SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/5/22; CLOSING DAY)


BANKROLL: $949.20

It’s closing day at Saratoga, and that means it’s time for me to say thanks. First of all, thank you to editor Joe Boyle, who edits not just The Pink Sheet, but the main sports sections of The Saratogian and The Troy Record. In an age where deadlines get earlier and earlier and staffs get smaller and smaller, this isn’t easy to do. I’m also grateful for a decision made by Catena Media, which graciously agreed to allow me to continue my duties in this capacity when I got hired by that company in January.

Thank you to the New York Racing Association for another stellar Saratoga season. I’m a tough critic sometimes, but I have high standards because I grew up going to this place, which doubles as one of the last cathedrals in American horse racing. In particular, kudos to the TV talent and crew that put together the FOX Sports broadcasts, which bring Saratoga into my living room 3,000 miles away as effectively as anything possibly could.

Finally, I’d like to thank you, the reader. It’s a privilege to be able to put together content enjoyed by tens of thousands of people each summer. I hope I’ve been able to make you some money. If not, we’ve got one more day to do it!

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Neither horse I used on top in the sixth was anywhere close. I dropped $36.

MONDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to wait until the very last two races of the meet for my final wagers. The more I look at #11 SUE ELLEN MISHKIN in the 12th, the more I like her. I’ll have a $50 win ticket on that one, and I’ll also single her to finish off a $20 cold double that begins with #4 GULFPORT in the 11th (the Grade 1 Hopeful). See you next summer!



Best Bet: Crowding Out, Race 4
Longshot: Night Ops, Race 8


Atomic Girl
Kara Para

#15 SOUFFLE: Needs a lot of defections in order to draw in off the AE list but will be formidable if she does. She did everything but win in her debut, where she lost by just a nose, and a repeat of that performance would make her strictly the one to beat; #5 ATOMIC GIRL: Has been training very forwardly ahead of her debut, and she’s bred to love the turf. Her dam was a Grade 3 winner on the lawn, and she sold for $50,000 at auction, which is a lot considering her sire’s stud fee is just $2,500; #1 KARA PARA: Makes her unveiling for a barn whose first-time starters aren’t often cranked-up, but she exits a bullet drill at Belmont and is another who likely wants turf. Offspring of The Factor tend to be turf horses, and she’s one of the ones to consider in a wide-open Closing Day opener.


Atlanta’s Acuna
Blame It On Daddy
Uncle Marty

#5 ATLANTA’S ACUNA: Makes his debut after a string of solid local drills for a trainer whose first-out numbers are very strong. This son of Cross Traffic is out of a stakes-winning mare, one that’s thrown two winners from three foals to race; #6 BLAME IT ON DADDY: Was second behind a runaway winner in his debut last month and retains the riding services of Luis Saez. He’s got every right to move forward, but I can’t help thinking his best running will come going longer given his pedigree; #3 UNCLE MARTY: Debuted going two turns on turf, which isn’t an easy ask. He didn’t run well that day, but this outfit does far better with second-time starters than first-out runners, and his last two workouts hint that he’s come out of his first race in good form.


City Man

#5 CITY MAN: Ran a career-best race to win the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple early in the meet. His races around two turns seem far better than his one-turn efforts, and his flexibility should give Joel Rosario plenty of options in the Grade 3 Bernard Baruch; #2 MOUILLAGE: Was second in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream behind Mira Mission, who recently ran second in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer. He’s been working consistently on the Oklahoma track’s turf course, and he’s never missed the board in 12 lifetime starts; #6 EMARAATY: Won a stakes-caliber allowance event here last month to move to 3-for-4 lifetime over this turf course. Flavien Prat rides back for the meet’s leading trainer, and he’d benefit if a pace battle materializes early.


Crowding Out
Unlock (MTO)
Mostly Harmless

#3 CROWDING OUT: Takes a gigantic drop in class after faltering as a 5/2 favorite in a first-level allowance race in mid-August. This barn wheels her back pretty quickly, by their standards, but anything close to her two-back score over an impressive next-out winner would make her a formidable favorite; #8 MOSTLY HARMLESS: Has had plenty of chances and is a maiden running against winners. However, she’s a closer in a race with plenty of early speed, so it wouldn’t shock me if she clunked up for a piece of it at a big price; #1 SMOKIN’ HOT KITTY: Ran fourth against starter allowance foes and drops down to what’s probably the right level. The rail draw is a tricky one, but her two-back win at this route was good and she’s a contender if Flavien Prat can work out a trip.


