SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/5/22)
It’s induction day at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and the 2022 class is a big one. It’s headlined by a pair of world-class distaffers, Beholder and Tepin, and it’ll be outstanding seeing these equine legends take their well-deserved places alongside others that fit that description.
I have a Hall of Fame vote, and it’s one of the biggest honors of my career. If you haven’t ventured across the street from the track, go. They just made some significant renovations not long ago, and there’s something for racing fans of all ages and experience levels.
THURSDAY’S RESULTS: My late Pick Four ticket was cut in half after a scratch, and it paid off handsomely. Miss Domina finished off a six-win day for me in the pick box with a score in the Thursday finale, one that returned $184.25 on a $12.50 ticket that also boasted two winning singles.
FRIDAY’S PLAY: Assuming we stay on the turf, #5 GOLDEN PAL should not lose the penultimate race of the card, the Grade 3 Troy. As a result, it’s a great opportunity to play the Grand Slam. My $3 ticket starting in the sixth reads as follows: 1,2,10 with 3 with 1,5,9 with 5. Hopefully, having multiple combinations alive to one of the best turf sprinters on the planet will help me extract value from that runner.
TOTAL WAGERED: $27.
Best Bet: Golden Pal, Race 9
Longshot: Jay’stalker, Race 3
#1 WELL SPENT: Romped last time out at Churchill Downs and was claimed back by a barn that had plenty of success with her late last year. When she’s good, she’s very good, and she’s a logical favorite in the Friday opener; #6 INDIAN BELLA: Has emerged as a very consistent mare and hasn’t missed the exacta in her last five starts. This includes a second in a small stakes race at Aqueduct, and her last-out second behind a next-out winner was a nice effort; #5 CUSTOMEREXPERIENCE: Hasn’t won in quite a while, but did record a victory at this route last summer (albeit against a much weaker group). This distance seems to suit her, and if the new barn can help her recapture her winter form, perhaps she’ll be right there when it counts.
Maybe Later (MTO)
#7 COMMAND POINT: Has been off eight months but returns for a very capable outfit and faced much better horses for most of last year. There should be plenty of speed in here for her to chase, and if she’s ready, she could prove tough to hold off; #2 OUR JESSICA: Earned the diploma last time out and makes her first start against winners. That’s not an easy ask, but David Donk’s runners are firing with regularity, Jose Ortiz rides back, and she should be a square price; #3 MAMA RINA: Placed in a pair of stakes races as a 2-year-old and takes a big drop in class here. She also gets Lasix for the first time here, and there’s every chance she gets this barn going with a win here.
Devil Or Angel
#6 CAPT’ REMINGTON: Is a tepid top pick in a confusing bottom-level maiden claiming event. He’s run second in a pair of starts against straight maidens at Finger Lakes, attracts Javier Castellano, and boasts a race over this surface last summer that wasn’t bad; #5 JAY’STALKER: Debuts for Bruce Levine, whose numbers with first-time starters aren’t bad. He’s got a few solid gate drills, and as unveiling spots go, this sure seems like a soft one; #2 DEVIL OR ANGEL: Showed early zip in a similar spot last time before fading to finish fourth. This event doesn’t seem to have much gate speed signed on, and it’s possible he leads them a long way here.
#3 TAPIZEARANCE: Drops back to the level of his best recent showing, when he ran second two back at Belmont. He lost all chance at the break last time out against a better group, and between that and the significant class relief, I’m expecting an improved performance here; #5 MAGNETRON: Won a photo finish last time out at Finger Lakes and has proven to be an astute $10,000 claim by this outfit. He sports a win at this seven-furlong distance earlier this year, and his flexible running style could give Javier Castellano some options; #7 GANDY DANCING: Hasn’t won in a while and it’s possible he’s over the top, but he loves this track. I simply can’t ignore a local record that consists of two wins and a second in three Saratoga outings, and it’s not like he’s been horrible in races at this level downstate.
