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.

A 50-Point Plan for Horse Racing’s Future

There are certain things one should not do. In addition to tugging on Superman’s cape, spitting into the wind, and pulling the mask off the Lone Ranger, you should never, ever challenge me publicly to put way too much thought into something.

As a preface: Bloodstock agent Bradley Weisbord publicly asserted his desire for racing to associate itself more with Barstool Sports, a controversial entity that has, in my opinion, been rightfully skewered by much of the racing community for its attitudes and actions towards women. I voiced my opinion in response to a comment by photographer Susie Raisher, and this is how Bradley reacted.

I’ve never met Bradley Weisbord in person. I’m not going to make any assertions about his motives or any of his thoughts or actions. This column is strictly business.

You see, I’ve been challenged, and I am going to rise to meet it. Here’s how, as Racing Czar, I would improve horse racing from the top down, in 50 easy steps.

1) Promote from within to account for many resignations across racing that would undoubtedly take place following the announcement of my appointment.

2) Any remaining spots would be filled by passionate young men and women who want to make a difference in the game. Their jobs will be to come up with innovative ideas and how to implement them for the sport’s long-term survival.

3) No idea is a bad idea, except for the Breeders’ Cup Derby, which is the worst idea in the history of the sport.

4) If we’re still short on people, we’re cloning Tom Durkin like Dolly the Sheep as many times as needed.

5) The horse comes first. We’re breeding to race, not racing to breed, and as such, breeders need to get with the program.

6) All, ahem, “breeze” portions of 2-year-old sales are eliminated. You want to gallop horses on the track? That’s fine. The days of an ability to “breeze” an eighth of a mile as a 2-year-old being more important, in some circles, than that horse going nine or 10 furlongs as a 4-year-old or 5-year-old are over.

7) Racing needs its stars to run for as long as possible. To promote this, any male horse retired to breed as a 4-year-old may only be bred to 50 mares. If stallion owners want to jack up stud fees to compensate for the restriction, that’s fine. We’ll let the market determine if it works.

8) We’re commissioning a long-term study on race-day medications by an impartial, unbiased group of equine scientists and medical professionals.

9) Whatever that study says, we’re going with, and all jurisdictions will follow the same rules.

10) If you’re a horseman and your horse needs Lasix or another medication to treat a legitimate issue, your horse goes on a list maintained by the neutral party and gets re-evaluated every three months.

11) If your horse needs Lasix or another medication because you think it’s a performance-enhancer, you can go train somewhere else.

12) Our medication policies have punishments with teeth.

13) Violations get grouped into “minor” and “major” infractions. Minor infractions (think overages by a few picograms or nanograms) are met by increasing fines, with the fifth violation and those beyond that being met with 30-day suspensions.

14) Major infractions are met by suspensions of 60 days, six months, and one year, followed by a lifetime ban for the fourth.

15) A national board of vets and horsemen get to decide which substances fit into which categories, and the standards apply to all tracks as part of the NTRA’s safety accreditation program.

16) The safety accreditation program also contains regulations pertaining to fouls and disqualifications, which will be drafted on the advice of jockeys, trainers, and stewards.

17) These regulations will apply across the board. The inquiry, “what is a foul that merits disqualification?,” is no longer a trick question. Every rider and steward at every track in the country now plays by and officiates the same rules, and bettors know for sure when a DQ could likely occur.

18) The same rules apply to all races regardless of status. We’re not making exceptions in Grade 1 events just because more eyes are on us.

19) If a track chooses not to comply with rules pertaining to overages and disqualifications, not only will it not earn safety accreditation, but it sacrifices graded status for all of its stakes races as well.

20) Optics matter.

21) Any trainer found to have directly sent a thoroughbred from a track to the slaughter pipeline gets booted from the game. No exceptions.

22) No organization whose stated goal is to end horse racing gets to help make decisions within the sport.

23) If organizations outlined in step 22 have strategies to hit racing hard, we hit back harder. The days of the sport being a punching bag for well-coordinated attack campaigns are done.

24) It is made clear horses on racetracks get far better care than cats and dogs at shelters run by one group that euthanizes thousands of them on a yearly basis.

25) It is also made clear that the head of a prominent organization striving for the extinction of horses had no problem profiting off of animals when he was putting the end products of them on pizzas sold at his restaurants.

26) We’re reopening the hill at Santa Anita.