Backyard Money
She Caught My Eye

#5 AIDANIKE: Hasn’t misfired in her 2022 campaign, which has included three wins from six starts. Unlike many of her rivals, she can sit back and do her best running late, which could come in handy given what figures to be a pretty fast pace set by several of these runners; #6 BACKYARD MONEY: Has run well up here twice this summer and gets Lasix for the first time in this spot. The cutback from seven furlongs to six could help her, and she’s another that doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well; #4 SHE CAUGHT MY EYE: Wired a field of maiden claimers off a long layoff and tries winners for the first time. This is a considerable class test, but the most recent drill was a good one and first-call rider Junior Alvarado retains the mount for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.


Sweet Mystery (MTO)
Schwartz entry
New Ginya

SCHWARTZ ENTRY: I prefer #1 WHATLOVELOOKSLIKE, whose two local efforts this season have been very good. She’s a head away from being 2-for-2 in those starts, and she should get plenty of pace to run at (especially with the presence of barn buddy #1A JUSTOK IS NOT OK); #2 NEW GINYA: Has been very close in her last two tries at this level and has every right to break through here. She could sit close to the pace beneath Dylan Davis, who’s been riding very well since coming back from his way-too-long suspension for his role in an accident earlier in the meet; #7 LOOKIN TO FLY: Beat a group of restricted claimers two back before being left with too much to do last time out. Still, she was beaten less than three lengths by my top selection, and the two-back win rider returns to the saddle here.


Radio Red
Sounds Spooky

#10 RADIO RED: Draws a cushy outside post for his debut in this wide-open baby race for state-breds. His pedigree is very modest, but he’s been training forwardly for this outfit and attracts Joel Rosario, who probably had a few options; #8 SOUNDS SPOOKY: Merits respect based on the connections alone, and this $100,000 yearling purchase exits a solid four-furlong gate drill. All four of this dam’s runners to date are winners, though I wonder if this one maybe wants a bit more ground than this six-furlong trip; #2 NOBILIS: May or may not run, as he’s entered in a spot on Sunday as well. However, he’s been working well for George Weaver prior to his unveiling (whenever that is), and we may get a bit of a price.


Night Ops
American Tattoo

#3 NIGHT OPS: Drops way down in class after spending most of the last few seasons running against stakes company. This field is a good one for the level, but it doesn’t contain runners like Maxfield and Art Collector, who appear in this one’s running lines, and I think he’ll be the one they have to hold off; #8 AMERICAN TATTOO: Got loose on the lead last time out at Keeneland and responded with one of the best efforts of his career. I’m not sure he’ll be quite so comfortable up top early, but of the likely pace-setters, he’s the one I want most; #7 PORTOS: Cuts back after running fourth to stablemate Fearless in the 1 3/4-mile Birdstone, and at a minimum, you know the 1 1/8-mile journey won’t be what gets him beat. This is another runner getting class relief, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., takes the call for Todd Pletcher.


Bold Victory (MTO)
Digital Software
Reckless Spirit

#1 DIGITAL SOFTWARE: Was protected off the layoff last time and cruised home over a weaker group in a race he may very well have needed. I think he’ll be better second off the bench in this spot, and that he has a big chance to record his third local win in his fourth start over this turf course; #2 RECKLESS SPIRIT: Was headstrong last time when fourth as a 2-1 favorite at this level. That happened here last year, too, and perhaps he prefers Belmont, but his best race would be good enough to beat these; #7 SPLENDID SUMMER: Chased my top pick last time out but may be moving forward in the back half of his 3-year-old campaign. Further improvement makes him a major player here, and the 8-1 morning line price hits me as an overlay (especially given the connections involved).


