SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/31/22)


BANKROLL: $768.20

We saw something really special Saturday in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt. Jackie’s Warrior ran his local record to 5-for-5, a mark that includes an unprecedented run of Grade 1 victories in three straight seasons.

Longevity isn’t valued in racing anymore. Horses run fewer times, over shorter spans, and are whisked to the breeding shed much faster (often leaving fans wondering just how good they really were). Seeing horses keep running at the game’s highest level is inspiring, and those horses make it easy to be a fan.

I posted this question to Twitter, and it’s worth asking here, too: Which streak is more impressive, this one or Fourstardave’s run of eight straight years with a win at Saratoga? Right now, it’s probably the latter. However, if Jackie’s Warrior somehow stays in training as a 5-year-old and runs that streak to four years, I think it’s a very, very legitimate question.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: The whole “ran great, second-best” thing leaves a lot to be desired. First-race single Tatum didn’t run poorly (far from it), but him not winning meant my $30 of tickets turned into confetti.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I can’t wait to see #5 PRANK run in the sixth. I think she’s exceptionally well-meant, and I’ll key her a few different ways. She’s a single to finish $10 doubles that start with #6 CAPITAL STRUCTURE and #9 BABY BLYTHE in the fifth, and I’ll also punch a cold $10 exacta using Prank atop #6 HIGH CLASS.



Best Bet: Prank, Race 6
Longshot: Guajira, Race 3



#2 TRUANCY: Ran well at first asking for a barn whose first-time starters often need a race or two to get going. She split a pair of next-out winners, and her two local works since that unveiling were very, very fast; #1 VOLEUSE: Benefited from a race that fell apart from a pace perspective in her dirt debut. She did show improvement to run second that day despite an awkward start, and Joel Rosario rides back for Christophe Clement; #6 PHOTON: Passed tired ones in her debut, which is the same race my second selection exits. A recent bullet drill indicates she’s moving forward, though, and she has every right to improve in her second career start.


Ticker Tape Home
Free Look
Callie’s Grit

#8 TICKER TAPE HOME: Did everything but win in her debut at Woodbine, where she may have moved just a bit early when beaten a half-length. That previous run gives her an experience edge over most of this field, one that could prove very valuable; #10 FREE LOOK: Hammered for $300,000 at Keeneland last year, and for good reason. She’s by Tapit and out of a full sister to Grade 1 winner and strong sire Violence. The outside post is far from ideal, but she’s got every right to be a runner; #9 CALLIE’S GRIT: Carries a heck of a story behind the name and has several works that suggest she’s got some talent. She’s also got a ton of turf pedigree, especially on the bottom side, and 12-1 hits me as way too big a price.


Let’s Be Clear
Knowing Glance

#2 LET’S BE CLEAR: Goes first off the claim for Linda Rice and returns to a track where she ran well twice a season ago. She’s also excelled at this seven-furlong route, and she could sit an ideal stalking trip beneath Irad Ortiz, Jr.; #7 GUAJIRA: Has been off since January and returns while protected from the claim by a very astute barn. I love when barns do that. It hints at confidence, which can also be inspired by a pair of very sharp local drills ahead of this one’s return; #3 KNOWING GLANCE: Isn’t the most consistent runner, but her best is good enough to make her a player here. The question is, which filly do we get? The one that ran well at this level last time out has a shot. The one that seemed to tail off over the winter does not.


Street Tsar
Tap’n de Bank
Daufuskie Island

#5 STREET TSAR: Won at first asking after prevailing in a duel with another runner many, many lengths ahead of the rest of the field. That runner-up ran a decent second a few days ago, and a logical move forward would make this Todd Pletcher trainee tough to beat; #7 TAP’N DE BANK: Was beaten just a neck in his first start against winners downstate. Like many others in this field, he’s got plenty of early speed, and he and John Velazquez figure to be prominent from a very early stage; #6 DAUFUSKIE ISLAND: Comes back to state-bred competition after topping starter allowance foes a few weeks ago. He’s placed in four stakes races, so he’s got plenty of back class, and his very first start was a win by open lengths here last summer.


