SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/4/22)


BANKROLL: $811.20

Saturday is Whitney Day, one of my favorite programs each Saratoga season. The feature has attracted plenty of handicap division heavyweights, including Life Is Good and Olympiad, and the rest of the card looks highly competitive.

I’ll be diving into the late Pick Five on the HHH Racing Podcast. We’ll stream live Thursday evening at 7:30 pm Eastern time, and you’ll be able to watch on the podcast’s YouTube channel.

These guys do a lot of work to put forth a strong product, and I’m flattered to have been asked to chime in. If you’re around Thursday night, join us!

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Most of my action was cancelled when Bezos and Regality scratched out of the finale. I was left with a single $3 cold exacta, which ran 1-3 when my runner-up lost a brutal photo for second money.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’ll play the late Pick Four and try to extract some value out of #5 ART COLLECTOR in the featured Alydar. My 50-cent ticket starts in the seventh and reads as follows: 1,3,6,7,8 with 5 with 1,7 with 1,2,4,7,8.



Best Bet: Art Collector, Race 8
Longshot: Fast Corey, Race 10


Sicilian Grandma
Lady Quinn
Acqua Bella

#5 SICILIAN GRANDMA: Was bet to favoritism in her debut, and that race is a total throwout given the sloppy track at Ellis Park. She’d shown precocity in a few workouts ahead of that performance, and Mike Maker’s runners tend to improve with experience anyway; #1 LADY QUINN: Has worked well twice since coming up from Monmouth Park for a conditioner that merits plenty of respect. The rail isn’t an ideal draw, but perhaps she’s quick enough to overcome it; #3 ACQUA BELLA: Debuts for Todd Pletcher and may take money because of that, but I have my doubts. This $80,000 yearling purchase runs for $50,000 here, and if she’s a promising dirt horse, why was she worked on turf earlier this month, then sent down to Belmont?


Personal Pursuit
Alluring Angel

#10 PERSONAL PURSUIT: Showed some speed in her debut on dirt at Churchill Downs and comes in off of a very strong turf drill over the Oklahoma track. This $500,000 auction buy has plenty of talent on both sides of her pedigree, and the experience edge she has over some of this field is a big plus; #4 ALLURING ANGEL: Has a pedigree that’s all-turf in every possible direction. Jorge Abreu has attracted Irad Ortiz, Jr., to ride this filly, one out of a dam that’s kin to European Group 2 winner I Can Fly; #5 COWICHAN: Has shown speed in two downstate starts but faltered as the 2/5 favorite last time out. The blinkers come off, and that’s a strong move from a barn that cannot be ignored in these races, but I need more of a price than I’m likely to get.


W W Fitzy
Boston Post Road
Played Hard

#2 W W FITZY: Comes into this one off of a very strong race at Churchill Downs, where she sat a few lengths off the pace and won going away. With the exception of a race where she was eased, she hasn’t run a bad one since being claimed by Robertino Diodoro over the winter; #6 BOSTON POST ROAD: Comes in off of a third-place finish against stakes foes in the slop at Monmouth Park. That may have been a bounce off of a strong return to the races two back, when she dusted allowance foes at this distance at Belmont in her first start in 14 months; #3 PLAYED HARD: Has just one off-the-board finish in 10 career starts, and it came in last year’s Grade 1 Alabama against Malathaat and Clairiere. She nearly wired a decent group last time out in Kentucky and figures to be prominent from the jump here.


Alpine Queen
Stormi Cat Lady

#6 ALPINE QUEEN: Goes first off the claim for a small barn that’s already found the winner’s circle at this stand and attracts Irad Ortiz, Jr., who likely had some options here. She’s got four top-two finishes in six starts at this distance, and the July 21st work here jumps off the page; #3 VALLARAND: Likely needed her 2022 debut earlier this meet, which probably came against a better group and was her first start since October. Her winning effort here last season was sharp, and a similar type of performance here would give her a big shot; #2 STORMI CAT LADY: Won big last time out against a lesser group and steps up in class for a barn that’s running very, very well right now. Jose Lezcano has seemed to click with her over her last three starts, and perhaps she’s figuring things out in her 4-year-old season.