Cocktail Moments
Jane Grey
More Ammo

#1 COCKTAIL MOMENTS: Is a tepid top pick in the final race out of the Wilson chute this summer. She hasn’t won in a while, but has been running almost exclusively against stakes competition and may have had an excuse last time out given the unlucky trip she had. There’s some speed in this race that could set up for what she wants to do; #3 JANE GREY: Stretches out for Bill Mott after a pair of seconds going shorter. This is her third start off of a long layoff and just the fourth start of her career, so there are plenty of reasons to expect a step forward; #9 MORE AMMO: Almost certainly bounced last time out, when she was nowhere at odds of 2-1 after a big first-out win at Aqueduct. She’s been training well at Monmouth (which is no longer an automatic disqualifying factor for horses from this outfit), and a flashback to her debut performance would put her right there.


Mo Strike

#4 GULFPORT: Was second in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, and while I’m not sure checking around the turn cost him a win, he most certainly would’ve been closer to the winner. A cleaner journey would make this Steve Asmussen trainee a handful in the Grade 1 Hopeful; #5 MO STRIKE: Has done nothing wrong to date for Brad Cox, and his two-start career includes a nice win in the Grade 3 Sanford. He ran like a horse that won’t be bothered by more ground, and we may not have seen the best of him yet; #2 FORTE: Was fourth as the 7/5 favorite in the Sanford, but don’t be fooled by the trip notes that say he had no kick. He was moving well late over a very tiring track, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an improved effort here.


Sue Ellen Mishkin
Cupid’s Heart
Tosconova Beauty

#11 SUE ELLEN MISHKIN: Is very inconsistent, but her best effort would make her the one to beat in the final race of the summer. One of her two wins came here in her debut, so we know she likes this track, and the outside draw is a big plus, too; #1 CUPID’S HEART: Hasn’t run in more than nine months, but gets Lasix for the first time and comes in off of a four-furlong bullet drill over this track. She seems to be doing well ahead of her 2022 debut, and she’s a major player provided she’s ready to run; #2 TOSCONOVA BEAUTY: Has won four of eight career starts and was third in a similar spot a few weeks ago. She gets a huge rider switch to John Velazquez and has enough tactical speed to be sitting in a great spot early on.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/6/21; CLOSING DAY)


BANKROLL: $1,204.60

It’s closing day, and that means it’s time for me to thank a bunch of people. First of all, thanks to everyone at The Saratogian for once again allowing me to contribute to The Pink Sheet. Special kudos go out to Joe Boyle, one of the hardest-working folks in sports journalism. He’s editing multiple sports sections, and if you think that sounds easy, try it sometime.

In addition, the New York Racing Association deserves credit for putting forth another spectacular Saratoga meet. I’m hard on them when it’s merited, but Saratoga is Saratoga for a reason, and the work that gets put into each summer meet isn’t unnoticed. On a similar note, the “Saratoga Live” crew deserves a ton of credit. The on-air and production teams put together a product that’s second to none and brings the Spa into living rooms as effectively as possible.

Finally, of course, I’d like to thank you, the reader. Whether you’ve read my stuff in print or on my website every day, know that I appreciate your time and attention and that your support is as big a factor as any in why I continue to do this. It’s been a really fun summer to this point, and I’m hoping we’ve still got some tickets left to cash!

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: My ninth-race exacta box fizzled, and while I hit the double ending there, it wasn’t enough to offset the total investment. I dropped $13.20.

MONDAY’S PLAY: There’s one I really like in the sixth, and that’s where I’ll focus my action (which is sizable since I can play a significant sum and be guaranteed a profit on the meet). #6 OCEAN AIR drops into the claiming ranks after running well against starter allowance foes several times, and 3-1 hits me as an overlay. I’ll start with a $50 win bet on her, and I’ll add $10 exactas with her on top of #3 ENTWINE, #7 PRINCESS PINKY, and #11 PERHAPS TONIGHT and $5 exactas with those runners atop Ocean Air.