27) We’re reopening Hialeah Park, by any means necessary.

28) We’re issuing moratoriums on the extension of meets at Saratoga and Del Mar. Boutique meets are boutique meets for a reason.

29) Tracks will work together to coordinate post times whenever it is feasible to do so. Instead of fighting each other for the same gambling dollars, we’re creating more opportunities for churn.

30) “Post time” means “post time.” Barring emergency situations (waiting for ambulances, technical/starting gate malfunctions, etc.), every effort must be made to run races at their listed times.

31) Penalties for post time violations will be mandatory donations to thoroughbred aftercare foundations. If you want to set up a day where you intentionally drag to set up donations for PR purposes, that’s just fine.

32) Fans that go to the track will receive vouchers at the gate. Grandstand admission is good for a $5 voucher. Clubhouse admission is good for a $10 voucher.

33) These vouchers are good for wagering only and cannot be cashed out. If a few first-time track-goers make money with their first bets, we’re convincing them to bet their winnings back, stay involved in the sport, and, most importantly to the future of the game, come back with their friends.

34) We’re optimizing the betting experience to make it easier for new players to understand what’s going on. If racing is marketed as the original fantasy sport, with a new draft taking place every 30 minutes, how much easier is that to understand than a set of past performances that, to a racing neophyte, may as well be Egyptian hieroglyphics?

35) We’re setting national standards for takeout and breakage. No track will institute rates of greater than 18% on win-place-show bets or 20% on exotics.

36) Tracks will be encouraged to find new wagers to try. Not all of them will work (hi, Horse Racing Roulette!), but some will (the low-takeout Stronach 5 is good, clean fun, for instance). We’re going to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.

37) Transparency is key. The more people trust our product, the more they’ll trust betting on it.

38) Partnerships in owning horses are fun. Not knowing how much of each horse is owned by which stakeholder is grating. Those numbers get published.

39) Reasons for trainer changes get published (Runhappy’s page would have been positively fascinating).

40) Replays of each race run around the country are made available at the end of each racing day to all fans, without restrictions.

41) Equibase data is made available to any individuals who want to use it, for a small annual fee. This prevents a repeat of the Handycapper saga and allows passionate fans another way to explore the sport.

42) Corporations are not individuals.

43) We will market the sport with both respect for the customer and enthusiasm that, as of now, is usually only reserved for big days.

44) Those big days will market horses and the humans around them above all else. Music and fashion can play secondary roles, but all marketing materials will have at least one horse in them.

45) Horse emojis do not count as horses within those marketing materials.

46) If and when a horse breaks down, we will be honest, forthright, and not hold back details.

47) If there are problems with breakdowns, we will find solutions, not scapegoats.

48) We will effectively police ourselves so that government officials with lobbyists in their ears have as little reason as possible to attack the business.

49) We will foster environments where healthy debate, constructive criticism, and hearty competition are welcome and encouraged. Racing is, above all else, a pari-mutuel game where bettors compete with one another for money in the pools.

50) We will not foster environments where those who degrade certain parts of the population can spread their beliefs to others, nor ones where those opinions are valued more than those of people who have spent years in the business.

– – – – –

If anyone wants to discuss any of this with me, you’re welcome to do so. My Twitter DM’s are open, and the “contact” feature of my site sends messages straight to my email. I read everything that comes through, and I respond to an awful lot of it.

2019 BREEDERS’ CUP: Saturday Analysis and Selections

It’s Breeders’ Cup time, which means it may as well be Christmas morning for handicappers. Two days of full fields comprised of some of the fastest horses on the planet, many of which will win or run well at big prices, is pretty much all we can ask for as horseplayers, and I’m really excited to dive in.

I’ve done a lot of handicapping elsewhere for Friday’s card. I’m proud to dissect a lot of 2-year-old races for Oddschecker US, and I wrote up quick summaries of all five Breeders’ Cup races over there. Additionally, I did a few videos for The Daily Racing Form, where I offered Pick Five analysis and a look at my top pick in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

However, my analysis for each of the Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday is all below. In addition, there’s another race on the undercard I’m very interested in, and I’ll look at that race as well. As I said on Twitter, this is as much work as I’ll do all year long outside of Saratoga season, but I absolutely love it, and I’m grateful to have an audience that enjoys reading my stuff.

Enough talk; let’s get to it!