Sensible Jim
One More Baby
Mistical Curlin

#3 SENSIBLE JIM: Goes first off the claim for Joe Sharp and seems eligible to improve in a bottom-level maiden claiming race with many horses that seem like they’re being dumped. His best race came going two turns, he’s been working well up here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s on or near the lead in a race with horses that don’t like passing others; #8 ONE MORE BABY: Had an excuse last time, when he didn’t break well and was much further back than he prefers. His runner-up finish two back was fine, and the horse he chased that day came right back to win at next asking; #2 MISTICAL CURLIN: Was fourth for a higher tag last time out in a race run out of the Wilson chute. He’s not without a chance in here, but while it looks like he was gaining late, they ran the last quarter-mile in more than 27 seconds that day, so that’s a bit deceptive.


Fire King
New York Panther
Twirling Charlie

#5 FIRE KING: Goes long at first asking, which isn’t an easy thing to do. However, he’s in the hands of a trainer whose horses can do that, and his July 8th turf drill indicates he could have a lot of talent. Being by Belmont winner Palace Malice, I don’t think two turns will bother him much, either; #8 NEW YORK PANTHER: Rallied to run second going five furlongs downstate and has a right to improve stretching out to a route distance. His experience edge is a plus, and his pedigree indicates he’ll only get better with more ground; #9 TWIRLING CHARLIE: Was one-paced in his debut, which is the same race my second selection exits. This barn is aces with runners stretching out in distance, and a Parx-based rider comes north for just one mount. These connections did this last weekend with a 2-year-old that ran second.


Short Summer Dress (MTO)
Mail Order
Bye Bye

#6 MAIL ORDER: Stepped forward in a big way last time out, when she cruised home to top allowance foes while earning an 89 Beyer Speed Figure. Bill Mott’s runners tend to get better as they get older, and if another step forward third off the bench is in the offing, look out; #1 BYE BYE: Hasn’t won in a while and gets a tricky rail draw, but she’s run well twice downstate this season and was a close-up third in a stakes race at this route a season ago. There’s plenty of speed entered in this turf sprint, and nobody’s been riding these races better than Joel Rosario; #8 HIT THE WOAH: Hasn’t run in nearly six months but was a winner when last seen at Gulfstream Park. Her only other turf sprint to date was the Grade 3 Soaring Softly in 2021, where she was beaten less than two lengths by Bye Bye.


Art Collector
Mystic Night

#5 ART COLLECTOR: Makes his first start since a failed trip to the Middle East for the Saudi Cup and will look to win the Alydar for the second year in a row. He’s been working very strongly ahead of his return, and if he’s at anything close to his best, this race is for second money; #6 MASQUEPARADE: Was third in last year’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy behind Essential Quality, then went to the sidelines after a clunker in the Grade 1 Travers. His two outings at Churchill this season have been fine, and he could sit an ideal stalking trip just off the favorite’s flank; #1 MYSTIC NIGHT: Is 2-for-2 this season and comes in with a consistent local work tab for Chad Brown. A repeat of his last-out performance at Keeneland would give him a puncher’s chance, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s too pace-dependent for this event, which doesn’t have much apparent zip signed on outside of the overwhelming favorite.


Good Governance
Madaket entry

#7 GOOD GOVERNANCE: Hasn’t been out of the barn since February, but is a handful when he’s right and has placed in a pair of graced stakes races here over the years. I’ve taken stands against Brown trainees shipping up from Monmouth, but several of those have won coming off of long layoffs this summer, so perhaps it’s not as much of a red flag as it used to be; MADAKET ENTRY: Both have a shot, but I prefer #1 EMARAATY, who’s 2-for-3 here (including one of my eight wins the last Friday of last season). He ran well when second behind the talented Sifting Sands downstate, and 6-1 seems like far too big a price given what he’s capable of; #2 ATONE: Has run well in three graded stakes races and was second in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple here just a few weeks ago. On talent, he fits, but the outside post is a concern, and while Dylan Davis is enjoying a breakthrough year, it’s worth wondering why Flavien Prat got off to ride Emaraaty.