Baby Blythe
Capital Structure
Ice Princess

#9 BABY BLYTHE: Has had some issues the past few years but is a real handful when she’s healthy. Her win here last year was sensational, and she may be ready to fire another big shot third off the bench going a marathon distance she’s bred to love; #6 CAPITAL STRUCTURE: Had an adventurous journey in her return to the races off a long layoff, where she ran into trouble multiple times and was fourth as an even-money favorite. Smooth sailing would make her a major player here, though it’s fair to wonder if this distance is what she wants; #3 ICE PRINCESS: Has been working well ahead of her first start since April, and while she’s 0-for-2 on turf, she did run second in a state-bred stakes race on the lawn last fall. She should love this distance given her pedigree, and the versatility she’s shown throughout her career is a big plus.


High Class
Check Engine Light

#5 PRANK: May be the best-bred 2-year-old on the grounds right now. She’s a half-sister to Belmont and Wood Memorial winner Mo Donegal, sold for $500,000 last year at Keeneland, and has been working up a storm for Todd Pletcher ahead of a highly-anticipated debut; #6 HIGH CLASS: Boasts a work pattern I really like coming into her first start. When the second-back work of a Steve Asmussen trainee is fast, and the more recent work is a maintenance drill, it’s often a sign that the horse is well-meant; #2 CHECK ENGINE LIGHT: Comes into this one off of a bullet drill over the Oklahoma track and attracts Flavien Prat. The rail draw isn’t ideal for a first-time starter, but it’s also possible he’s quick enough to negate any possible roadblocks.


Intrepid Heart (MTO)
Flop Shot
Soldier Rising

#10 FLOP SHOT: Finally recorded his first stateside win last time out and has been freshened up ahead of this event. He’s run well fresh in the past, though, and his back class jumps off the page. Anything close to his early-2022 form would make him a formidable foe; #5 SOLDIER RISING: Is a consistent sort that seems to run the same race every time out. A few weeks ago, that was good enough to finish second behind Channel Maker in a listed stakes race. He was second in last year’s Grade 1 Saratoga Derby, and he doesn’t seem as pace-dependent now as he was then; #3 SANCTUARY CITY: Hasn’t won in quite a while but gets significant class relief after three straight stakes tries. He was a good second going a bit longer back in May, which doubled as the last time he was eligible for Lasix. The Lasix comes back here, and he could move forward at a price.


Highland Chief

#2 ARKLOW: Runs well fresh and should be well-rested for his first start in almost 10 months in the Grade 2 Bowling Green. This classy 8-year-old has banked nearly $3 million in career earnings, has been training forwardly for Brad Cox, and looks like the one to beat; #3 HIGHLAND CHIEF: Pulled off a 19-1 upset two starts back in the Grade 1 Man o’ War before running fourth in the Grade 1 Manhattan. This barn’s success with turf marathoners is well-known, and when horses like that from this outfit get on the right track, they tend to stay there; #1 L’IMPERATOR: Looks like the possible lone speed in here, and a similar trip got him the money in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy back in May. The inside draw may force Manny Franco’s hand, and if he gets brave, he could lead them a long way.



#7 CORNICHE: Returns off of a long layoff and makes his first start for new trainer Todd Pletcher. Last year’s Champion 2-Year-Old Male has been working steadily leading up to the Grade 2 Amsterdam, and if he’s moved forward off of that campaign where he never trailed at any point of call, look out; #4 PAPPACAP: Has done nothing wrong since cutting back to one turn other than run into two freakish performances from Jack Christopher. He gets another tough opponent here, but he’s found a home going shorter after spending time on the Kentucky Derby trail; #1 PINEHURST: Makes his first start since a two-race expedition to the Middle East. One of those tries was a win in a rich Saudi Arabia event, and his resume also features a win in last year’s Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. If the recent local work is any indication, he’s ready to run.


Gimmebackmybullets (MTO)
Sharp Sensation
Majestic Johnson

#7 SHARP SENSATION: Makes the most sense to me in a wide-open finale. He comes back to the right level after finishing sixth against straight maidens last time out, and he actually crossed the wire first in a similar race at Aqueduct back in April; #6 MAJESTIC JOHNSON: Debuted with an eventful trip a few weeks ago and has every right to improve for a barn whose runners tend to do so with a start or two under their belts. The connections might’ve pulled a fast one getting this name approved, and it’s not inconceivable to think they could be celebrating after the Sunday nightcap; #5 MARTINEZ: Has had a lot of chances and has been a beaten favorite in three of four starts this year. He was second in a race many of these exit, and while he fits on figures, it’s fair to wonder if he’s an owner’s dream (collecting checks) and a bettor’s nightmare (never winning).