RACE #3: Grade 2 Twilight Derby

I’ll never understand why Santa Anita opted to run the Twilight Derby at 11:17 am local time, but alas, here we are. This race came up salty for the level given the restricted condition (it’s only for 3-year-olds), but I think the pace scenario sets up perfectly for one of these runners.

#9 KINGLY has a lot of early speed, and that’s not a trait shared by many other runners in this field. He was last seen in the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile, where he was beaten just a neck by older foes after setting a fast pace. He should not have to go nearly as quickly early on in here, and if he gets brave on the front end, I think he’ll be very tough to catch.

Kingly’s 5-1 on the morning line, and I think that’s an overlay. My hope is that he’ll dictate terms early and have plenty left late, and if he gets home, my day will get off to a flying start.

RACE #4: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint

The first Breeders’ Cup race of the day is one that carries plenty of Eclipse Award ramifications. #1 COVFEFE could very well lock up Champion 3-Year-Old Filly honors with a win in this race, and she’s logical. Her efforts going seven furlongs have been incredibly sharp, and given her two victories ahead of this event, it can be argued she’s never been better.

However, the rail draw is certainly a concern. She has speed, but the rivals directly to her outside aren’t slow. If she doesn’t break perfectly, she could be in big trouble, and for that reason, she isn’t my top pick.

That distinction goes to #4 COME DANCING, the race’s likely second choice. She’s won four of her last six starts, and the two losses came to top-quality foes Marley’s Freedom and Midnight Bisou (neither of which shows up here). Unlike several of her foes, she does not need the lead in order to win. She could sit a picture-perfect trip beneath Javier Castellano, and I think she’ll have first run on the tiring pacesetters turning for home.

Underneath those two, #6 BELLAFINA and #9 SPICED PERFECTION both make sense. I’ll also throw in #5 LADY NINJA, who has won five of her last seven starts and would also benefit from a pace meltdown. She’ll be a price, and if you’re looking for a longshot to throw in, I think she’s the one to use.

RACE #5: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint

Much like the race before it, there’s a lot of early speed signed on here. It certainly seems like they’re going to go very, very quickly out of the gate, which should benefit those who do their best running late.

#10 EDDIE HASKELL fits the bill, and he’s my top pick. He loves this route of ground, and while he has a powerful late kick, he’s also got enough tactical speed to not be too far back. Joel Rosario should have plenty left late, and if he can save some ground from a difficult (but not impossible) post, he should be pretty formidable.

The other intriguing closer is #5 STUBBINS, who comes in off a win in the Grade 2 Woodford at Keeneland. He hits me as a 3-year-old hitting his best stride late in the year, and the presence of Flavien Prat is a plus. The faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be, and at his likely price, I absolutely have to use him.

On wider tickets, I’ll also use #6 STORMY LIBERAL, who won this race a season ago but hasn’t found the winner’s circle since. However, the rider switch to John Velazquez is noteworthy, and he’s another who does not need the lead in order to run well. In a race with tons of early zip, that’s valuable, and while he may be past his peak, it’s not like improvement isn’t out of the question.

RACE #6: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

I’d love to tell you that I can find a reason to go against #5 OMAHA BEACH, but I can’t do it. He had every excuse to run a clunker in his comeback race, and he instead outdueled Shancelot to win the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. We know he can handle two turns, and judging by his recent bullet workout over this surface, he may be coming into this race better than he’s ever been.

I respect #2 IMPROBABLE and #4 MR. MONEY. However, Omaha Beach beat the former earlier this year, and the latter would definitely need to take a step up from a figure standpoint. With all of this in mind, I’ll happily single Omaha Beach in multi-race exotics and spread elsewhere.

RACE #7: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf

Unfortunately, this race took a hit when Magical didn’t ship in with the rest of the European contingent. After that defection, #2 SISTERCHARLIE towers over the field and seems to be in great position to record her seventh consecutive victory.

The question is, how do we make money when the favorite appears legitimate? I’m going to key her in exactas with several bigger prices. #1 IRIDESSA won a Group 1 at this distance earlier this year, #8 CASTLE LADY may have needed her run in the Grade 1 QE2 at Keeneland, and #12 FANNY LOGAN has won four in a row, gets Lasix for the first time, and is 5-for-5 at this distance.

If Sistercharlie wins, I’ll likely still make a few bucks. However, if she runs second to one of the horses I’ve used, I stand to connect on a nice score.