Miss Domina
Corms entry
Fast Corey

#7 MISS DOMINA: Was entered in a very tough spot off a long layoff last time out and ran like she needed the tightener. That day’s third-place finisher came back to win a stakes race earlier in the meet, and if this one’s back to her mid-2021 form, she could step forward and benefit from a closer-friendly race shape; CORMS ENTRY: Both #1 STUCK ON KITTEN and #1A MISPELLED MOOON fit here. The former goes second off the bench for a barn hitting at 26% this calendar year, while the latter graduated last time out and figures to be prominent early; #8 FAST COREY: Was a best bet of mine on opening day, when she took money against claimers, broke a bit slowly, and didn’t sit her desired trip. She was claimed that day, gets protected here, and has the zip to be the speed of the speed in this spot. Maybe that’s not enough to win, but I wouldn’t construct vertical exotics tickets without her involved.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/6/21)


BANKROLL: $1,245.90

Having a ballot for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is one of the great honors of my career. It’s something I cherish and respect every day of the year, but never more so than the day of the annual induction ceremony.

Two years’ worth of honorees will be enshrined Friday morning across the street from the track. Among others, the group includes trainers Todd Pletcher and Mark Casse, as well as Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan. It’ll be great to see the sport’s human and equine legends take their rightful places among the best in the history of the game, and I look forward to stopping by the Hall of Fame when I’m in upstate New York later this year.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: Both New York’s Finest and Mondeuse were in front turning for home, but they both got caught. I dropped $20.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: Today’s card is a great one, and I’ll focus on a few turf races. In the sixth, I’ll put $10 on #5 VALUE ENGINEERING to win and key him in $2 exactas above and below #2 SMILE BRYAN and #7 MO READY, who both hit me as live longshots. I’ll also put $10 to win on #10 LAZULI in the ninth (the Grade 3 Troy), and single that one in a cold $5 double that also includes #1 DIGITAL SOFTWARE in the nightcap.



Best Bet: Answer In, Race 4
Longshot: Lazuli, Race 9


EV Racing entry
Barone Cesco
Emma’s Waltz

#1 NO MI CULPA: Tired in his debut, which came in an off-the-turf race back in May. He gets on what will likely be his preferred surface, adds blinkers for Rudy Rodriguez, and sports a sharp half-mile drill here on July 22nd that hints he’ll be ready to run; #8 BARONE CESCO: Has the bottom-side pedigree to suggest he’s well-meant in this spot. He’s out of a mare who won a stakes race on turf, and that mare has already thrown seven winners. His second dam, meanwhile, is a full sister to multiple stakes winner Annual Date; #3 EMMA’S WALTZ: Was a very cheap auction buy, fetching just $3,500, and that’s curious because he’s out of a mare that won a Grade 2 going long on the lawn. Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride for a small outfit, and that seems noteworthy.


Malibu Pro
Roaming Union

#8 MALIBU PRO: Was claimed out of his most recent race by Linda Rice, who drops him in for half of the claiming price. It’s an aggressive move from an aggressive barn, so I don’t see it as a red flag, and anything close to his early-2021 form would make him tough to beat; #3 DUNPH: Has run third in four consecutive outings, including his first start for this barn last time out. If nothing else, the two-turn route of ground won’t get him beat, and he’d benefit from a pace meltdown; #7 ROAMING UNION: Hasn’t won in a while but attracts Joel Rosario for a barn that can heat up very, very quickly. Trainer Charlton Baker got off the duck Wednesday, and his wins sometimes come in bunches.


Rigney entry (MTO)
Single Soul
Longpants Required

#4 SINGLE SOUL: Came back running when winning her 2021 debut after not having run since a pair of November outings. Offspring of Dubawi usually don’t have issues going very, very long, and I think she’ll take a step forward second off the bench; #2 LONGPANTS REQUIRED: Adds blinkers for an astute barn and has run well going long on turf in the past. Blinkers are often an indication that a horse will show more early zip, and with the lack of pace in this field, that could give her a tactical advantage; #5 COASTANA: Ran well when second last time out in her first start against winners. This barn has found the winner’s circle a few times at this stand, and regular rider Luis Saez will once again be aboard.


Answer In
Wicked Trick
Jalen Journey

#4 ANSWER IN: Is a real handful when he’s right and exits what’s probably his career-best race. He earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure that day, and when Brad Cox gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there; #5 WICKED TRICK: Drops in class after three tries against graded stakes company downstate. Most notably, he was second in the Grade 3 Westchester going a mile, and while he’s good enough to win, I just think he wants a bit longer; #1 JALEN JOURNEY: Ran well twice against similar downstate and was second at this distance last month. He’s got a nose for the wire, with six wins in 14 career starts, and his record looks far better if you draw a line through his failed expedition to Dubai for the Group 1 Golden Shaheen.