Best Bet: Ocean Air, Race 6
Longshot: Ghost Giant, Race 11


Equal Pay
Someday Maybe
I’m Perfect Too

#1 EQUAL PAY: Gets one more shot after a strange beginning to her career. She unseated Irad Ortiz, Jr., in her debut, then abruptly dropped anchor in the mud last time out. She’s still flashed talent in the mornings, though, and if she’s right, I think she’ll have a chance to put it all together; #7 SOMEDAY MAYBE: Debuts for Bill Mott, who’s finishing the meet with a flourish, and she’s been working well downstate. The outside draw should help her, and the way she’s been working, I don’t think the seven-furlong distance will be an issue; #4 I’M PERFECT TOO: Came flying late to be beaten just a half-length in her debut earlier this summer. This barn’s first-time starters aren’t usually fully-cranked, so her rally was noteworthy, but this seems like a stronger group that may require a step forward.


Call Sign Charlie

#4 BELARUS: Debuts for Horacio DePaz, who has done well with first-time starters and found the winner’s circle several times this meet with a small string. This daughter of Sky Mesa has been working well, and the presence of John Velazquez doesn’t hurt, either; #6 CARAGATE: Ran third in her debut going six furlongs despite a pedigree that says she’ll want to go way longer. I’m a bit surprised she runs back going short, but the most recent four-furlong drill indicates she’s moved forward since her unveiling; #7 CALL SIGN CHARLIE: Is set to make her first start for trainer Jorge Abreu, whose first-out numbers are as strong as those of any barn on the circuit. She sold for just $20,000 as a weanling, but she’s worked well and may be ready to run at first asking.


En Wye Cee
Tell Your Daddy

#2 EN WYE CEE: Didn’t have a great trip in his return off a long layoff, when he salvaged third despite racing in tight quarters late. He’s shown plenty of versatility, should improve second off the bench, and attracts leading rider Luis Saez in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch; #3 L’IMPERATOR: Won the race my top pick exits and certainly has a shot in here. He also returned from a very long layoff that day and didn’t have a perfect journey, but he did have room to roll late while my top pick was stymied; #1 TELL YOUR DADDY: Hasn’t won in a long, long time, but he sure looks like the main speed and draws the rail for Tom Morley and Johnny V. He ran a good second in the Lure last time out behind Flavius, and he should have every chance to lead them a long way.


My Roxy Girl
No Deal

#6 FRILLS: Is a tepid top pick in an event that looks extremely wide-open. She did everything but win last time out, when she set scorching fractions for the level and was beaten just a half-length. I think she’s the speed of the speed here, and Linda Rice does excellent work with horses first off the claim; #2 MY ROXY GIRL: Comes back into the claiming ranks after two starts against state-bred optional foes, and the last time she ran at this level, she won. I don’t love that she’s 1-for-10 at Saratoga, but she’s shown an ability to run well from just off the pace, which may help her; #3 NO DEAL: Was freshened up after being claimed by Wayne Potts in January and enters this one without a claiming tag, as the barn utilizes a rule that allows for one free shot first off the bench. I love that move, as I think it’s a sign they don’t want to lose the horse, and she’s got races from 2020 that show she can be competitive here.


American Law
Realm of Law

#8 AMERICAN LAW: Was strangely taken back in his turf debut, where he still ran second despite rating a bit off of a slow early pace. I think he’ll be a bit sharper in this event, and if Luis Saez boots him to the front out of the gate, I don’t think he’ll have much company; #4 ABAAN: Was a close-up second in his turf debut against maiden claiming company, and I think it’s telling he’s coming back in a race where he can’t get claimed. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because Saez saw fit to hop off, but we do get the Pletcher/Velazquez tag team; #6 REALM OF LAW: Has burned a lot of money in his four-start career, having failed as the chalk in all four opportunities. He may have been compromised by the race shape last time, but he’ll face a similar one today, and at his likely price, I cannot endorse him on top.


Ocean Air
Hollywood Gina (MTO)

#6 OCEAN AIR: Drops into the claiming ranks after collecting three checks in as many starts against starter allowance fields that seemed far, far tougher. She won her lone claiming race to date, and I think she’ll find these shallower waters to her liking; #3 ENTWINE: Merits a long look at a big price going back to the turf. Her races on grass haven’t been bad, and her last two outings have come in races that were moved to main tracks she clearly didn’t prefer. A return to her early-2021 form gives her a shot; #8 LINNY KATE: Drops in for Chad Brown and will likely take plenty of money because of that. However, she’s spent a lot of time down at Monmouth and hasn’t won since February of 2020. It’s entirely possible she capitalizes on the drop in class, but this is another instance where I simply cannot back the morning-line favorite at the likely price.