RACE #8: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint

If #4 MITOLE wins, he may very well have a case for Horse of the Year honors. A win would give him six victories in seven starts on the season, with four Grade 1 triumphs ranging in distances from six furlongs to a mile. He’s had a great year, and he merits respect, but while I’m using him, he’s not my top pick.

The only time Mitole locked up with #9 IMPERIAL HINT was in the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt. That day, Imperial Hint won by four lengths and set a new track record at Saratoga. Mitole bounced back with a win in the Grade 1 Forego, but Imperial Hint also added a Grade 1 win of his own in the Vosburgh.

I think these two are pretty equal, but Imperial Hint will likely be twice the price. With that in mind, give me that one and the potential for a bigger payoff.

If you’re looking for a longshot to use in the exotics, I’d recommend #7 WHITMORE, who ran very well in his comeback race at Keeneland. He stumbled at the start and was forced to race very wide, but he rallied to be beaten just a half-length. There’s plenty of early speed in here, and if he steps forward off of that performance, he could absolutely hit the board at a big price.

RACE #9: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile

Every year, the Mile seems like a true grass grab bag. This renewal is no exception, and despite the presence of #6 GOT STORMY and #11 UNI, a European runner may very well go favored.

That’s #9 CIRCUS MAXIMUS, a two-time Group 1 winner from the barn of Aidan O’Brien. His form is already top-notch, and he’s getting Lasix for the first time, which can’t be ignored. It’s not an easy race to handicap, and it’ll be worth seeing how he’s warming up prior to the race, but I think his best effort would make him tough to beat.

Got Stormy and Uni could both win, but there are red flags with both runners. The former hung badly in the Woodbine Mile without any apparent excuse, and the latter drew a poor post that could cause her to lose ground. Both could win, I suppose, but I think there’s more money to be made betting against them than betting on them.

In addition to Circus Maximus, I’ll also use #1 SUEDOIS, #2 LUCULLAN, and #13 HEY GAMAN. Suedois didn’t have a great trip when third in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland and has shown plenty of talent, while Lucullan is in career-best form and Hey Gaman gets the firm ground he prefers while also adding Lasix for the first time.

RACE #10: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff

Remember the Dirt Mile, where I said I wish I could find a reason to go against Omaha Beach? Substitute #4 MIDNIGHT BISOU, and you have my preview of the Distaff. Simply put, she looks head and shoulders above the rest in here, and she’s my best bet of the entire card.

I’m going to channel former TVG colleague Dave Weaver with my wagering strategy here, which involves an “ice cold” exacta. I’ll use Midnight Bisou on top of #6 WOW CAT, who may be rounding back into form in her fourth start of the season. Wow Cat was the best of the rest behind Midnight Bisou in the Grade 2 Beldame, and she was a fast-closing second in this race a season ago. If they go quickly early on, that will bode well for her chances to hit the board at a big price here.

RACE #11: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf

Here’s the big question, perhaps the biggest of Breeders’ Cup weekend: Can #9 BRICKS AND MORTAR get a mile and a half? If he can, he’ll likely win and sew up Horse of the Year honors with his fifth Grade 1 win of the year. If he can’t, my inclination is that one of two European runners will capitalize.

#5 ANTHONY VAN DYCK has been pointed to this race for a while, and for good reason. This year’s Epsom Derby winner was most recently third behind Magical in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, and if you draw a line through his two-back effort at Ascot over softer going, he hasn’t run a bad race all year. I think he’s matured, and that he’s the horse to beat given his proven ability to get this distance.

Meanwhile, #10 OLD PERSIAN came to North America and rolled to an easy win in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine. Most notably, he won the $6 million Sheema Classic in Dubai earlier this year, and his best race could absolutely be good enough to beat this group. Can he fire that shot if Bricks and Mortar gets the distance? That’s a good question.

RACE #12: Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic

I haven’t been shy about voicing my opinion of this race on Twitter, and I’ll do it again here. Simply put, this race just doesn’t excite me as much as it has in past years. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t make money; quite the opposite, actually, as I’m not sold on a few horses that may get action at the windows.

#10 VINO ROSSO was the victim of what I felt was a horrible DQ in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. I don’t think #11 CODE OF HONOR was ever getting by, and because of that, the DQ ensured the best horse didn’t win. Vino Rosso gets another crack at that one here, and he gets it going a route of ground he won at earlier this year. He’s worked well coming into this race, and he’s my reluctant top pick.