Hot Anna
Violent Vixen
Airborne Gal

#7 HOT ANNA: Passed a few rivals in her debut, which isn’t easy to do, and she made that start for Ken McPeek, whose charges often need a race or two to get going. A step forward seems logical, and I think she presents a strong alternative to an entry I don’t like at all; #3 VIOLENT VIXEN: Has shown some zip in the mornings ahead of her debut, and while Charlton Baker’s horses don’t win much first time out, I don’t think she’ll need to be much to play a role in the outcome. The gate drills hint that she’s got some talent, and I think she’ll outrun her odds; #2 AIRBORNE GAL: Is another first-time starter, and she exits a solid half-mile drill here last week. Her work tab indicates that move wasn’t a fluke, and she may have enough speed to work out a trip from her tricky inside post.


Value Engineering
City Man
Zilla entry

#5 VALUE ENGINEERING: Generally runs the same race every time out, and that sort of effort would give him a chance in this wide-open optional claimer. I’m not crazy about the number of close losses on his record, but he’s probably faced better horses in his past few outings than the ones he’ll line up against here; #11 CITY MAN: Found Grade 1 waters too deep in the Manhattan and comes back to the right level here. His second-place finish in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy was very good, and that sort of effort would put him right there; #2 SMILE BRYAN: Got his nose down earlier in the meet and has a shot if he’s able to draw into this event. His record looks fat better if you toss his dirt races, as he’s a turf horse through and through.


Public Sector
Wolfie’s Dynaghost

#2 PUBLIC SECTOR: Rated behind a pretty slow pace in the Manila at Belmont and came up just a head short of a loose-on-the-lead winner. The pace should be considerably faster here, and that should allow this one’s class to shine through beneath Flavien Prat, who flies in for just one mount; #1 ANNEX: Is looking to right the ship after three straight defeats by open lengths following three straight wins at Gulfstream that opened his career. If he’s ever going to get back on track, though, it figures to be in a race with this sort of race shape, one that figures to set up for his late kick; #8 WOLFIE’S DYNAGHOST: Tries the turf for the first time and is bred to love it. Like several others, he has plenty of early speed, but he showed in his debut that he doesn’t necessarily need the lead to run well, which could prove important.


Art Collector
Jesus’ Team
Night Ops

#4 ART COLLECTOR: Was one of the top 3-year-olds in training in mid-2020 and has been transferred to the Bill Mott barn in an attempt to recapture that form. If he runs back to his efforts in races like the Grade 2 Blue Grass, he’ll be the one to beat in the Alydar; #7 JESUS’ TEAM: Is capable of big efforts, such as his second-place finish in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup earlier this season. He almost certainly needed his last-out effort after coming back from Dubai, and I’m expecting a step forward; #8 NIGHT OPS: Hasn’t won since last year’s Grade 3 Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows, but he’s been competitive against horses like Silver State and Mighty Heart. His recent work here was very sharp, and this spot makes plenty of sense, but it’s not like he hasn’t had chances, and that’s a concern.


Bound for Nowhere

#10 LAZULI: Has been running up against some very, very fast horses overseas and comes to the U.S. for Charles Appleby, who means business when he ships across the Atlantic. We’ve seen this before with horses like Althiqa, and his best could absolutely win the Grade 3 Troy; #7 IMPRIMIS: Has run one poor race in the last year and a half, and that stretch includes last year’s Troy, where he crossed the wire first but was disqualified. He’d stand to benefit from a fast pace, which seems likely, and he’s very logical here for a variety of reasons; #11 BOUND FOR NOWHERE: Doesn’t draw a great post and has certainly had his issues, but when he’s right, he’s one of the top turf sprinters on the planet. He cuts back a sixteenth of a mile for this one, and he’ll loom large if Joel Rosario can work out a trip from the far outside.