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/1/21)


BANKROLL: $1,326.60

Predictably, horse racing Twitter had very animated reactions to the jockey introductions prior to Saturday’s Jim Dandy Stakes. As I stated when they initially rolled these out a few years ago, I don’t have a problem with them. If they don’t scare horses, and if jockeys are fine with the added bells and whistles, it’s a-OK with me.

We need to do more to celebrate the people who bust their butts every day to keep the industry’s wheels turning. Given that jockeys do some of the most dangerous work in all of sports, any chance we can get to recognize them should be taken and run with. For that reason, along with a few others (I’m a wrestling fan, after all), I endorse the intros, provided they’re kept in moderation and saved for the biggest races on the calendar.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Between the exacta I hit on the Kentucky Derby undercard and the one I hit in the A.G. Vanderbilt, Lexitonian is rocketing up my “favorite horses of all-time” list. Pick Threes fizzled after we ran second in the first leg, but the $2 exacta box connected for $367. My only regret is that I didn’t play the trifecta, which included all three horses I used and came back at $525 for a 50-cent bet.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the early Pick Five, which of course kicks off in the first race of the day. My 50-cent ticket looks like this: 1,5,10 with 3,5 with 1,7 with 9,10 with 1,3,7. I usually set my sights on Pick Fours, but I feel #2 EVERESTING is very vulnerable at 2-1 in the opener, and beating that one may knock plenty of tickets out right away.



Best Bet: Jackie’s Warrior, Race 9
Longshot: Kenner, Race 5


Bush entry
Uncle Mo’s Cat

BUSH ENTRY: The same barn houses two contenders in a wide-open Sunday opener. I prefer #1A CONGRATS FOR GLORY, whose two-back effort was pretty solid and would be a contender should he return to that form; #10 THRUSTER: Is a deep closer, which means he may need an ideal setup but also that the far outside post shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Jose Ortiz could be able to drop him back out of the gate, save ground, and come running late; #5 UNCLE MO’S CAT: Was a decent third last time out over yielding going downstate, and Joel Rosario sees fit to ride back. He’s run like a horse that will improve with experience, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be.


Popular Vote (MTO)
Silvery Rill

#5 SILVERY RILL: Is bred to want precisely this race as her first career outing. She’s by all-world sire War Front, out of Grade 3 turf winner Stays in Vegas, and boasts the formidable tag team of Joel Rosario and trainer Christophe Clement; #3 BLISSFUL: Hammered for $350,000 earlier this year and is bred to be a strong turf horse. Her dam was a multiple Grade 3 winner on the lawn, and her full sister, Keri Belle, took down a Grade 3 of her own during her racing days; #4 WATERVILLE: Is the “other” Christophe Clement trainee here and could have some potential. The daughter of Kitten’s Joy is out of a graded stakes winner that has thrown four prior winners, including multiple stakes winner Sea Foam.


Lookin for Loki
Full Court Press

#1 LOOKIN FOR LOKI: Has plenty of back form and takes a huge drop in class off the claim by Danny Gargan. Over the past three years, Gargan is 5-for-7 with new acquisitions dropping by 50% or more in claiming price, and his best can absolutely beat this bunch; #7 EUCHARIST: Ran like a horse that needed a race last time out, and he may very well have been rusty given the long layoff. He’s another class-dropper, and perhaps he’ll be more ready to go for the red-hot Mike Maker barn in this spot; #2 FULL COURT PRESS: Was taken off the pace last time out but still managed to run third that day. It’s possible these connections discovered some flexibility here, and there certainly seems to be plenty of early speed signed on to set up for his newfound late kick.


Tenderness (MTO)
Jill’s a Hot Mess

#9 JILL’S A HOT MESS: Found her form after being switched to the turf two starts ago, and she’ll make her first outing for new conditioner Linda Rice here. On paper, it’s a step up in class, but on figures, she absolutely fits and could be in line for a new career-best given Rice’s record with new acquisitions; #10 TRANSLATE: Was in strong form earlier this year, when she ran well plenty of times out west. The outside post isn’t ideal, and her form has taken a step back since coming east, but her best could absolutely thump her rivals; #4 LILLY SIMONE: Earned her diploma last time out in her first start for a tag. I’m not sure what she beat in that event, but she looked good doing it and this isn’t the toughest spot to run against winners for the first time.


