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


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.


– – – – –

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


Deft (MTO)

#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.


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.


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.


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.


Super Silver (MTO)
Zap Daddy

#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.


Gouverneur Morris

#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?


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.


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.


Sacred Life
March to the Arch

#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.


Green Light Go
By Your Side

#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.


Mine the Coin
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.

Santa Anita Closing Day Analysis, Selections, and Tickets: 7/4/17

Tuesday is closing day at Santa Anita, marking the conclusion of a meet that started way back in late-December. The folks in the racing office have put together an interesting card headlined by the Grade 3 American. I’ll be offering multi-race exotic tickets at the end of the article, including a Pick Six since that sequence has a carryover that must be paid out. Do note, though, that this ticket is very budget-conscious. I usually don’t play $2 Pick Sixes, as I simply don’t have the budget, and I can’t give out a huge ticket that I’d never play.

Before I do that, though, I’ll go race-by-race and give my thoughts on each event.

RACE #1: From a betting standpoint, I could not hate this race more (optimistic start, huh?). There’s a standout on paper in the form of Algorhythmic, who’s won three in a row since being claimed by Michael Machowsky. Her best race dusts this group…but she breaks from the rail, which is a very treacherous spot in races contested on the hillside turf course.

With that said, it isn’t like the rest of the field came up all that strong. Only two of her opponents have a win at this route, and that pair features a horse stepping up out of the claiming ranks (Del Mar Ann) and one that hasn’t run since November (Easy Grader). As such, if you’re playing the Pick Five, I think Algorythmic is a “hold your nose” single. I just can’t find anyone who seems like an upset candidate.

RACE #2: Many contenders here exit the same May 21st race, one that fell apart late after some ridiculous early fractions were posted. That day’s runner up, Summer Mischief, is logical, and I’ll use her in my Pick Five, but I’ll take a shot elsewhere with my top pick.

Lady Ninja’s first two races have come down the hill, and they haven’t been bad. She didn’t break well in her debut, but rallied to finish a respectable fourth, and she followed that up with a second-place finish behind a horse named Painting Corners, who was a runaway winner that day and also coasted to victory a few days ago. Flavien Prat stays on, and we may get a bit of a price on Lady Ninja in this spot.

RACE #3: I thought this was the most challenging race of the day. It’s a maiden race for fillies going long on the turf, and most of these horses figure pretty similarly to one another.

Reluctantly, I’ll give my top pick to 12-1 shot California Breeze, who tries turf for the first time and is bred to love it (331 turf Tomlinson rating). Flavien Prat stays on for trainer Phil D’Amato, and I’m hoping she gets brave on the front end.

RACE #4: This is a fun starter handicap featuring some speedy horses going five furlongs. Forest Blue is a considerable favorite based off of some strong recent races, but he’ll face Percy’s Bluff, who reeled off eight straight wins before trying a distance that was probably too long for him. Those two could tower over the field on the odds board, and I think they do just that on paper as well.

RACE #5: I’ll focus on a few class-droppers in this claiming event, one that starts a Pick Six sequence that boasts a mandatory payout. Getoffmyback comes back to this level, one where he just missed to a next-out winner two back. I’ll use him, but he hasn’t won in a while, and his 9/5 morning line seems pretty short given that.

My top pick breaks to the likely favorite’s inside. Atomic Action was protected three back, won two back, and then ran up against a very strong field last out. The winner and third-place finisher from that race have both come back to win, and the waters are much more shallow here.

RACE #6: This is the Grade 3 American Stakes, and it features the return of Om, who just missed in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. He’s run well fresh before, and there aren’t many heavy hitters signed on for his 2017 debut.

What could work against Om is the likely pace scenario. There’s plenty of speed signed on, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Flamboyant sat a picture-perfect trip. He hasn’t won in a while, but he may have been going a hair longer than his preferred trip for most of 2016, and he just missed at this level last time out at Golden Gate despite a wide trip.

RACE #7: The late Pick Four starts off with a real puzzler. This is a 2-year-old maiden race that’s drawn a full field of Cal-breds, and this is a spread race for me in that aforementioned sequence.

I like a pair of second-time starters most. Powerful Thirst may go off favored after an adventurous debut where he broke slowly and rallied to be fourth, while Oh Jerry took lots of money on debut and runs back fairly quickly. Still, this is a race where I think you need to buy lots of coverage if you can afford it.

RACE #8: This is a grass grab bag, and the field of 13 guarantees a tremendous betting race. I’ll use several in the late Pick Four, but I’ll be salivating if my top pick goes off close to his morning line price.

My Man Chuckles is 12-1 on the morning line, and I’m not entirely sure why. He won going down the hill two back, and ran an OK race last time out despite a post position that wasn’t ideal. Inside posts are undesirable at this route, but he was still beaten just a length and a half. The better draw in this spot should help him, as should the ample amount of early speed that appears to be lining up. I’ll gladly take double-digit odds if I can get them.

RACE #9: We’ve got an undefeated favorite in this race, and as much as I want to find holes in her resume, I can’t do that. G Q Covergirl is 3-for-3, and she came back running last time out off a long layoff. In that win, she rated a bit, which she hadn’t done in her two prior starts. There’s some speed to her outside, but Martin Garcia should have some options depending on how the race unfolds out of the gate. Improvement can be expected here, and if she steps up off her last race, she’ll be pretty tough to beat.

RACE #10: We end with a turf route that’s drawn a big field. Your guess is as good as mine with regard to who will be favored, and I like a few solid prices in here.

My top pick is I’m Living Proof, who’ll make his first start for new trainer Richard Baltas. Rafael Bejarano signs on, and he’s been gelded since his last outing, which should be a big plus. I also like 10-1 shot Insubordination, who’s flashed ample speed going down the hill. The outside draw isn’t great, but there doesn’t appear to be much early zip signed on, so he could lead them a long way.

– – – – –

$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 1
R2: 3,6
R3: 2,5,7,8,9
R4: 3,6
R5: 1,2

40 Bets, $20

– – – – –

$2 Pick Six: Race #5

R5: 1,2
R6: 4,8
R7: 5,10
R8: 7,9,11
R9: 7
R10: 10,11

48 Bets, $96

– – – – –

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #7

R7: 3,5,7,10
R8: 6,7,9,11,13
R9: 7
R10: 5,10,11

60 Bets, $30