Bold Victory (MTO)
Digital Software
The Big Grey

#1 DIGITAL SOFTWARE: Is a very logical, formidable favorite in the Friday finale. He’s yet to run a poor race, including in his 2021 return, when he probably moved a bit early yet still finished a good second. Any move forward from that effort would make him a handful for this bunch; #7 THE BIG GREY: Almost certainly needed his debut effort and drops in class for his second career outing. His two recent half-mile drills were very sharp, and seeing Jose Ortiz aboard this 12-1 shot raises a few eyebrows; #8 THE ANGRY MAN: Goes second off the bench and retains John Velazquez after sputtering badly in an off-the-turf race earlier in the meet. He was second against straight maidens twice over this turf course last summer, and he’s certainly better than he showed in his last start.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/5/18


BANKROLL: $724.50

Several times in this section over the past few years, I’ve preached the value of some of the forgotten exotics wagers on the menu. Yesterday, one of them gave bettors a real opportunity to make some money. The fourth-race winner was The Caretaker, who came off the main-track-only list and won at odds of 8/5. The fifth-race winner was Uni, the 5/2 co-favorite in the De La Rose. The $2 daily double paid $17.80.

This may not sound like much, but turning two short prices into that sort of return is a way to create value. You won’t retire off of returns like that, but eagle-eyed handicappers that take a more grind-it-out approach to the game appreciate those opportunities.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: I was right to play against Cuarenta, who didn’t run a jump in the third race. However, none of the three horses I boxed in exactas cracked the top two, meaning a loss of $30.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on another forgotten exotic, the Grand Slam. It starts in the seventh, assumes races carded for the turf stay there, and singles best bet #3 TIMELINE in the Alydar Stakes to finish it out. My $2 ticket is as follows: 4,7,8 with 5,6 with 1,3 with 3.



Saturday’s Results: 2 for 9
Meer Results (to date): 37 for 137

Best Bet: Timeline, Race 10
Longshot: Scarf It Down, Race 4


Into Mystic
Sharp entry

#5 INTO MYSTIC: Fetched $650,000 at auction earlier this year and has several sharp works to her credit. She may want a bit longer than this distance, but she could also be precocious enough to win at first asking given her sire, Into Mischief; SHARP ENTRY: I prefer #1 MO WHEELS UP, who’s been working very well of late. Having said that, #1A LADY T N T isn’t without a shot, as she lost all chance early on in her debut; #4 TWEEDIA: Has a very obscure pedigree, but looks the part of a runner in the mornings. We don’t see too many Arkansas-breds at Saratoga, but Brad Cox can win with horses from everywhere, and she may be a bit of a price.


Packed House
Jimmy Jazz
Gambler’s Fallacy

#6 PACKED HOUSE: Didn’t break well last time out and was one-paced going longer. That running style leads me to believe he’ll like two turns, and this seems like a mediocre field for the level; #2 JIMMY JAZZ: Goes two turns for the first time and has been gelded since a fifth-place finish at this level downstate. Jose Lezcano hops aboard, and he has a right to improve at a price; #10 GAMBLER’S FALLACY: May be favored given the powerhouse connections. However, the workouts aren’t anything special, he’ll need to negotiate a trip from the far outside post, and it’s tough to win going two turns right off the bat.


Mighty Zealous
O Shea Can U See
Winston’s Chance

#6 MIGHTY ZEALOUS: Drops down in class after trying stakes foes earlier this meet in a spot that turned up incredibly tough for the level. It helps that he likes a wet track, as there may still be moisture out there following rain earlier in the weekend; #4 O SHEA CAN U SEE: May have figured things out judging by his two straight wire-to-wire wins at Belmont Park. He’ll be prominent early, although he’ll likely have company up front; #1 WINSTON’S CHANCE: Lit up the tote board here last year and returns to the Spa for this event. However, he’s winless in four starts at Finger Lakes, and this seems a bit shorter than his best game.


Scarf It Down
Win With Pride
Top of the Page

#2 SCARF IT DOWN: Hasn’t won in a while, but has been running against tough starter allowance foes and drops in for a tag here. His two starts at this route last season were both sharp, and Luis Saez returning to the saddle can’t be overlooked; #6 WIN WITH PRIDE: Returns to dirt after chasing swifter foes on turf earlier in the meet. He’s won his last two dirt starts against claiming company, and he should be rolling late; #3 TOP OF THE PAGE: Had a rough trip last time out when third against similar going two turns. He cuts back to seven furlongs in his first start for Robertino Diodoro, and he’s won at this distance before.