Whittington Park

#3 ROTKNEE: Debuted with a good second at Belmont and finished nearly five lengths clear of the third-place finisher. His lone work since that effort was a bullet drill downstate, and he’s certainly eligible to move forward at second asking for the hottest barn on the circuit; #1 WHITTINGTON PARK: Debuts for Brad Cox and may very well be good enough to overcome the rail draw. His dam has thrown four runners, and they’ve all won multiple times, including multiple stakes winner Critical Value; #7 KENNER: Has a very interesting work tab and ships up from Delaware Park for a barn that doesn’t run many in New York. His second dam is graded stakes winner Lovely Lil, who has thrown three winners, including recent first-out victor American Xperiment.


Foxtail (MTO)
Miss Teheran
New York Girl

#5 MISS TEHERAN: Hasn’t run a bad race since coming across the pond after the 2018 season. She goes to a two-turn route of ground here, and she’s run her best races over similar configurations. Between that and the presence of legitimate early speed, I think this Chad Brown trainee will get an optimal setup; #1 NEW YORK GIRL: Has spent this year tackling graded stakes competition, and she’s better than she showed in the Grade 1 Just A Game on Belmont Stakes Day. Her back class is evident, and if she can work out a trip from her tricky inside post, she could be in a position to stalk and pounce turning for home; #7 ENOLA GAY: Won last year’s Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland, but hasn’t run since September. She was fifth in the rich Saratoga Oaks over this turf course a season ago, and she could have a big say in this one if she’s ready to run off of such a long layoff.


Aloha West
Night Time
Town Classic

#6 ALOHA WEST: Gets a tepid nod in a tricky optional claiming event. He was most recently fourth in a minor stakes race at Churchill Downs, and that day’s winner, Bango, has since come back to win again. If he’s able to rate behind a fast pace, he’ll be the one they have to hold off late; #7 NIGHT TIME: Hasn’t won since this meet last year, when he prevailed over allowance company. He ran reasonably well last month at Churchill in his first race since November, and he’s good enough to win if he’s fully-cranked; #3 TOWN CLASSIC: Broke through when dropped in for a tag at Belmont and was claimed that day by Mike Maker. He’s hit the board in 38 of 52 career starts, and his 97 Beyer Speed Figure from that romp is by far the highest such last-out number in the field.


Bayshore Foxes (MTO)
Mirabell Mei
Summer in the City

#2 MIRABELL MEI: Hasn’t won in a while but is entered for a tag for the first time in a while. She’s run reasonably well twice this season against starter allowance foes. This seems like a weaker bunch, and her chances would get even better if a solid early pace is set that sets up for her late-running style; #10 SUMMER IN THE CITY: Was rated last time out against starter allowance foes, and that probably isn’t what she wants to do. She’s usually up far closer to the pace, and if she gets that kind of trip on the drop in class, she’ll have every chance to win this; #6 AMORTIZATION: Will run for a tag for the first time in her young career. Between that and the presence of top trainer Chad Brown, she may make a lot of sense to some. Personally, I see works at Monmouth Park as a big red flag for this outfit, but based on numbers, she absolutely fits here.


Jackie’s Warrior
Crowded Trade
Drain the Clock

#3 JACKIE’S WARRIOR: Did everything but win last time in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens. He broke slowly, rushed up, did all the dirty work while setting a fast pace, and was beaten just a neck. If he gets out to a cleaner start in the Grade 2 Amsterdam, I think the race could be for second money; #6 CROWDED TRADE: Was scratched from an allowance race earlier in the meet but has been working well enough to where I’m seeing his entry here as a sign of confidence. The outside post is a plus, and his only prior start going short was a first-out win at Aqueduct; #2 DRAIN THE CLOCK: Benefited from Jackie’s Warrior’s poor start last time out and has done very little wrong, winning six of eight career starts to date. This barn, however, has gone a bit cold of late, and the 97 Beyer Speed Figure last time out was a new career-high by 11 points. He’s good enough to win, but perhaps he’s in line for a bounce, and 2-1 seems a bit short for my liking.