MADAKET ENTRY: I’m banking on strength in numbers in this wide-open turf marathon. #1 SHAD NATION has been competitive against stakes foes and attracts Irad Ortiz, Jr., while #1A SANTA GIULIA probably needed her U.S. debut earlier this summer and is eligible to improve should she draw in off the AE list; #5 RHEAUME: Did everything but win in each of her last two starts, when she fell short by a head on back-to-back occasions at Belmont. Michael Dickinson doesn’t ship many horses up here, so it’s very noteworthy when one shows up in a big spot; #10 HAIL TO: Exits the same race as my second selection and did the dirty work up front. She was beaten just a neck that day, but she’s shown an affinity for this turf course and has every right to improve.
She’ll Never Know
Run for Cover
#2 LOVE TANK: Moved forward in a big way last time out, when she ran second beaten just a length. Luis Saez hops aboard, and she certainly seems to have an early speed advantage over the rest of this bunch; #10 SHE’LL NEVER KNOW: Was bet down to 3/5 in her debut, but ran a one-paced fourth while wide on the main track. Her bottom-side pedigree has some turf to it, and while the far outside post is a problem, she may have matured enough to overcome it; #1 RUN FOR COVER: Sports several strong works ahead of her debut, including a recent bullet drill going a half-mile over the Oklahoma track’s turf course. She didn’t fetch much at auction (just $20,000), but this barn can win with first-time starters and she’s preparing like she has some talent.
#3 LIL COMMISSIONER: Responded to a big class drop with a win going seven furlongs last month at Belmont. He’s got four wins and four thirds in 10 career starts going a mile, so this distance shouldn’t be a problem, and it sure seems like he’s found his friends; #5 RAGTIME BLUES: Has three wins from his last five starts and has come to hand for trainer Jeffrey Englehart after being claimed in February. He’s been freshened up ahead of this effort, and he’s got enough speed to be a primary pace factor; #4 DIRECT ORDER: Goes first off the claim for Gustavo Rodriguez, who does excellent work with horses first off the claim and has won several races at this stand already. He’s 5-for-16 at this one-mile distance, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be.
Tiz the Bomb
#9 TIZ THE BOMB: Ran too badly to be true in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, where he was up against it all the way due to the slow pace set by Classic Causeway. We’ve seen him put together high-level races before, and I think he returns to form here in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame; #5 STOLEN BASE: Is another who was compromised in the Belmont Derby and is far better than what he showed that day. His race two back to win the Grade 2 American Turf was a very good one, and that day’s win rider, Flavien Prat, is back aboard here; #1 CHANCEUX: Looks like the controlling speed, which is always tough in route races on the inner turf course. Irad Ortiz, Jr., has been aboard for each of his two wins, and he’ll get a leg up from trainer Todd Pletcher in this event.
Yes and Yes
#5 GOLDEN PAL: Was unfortunately compromised by one of the worst starts at the Royal Ascot meet in the Group 1 Kings Stand, which was won by world-class Australian sprinter Nature Strip. The Grade 3 Troy isn’t a bad race for the level, but it represents significant class relief for one of the best turf sprinters in recent memory, and if he’s right, the race is for second; #2 YES AND YES: Presents genuine value in the exotics cutting back in distance after tiring going a mile in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple. He’d won three straight turf sprints prior to that race, and unlike many others in here with tactical speed, he doesn’t need the lead in order to run well; #6 TRUE VALOUR: Set the pace in the Grade 1 Jaipur and finished a close-up third that day behind Casa Creed and Arrest Me Red. He’s another globetrotter, having run a decent sixth in the 2021 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan, and his best race could at least warm Golden Pal up.
Big Bean Christine
#6 WICKED LADY: Runs for a tag for the first time and has back races that would be enough to beat these. Her two-back clunker looks a bit better now, since that day’s top three runners have all come back to win, and her last race is a throwout given she clearly hated the turf; #2 KUKARO: Debuts for a barn whose horses are competing well at the meet, and she may not have to be much in order to be a major player here. This outfit’s first-time starters often need a race to get going, but again, it’s not like she’s facing any world-beaters in here; #4 BIG BEAN CHRISTINE: Just missed in a similar race earlier this summer, which almost gave this barn its first win of the calendar year. Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and unlike others in here, she’s shown an ability to pass horses late.