SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/29/21)


Check back Wednesday night!


Best Bet: Gabby Squared, Race 10
Longshot: Ravizzol, Race 5


Mo Heat
Bourbon Rising

#7 MO HEAT: Sure looks like the main speed in the Thursday opener, and a repeat of his last-out effort would make him tough. In a field with many horses that don’t seem to want to pass others, his early zip is a real asset, and I think he can lead them all the way around; #4 JOHNNYPUMP: Goes two turns on dirt for the first time since January, and that effort wasn’t bad. He was a close-up fourth at Aqueduct, and that day’s winner came right back to win again, so perhaps he’s back to what he wants to do; #5 BOURBON RISING: Ran third in the race my top pick exits and should sit just off that one’s flank early. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because his lone two-turn dirt race was one of the weakest efforts of his career.


Control Group (MTO)
Cold Hard Cash
Straw Into Gold

#1 COLD HARD CASH: Ran well twice against similar downstate and has enough speed to use the rail draw on the inner turf to his advantage. His best efforts have come going two turns, and this configuration should play to his strengths; #7 STRAW INTO GOLD: Drops back into a state-bred race after finishing third in the Manila at Belmont. He hasn’t run a bad one in four career starts, but his figures don’t dwarf those of his competition, and it’s sometimes tough for fairly-inexperienced 3-year-olds to run well against older competition; #2 MO FAITH: Is better than his last-out effort would indicate, and it’s safe to assume he didn’t take to the yielding going. His races prior to that one were pretty sharp, and the last-out clunker may drive up his price a bit.


Shoe Shine (MTO)
Auburn Hills
Mystery Bank

#3 AUBURN HILLS: Hasn’t run a bad one since being claimed by Mike Maker earlier this year at Gulfstream. He was third against what was probably a better group last time out, and it looks like there’ll be enough pace to set up for his late kick; #2 MYSTERY BANK: Had every right to need his 2021 debut on Independence Day at Gulfstream and returns to the site of his maiden-breaking score last summer. His best race would likely be good enough here, but my one hesitation is that he may want even more ground; #10 RECKLESS SPIRIT: May have found the right level, as he was a decent second against similar company last month. He was wide that day and is another that will benefit from the likely race shape, which should include a solid pace.


Vineyard Sound
High Heater
The Queens Jules

#6 VINEYARD SOUND: Has plenty of speed and exits a classy $20,000 claiming event where he checked in third. That day’s runner-up came back to win a few days ago, and these waters are probably a bit more shallow; #9 HIGH HEATER: Won for this claiming price twice earlier this year in Florida and was probably in a bit over his head in his last two outings. Luis Saez should have him on or near the lead, and the outside post should give horse and rider plenty of options; #8 THE QUEENS JULES: Ran third for a $32,000 tag last time out and, on paper, takes a drop here for aggressive connections. However, I don’t think that was a particularly strong heat for the level, and given that he’s won just once in his last 10 starts, I think he may be overbet.


Triple Americano

#1 TRIPLE AMERICANO: Made a big move when third last time out and gets a tepid top pick in a wide-open maiden claiming event. It makes me nervous to pick a closer breaking from the rail, but he does have a bit more early speed than he showed that day and may be able to work out a trip; #6 RAVIZZOL: Faded in his debut downstate, but has worked well in upstate New York for a trainer whose charges tend to improve with experience. Saez haș been enticed to ride, and I’m expecting a move forward against a suspect field at a price; #7 SHINJUKU: Goes back to the dirt, cuts back in distance, and drops in for a tag, and any one of those moves could move him forward. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because I’m just not sure he wants to go quite this short (he hits me as a one-turn miler rather than a sprinter).


Her World
Wonder entry
Empress Tigress

#5 HER WORLD: Has a bunch of things going for her ahead of her unveiling. She’s trained by 2-year-old maestro Wesley Ward, is by red-hot young sire Caravaggio, boasts a world-class female family, and has been showing precocity in the mornings; #1 THE CLUB: Debuted with a good second-place finish where she showed some maturity and made up ground late. That experience edge should help her, and she’s bred to get better as she goes along; #4 EMPRESS TIGRESS: Debuts for Jonathan Thomas and could be live at a nice number. She hammered for $410,000 at auction earlier this year, and her dam is kin to turf stakes winners Stays in Vegas and Miss Technicality.