Not a Trace
Know It All Red

#1 ESOTICA: Ran a career-best race when third in the slop at Belmont back in May. She’s got enough speed to use the inside draw to her advantage, and that and her back form are enough to make her my tepid top pick in the Sunday finale; #10 NOT A TRACE: Was third in an off-the-turf race on Independence Day, and her form suggests she may have been a dirt horse all along. She was a good second three starts back, and she’s got enough speed to be on or near the lead from the first jump; #4 KNOW IT ALL RED: Has run second in back-to-back tries against similar, and the last-out effort came with a wide trip and resulted in her highest career Beyer Speed Figure. There may be enough speed in here to provide a friendly race shape, and at least we know she can pass horses in the later stages.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/28/19)



The best horse in training doesn’t reside at Saratoga, or Del Mar, or even in North America. She’s in Europe, in the care of John Gosden, and she’ll likely attempt a second straight assault on some of America’s best horses this fall.

I’m referring, of course, to Enable, who turned back all comers in the Group 1 King George Saturday at Ascot. She’s won all but one of her 13 career starts, earned two straight victories in the Arc de Triomphe, and got her picture taken following last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Juddmonte had another superstar in Europe earlier this decade. That was the undefeated Frankel, who was dazzling in romps over all comers during his sensational career. However, given Enable’s track record, her ability to go a longer distance of ground, and her win in the U.S., I think any comparison between the two would be incredibly fair.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Ya Primo ran well in the Bowling Green, but could only manage second. Still, thanks to the presence of a $10 place bet, we only wound up dropping a dollar.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to focus on the early Pick Four, which I think can be played pretty cheaply and hit multiple times. My $1 ticket, which starts in the second race, reads as follows: 2,7,8 with 2,6 with 5,6 with 4,10. I’m against #3 FOOCH in the third, and if a non-favorite wins that race, payoff potential goes up significantly.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Runningwscissors, Race 4
LONGSHOT: Pendolino, Race 8


Cleon Jones
Brian’s Last Song

#4 CLEON JONES: Was one-paced when favored in his debut, but comes in off of a very sharp local drill and may be worth another shot. Improvement is logical at second asking for the colt named for the former Mets outfielder; #7 BRIAN’S LAST SONG: Hammered for $180,000 here last summer and has been working steadily for trainer Todd Pletcher. He looks well-meant, but it’s curious that first-call rider John Velazquez doesn’t have the mount; #3 STANHOPE: Sold for $150,000 as a yearling and boasts several strong moves ahead of his unveiling. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because this barn’s horses often need a race or two to get going.


Laser Loop
Air On Fire
Desert Lights

#8 LASER LOOP: Was claimed by an astute barn last time out and drops way down in class for this event. He should relish the shallower waters, and it’s encouraging that Saez hops aboard; #2 AIR ON FIRE: Splashed his way to a runaway win last month at Belmont and takes a step up in class here. He seems to be in strong form, and he’ll be particularly dangerous if the track comes up wet; #7 DESERT LIGHTS: Has never finished worse than third in five tries at this distance and merits respect for a solid barn. He could sit a nice stalking trip and seems like a must-use in exotics.


One Last Buck

#6 TENURE: Graduated with ease last time out at Monmouth and tries winners for the first time. He gets the benefit of a short field, and while he’s got plenty of speed, it helps that he doesn’t seem to need the lead in order to run well; #2 OUR LAST BUCK: Comes back to turf in his first start since February and merits respect despite the layoff. His lone poor effort came in the mud at Aqueduct, and Lezcano opts to ride him back for Weaver; #3 FOOCH: Has burned plenty of money when favored in his last three starts at this level, and he figures to take action again here. He may be the main speed, but he seems tough to trust at his likely price.


Daddy Knows
Bustin Hoffman

#5 RUNNINGWSCISSORS: Makes his first start for trainer Tom Amoss and looms large in this event. His lone start at this distance was an impressive win at Santa Anita, and he exits a pair of second-place efforts against stakes foes at Emerald; #6 DADDY KNOWS: Won earlier in the meet and tries winners for the first time here. He ran well twice around one turn at Belmont, and this barn tends to keep horses on the right track; #3 BUSTIN HOFFMAN: Could hit the board at a price. His record looks miles better if you toss the two Aqueduct efforts, and he may take a step forward second off the bench.


