first start off the bench two back, and he may be a pretty big price; #5 NEW YORK’S FINEST: Is 4-for-6 over this turf course and seems to have found his prior form in the barn of Rudy Rodriguez. His best race can win this, but he may have to work hard to establish early positioning and this seems like a strong field for the level.

R11

Bricco
Sidd Finch
Mommie’s Jewel

#4 BRICCO: Has run well twice this season against similar and should have a big chance here. It didn’t seem like he had any excuse last time out, but it’s tough to be too enthusiastic about much in this field and the Bond barn is firing on all cylinders; #12 SIDD FINCH: Goes second off the bench for George Weaver and likely needed his return, which doubled as his first start since March. His two and three-back efforts weren’t bad, and the last-out clunker may mean we get a bit of a price; #8 MOMMIE’S JEWEL: Was third in the race my top pick exits, but had every chance setting a moderate early pace and couldn’t get the job done. There seems to be more pace signed on, but she gets a slightly better post and may be able to lead them a long way beneath returning rider Joel Rosario.

GUEST COLUMN: Andrew’s Dad Comes West (Plus Andrew’s Plays of the Day: 1/22/20)

RECORD: 13-7

Editor’s note: The reason I haven’t been posting daily blogs here is because my father’s been in town and we’ve been busy. I’d been posting on Twitter up until Tuesday, when I neglected to put forth a play. As a result, I’ll have two down below…but first, allow me to show you what turned me into the writer I became.

My dad flew west Friday, and the convergence of several horrible circumstances and lots of rotten luck hit him hard. Like a Champagne does, he wrote about it on Sunday, and I’m putting his chronicle here as a guest column. If you say he’s a better writer than I am, I won’t be offended!

“In late December I found some GREAT fares on Southwest to the west coast, so I scheduled an impromptu visit to my son for the long MLK Day weekend. I paid for the outgoing leg with points and thought that was great. Little did I know…

Departure on Friday was delayed. As the Southwest rep announced it, “We are waiting for one last passenger to exit the aircraft.” She neglected to mention that the guy was exiting on a stretcher after an apparent heart attack. Then we began to board – briefly. We were once again delayed with an announcement that they could not depart until the canister of oxygen the heart attack victim used up was replaced, and they had to wait for another aircraft to arrive to grab one. God forbid the maintenance people should have spares. So then we boarded and sat on the tarmac for another half hour (paperwork… BS, I was taking it personally by this point), blowing through the departure time for my initial connecting flight in Baltimore.

Now the fun starts. I got a text from Southwest telling me they’d re-booked me on a flight through Austin which would get me to the west coast about 5 hours later than my initial itinerary laid out. When we arrived in Baltimore they coasted us into the gate right next to the gate the Austin flight was leaving from – so we had a great view of MY flight pushing back.

Another text arrived immediately, informing me I had again been re-booked on a flight through Denver. The texts were coming fast and furious now, as I was told soon after that this flight had been delayed 3 hours.

And then it was cancelled.

There were no options to get out of Baltimore Friday on Southwest at this point since most of the Midwest connect points were socked in with the storm and all existing flights were sold out to people who’d been screwed before they got to me. The last text I got said they were re-booking me through Salt Lake City: 48 hours later. I don’t think so.

Enter my son, who found me a nonstop redeye on United Airlines that left late Friday evening (from Washington) and would get me to San Francisco an hour after midnight, so off I went to Southwest baggage claim to get my suitcase (such as it was, as I was to find out 2 days later). After an hour and a half, they told me they’d given up trying to find it, and off I went on a 60 mile Lyft ride to Dulles Airport. For those keeping score at home, the Lyft (with tip) cost $94. The flight (with $39 extra for a couple more inches of leg room) was $563. So off I went on a six hour nonstop flight headed west in the middle seat surrounded by screaming children – and at this point I was about ready to join them.

While I was flying, my son was shopping. A pair of dress pants, a polo shirt, and some toiletries later, we can add another $75 or so to the extra costs of this mess. But I DID get to where I was going.

So Saturday, off we went to the FABULOUS Golden Gate Fields with an eye toward recouping some of this money – broken up by several unfruitful calls to Southwest’s Oakland Airport baggage claim. They kept telling me that the last time my bag was scanned was in Baltimore and that it would eventually catch up with me – then, my last call produced a new tidbit, that the bag was now in Salt Lake City. This meant it got there more than 24 hours before I would have, had I kept the last re-book they set up for me.