Identifier (MTO)
Abiding Star

#1 ABIDING STAR: Is far, far better than he showed last time out, when he dueled through suicidal fractions and had nothing left late. He should not need to go nearly as fast early on here, and if he gets comfortable, I think he’ll be tough to run down; #3 HIEROGLYPHICS: Has won three of six starts over this turf course and four of six overall. He goes first off the claim for Dominick Schettino here and has back races that would make him a real handful; #9 TROUBLING MOON: Takes a drop in for a claiming tag, and that may be what he needs to wake up. He’s winless since late-2019, but strong turf rider Jose Lezcano rides and he should be moving in the right direction late.


Brown entry
Regal Retort
Anna’s Fast

BROWN ENTRY: Both #1 SECONDARY MARKET and #1A MOTIVATED SELLER can win this race. They have graded stakes experience and possess every right to move forward from age three to age four. However, while I think their collective talent and strength in numbers is enough to put them on top, I’d urge you to demand more value than you’re likely to get; #6 REGAL RETORT: Did everything but win a classy optional claimer at Churchill last month, and among the runners she beat was Reagan’s Edge, who was entered in Wednesday’s Grade 2 Honorable Miss. She seems like she’s going the right way and could sit an ideal stalking trip here; #9 ANNA’S FAST: Has won two in a row and five of 11 lifetime, with three of the misfires coming against stakes foes. Rob Atras saw fit to claim her last time, and he’s hitting at a robust 32% clip with new acquisitions.


Foolish Ghost
My Boy Tate
Wudda U Think Now

#7 FOOLISH GHOST: Has one way of going and could lead the John Morrissey field from gate to wire. His last-out win over open company at Monmouth was sharp, and the presence of Joel Rosario is noteworthy, as he likely had a few options in the Thursday feature; #3 MY BOY TATE: Ran third in this race last year and has not missed the board in four local starts. His last race at Parx is a throw-out given the wide trip and the very wet track, and his winning efforts two and three back came at this level; #5 WUDDA U THINK NOW: Ran fourth in a loaded allowance race earlier in the meet and may well see this race as a class drop. The horses he’s chased in his last two efforts are stakes-quality runners, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to climb aboard.


Gabby Squared
Wicked Happy
Hard Won

#8 GABBY SQUARED: Was left with too much to do last time out and could only manage a rally to third. The two-back race, though, has turned out to be a key one, as she chased a number of solid horses. Her two-turn efforts are some of the best of her career, and I think she’ll be formidable; #4 WICKED HAPPY: Has had plenty of chances, which is usually a red flag, but she makes her first start off the claim for a barn that connects with 20% of similar stock. Her last several efforts have been fine, and maybe the new connections will move her forward; #6 HARD WON: Found her form last fall when she was competitive in multiple tries at this level. She hasn’t run since October, and maybe she needs a race, but her best effort is certainly good enough for a piece of this.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/28/21)



Wednesday marks day 10 of 40 at the 2021 summer meet, and this stand seems to go by quicker and quicker every year. I miss it dearly, and I wish I could get back to the Spa this summer. Alas, four weddings in six weeks later this year, combined with a vacation bank that got dealt a body blow when I had to switch jobs earlier this year, makes that almost impossible.

If that changes, this space will be the first place that news breaks, unless I decide to leave everyone in the dark until a dramatic, WWE-style run-in is deemed suitable. In that instance, should you hear the chorus of Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova,” followed by a record scratch and “Judas” by Fozzy, go crazy and sing along with Chris Jericho’s lyrics.