Don’t Wait Up
Torpedo Run

#4 DON’T WAIT UP: Got beaten by a dirty nose in his debut last month, and he runs for a trainer whose horses tend to improve with experience. His lone work since that effort was sharp, and any sort of improvement from his first-out form would make him a handful; #6 DRAKON: Hammered for $200,000 in April and sports several flashy gate drills ahead of his unveiling. His dam is a half to a multiple stakes winner, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Brad Cox has him ready to run on debut; #9 TORPEDO RUN: Sold for $450,000 earlier this season, and offspring of young sire Gun Runner have done very well to this point. John Kimmel is no first-out juggernaut, but the improving work pattern is encouraging and 12-1 hits me as a considerable overlay.


Silvery Rill
Consumer Spending
Dancin Dee

#7 SILVERY RILL: Exits a maiden race that hit me as extremely live, and she was beaten just a head that day. She was set to come back in the P.G. Johnson, but that race was rained off the turf, and this spot, while no cakewalk, seems considerably softer; #2 CONSUMER SPENDING: Ran second behind talented stablemate McKulick in her debut, and she rallied from last to complete the exacta in that spot. She merits plenty of respect, and it wouldn’t be surprising if she’s set to take a step forward for Brown; #3 DANCIN DEE: Was one-paced in her debut, where she ran fourth in the same race my top pick exits. As I’ve mentioned, I think that was a very tough spot, and if I love the runner-up, surely I need to respect another horse that wasn’t beaten by much that day.


Honey Money
Awesome Debate
Betsy Blue

#8 HONEY MONEY: Has run one bad race since being claimed by Wayne Potts, and that came over a muddy track she clearly didn’t care for. She was a good second last time out despite a stumble at the start, and a cleaner journey would give her a big chance in a wide-open event; #6 AWESOME DEBATE: Drew off to win the Union Avenue by more than four lengths earlier this summer. Perhaps she’s a bit better over wet racetracks, but at 6-for-13 over fast surfaces, it’s not like she’s a slouch in those circumstances, either; #7 BETSY BLUE: Has hit the board in all eight of her career outings, including three earlier this meet. She’s shown an ability to sit off the pace and pounce turning for home, and she may have a say in the outcome if she gets that desired trip.


High Oak

#8 HIGH OAK: Won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special over a pretty nice field and earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. He’s shown he doesn’t need the lead in order to run well, and it’s uncommon for a 2-year-old to show that kind of maturity at such an early stage; #6 WIT: Stormed away to win the Grade 3 Sanford in the opening days of the meet and is certainly a deserving favorite. He’s worked well since that effort and has every right to run his record to 3-for-3, but I was just more impressed by the opponents my top pick beat last time out; #2 DEFEND: Zipped home clear by eight lengths at Delaware Park in his unveiling and gets the riding services of leading jockey Luis Saez here. This is a huge class test, to be sure, but he’s fired nothing but bullets this month and has every right to be a very talented horse.


Air Show (MTO)
Ghost Giant

#4 GHOST GIANT: Has been very popular at the claim box this season and will start for his fourth different trainer in 2021 here. He was third last time out at Belmont over yielding going, but I loved his two-back effort and I think he’ll have a big chance at a square price if he can recapture that form; #12 KLICKITAT: Has recorded two of his three career wins over this turf course and may be well-meant enough to overcome a far outside draw. He’s got plenty of early speed, and he may be able to clear many of his rivals going into the first turn; #6 COLD HARD CASH: Has found a new home on the turf of late and was a close-up third beaten just a neck last time out. Two back, though, this Linda Rice trainee got into the winner’s circle, and this barn has sent out a bunch of live runners this season.