After dinner the call from Southwest came. My bag was now in Oakland. Per the poor guy who had to call me, “It has some damage.” So Sunday morning brought another airport excursion. I dealt with a very nice lady who brought my bag out of their storage room IN A TRASH BAG – and told me the damage happened in freaking BALTIMORE. This meant I was intentionally not given what was left of my bag there.

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I ended up having to go through everything that was in the suitcase to identify specific damage. They gave me sort of a zip bag to move stuff into after telling me they usually replace suitcases but they didn’t have any of those (of course). Casualties were a pair of shoes, a pair of jeans, some socks, and a couple of golf shirts. Surprisingly, much of my stuff survived the trip – especially since the bag looked like it had been attacked by the tiger who says “Hello, Lunch!!” in the Dr. Doolittle ad.

So… a $175 travel voucher, refund of the points I paid for the trip with, refunded Early Bird boarding charges, and a check for $200 (they originally didn’t have any of those, either) later, I’m back in Concord…for now… the baggage lady at Oakland encouraged me keep bothering them… and after receiving ANOTHER text TODAY re-booking me for January 29, I am NOT in a forgiving mood.

The saga continues.”

– – – – –

WEDNESDAY’S PLAYS: Because I didn’t have anything Tuesday, I’m putting forth two plays for Wednesday. In SEC action, Alabama, a team that’s won three of its last four (including a victory over Auburn), goes to Vanderbilt, a squad that’s winless in conference play. The nine-point spread hits me as too small, and I think the Crimson Tide covers it with ease. Additionally, in small-college hoops, Navy travels to Boston University, and both teams can score. Because of that, I’m taking the over on the total, which is at 127.5 as of this writing.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/1/20

RECORD: 0-0

In 2019, I decided to try my hand at picking four NFL games every week on Twitter. I missed a few weekends for various reasons (some good, some bad), but ultimately I wound up 33-23 on the season for a success rate just shy of 59%. That doesn’t sound earth-shattering to some, but it’s enough for a flat-bet profit if you played all of my picks.

With that in mind, and also with the understanding that writers need to write, I’m debuting a new daily segment on my website. It’s modeled after Mighty Quinn’s long-running blurb in the New York Daily News, where he’d wax poetic on something and offer a sports play of the day. I’ll be tracking my results as I go, and hopefully I can keep the success of the NFL season going for a long, long time.

As always, reader input is welcome and appreciated. Tweet me at @AndrewChampagne or get in touch by utilizing the “contact” function on the site. I see everything that comes in, and I respond to most of it.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’m a Michigan fan, and I’m fully expecting the Wolverines to get rolled by Alabama in today’s Citrus Bowl. They simply don’t match up, and I’m gobsmacked that the point spread is single-digits. Alabama is an 8.5-point favorite, and I’m taking the Crimson Tide to cover.

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

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $534.20

Today’s card at Saratoga may be the best one of the meet to this point. Several of the top 3-year-old fillies in the country will be in action, and the card also boasts a number of intriguing races for 2-year-olds. There are plenty of great wagering opportunities on tap, and it’s a pleasure to handicap programs like this that reflect what Saratoga should always be: One of the last remaining cathedrals in horse racing.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Shang Shang Shang scratched scratched scratched, so our $20 cold double was refunded.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to take a stand against #3 MIDNIGHT BISOU in the Alabama. She’s a very nice horse, but the distance is a big question mark, and I can’t endorse her at her likely price. I’ll play doubles starting and ending in that race that use #4 SHE’S A JULIE and #8 TALK VEUVE TO ME. My $8 doubles starting in the eighth single #6 RUSHING FALL, and my $4 doubles ending in the tenth use #3 NEOCLASSIC, #4 REFLECTED STAR, and #11 EXPECTED RULER (assuming, of course, that the race stays on turf). Additionally, I’ll play a $1 Pick Three starting in the eighth that uses those horses.

TOTAL WAGERED: $34

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Rushing Fall, Race 8
Longshot: Noble Nebraskan, Race 2

R1

Azzedine
Causeur
End of an Era

#2 AZZEDINE: Drops further down the ladder after falling as a 7/5 favorite earlier in the meet. This doesn’t seem like a distinguished field, and it seems like one he’ll beat with his usual race; #8 CAUSEUR: Had an eventful trip last time out, so it’s easy to draw a line through that race. He has back races that would make him a contender here, and we may get a price given the recent clunker; #9 END OF AN ERA: Adds blinkers for his local debut after an OK performance at Delaware Park. The blinkers could get him more involved early, and the presence of speed rider Kendrick Carmouche could also signal that he’s going early.