Side note: If you had “day 10” in the “Andrew’s first wrestling reference of the season” pool, step up and collect your money.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Most of my action was off when the third race was moved to the main track. My remaining $5 cold exacta was half-right, as Kaely’s Sister cruised home, but my projected runner-up was nowhere.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll look to the late double and use that to try to extract value out of #9 BELL’S THE ONE, who looms large in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss. She’s a single to start $6 tickets that end with #3 CARIBBEAN GOLD, #9 DECLAREATRUCE, and #10 BUNKER HILL in the nightcap. Also, because he’s going to be an insane price and I’ll be very upset if he runs well and I don’t have him in some form or fashion, give me $1 across the board on #9 KINGDOM ON PAWS in the fifth.



Best Bet: Bell’s the One, Race 9
Longshot: Kingdom On Paws, Race 5


The Mean Queen
Fast Car
Bodes Well

#6 THE MEAN QUEEN: Is 3-for-3 over fences and looms large in the rescheduled Jonathan Kiser. Not only has she not lost in these races, she’s never truly been tested, and she’s a legitimate favorite; #2 FAST CAR: Almost certainly needed his return last month and won over fences here last summer. He was 3-1 in a race at this level in August when he was eased, and a return to his mid-2020 form would make him logical; #5 BODES WELL: Hasn’t won in quite a while but sure looks like the lone early speed in this race. He’s not without form, and he could lead them a long way at a nice price.


Rocking the Boat
Madison’s Luna
Yodel E. A. Who

#4 ROCKING THE BOAT: Gets a tepid nod in one of the classiest $40,000 claimers you’ll see. He hasn’t run a bad race since 2019, was second in a swiftly-run race last month at Churchill Downs, and goes out for a barn that’s enjoyed success so far this meet; #3 MADISON’S LUNA: Beat similar three back and is a closer in a race that has some early speed signed on. Philip Bauer has sent out some live runners this summer, and his usual race gives him a shot; #2 YODEL E. A. WHO: Takes a big drop for a very successful outfit, but I have my doubts. His one recent win came in the slop, he’s run a few clunkers since then, and horses adding blinkers after long stretches without them imply the humans around them may be searching for answers. His best is good enough, but at or near his morning line price, I’ll try to beat him.


Ocala Dream
Step Dancer

#4 OCALA DREAM: Has won two in a row and beat several of these rivals going shorter last time out. Two turns is a bit of a question mark, but his pedigree says it won’t be a problem and Tom Morley does well with horses stretching out in distance; #8 BARRAGE: Moves to the Danny Gargan barn and adds blinkers for a conditioner enjoying a stellar 2021 season. His two local works look very strong, and improvement could be in the cards; #6 STEP DANCER: Has had some adventurous journeys in three starts this season and will need to work out a trip once again here. He’s a closer and will need a pace to set up in front of him, but he’s good enough if he gets his desired race shape and a clean journey.


Hollywood Gina
Alpine Queen

#2 HOLLYWOOD GINA: Ran a big race two back and had every right to need her last-out effort against better horses. This sure seems like the correct level, and her two-back workout implies she ships to Saratoga in good form; #6 QUASAR: Gets a big trainer change to Rob Atras and will likely go favored for logical reasons. Figures-wise, her usual race wins, but when a horse is 1-for-23 and will be a short price, I’m inclined to go elsewhere with my top selection; #3 ALPINE QUEEN: Earned her diploma last time out in an off-the-turf event and tries winners for the first time. This isn’t the toughest spot for the level, Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and perhaps Bruce Brown has found what she wants to do.


Regal Empire
Kingdom On Paws

#8 REGAL EMPIRE: Hammered for $125,000 earlier this year and is bred to want distance on the lawn. He’s by top turf sire Lemon Drop Kid, and his female family includes a dam that’s a half-sister to graded stakes-winning router Zivo; #3 TIMBUKTU: Has a series of strong works for Brad Cox and is another that could like the turf. Broodmare sire Scat Daddy is a strong turf influence, but as good as Cox is, his numbers with first-time starters going long are just so-so; #9 KINGDOM ON PAWS: Will be an astronomical price, but I think there are reasons to believe he can move forward here. His pedigree is all-distance, which he gets here, and the winner of his last race at Monmouth has since come back to win again.