New York Supreme
Norman Queen

#6 NEW YORK SUPREME: Has been competitive twice at this level this summer and looms a major threat in the final race of the meet. She was third behind a next-out winner two back before compromising her chances with a very wide run last time out. Smoother sailing could be all she needs to break her maiden; #5 NORMAN QUEEN: Debuts for Wesley Ward in a turf sprint, which automatically prompts many handicappers to take a second look. Her last two workouts appear very fast, and while this pedigree doesn’t exactly scream turf, she may simply be faster than a less-than-inspiring group; #10 ORMA: Was third last time out in the race my top pick exits, and she’s another that didn’t have a clean journey that day. Saez sees fit to ride back, and he’s certainly talented enough to find ways to save some ground from the outside post.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/7/20; CLOSING DAY)


BANKROLL: $565.20

As is tradition, I’m using my last bankroll blurb of the season to thank people who truly deserve it. First of all, editor Joe Boyle spearheads production of The Pink Sheet on top of daily sports sections in The Saratogian and The Troy Record, plus a weekly section in The Community News. Managing one daily section alone is a full-time job. I’d wager Joe is one of the hardest-working people in sports journalism, and it’s been a lot of fun working with him.

I’m quick to take the New York Racing Association to task for certain things, but I need to give NYRA credit where it’s due. The racing office did all it could to make the best of a bad situation. It looked different, the stakes schedule was jumbled, and field sizes weren’t ideal, but Saratoga was still Saratoga. Special thanks also goes to the fantastic on-air and live production team working the daily FOX Sports broadcasts. The shows have captured the essence of Saratoga as well as they possibly could have under the circumstances.

Finally, I’d like to thank you, the reader. Whether you’ve been seeing this in print or going to, I want you to know I appreciate you taking the time to read my stuff. Saratoga is the one stretch of the year where I get to dig in and go head-to-head with some of the best handicappers in the world. Hopefully, I’ve given you a few winners and helped you cash a few tickets. If not…well, we’ve got one more day!

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: I scratched out of most of my action when Caramel Swirl didn’t run in the opener. Majestic West, meanwhile, set the early pace and tired in the third, so I dropped $15.

MONDAY’S PLAY: Okay, if I’m going down, I’m going down in flames. There’s a mandatory payout in the Empire 6, so I’ll have a 20-cent ticket starting in the ninth that reads as follows: 3,4,6,8,9 with 1,4,5 with ALL with 3,7,8 with 6 with 2,3,5,9,10,12. I’ll use the other $25 of my bankroll on the early Pick Five, which begins in the second. My 50-cent ticket goes like this: 2,3 with 4,5,6,7,9 with 2 with 4 with 1,2,3,7,8.



Best Bet: Proven Strategies, Race 12
Longshot: Wild Banker, Race 11


Bodes Well
Cracker Factory

#2 IRANISTAN: Responded to the class drop last time out with a gritty victory, one where he re-rallied late after doing all the dirty work on the front end. He’s got plenty of back class and may be rediscovering the 2018 form that saw him place in two Grade 1 events; #6 BODES WELL: Did the dirty work when third behind the talented Snap Decision in the Kiser earlier this meet. He gets weight from several other contenders in here, and his best race could win this; #1 CRACKER FACTORY: May have needed his return to the races a few weeks ago, when he was fifth behind Iranistan. He could improve at a price second off the bench, and this barn has had a very strong season to this point.


Fort Worth
Build to Suit
Rice entry

#3 FORT WORTH: Came back running off the long layoff with an easy score, one that hinted he still had plenty of gas left in the tank. That day’s runner-up has since come back to win impressively, and any improvement would make this Pletcher trainee extremely tough; #2 BUILD TO SUIT: Has plenty of back form and has run very well over this surface. If he can channel his 2019 form, he’ll be a major player, but given the last-out clunker and the entry for a claiming price, it’s fair to wonder if this is a dump; RICE ENTRY: I prefer #1A THE CARETAKER, an honest horse with 23 in-the-money finishes in 32 career outings. He was second at this level early in the meet, and sharp first-off-the-claim trainer Linda Rice should have a fresh horse ready to roll.