R2

Standard Deviation (MTO)
Noble Nebraskan
Medina Ridge

#10 NOBLE NEBRASKAN: Is bred up and down for turf and has a solid series of works ahead of his debut. George Weaver can win with first-time starters, and we may get a price in what seems like a wide-open event; #9 MEDINA RIDGE: Is another bred to be a strong grass horse. He’s by War Front, out of a Smart Strike mare, and goes out for a barn that’s had success with firsters on turf; #6 SOUTHERN BRIDGE: Was fifth in his debut earlier in the meet, and was beaten just two lengths that day despite a wide trip. Improvement is logical at second asking for a patient barn. DIRT SELECTIONS: STANDARD DEVIATION, GOOSE DRANK WINE, PERCEIVED.

R3

Forge
Nigel’s Destiny
Helooksthepart

#1 FORGE: Did everything but win last time out in a very fast race for the level. He was claimed by Mike Maker that day, and he retains the services of jockey Javier Castellano; #7 NIGEL’S DESTINY: Is the only runner in this race with multiple wins at the seven-furlong distance. He was third behind a next-out winner in an allowance event downstate, and his last start for a tag was a win; #5 HELOOKSTHEPART: Didn’t fire last time out in a race several of today’s foes also exit, but is a closer in an event with plenty of early speed signed on. He may be past his peak, but the race shape will almost certainly benefit him.

R4

Ahead of Plan
Principled
Cromwell Avenue

#7 AHEAD OF PLAN: Has a purchase price ($475,000) that jumps off the page given his very modest pedigree. He’s worked well of late and figures to be tough if he runs to those drills; #2 PRINCIPLED: Is the other logical first-time starter. He’s by Medaglia d’Oro and out of Grade 2 winner Teen Pauline, who set the five-furlong track record here at Saratoga in her 2012 debut; #8 CROMWELL AVENUE: Didn’t do much running in his debut, which was won by an impressive 2-year-old named Nitrous. He didn’t have a great trip that day and could improve here at a price.

R5

Our Girl Abby
Tee Up
Richie’slilwildcat

#3 OUR GIRL ABBY: Got the dirty end of a photo finish last time out but has a right to turn the tables on that rival here. There’s lots of early speed in this race, and she’s shown an ability to rate; #6 TEE UP: Was the winner of that photo finish following a perfect trip and smart ride by Joel Rosario. A repeat isn’t out of the question, but Rosario’s in California and there’s much more early speed signed on today; #4 RICHIE’SLILWILDCAT: Has won two small stakes races and ships in for a prominent Midwest outfit. She’ll likely make the lead, and it wouldn’t be a shock if she wires the field, but she may have to work hard out of the gate to get to the front.

R6

Wild Medagliad’oro
Most Mischief
Fed Fever

#5 WILD MEDAGLIAD’ORO: Close well to be second in his debut after racing very wide most of the way. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because he’s bred to go much longer (and ran like it in his unveiling), but this certainly seems like the weaker split of the same race (the fourth has the same conditions); #3 MOST MISCHIEF: Improved at second asking when third behind Nitrous despite a trip that didn’t do him many favors. He has an experience edge on this group, which could prove valuable; #7 FED FEVER: Was bet in his debut but raced very wide and likely wasn’t fully persevered with. He’s continued to work well and has every right to step forward with a start under his belt.

R7

Lovely La La
Hollywood Cat
Way Smart

#8 LOVELY LA LA: Was much the best in her maiden win downstate, and that day’s third-place finisher has since come back to win. The pedigree says two turns won’t be an issue, and speed’s always a plus on the inner turf course; #3 HOLLYWOOD CAT: Flopped when fourth as a 3/2 favorite earlier in the meet, but the turf course was very wet that day. If the ground is on the firmer side, she has a big chance to improve for a proven barn; #4 WAY SMART: May have moved a bit too soon last time out at this level, but still ran an OK third. She’s yet to run a truly bad race and has shown some flexibility in her running style.

R8

Rushing Fall
Thewayiam
Significant Form

#6 RUSHING FALL: Was very rank last time out and still only missed by a neck in what doubled as her first career loss. She wants to rate and should be able to do that behind several others in this field; #1 THEWAYIAM: Hasn’t run a bad race this year and was a good second in the Belmont Oaks. The rail draw isn’t ideal for a closer, but she was only a length behind Rushing Fall earlier this year at Keeneland; #4 SIGNIFICANT FORM: Was fourth in the Belmont Oaks in a race that may have been longer than she wants to go. The cutback in distance should help her, and she’ll likely be on or near the lead given her ample tactical speed.