Mo Gee
Quality Choice

#4 SPORT: Was pulled up last time out in an off-the-turf event and returns to his preferred surface here. He won impressively here last summer and should be rolling late; #10 MO GEE: Will have to overcome a tough outside draw, but he drops back to the right level after a failed shot for a $50,000 tag last time out. He’s run well going two turns before and could be tough if Saez can negotiate a trip; #7 QUALITY CHOICE: Drops back in for a tag after a rough trip against starter allowance foes earlier in the meet. He seems to find trouble with alarming frequency, but he would be a contender with smooth sailing.


Turco Bravo
American Lincoln

#6 TURCO BRAVO: Has hit the board in every start since late-May of last year and stretches back out to two turns, which seems to be his preferred trip. He’s hit the board in five of seven local starts and could sit a great stalking trip; #5 ZULU: Drops in class for a sharp barn that must always be respected. He’s got tons of back class and would be scary if he found his old form; #1 AMERICAN LINCOLN: Has run well at this level and merits a look at a price. He’s got enough speed to secure a strong early position along the rail, and his third-place finish earlier in the meet was fine.


New and Improved
Magical Time

#1 CONFESSING: Has an experience edge on many of these and was an OK third in her turf debut at Churchill. Her pedigree says she’ll get better as she gets older, and progression would seem to make her the one to beat; #6 NEW AND IMPROVED: Debuts for Chad Brown and boasts a strong pedigree. She’s by Cairo Prince, and has a female family that includes second dam Tout Charmant, a Grade 1 winner going long on turf; #5 MAGICAL TIME: Is another daughter of Cairo Prince making her debut in this spot. Her dam is a half-sister to champion Halfbridled, as well as a full sister to the dam of Grade 2-placed filly Fully Living (who was precocious).


Blame It On Mom

#7 AMOS: Seems like the main speed in a rare sprint that doesn’t have much of that signed on. She’s improved with every start and may be tough to run down if she gets comfortable up front; #8 BLAME IT ON MOM: Has run second in both of her prior starts, but could be sitting on a bigger effort second off of a long layoff. She’s worked well here, and Rosario rides back; #2 PENDOLINO: Comes in off of a career-best effort, one where she was gaining on the winner with every jump late in the race. If they go faster than expected early on, she could be the main beneficiary.


End Play
Fixed Point
So Conflated

#4 END PLAY: Makes his first start for Jason Servis and would benefit from the likely race shape. He’s a closer in a race with lots of speed around him, and the presence of Irad Ortiz, Jr., is a plus; #2 FIXED POINT: Made my meet last summer when he wired a field at this route to finish off an $820 Pick Four I gave out in the bankroll section. Personal sentiments aside, though, he seems like the main speed, enjoys this route, and has run up against some tough company this year; #3 SO CONFLATED: Seems like this race’s wild card. He hasn’t run in more than a year, but his running lines feature some very fast horses and his turf sprint efforts at Santa Anita back in 2018 were pretty good.


Dyna Passer
Giant Zinger
Night of England

#3 DYNA PASSER: Was sent away at odds of 43-1 in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks, but she actually didn’t run badly when fifth behind the very talented Concrete Rose. She’s won at this distance before and could still be improving; #9 GIANT ZINGER: Was third in a strangely-run race on opening day and possesses lots of back class. She ran in three straight graded stakes races before that and figures to be up close early on here; #7 NIGHT OF ENGLAND: Will likely be favored, but I think she’s beatable. She comes off a long layoff and likely won’t be alone on the front end. If there’s a time to try to beat her, I think it’s here.


Honest Mischief

#6 NITROUS: Was flying late when second in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens and seems to have found his niche as a one-run, one-turn closer. He’ll almost certainly get a fast pace to run at here, and if one develops, he may be the one they have to hold off late; #5 HONEST MISCHIEF: Was up fairly close to the scorching-hot pace in the Woody Stephens but was beaten just three lengths that day. His win two back was excellent, and he may get first run on the leaders turning for home; #12 SHANCELOT: May very well simply be a freak. He’s run two very fast races and may wind up favored, but there’s a lot of early speed to go with him early, and I can’t trust him at his likely price.