Domain Expertise
Editor At Large
Mrs. O’Connell

#9 DOMAIN EXPERTISE: Hammered for $200,000 at Keeneland in 2018 and is bred up and down for turf. She’s by Kitten’s Joy, out of a Limehouse mare, and she’s got several very good works for strong first-out trainer Chad Brown; #4 EDITOR AT LARGE: Has plenty of European pedigree and is the other half of Brown’s powerful 1-2 punch in this event. While I prefer the former horse to this one, she’s certainly got plenty of potential; #6 MRS. O’CONNELL: Runs for a barn whose horses often need a race or two to get going, but she’s bred to be a good one. Sire American Pharoah and broodmare sire Distorted Humor are both strong turf influences, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she ran well at a price.


Road to Meath
Liam’s Fire

#2 ROAD TO MEATH: Takes a big drop in class for an aggressive barn looking to win the training title. He’s almost certainly better on turf, but it’s not like he’s a slouch on dirt, and it seems like he’s found a soft spot; #6 KABOB: Rallied to break his maiden at a price early in the meet. That race didn’t come back particularly strong, but Ray Handal’s horses tend to get better with experience and this one should be running well late; #8 LIAM’S FIRE: Ran well to be third against $40,000 claimers two back and takes a big drop off a race that’s too bad to be true. A repeat of his two-back effort could give him a big shot at a bit of a price.


Per Capita
Heirloom Kitten
Hunt the Front

#4 PER CAPITA: Has crossed the wire first twice in a row since coming back from an extended hiatus and makes his first start for new trainer Todd Pletcher. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for his win last time out at Churchill, and two turns shouldn’t be a problem given his running style; #3 HEIRLOOM KITTEN: Has won two in a row since going to the dirt, both in easy wire-to-wire fashion. This is a class test for him, but he certainly looks like the main speed in this field and he’ll be dangerous if he’s left alone up top; #2 HUNT THE FRONT: Rallied to finish third at this route earlier in the meet, and that came after his connections saw fit to run him in the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland. He may need more pace than he’s likely to get, but a speed duel would open the door for him to come flying from out of the clouds.


Kantarmaci entry
Life in Shambles
Repole entry

KANTARMACI ENTRY: Both #1 TOPPER T and #1A CLENCH have shown they don’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well. That seems like a vital asset in a race with several very fast horses that will likely go all-out from the moment the gates open; #7 LIFE IN SHAMBLES: Mildly rallied to finish fourth against similar earlier in the meet. He was claimed by Rob Atras that day, and the likely race shape could set things up for this one-run closer; REPOLE ENTRY: #2B WEGOTOLDYOUGOTSOLD is the only one likely to run, as #2 WIN WITH PRIDE raced Saturday. The former hasn’t won in a while, but is a consistent sort that’s done enough to attract Irad Ortiz, Jr.


Army Wife
Mrs Frankel

#9 ARMY WIFE: Was one-paced in her debut going shorter, but her pedigree says she’ll take a big step forward with added distance. She has an experience edge over much of this group, and the recent four-furlong bullet drill jumps off the page; #6 MRS FRANKEL: Chased an impressive next-out stakes winner in her first turf route, and she’s got enough early speed to be prominent from an early stage. Mark Casse has had plenty of hard luck at this meet, but this regally-bred filly certainly seems live; #5 FREEDOMOFTHEPRESS: Sold for $170,000 at Keeneland two years ago and has several strong local workouts ahead of her unveiling. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because young sire Mshawish is still unproven, so we don’t quite know what to expect from a pedigree standpoint.


Breaking the Rules
Ballagh Rocks

#5 BREAKING THE RULES: Has won two in a row since coming off the bench and looms large in the Lure. He topped eventual Grade 1 winner Digital Age two back at Belmont before rallying from far off the pace here earlier this summer; #2 LARGENT: Has four wins and two seconds in six lifetime starts and goes second off the layoff for Todd Pletcher. He won a similar stakes race at Colonial Downs last time out, and he’s got enough tactical speed to sit an ideal trip beneath Luis Saez; #4 BALLAGH ROCKS: Was one of the top turf milers in the country at his peak and he’s still good enough to make plenty of money in his 7-year-old season. He just missed downstate on Independence Day and stands to benefit if the early pace is faster than expected.