Cody’s Wish
Absolute Courage

#6 CODY’S WISH: Ran a credible third in his debut and earned an impressive 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Perhaps that’s a bit inflated due to the mud, but Bill Mott’s first-time starters often need a race or two to get going, and I love the steady diet of strong drills over the Oklahoma track; #9 BEATBOX: Didn’t run badly last time out in an effort that doubled as his first race since October. This is his first start going two turns, and his world-class two-turn pedigree is a big reason he sold for $2.1 million back in 2019; #2 ABSOLUTE COURAGE: Has improved in all three prior outings for patient horseman Shug McGaughey. He showed some grit last time when second downstate, and he figures to once again be forwardly-placed here.


Sweet Melania

#6 TAMAHERE: Headlines a loaded optional claiming race that may as well be a Grade 3 event. She misfired in the Grade 1 Just A Game, but before that was second in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and won last year’s Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont; #7 SWEET MELANIA: Sure looks like the main speed, which is always dangerous on the inner turf, and her multiple graded stakes wins jump off the page. However, her two 2021 starts have been pretty disappointing. Her best race could win this, but she also could be over the top; #4 SPEAKTOMEOFSUMMER: Hasn’t won in more than a year, but that score came here, in the Grade 2 Lake Placid. She’ll do her best running late beneath Joel Rosario, and she’d benefit if another runner kept Sweet Melania honest in the early going.


Life Changer (MTO)
Big Package

#3 BIG PACKAGE: Has a win over this tricky route of ground and hasn’t run a bad race in his last five starts. His two-back win came over Shiraz, who took a classy race earlier in the meet, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., returns to the saddle; #1 CHARMED: Chased a talented horse in Fauci last time out in his North American debut at Monmouth. That was his first race in six months, and he hinted at some potential in Europe while part of the world-class Joseph O’Brien outfit; #7 NOBLE EMOTION: Looks like the main speed in here and comes in off of a wire-to-wire score downstate. Horacio DePaz does excellent work with last-out winners, and he could prove tough to catch, but he’ll almost certainly have to work hard in the early going to get to the front.


Bell’s the One
Reagan’s Edge
Lake Avenue

#9 BELL’S THE ONE: Oozes back class and exits a win over a strong group in a listed stakes at Churchill Downs, where she took a Grade 1 race last fall. She’s a perfect 4-for-4 going six furlongs, and with so much speed to set up for her late kick, the Grade 2 Honorable Miss seems like a dream scenario; #2 REAGAN’S EDGE: Hasn’t won in a while but is always competitive and is another that can rate. In a race with lots of early zip, that could give her a tactical edge, and she ran well here a season ago when second in the Grade 2 Prioress; #4 LAKE AVENUE: Shortens up to six furlongs for this one and merits respect based on her past accomplishments. The Bill Mott trainee just missed in a Grade 3 downstate and may sit a stalking trip just off a sizzling pace.


Bold Victory (MTO)
Caribbean Gold
Bunker Hill

#3 CARIBBEAN GOLD: May have bounced a bit second off of a long layoff in his last start. He’s been gelded since that effort, and he looks like the only horse that will want to go early. That could put him in a prime position in the Wednesday finale; #10 BUNKER HILL: Sure looked like he needed his last-out effort off of a nine-month break. He drops in for a tag for the first time, doesn’t face any world-beaters in here, and has every right to improve at a bit of a price; #9 DECLAREATRUCE: Is reunited with Junior Alvarado, who piloted him to two second-place finishes against similar earlier this season. One of them came two back, and that day’s winner has since come back to win again.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/25/21)



I can’t believe I’m using this space for this reason, but I feel compelled to say this: Be kind to those in the service industries.

Despite what many may want to think, the pandemic is not over. Supply chains are jumbled, and many people who were in low-paying positions have not returned to them. Because of that, those who have shown up to work are being forced to do more with less during what’s already an incredibly stressful time.