R9

Talk Veuve to Me
She’s a Julie
Midnight Bisou

#8 TALK VEUVE TO ME: Chased Mia Mischief and Monomoy Girl earlier this year, but cruised in the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks and showed she could go two turns. This field isn’t heavy on tactical speed, and she’s worked really well here of late; #4 SHE’S A JULIE: Romped in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks and is another that shouldn’t be too far back early. Take out the Fair Grounds races, and you’re left with a much better resume; #3 MIDNIGHT BISOU: Was second in the CCA Oaks, but had every chance that day and just couldn’t stick with Monomoy Girl. It seems like she struggles going further than a mile and a sixteenth, and I’m not sure this is the trip she wants.

R10

Brimstone (MTO)
Reflected Star
Expected Ruler

#4 REFLECTED STAR: Gets a tepid nod in a wide-open finale. He’s shown early speed and was claimed out of his last race (a weirdly-run event) by a barn that’s done great work this year with a fairly small outfit; #11 EXPECTED RULER: Just missed at 25-1 last time out against much better, and is a major player if he draws in off the AE list. His effort two back has aged well, as he was third behind next-out Grade 3 winner Sandy’z Slew; #3 NEOCLASSIC: Has won two of his last three, and in those wins, he topped many of today’s rivals. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because he seems to prefer one-turn routes to two-turn trips, and he gets the latter here. DIRT SELECTIONS: BRIMSTONE, BITUMEN, CALIFORNIA SWING.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/19/17

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $749.75

I’m not going to feed you marketing spin about how great this year’s Alabama is. From a quality standpoint, it’s a step down from previous years (especially the 2016 renewal, where Songbird won in a gallop). However, it is a spectacular betting race, and you’re likely to get a price on whatever horse you think will break through in the absence of divisional heavyweights like Abel Tasman. There are holes in the favorites and cases to make for bigger prices, and as a handicapper, that’s all you can ask for.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: We had the right idea with Missimpazi, who ran a very strong race in her debut. Unfortunately for us, the 4-1 shot got reeled in late, and our $20 win bet fizzled. We did get $10 back from our cancelled double play after the sixth was rained off the turf.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: As if you couldn’t tell by my intro, my action will focus on the feature, which goes as the ninth race. If the morning line odds hold up on #7 ELATE, I’ll take them and run. She seems to be getting better with experience and added distance, and she gave Abel Tasman all she could handle in the Coaching Club American Oaks. I’ll start off with a $5 win/place bet, and I’ll also use her in $3 exactas above and below #2 HOLY HELENA, #4 LOCKDOWN, #5 UNCHAINED MELODY, and #6 SALTY. Finally, I’ll single her in $3 doubles that use #1 ASSERTIVE/#1A WAKE ISLAND and #5 TIME TO FLIRT in the finale.

TOTAL WAGERED: $40

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: La Coronel, Race 8
Longshot: Race Me Home, Race 6

R1

Turbo Street
Southside Warrior
Docs Legacy

TURBO STREET: Drops way down in class after four tries against much better horses. This barn has gotten off to a cold start to the meet, but this class relief is simply too much to ignore; SOUTHSIDE WARRIOR: Was third in a swiftly-run race earlier in the meet. Javier Castellano rides back, and given his history with other runners in this race, it’s safe to assume he had options; DOCS LEGACY: Prevailed at a big price earlier in the meet. He may want a bit longer than he gets here, but a repeat effort puts him right there.

R2

Congruity
Another
Hyndford

CONGRUITY: Fetched $210k at auction and has been working very well ahead of his debut. These connections merit respect, and the turf breeding is there; ANOTHER: Is one to include if he draws in off the AE list. He was second in his debut earlier in the meet for a barn whose first-time starters don’t often win; HYNDFORD: Was a $200k auction purchase and has a pedigree that indicates he should take to turf. The works leave a bit to be desired, but these connections can’t be ignored.

R3

Hexameter
Wildcat Belle
Paluxy Princess

HEXAMETER: Comes back to dirt after being beaten less than two lengths on turf earlier in the meet. Her dirt races earlier this year were all solid, and she could sit an ideal stalking trip; WILDCAT BELLE: Figures to be prominent early in her first start for this barn. She may not get an uncontested lead, but she figures to be the one they’ve got to run down late; PALUXY PRINCESS: Has taken a big step forward in two starts for Carlos Martin. She was second here earlier in the meet and merits a look underneath at a nice price.