Abby Normal
Deja Raconte

#4 ABBY NORMAL: Comes back to the turf and gets a tepid nod in a wide-open finale. She’s closed well in her races on firm turf, and this turf course has played kind to that style this meet; #7 FUSI: Ran well in two starts prior to being claimed by Brad Cox, who’s one of the best in the game with new acquisitions. Joel Rosario hops aboard, and she’s another that could be rolling late; #5 DEJA RACONTE: Comes in off of two strong workouts and may not have to be much to pick up a check here. This barn is off to a very good start at the meet and knows how to win with a firster at this level.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 7/28/18


BANKROLL: $887.50

The monsoon that hit Saratoga Friday afternoon came at a much-needed time for yours truly. The track had turned into one that was heavily tilted to horses with early speed, and given that I submit picks about 36 hours before each day’s first post, chances are any bias that pops up will work against me. Heavy rain like that, though, tends to reset the track, and a fair track definitely benefits me given the way I handicap and submit my content.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: I got washed out for the second straight day, as both of the horses I used in the second race scratched.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll have two main plays on the card. Assuming the second race stays on turf (no cinch given Friday’s weather and the overnight forecast), I’ll put $5 to win and place on #2 CALIFORNIA SWING, my top longshot of the day. Additionally, I’ll play a cold $20 double beginning in the seventh race that singles both #3 ENGAGE and #4 IMPERIAL HINT.



Friday’s Results: 3 for 9
Meet Results (to date): 19 for 68

Best Bet: Engage, Race 7
Longshot: California Swing, Race 2


Carter Cat
Party With Friends

#11 CARTER CAT: Improved at second asking and was beaten just a half-length in an off-the-turf event at Churchill Downs. He’s bred up and down for turf, and merits a long look if he draws in off the AE list; #6 PARTY WITH FRIENDS: Has several flashy works on the tab, as well as a high turf Tomlinson rating (314). He’s a full to a four-time winner, and the bottom side of his pedigree is incredibly strong; #5 HALLADAY: Is bred in the purple and goes out for Todd Pletcher, whose debut runners must always be respected. If there’s a concern here, it’s that he’s bred to go much further than 5 1/2 furlongs.


St. Louie Guy (MTO)
California Swing

#2 CALIFORNIA SWING: Could benefit from the likely race shape, one that should set things up for a closer. He was a good second at this level downstate, and he won over this turf course last season; #11 NILEATOR: Was claimed out of his last race by Eddie Kenneally, whose numbers with new acquisitions are very strong. He’ll need to work out a trip from the far outside, but his tactical speed should help; #3 WESTERN RESERVE: May be bet pretty heavily on the drop in class, but he hasn’t won in more than a year and there’s plenty of other speed signed on. On most of my tickets, I’ll try to beat him. DIRT SELECTIONS: ST. LOUIE GUY, DRIVEN BY THUNDER, NILEATOR.


Consensus Thinking
Gray Nile
Air On Fire

#5 CONSENSUS THINKING: Drops in for a tag after two solid efforts downstate. He’s been working well up here, and he looms large on the drop in class for powerhouse connections; #3 GRAY NILE: Went way too far last time out, so it’s easy to toss that race. His efforts two and three back against similar-level foes at Churchill were fine, and it helps that the two-back winner repeated at next asking; #7 AIR ON FIRE: Has been gelded since his last start, which came at Prairie Meadows against straight maidens. His best race gives him a shot, but he’s had lots of chances, and it’s tough to trust him at a fairly short price.


Fair Regis
Bowl of Kisses
Trouble for Skylar

#4 FAIR REGIS: Has run seven strong races in a row and comes in off a sharp win at Belmont at this level. Falcone has enjoyed great success with a smaller barn, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., chooses to ride this filly when he almost certainly had other options; #6 BOWL OF KISSES: Has won two in a row, including prevailing in a head-bob over my top pick last time out. There’s other early speed in here, though, so she may have to work a bit harder early on than she’s accustomed to; #2 TROUBLE FOR SKYLAR: Wants no part of turf and comes back to her preferred surface. She romped in her debut here last July, and I think she has a big shot to outrun her odds.


Aurelius Maximus

#3 AURELIUS MAXIMUS: Is one of the best-bred 2-year-olds on the grounds. He’s by Pioneerof the Nile, and his dam, second dam, and third dam were all graded stakes winners. He’s a half to Grade 2 winner Chief Havoc and has been working lights-out ahead of his debut; #10 COAST: Is a well-bred first-time starter from the Todd Pletcher barn that cost $500,000 at auction earlier this year. His dam was a Grade 2 winner, and he’s a half to multiple stakes-winning sprinter Balandeen; #11 MUCHO: Was second to Whiskey Echo last month, and that one came back to run third in the Grade 3 Sanford. Bill Mott trainees sometimes need a race to get going, and he could show improvement if he draws in off the AE list.