#8 MCKINZIE may go favored, and #6 ELATE and Code of Honor will take money as well. I could see any of these horses winning, but I’ll be leaning heavier on #5 YOSHIDA. I think there’s enough pace in here to set up for his late kick, and the presence of Hall of Famer Mike Smith is a big, big plus.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/2/19, CLOSING DAY)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $571.10

As usual, my last bankroll blurb of the meet thanks a lot of people I’m incredibly grateful for. First of all, thanks very much to editors Stan Hudy and Joe Boyle, who combine to put out three sports sections a day for two papers during track season. If you think that’s easy, try it sometime. Also, thanks to the boys and girls selling The Pink Sheet outside the track, even those who took it upon themselves to not play along with my shtick Thursday and Saturday!

Finally, thanks to you, the reader. Everything I do is done for the purpose of better educating fans and handicappers, as well as potentially making it a bit easier for one to enjoy a day at one of racing’s last true cathedrals. Hopefully, I’ve helped you cash a few tickets this summer. If not, we’ve got one more shot at it!

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: For the second straight day, my key horse in exactas won impressively, but the ticket did not include the second-place finisher. We dropped $40.

MONDAY’S PLAY: I’ll look to go out with a bang in the late double. I’ll use #3 GREEN LIGHT GO and #5 BY YOUR SIDE (race 10, the Grade 1 Hopeful) and #5 FU PEGCHU, #7 EXCHEQUER, and #8 MINE THE COIN (race 11) in $95 doubles, which will exhaust all but $1.10 from my remaining balance.

TOTAL WAGERED: $570

– – – – –

BEST BET: Green Light Go, Race 10
LONGSHOT: Tadeo, Race 6

R1

Deft (MTO)
Doswell
Malthael

#4 DOSWELL: Was beaten a nose by Good Governance, who used that maiden race as a springboard to the Grade 3 Saranac. He wound up second that day, which bodes well for the horse he edged in this spot; #11 MALTHAEL: Has a tendency to find trouble and draws an outside post on the inner turf. However, his best race would make him a contender if Rosario can work out a clean trip; #6 CONVICTION TRADE: Debuts going two turns, which is never easy, but he’s got the pedigree to be a very good turf horse. He’s by Exchange Rate and out of a Street Sense mare, and goes out for a barn that can win with first-time starters.

R2

Mo Diddley
Giant Boo Boo
Battle Station

#4 MO DIDDLEY: Was claimed out of his last race by Joe Sharp, who promptly drops him down in class and returns him to what’s likely his preferred surface. His last win came going one turn on dirt, and he’d also thrive in the event of rain; #1 GIANT BOO BOO: Loves Saratoga and won here last time out. He’s got plenty of speed, which could make the rail an asset, and Javier Castellano hops aboard; #8 BATTLE STATION: Takes a big drop in class for Wesley Ward, but hasn’t won in a while and did most of his best running, from a figures standpoint, on turf. He does have two wins on dirt, but at his likely price, he’s tough to endorse on top.

R3

Baffin Bay
Days of Glory
Dakota’s Dude

#2 BAFFIN BAY: Comes up from Florida for this event and gets a tepid nod in a wide-open claimer. He’s won four of seven starts since being switched to the turf, and the presence of Joel Rosario is noteworthy; #3 DAYS OF GLORY: Was claimed by Steve Asmussen earlier in the meet and ran reasonable well in his second start off the layoff. Asmussen can move horses up, and he’ll likely be running well late; #6 DAKOTA’S DUDE: Gets a big rider switch to Jose Lezcano and topped similar company two back at Belmont. He didn’t have a great trip last time out, and he may be a slightly-inflated price based off of that effort.

R4

Ekhtibaar
Rodriguez entry
Heavy Roller

#4 EKHTIBAAR: Has won five of his 10 dirt starts and comes back to this surface while also dropping in class. He’s also 4-for-5 over a wet track, so he’s even more of a threat in the event of closing-day rain; RODRIGUEZ ENTRY: Both #1 CURLIN ROAD and #1A CANDY PROMISES are live, although only one will likely go. I slightly prefer the latter, who won two in a row before just missing at this route in July; #7 HEAVY ROLLER: Didn’t show much last time out, but was claimed by Linda Rice and has some back class. It wasn’t long ago he was 7/2 in a $350,000 race at Oaklawn, and he’s a contender if he finds that form for a high-percentage barn.