Disco Partner
Blind Ambition
Holding Gold

#3 DISCO PARTNER: Went further than he wants to go last time out at Belmont and returns to his preferred distance. He won this race two years ago, and he should get a perfect setup given his late-running style and an abundance of early speed in this field; #6 BLIND AMBITION: Also cuts back in distance, and is another that’s had success sprinting on turf at Saratoga. He has tactical speed, but does not need the lead and could get first run on the pace-setters turning for home; #2 HOLDING GOLD: Was a late-running third in the Grade 1 Highlander at Woodbine last time out. He’ll be going the right way in the stretch, but he’s won just one of his last nine starts, so I can’t use him on top.


Speedy Solution

#7 DOGTAG: Is one of two Chad Brown trainees in this field, and this one’s works impress me more. She’s bred to be a runner, and while debuting going two turns isn’t easy, she’s yet to do anything wrong in her training; #9 TULA: Had an adventurous trip when third in her debut. She was wide early and well back in a race with no early pace, yet still rallied to finish third. She may have gotten a lot out of that race; #3 SPEEDY SOLUTION: Also had a troubled trip in her unveiling, as she was a close-up third in a roughly-run race downstate. John Velazquez hops aboard, and while Wesley Ward isn’t great with stretch-outs, this filly is bred to want as much ground as possible.


What a Catch
Felix in Fabula
American Power

#4 WHAT A CATCH: Drops in for a tag after spending most of his career collecting checks in state-bred stakes races. There’s a chance he’s peaked already, but this is a steep class drop, and I doubt we’ll get the 5-1 morning line given the presence of Pletcher and Velazquez; #7 FELIX IN FABULA: Has yet to run a bad race around one turn and exits a win downstate at this level. He was claimed by Danny Gargan that day, and the recent works indicate he’s ready to run; #8 AMERICAN POWER: Snuck by the $25,000 level last time out, winning by nearly six lengths for aggressive connections. This is a step up in class, but he’s got two wins and a second in three one-turn outings and is a threat if he can repeat his last-out effort.


Bad Student (MTO)
Roman Approval
Decisive Triumph

#5 ROMAN APPROVAL: Drops way down in class after two failed tries against Grade 3 company. He’s got one way of going, and if he gets an easy lead, he could get brave against a lesser group than the ones he’s faced of late; #6 DECISIVE TRIUMPH: Exits a listed stakes race at Delaware Park where they flew home in the final quarter-mile. He’s got plenty of experience going this far, but he hasn’t won since late-2016, so it’s tough to endorse him on top with much confidence; #10 MASTER PLAN: Has back form that would trounce these, but his last three races haven’t been pretty, which explains the class drop. Two of those races were on dirt, though, and he could wake up if this stays on the grass. DIRT SELECTIONS: BAD STUDENT, HARDLY A SECRET, HALLOWEEN HORROR.


Clutch Cargo (MTO)
Team Valor entry
Uncle Gio

TEAM VALOR ENTRY: I prefer #1 PILLAR MOUNTAIN, who had every right to need his return race last time out. I think he’ll step forward in his second start off the bench, and this distance could suit him; #3 UNCLE GIO: Adds blinkers after having won two of his last four starts. He was a bit compromised last time by a fairly slow pace, and the blinkers could get him more involved early; #2 IM THE CAPTAIN NOW: Missed by a head at this level last time out downstate. He’s got plenty of experience at this distance, but has settled for minor awards more often than not. DIRT SELECTIONS: CLUTCH CARGO, CONVICT PIKE, HOLIDAY BONUS.



#3 TIMELINE: Was second behind Sunny Ridge last time out, but looms large in this spot as the main speed in the race. Additionally, he loves a wet track, which he could get in this spot; #2 OUTPLAY: Won the Curlin Stakes here last year and cuts back in distance after tiring in the Grade 2 Brooklyn. He’s got some early speed, but has shown he doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well; #5 PATCH: Will be well-supported at the windows, though for reasons that have nothing to do with his ability. He could come running late, but both of his wins have come in one-turn races, and it’s fair to wonder if that’s the trip he wants.