Honorable Treasure (MTO)
Uncle Gio

#11 LUNAIRE: Gets my top pick in a race where half the field could conceivably win. This one hasn’t won in a while, but exits some pretty tough races and could get some speed to rate behind beneath Javier Castellano; #4 UNCLE GIO: Has run six solid races in a row, and has only finished worse than third once in that stretch. He cuts back to a friendlier distance, and John Velazquez keeps the mount; #9 PENALTY: Has run two solid turf races in a row and has a pedigree that suggests he wants this two-turn route. He’s a bit one-paced, but that could work to his advantage here given the added distance. DIRT SELECTIONS: HONORABLE TREASURE, CHRIS AND DAVE, DR. SHANE.


Promises Fulfilled
World of Trouble

#3 ENGAGE: Beat a number of these rivals when second in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, and he should once again be able to watch as a sizzling pace is set in front of him. He’s this race’s lone true closer, and he could come flying late; #2 PROMISES FULFILLED: Led into the stretch of the Woody Stephens before yielding and finishing third behind two closers. His one-turn races are strong, and he’s certainly got plenty of early zip; #6 WORLD OF TROUBLE: Looked like a future star when he smashed stakes foes at Tampa three back, but his last two races have been a bit of a disappointment. However, the Servis barn has been going great, so he can’t be completely dismissed.


Imperial Hint
Warrior’s Club

#4 IMPERIAL HINT: Has seven wins in his last eight starts if you toss the Grade 2 Churchill Downs (which was contested in an absolute quagmire). He’s one of the best sprinters in the country, and he’s been working very well at Parx leading up to this event; #1 SWITZERLAND: Has come to hand for Steve Asmussen, having won four in a row. His win in Maryland was sharp, but he wasn’t exactly flattered when runner-up Long Haul Bay didn’t fire earlier this week; #3 WARRIOR’S CLUB: Looks much better if you toss his races at longer than seven furlongs. He may not be as talented as the top two, but this is his preferred trip, and he’s run well at Saratoga in the past.


Hi Happy
Sadler’s Joy
Money Multiplier

#7 HI HAPPY: Seems like one of the few potential speed horses in a wide-open renewal of the Grade 2 Bowling Green. He’s one of many exiting the Grade 1 Manhattan, but unlike a few of them, he’s proven at this level given the wins two and three back; #6 SADLER’S JOY: Won last year’s Grade 1 Sword Dancer here and nearly added another such score in the Manhattan, when he was second beaten just a neck. He’s a consistent sort, but the question is, will he get enough of a pace to rate behind?; #8 MONEY MULTIPLIER: Was second behind stablemate Funtastic in the Grade 1 United Nations after winning the Grade 2 Monmouth two back. His best effort would give him a big shot, but one has to wonder if his favorite track is at the shore, not the Spa.


Vino Rosso

#1 FLAMEAWAY: Has danced a lot of dances this year and run well against high-level competition. He’s got plenty of speed, his recent workouts have been sensational, and Jose Ortiz signing on can’t be ignored; #5 VINO ROSSO: Took a brave run at Justify in the Belmont before running out of gas and settling for fourth. His Wood Memorial win three back was good, but it’s worth noting he lost to Flameaway twice at Tampa earlier this year; #2 TENFOLD: May be favored given his third-place finish in the Preakness two back. Having said that, he’s still eligible for allowance conditions, and the Preakness being contested amidst a storm of epic proportions doesn’t give me confidence that the effort in question can be repeated.


Cash Out

#6 REVERSETHEDECISION: Was a fast-closing second in a stakes race at Monmouth last time out, and that day’s winner has since come back to win again. There’s speed signed on here, and this filly could finish off a big day for trainer Chad Brown; #4 FRIPPERY: Made a big middle move last time out at Delaware Park and couldn’t sustain it, settling for second in a minor stakes race. Arnaud Delacour means business when he ships here, and Joel Rosario’s presence can’t be ignored; #11 CASH OUT: Gets necessary class relief after spending much of her career in graded stakes races. She’s hit the board in two of them, and she’s another that could be moving well late in a wide-open finale.