R5

Super Silver (MTO)
Zap Daddy
Labeq

#3 ZAP DADDY: Hasn’t won in a while, but goes to the barn of Jason Servis, which can wake a horse up as well as any claim in the game. He’s been competitive against similar foes in the past and merits respect; #5 LABEQ: Seems to be figuring things out as a 4-year-old. He was second behind a horse that’s since added two more wins last time out, and he comes in off of a bullet drill; #1 SNAP HOOK: Won two in a row before settling for second behind a runaway winner here last month. Jose Ortiz gets off, but trainer Eddie Kenneally has seven top-two finishes in 13 Saratoga starts as of this writing.

R6

Gouverneur Morris
Tadeo
Maximiliano

#8 GOUVERNEUR MORRIS: Hammered for $600,000 earlier this year and has worked like a good one for trainer Todd Pletcher. First-call rider John Velazquez will be aboard this son of hot young sire Constitution; #7 TADEO: Is by Sky Mesa, which gives him a right to be precocious, and his most recent gate drill was solid. His trainer’s horses sometimes need a race, but this one has a big chance to outrun his odds; #1 MAXIMILIANO: Fetched $425,000 at auction last September despite a modest female pedigree. Wesley Ward is as good as anyone with debuting runners, but with all the recent turf drills, why is this one debuting on dirt?

R7

Rhode Island
Danny California
Saratoga Colonel

#5 RHODE ISLAND: Was a good second against non-winners of two last time out and drops in claiming price here. A repeat effort will make him tough, and he’s a very logical favorite; #2 DANNY CALIFORNIA: Hasn’t won in 18 months, but was competitive at this level two back before not breaking well last time out. Additionally, he’s got some dirt form, which could come in handy if this race is moved to the main track; #12 SARATOGA COLONEL: Is another that hasn’t found the winner’s circle in a while, but he adds blinkers for George Weaver and attracts Jose Ortiz. It’s a tall task to win from out there, but he’s run well over this turf course in the past.

R8

Hay Field
Miss Lily B
Newport Breeze

#7 HAY FIELD: Goes to Jason Servis after running second at this level earlier in the meet. She’s got tons of back form, has 14 top-two finishes in 23 career starts, and merits respect; #5 MISS LILY B: Has done very little wrong in nine lifetime outings at Finger Lakes, where she’s won five times and finished second four times. Jose Ortiz rides for a live barn that rarely ships horses without a chance; #9 NEWPORT BREEZE: Hasn’t run since October, but beat a number of today’s rivals in that race and has worked fairly well leading up to this race. Weaver can win with horses off of long layoffs, and she was second in a stakes race here two summers ago.

R9

Sacred Life
March to the Arch
Qurbaan

#6 SACRED LIFE: Nearly won his U.S. debut, which came in the Lure last month. He’s since fired a pair of bullet workouts and should get some pace to run at in this Grade 2 event; #1 MARCH TO THE ARCH: Chased Got Stormy when fourth in the Grade 1 Fourstardave, and this certainly seems like a softer spot. A mile is probably a hair shorter than he wants to go, so he should appreciate the extra sixteenth he gets here; #3 QURBAAN: Won this race last year but hasn’t won since despite some good efforts against solid competition. He was third in the Forbidden Apple earlier this meet and is another that would benefit from a hot pace.

R10

Green Light Go
By Your Side
Gozilla

#3 GREEN LIGHT GO: Sprinted clear late in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and comes into the Grade 1 Hopeful off of a recent bullet drill. All indications are that he’s fully-cranked for this event; #5 BY YOUR SIDE: Has shown maturity in two prior victories, one of which was the Grade 3 Sanford. His pedigree says the added distance won’t be a problem, and he could sit an ideal stalking trip; #4 GOZILLA: Capitalized on a perfect trip in his debut, when he scored by nearly five lengths and earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure. Of the recent maiden winners, he hits me as the one with the biggest shot, and he’ll likely be bet accordingly.