Speaker’s Corner

#3 SPEAKER’S CORNER: Has turned in a pair of eye-catching drills ahead of his debut for Bill Mott, who doesn’t usually work his horses very fast. He’s bred to go longer than this, but the works say he’s plenty quick enough to win his unveiling; #4 DEMON: Showed speed from the gate in his most recent half-mile drill, and he’s bred to be precocious given the presence of sire Into Mischief. Todd Pletcher’s work with 2-year-olds speaks for itself, and the 8-1 odds seem like an overlay; #9 SAVOY: Has worked consistently and draws well in his debut for Chad Brown. This $160,000 auction purchase originally worked at Monmouth with Brown’s second string, which can be a red flag, but he’s done enough up here to make me think he’s got a shot.


Ima Pharoah

#4 BINKSTER: Hasn’t won in a while but has spent 2020 chasing better horses than the ones he’ll line up against here. He’s got plenty of early zip and was most recently third in a swiftly-run stakes race for state-breds; #1 IMA PHAROAH: Cruised home to break his maiden in his local debut. He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure that day, and he’s inexperienced enough to where he may still be improving; #5 MAXIMILIANO: Hasn’t been seen since running fifth in last year’s Springboard Mile at Remington Park. He’s worked well of late, though, and he did his best work last season in shorter races. If he’s ready, this Wesley Ward trainee may be a threat at a bit of a price.


No Lime (MTO)
Wild Banker

#3 WILD BANKER: Likely needed his return to the races last month at Monmouth Park, where he sat far back before rallying to finish third. This is a step up in class on paper, but it seems like a weak race for the level, there’s some early speed signed on, and Joel Rosario sees fit to ride; #10 SCANNO: Has run well twice at this meet and earned the diploma last time out. The outside post position is certainly a problem, but he’s shown some versatility in his last several starts, and that should give Luis Saez plenty of options; #6 MR. KRINGLE: Has placed in three stakes races and may go favored here. However, he flopped when third at 3/5 odds against similar last time out and didn’t seem to have any tangible excuses. He may just be a pack animal that likes running second and third, and I can’t endorse him on top.


Proven Strategies
Lonesome Fugitive

#7 PROVEN STRATEGIES: Seems like the lone speed in this route on the inner turf and gets top gate rider Luis Saez. It seems overly simple, but too many turf races this summer have been won by horses like this, and the fact that he may be a bit of a price is very interesting; #3 LONESOME FUGITIVE: Was second in his first start against winners last time out, and that day’s victor came back to finish a hard-luck second in the Grade 3 Saranac. That was an oddly-run race, but he’s done very little wrong to this point in his career and is a logical favorite; #8 SUCCEEDANDSURPASS: Makes his first start for new trainer Graham Motion and looks to snap a year-log winless streak. He has tons of back class, having chased Grade 1 winner Mo Forza twice in California last year, and he figures to be rallying late beneath Jose Ortiz.


Jackie’s Warrior
Reinvestment Risk

#6 JACKIE’S WARRIOR: Led every step of the way in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, and that day’s second-place finisher picked up another big check when second in the Iroquois Saturday at Churchill Downs. He seems like the speed of the speed and a horse that can steal the Grade 1 Hopeful on the front end; #3 MUTASAABEQ: Had no problems in his debut last month, when he cruised home as an odds-on favorite. This is a far tougher spot, to be sure, but this $425,000 auction purchase has every right to step forward for Todd Pletcher; #5 REINVESTMENT RISK: Turned heads by drawing away to win his debut by nearly eight lengths. He earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure, but he did so while sitting a perfect trip on the rail and capitalizing when room opened up. At his likely price, I’ll try to beat him.


Bold Gem

#12 GUNMAN: Will need to navigate a very tough outside post in the meet finale but has shown enough to merit favoritism. He was a close-up fourth earlier this meet, and that was his first start since October. A step forward could get him the money against a suspect group; #5 BOLD GEM: Seems to like running second and third, but also appears to be the main early speed in this race. It wouldn’t surprise me if he got out to an easy lead, and that may be dangerous in a field of horses that may not want to pass others; #3 VICARAGE: Comes back to the lawn for the first time since his debut, which came going two turns at Tampa. It’s tough to go that route early in one’s career, and he may have needed that race for seasoning. He’s bred up and down for turf and is worth a shot on deeper tickets.

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