R4

Flashy Jewel (MTO)
Manitoulin
Hello Don Julio

MANITOULIN: Was beaten less than two lengths in a Grade 3 last time out and won two in a row before that. He seems to be peaking this season, and it helps that there appears to be some early speed signed on; HELLO DON JULIO: Tried Grade 2 company earlier in the meet and drops back down into the optional claiming ranks here. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because he’s 0-for-2 at Saratoga and that he may not get an easy lead; AQUAPHOBIA: Really hasn’t run a bad race this year. He cuts back in distance after finishing third in a minor stakes race, and he should be running well late. DIRT SELECTIONS: FLASHY JEWEL, DOCTOR MOUNTY, MARENGO ROAD.

R5

Variant Perception
Allured
Super Sermon

VARIANT PERCEPTION: Appears extremely well-meant in his debut. He’s outworked his uncoupled stablemate on multiple occasions, and these connections are always tough; ALLURED: Is said stablemate, one who fetched $600k at auction earlier this year. Chad Brown could easily run 1-2 here; SUPER SERMON: Is a WinStar homebred that’s worked solidly for Todd Pletcher. The pedigree, though, suggests that this one may want longer than the six furlongs he gets here.

R6

Caviar Czar
Meantime
Race Me Home

CAVIAR CZAR: Has improved with every start to date, and his lone win came going a two-turn route of ground. Given the rail draw and his proven early zip, he should be prominent early; MEANTIME: Exits the Grade 1 Belmont, where he was rank early and had nothing left in the later stages of the marathon race. Before that, he was second in the Grade 3 Peter Pan, and a repeat of that effort would make him a major player; RACE ME HOME: Showed promise last yea when second in the Easy Goer. The last two races on turf are throw-outs, and a return to his 2016 form would make his 15-1 morning line a considerable overlay.

R7

Knarsdale (MTO)
Ellery Lane
Mom’s On Strike

ELLERY LANE: Makes her North American debut for Chad Brown off a long layoff. She showed promise in a limited 2-year-old campaign, which featured a fourth-place finish in Group 3 company, and she gets Lasix for the first time; MOM’S ON STRIKE: Came off the bench running last time out when second behind a much-the-best winner. Improvement is logical second off the layoff; CASSE ENTRY: I prefer GIADA VEGAS, who has improved as a 4-year-old and would benefit from a fast early pace. DIRT SELECTIONS: KNARSDALE, MOM’S ON STRIKE, JUST GOT OUT.

R8

La Coronel
Proctor’s Ledge
Uni

LA CORONEL: Returns to the U.S. after competing in a Group 1 at Royal Ascot against some of the best fillies in Europe. The first and second-place finishers both won at next asking, and this one’s races before that journey were very sharp; PROCTOR’S LEDGE: Was impressive in winning the Grade 3 Lake George earlier in the meet. She appears to be improving with experience, and Castellano returning to ride her is a plus; UNI: Rallied well to finish third in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks behind two stablemates. She did get a pace to run at that day, though, and this pace scenario may not be nearly as favorable.

R9

Elate
Unchained Melody
Salty

ELATE: Was beaten just a head by the divisional leader in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and has the look of a filly that will keep improving. This distance should not be a problem, and she could sit a great trip; UNCHAINED MELODY: Broke through with a wire-to-wire win in the Grade 2 Mother Goose. She earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure that day, but she may not have beaten much in that spot, and she’s never been two turns, let alone this 10-furlong distance; SALTY: Sat an unlucky trip in the Coaching Club, but gave Abel Tasman all she could handle two back in the Acorn. Her best effort would put her right there.

R10

Tapella (MTO)
Bass entry
Time to Flirt

BASS ENTRY: I prefer ASSERTIVE, who took to turf last time out at Belmont. She was a close-up third that day, and she gets a big rider switch in the Saturday finale; TIME TO FLIRT: Has lost back-to-back photos downstate and sports a recent bullet workout since shipping here. She may be better around one turn, but it’s not inconceivable to think she could break through here; MISERICORDIA: Hasn’t run badly in two starts to date and switches to Jose Lezcano, a strong turf rider. She merits an underneath look, especially at her morning line price. DIRT SELECTIONS: TAPELLA, BASS ENTRY, AOIFE.