R11

Mine the Coin
Exchequer
Fu Pegchu

#8 MINE THE COIN: Was second behind a next-out winner in his first start off a long layoff and was claimed by a high-percentage outfit. Improvement is logical at second asking, and he looms large in the 2019 finale; #7 EXCHEQUER: Was third in that race and would benefit from a lively early pace. Irad Ortiz, Jr., stays aboard, and one would assume he had some options; #5 FU PEGCHU: Debuts off of a bullet workout for Wesley Ward and may not have to be much to pick up a check here. Ward’s one of the best with debuting runners, and this is not exactly the toughest spot.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/1/19)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $611.10

It was brought to my attention Saturday that a cover of The Pink Sheet is being used as part of a purse being sold at a shop in town. My face, of course, is on it, and even better, it’s from a day earlier this meet when I was leading in the pick box. This came as horrible news to my girlfriend, which means I likely have to buy her one as a gag gift.

I’m wondering if these people can do custom designs. For instance, I’d like to pass along “WANTED” posters asking for information on whomever had the idea to not play along with my half-charming, half-annoying shtick I inflict on Pink Sheet kids outside the gate. Stan Hudy, you’re the prime suspect!

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Three Technique won impressively, but exactas and doubles all fizzled. We dropped $40.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus my action on the seventh race and once again try to extract value out of a favorite. That’s #6 SPARKLING SKY, who I’ll key in $20 exactas atop #1 LAUGHABLE and #3 BRIDAL PATH.

TOTAL WAGERED: $40

– – – – –

BEST BET: Summer Sangria, Race 1
LONGSHOT: Mundaye Call, Race 11

R1

Summer Sangria
Chimney Rock
Las Ramblas

#8 SUMMER SANGRIA: Ran well when second in her unveiling, which came against similar-level foes earlier in the meet. John Velazquez rides back for Wesley Ward, and she looks like the one to beat; #6 CHIMNEY ROCK: Drops in class a bit for this event and cuts back in distance after showing speed going two turns. This barn does well with cutbacks, and he’s worth a look; #9 LAS RAMBLAS: Debuts for Ward and may be good enough to overcome a bad post position. She’s bred to be a good turf horse and has worked well ahead of her first start.

R2

Remembering Bobbie
Elegant Rose
Summer Fantasy

#4 REMEMBERING BOBBIE: Didn’t show much in her debut, but drops in class for a new barn and exits a big recent workout. This seems like a weak spot for the level, and she should be a square price; #2 ELEGANT ROSE: Ships up from Monmouth for Jorge Navarro and may very well be a heavy favorite. However, while she tries the maiden claiming ranks for the first time in a while, it’s not like she’s been running against tough competition lately; #7 SUMMER FANTASY: Was an OK third against similar competition earlier in the meet and is one of two in here trained by Jeremiah Englehart. She’s got some speed and could sit a nice stalking trip.

R3

Northern Haze
Talent Scout
Raphael

#3 NORTHERN HAZE: Rallied to graduate earlier in the meet and was claimed out of that race by Steve Asmussen. He tries winners for the first time, but a repeat of his last effort may be good enough to beat these; #5 TALENT SCOUT: Changed barns following his most recent effort and runs for an outfit that does very well with new acquisitions. His effort two back at this level was fine, and Carmouche may try to get him more involved early on; #4 RAPHAEL: Drops in class and adds blinkers on the slight cutback in distance. Tyler Gaffalione sees fit to ride, and he may appreciate the shallower waters.

R4

Slimey (MTO)
Restructure
My Galina

#3 RESTRUCTURE: Took to turf very well last time out and goes up against winners here. She draws a better post here and should be running well late for a barn that tends to keep horses on the right track; #7 MY GALINA: Drops in class after two tries against stakes company. She was third in a Grade 3 two back and will likely be on or near the lead early on; #8 I’LLHANDALTHECASH: Helped set a pretty fast pace earlier in the meet over a turf course that had some give in it. She doesn’t draw a great post, but she may have the speed to clear most of this field.

R5

Bobbyfromthepalm
O’Bushido
Vaya Con Dios

#10 BOBBYFROMTHEPALM: Debuts for a tag for connections that have snuck several good horses by at this level over the years. He’s worked pretty well and draws a cushy outside post; #4 O’BUSHIDO: Comes in off of a very strong workout for Pletcher and Velazquez. That was a head-turning drill, but a $100,000 purchase running for a $50,000 tag hits me as a red flag; #6 VAYA CON DIOS: Improved when dropped to this level last time out. He contended most of the way before fading to third and should be prominent out of the gate.