Naples Legacy (MTO)
Safe With Me

#10 SAFE WITH ME: Was second behind a next-out winner last time out downstate. The outside post is less than ideal, but she’s won at this route and should be running well late beneath Javier Castellano; #2 SAMARA: Comes back to the appropriate level after a failed try against starter allowance foes. Her races two and three back were solid, and repeats of those races would definitely put her in the mix; #9 JAZZY JUDER: Was fourth in the race my top pick exits, which doubled as her first start in more than 10 months. She could improve second off the bench for sharp connections. DIRT SELECTIONS: NAPLES LEGACY, MISS SIZZLE, PARANOIA.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/6/17


BANKROLL: $943.25

When I was growing up, one of my favorite days at the track was when extended family from Connecticut would make the trip. This consisted of my Uncle Bob and cousin Shari (one of Bob’s daughters). In the past few years, since I’ve assumed a “featured handicapper” post here in The Pink Sheet, my uncle would often butter me up by saying I’d surpassed another handicapper whose picks he’d bet religiously. I always got a laugh out of the way he’d say it, and I’d give a lot to hear it once more.

Bob Brandenberger passed away Friday. He was a man of many talents, a devoted father to his daughters, and someone who could always make those around him crack a smile (including Lee Trevino at a PGA tournament many years ago). He’s survived by Shari and fellow daughter Karen, and if you’re the praying type, do me a favor and keep them in your thoughts, will you?

Thanks for believing in me, Uncle Bob. I love you.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Our early Pick Four went up in smoke in the second leg, when Apple Betty and Suffused both faded in the stretch of the Waya. We dropped $32.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: #6 RALLY CRY is the likely favorite in the Alydar, and he’s my best bet of the day. I’ll try to extract some value by singling him in doubles that start and end with him. I’ll play $10 doubles using #2 ESCAPADE and #4 WILD AND FUNNY in the second, and $5 doubles using #5 APPEALING BRIEFS, #7 HOBOE, and #10 FOLLOW THE SIGNS in the fourth.



Best Bet: Rally Cry, Race 3
Longshot: My Bronx Tail, Race 6


Are We Not Men
Lucky Lotto
Cocked and Loaded

ARE WE NOT MEN: Won three in a row before an unsuccessful try against much better horses. He ran into at least two next-out winners that day, and this company should be much more to his liking; LUCKY LOTTO: Won at this level downstate and generally runs the same race every time out. He was claimed back by this barn after that victory, and this gelding could sit a nice trip just off the pace; COCKED AND LOADED: Takes an alarming class drop into this event. He won here last year, and his best wins this, but the drop makes one wonder if this is an attempted dump.


Wild and Funny
Critique (MTO)

ESCAPADE: Came running late to be beaten less than a length in her unveiling and stretches out here. The pedigree indicates the distance won’t be a problem, although Castellano riding elsewhere is odd; WILD AND FUNNY: Ran into the eventual Schuylerville winner in her debut and bested the rest of the field. This barn has gotten off to a slow start, but this filly could be well-meant at second asking; CYRIELLE: Needs luck to draw in, but is bred to be a good one and has worked well ahead of her debut. If she gets into the field, she merits respect. DIRT SELECTIONS: CRITIQUE, REALITY QUEEN, CITY DAY.


Rally Cry
Breaking Lucky
Red Rifle

RALLY CRY: Chased the top milers in the country in his last outing and should relish the drop in class. This one is running the best races of his career, and a step forward would make him very tough to beat; BREAKING LUCKY: Has run into the likes of Arrogate and Gun Runner in the past and is another that could find this a welcome spot away from the heavyweights. He was also entered in Saturday’s Whitney and could scratch, but he’s a major player if he runs; RED RIFLE: Is best known as a Grade 2 winner on turf, but has had success on dirt and should be forwardly-placed early on.


Follow the Signs
Appealing Briefs

FOLLOW THE SIGNS: Took a step forward in his 3-year-old debut, which doubled as his first start for Chad Brown. They’ve been trying to get him on turf, and his pedigree indicates the lawn won’t be an issue; APPEALING BRIEFS: Made a big move to be second in his first start off a long layoff. The relative lack of early speed may work against him, but he should be flying late; HOBOE: Adds blinkers and has taken a large leap forward since switching to the turf. The presence of Jose Ortiz is a big plus. DIRT SELECTIONS: FOLLOW THE SIGNS, PRINCE REIGNER, MOTT ENTRY.


Another Genius
Rice entry
Cozy Spring

ANOTHER GENIUS: Returns off a long layoff and has a worktab that indicates she may be ready to run off the bench. She was an impressive winner in her debut, which came at this route last summer; RICE ENTRY: Linda Rice also has two others in here. STARTWITHSILVER has run well at this route in the past, while SILLY SISTER has won two in a row and is the one to beat if this gets switched to the dirt; COZY SPRING: Tries turf for the first time after having won two in a row on dirt. If her early speed translates to grass, she may be tough to catch. DIRT SELECTIONS: SILLY SISTER, COZZY SPRING, MOONDANCE JOY.


History Supreme
Everybody Loves Me
My Bronx Tail

HISTORY SUPREME: Showed early speed in her debut, when she faded to fifth as an odds-on favorite. However, this barn’s first-time starters don’t often fire, and she’s the only horse in this field with experience, which could be a big help; EVERYBODY LOVES ME: Fetched $315k at auction earlier this year and has been working like a precocious filly. She needs a scratch to draw in, but she merits respect if she runs; MY BRONX TAIL: Hails from a barn that isn’t great with debuting runners, but her dam is a half to graded stakes-winning 2-year-old Kauai Katie, which means this one could be ready to run at a price.


Diamond Jim

MUTARAAMY: Drops in for a tag after showing ample early zip against allowance foes. The rider is on a cold streak, but he excels on frontrunners, which makes this gelding an ideal fit; DIAMOND JIM: Adds blinkers on the drop in class following a failed turf try last month. Given the rail draw and the equipment change, he’ll likely be on or near the lead out of the gate; REEDINI: Cuts back in distance and has shown an ability to rate. His effort two back was solid, and this one could grab a piece of it at a price.


Jewel Can Disco (MTO)
Storm Prophet

STORM PROPHET: Hasn’t won in a while, but took a big step forward in his first start off a layoff. He missed by just a neck in a swiftly-run race, and a repeat effort likely wins this; SHIRAZ: Was third in a Grade 3 event earlier this season and has run some solid races going two turns. This route of ground could be to his liking, and the presence of Javier Castellano is intriguing; NUTZFORBOLTZ: May have been a turf horse all along judging by his last two efforts. Both of those races were won by next-out winners, so there’s back class here. DIRT SELECTIONS: JEWEL CAN DISCO, BOURBON EMPIRE, PECULIAR SENSATION.


Libby’s Tail
Godolphin entry
Stormy’s Song

LIBBY’S TAIL: Scratched from a similar spot earlier in the meet due to a wet track and looks very tough here. She’s a head away from being a Grade 1 winner, and I’ve been waiting for her to run back; GODOLPHIN ENTRY: Given the likely race shape, I prefer TASTEFUL. She hasn’t run since making a sweeping move to win a maiden event at Keeneland in April, and there appears to be ample early speed signed on; STORMY’S SONG: May have found a mile to be a bit long last time out. She earned a bullet on July 29th with the fastest of 122 drills at that distance, and if she runs to the worktab, she could be tough.


Green Mask
Weekend Hideaway (MTO)
Pure Sensation

GREEN MASK: Has never been better than he is now. He’s yet to finish outside the exacta in five starts this year, and that streak includes a pair of graded stakes wins; PURE SENSATION: Loves this route and figures to be prominent early. His win in the Grade 3 Parx Dash was excellent, and he may have what it takes to lead every step of the way; LONG ON VALUE: Returns to America after making a pair of starts abroad. One of them was a near-miss in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai, and a repeat performance would make this one tough. DIRT SELECTIONS: WEEKEND HIDEAWAY, LONG ON VALUE, MONGOLIAN SATURDAY.


Harlan Punch (MTO)
Escape Velocity

ESCAPE VELOCITY: Won his debut two back and then ran into a strong field for the level last time out. The winner came back to run fairly well in a Grade 2, the runner-up came back to win, and these rivals today don’t seem to be in that class; OTTO: Was third behind a next-out winner after dropping to this level last time out. Ricardo Santana hops aboard, and he should be running well late; SON OF OAHU: Hasn’t won in a while but fared reasonably well in two starts here last year against better horses. John Velazquez rides back, and he could be forwardly-placed early. DIRT SELECTIONS: HARLAN PUNCH, BUNYAAN, BELLOWS.