R6

Carrier Landing
Paolucci entry
Always Forgiven

#4 CARRIER LANDING: Ships in from Kentucky and gets a tepid nod in a perplexing event. He was rated last time out, but he’s got some early speed and may be on or near the lead in what seems like a paceless race; PAOLUCCI ENTRY: I prefer #1 THE SICARII, who loves Saratoga and drops back to what seems like the right level. He popped at a price against similar foes earlier in the meet, and Santana comes back aboard; #6 ALWAYS FORGIVEN: Makes his first start for a new barn after starting his career out west. The recent local work is notable, but his likely price is a bit tough for me to swallow.

R7

Sparkling Sky
Laughable
Bridal Path

#6 SPARKLING SKY: Is a logical favorite following a strong debut, when she crossed the wire third after being impeded by a next-out stakes winner. A step forward would make this filly very tough to beat; #1 LAUGHABLE: Completes a strong 1-2 punch for Todd Pletcher and is bred to love two turns on turf. Her 329 turf Tomlinson figure is high, and she exits two strong works over the main track; #3 BRIDAL PATH: Didn’t do much running in her debut, but this barn’s first-time starters are rarely fully-cranked. She’s bred to be good, and it’s worth noting that Joel Rosario stayed on when he likely had options.

R8

Orsay
Always a Queen
Lucky Dime

#2 ORSAY: Will likely be hammered down from her morning line odds given her pedigree and workouts. She’s by American Pharoah, out of multiple Grade 1 winner Life At Ten, and fetched a cool $1.2 million at auction last summer; #5 ALWAYS A QUEEN: Is bred to want distance and debuts for Todd Pletcher. Her two most recent works hint at some talent, but she may want even more distance than she gets here; #12 LUCKY DIME: Debuted with a third-place finish at this distance and may step forward at second asking if she draws in off the AE list. She’s worked well since her debut and showed some tactical speed in her unveiling.

R9

Enjay’s Brass
Connectivity
Here Comes Jackie

#5 ENJAY’S BRASS: Was third against optional claiming foes earlier in the meet and gets the services of Jose Ortiz on the slight drop in class. She may have moved a hair early that day, and she’s improved in all three starts this season; #3 CONNECTIVITY: Loved the drop in class earlier in the meet, when she rolled home against lower-level claimers. She steps up for new trainer Linda Rice, and her prior connections thought highly enough of her to run her in a pair of stakes races; #2 HERE COMES JACKIE: Hasn’t won in a while, but drops into the claiming ranks for the first time and attracts Javier Castellano. This barn has hit the board with four of seven starters at this stand.

R10

Carrizo
Smoken Deb
Excess Capacity

#6 CARRIZO: Has run well twice at the meet and exits a fast race for the level last time out. She’ll almost certainly be prominent from the second the gates open, and she could lead this one every step of the way; #7 SMOKEN DEB: Hasn’t run since March, but was tried in several tough spots earlier this season and has worked steadily ahead of her return. This barn has done very well with horses off of similar layoffs; #3 EXCESS CAPACITY: Capitalized on a perfect trip last time out and takes a big step up in class for new connections. She cuts back in distance, and Jose Ortiz hops aboard for the first time.

R11

Frank’s Rockette
Mundaye Call
Shippy

#2 FRANK’S ROCKETTE: Had a horrible trip in the Grade 2 Adirondack and was beaten just a half-length that day. It’s tough to believe she’ll have such horrible luck twice in a row, and she’s strictly the one to beat; #1 MUNDAYE CALL: Went way too fast early in her debut, but was still beaten just a head by a talented filly. For a Grade 1 sprint, there isn’t much true early speed signed on, so she could get to dictate terms at a price; #7 SHIPPY: Makes her third career start for a third different trainer following a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Schuylerville. She may not have been fully-cranked that day off of just one workout, and she’s worked steadily ahead of this race.

R12

I Love Jaxson (MTO)
Graded On a Curve
Opt

#2 GRADED ON A CURVE: Never had a chance with the trip he got last time out, where he lacked running room at crucial times. A less-eventful journey would make him formidable in the Sunday finale; #5 OPT: Was second in that event, which was won by a next-out winner. He’s improved in each career start and should be running well late beneath Javier Castellano; #11 SALTKING: Graduated after a long layoff and tries winners for the first time. A contentious early pace would help him, as he does his best running in the stretch.