My mom, my sister, and my step-sister all worked in restaurants, so this is pretty close to my heart. If you go out to eat, be patient with people. Give them space, tip them well, and don’t blow your top over simple mistakes. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle said it best: Some people are just forgetting to be human. Don’t be like them.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: I had the right idea, as Royal Realm was indeed a bad morning line favorite in the opener, but I didn’t use Ashaar.  Because of that, my early doubles fizzled and I dropped $24.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the third and seventh races of the day. #9 CAUMSETT looks like the lone speed in the third, and that’s dangerous over the inner turf. I’ll put $15 to win on her, and in the seventh, I’ll look to extract some value out of #7 KAELY’S SISTER. She’s on top of a cold $5 exacta that uses #4 THIEF OF HEARTS in second.



Best Bet: Kaely’s Sister, Race 7
Longshot: Caumsett, Race 3


Trade Secret
Tout Ensemble
Tap N Glo

#2 TRADE SECRET: Has run well in two prior starts at Churchill Downs and missed by just a head last time out. Her experience could give her an edge in the Sunday lid-lifter, and she’s shown enough early zip to suggest she’ll be on the engine early on; #4 TOUT ENSEMBLE: Debuts for Chad Brown and is bred to be a good one. She’s kin to three winners, and her female family includes the second dam of Grade 1 winner Archarcharch; #6 TAP N GLO: Ran in spurts in her debut at Ellis Park, when her final rally left her less than a length back of that day’s winner. Brad Cox is among the best in the game with second-out maidens, and her local workouts look pretty solid.


Money in the Bank (MTO)
Veterans Beach

#5 VETERANS BEACH: Is probably in a “now or never” spot for this condition. He hasn’t won since the summer of 2018, but his usual race puts him right there and he could sit an ideal stalking trip behind several horses who seem to need to be on the lead; #11 PANSTER: Was last of nine early in what turned out to be a paceless race last month. He still salvaged a fourth-place finish that day, and there sure seems to be a lot of speed in this field; #6 LUNA’S IN CHARGE: Goes second off the layoff and returns to the turf, a surface I’m shocked he hasn’t tried since a good second at this level and route last summer. Tyler Gaffalione sees fit to ride, and he’s another that could benefit from the likely race shape.


Marvelous Maude
Pop the Bubbly

#9 CAUMSETT: Has run well twice since coming off the bench and sure looks like the main speed in this race. Being the lone speed on the inner turf is often a very powerful quality, and I think she could get brave if left alone up top; #3 MARVELOUS MAUDE: Ran third in her debut downstate and gets the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr., here. Improvement is logical at second asking for a very powerful barn, and she’s a logical betting favorite; #7 POP THE BUBBLY: Isn’t just a hunch play and may be live at a price. Her lone prior turf effort at Aqueduct was a good one, as she rallied to be second despite rating off of a pretty slow pace. If she’s ready to run off the bench, she could be a threat to hit the board at a nice number.


Dubb entry
Tale of the Union

DUBB ENTRY: #1 EXCELLENT TIMING tries older goes and looks like the main speed. He gets Lasix for the first time and tries non-stakes company for the first time since his 2-year-old season, and ultra-consistent stablemate #1A BRONX BOMBER isn’t without a chance, either; #2 TALE OF THE UNION: May have needed his 2021 debut, in which he hung a bit and settled for third. He’s been competitive at this level several times, and he’s got enough speed to be able to use the rail draw as an asset; #3 MOONACHIE: Is a hard-knocking sort that always seems to run the same race. He’s won here before, and he’s also been competitive against open company, which gives him some back class ahead of this state-bred event.


Summer At the Spa
Herald Angel

#6 SUMMER AT THE SPA: Gets a tepid nod in a wide-open claimer for older turf distaffers. She drops back in for a tag after two tries against better horses in starter allowance races, and I think she’ll find these shallower waters more to her liking; #2 HERALD ANGEL: Cuts back in distance after tiring going seven furlongs downstate. She was a good second in her debut at this route last summer, and this is her first start in the claiming ranks; #10 LIME: Drops in class after running well to be second in a $40,000 optional claiming event at Woodbine. She’s shown she doesn’t necessarily need the lead to run well, and that could help her work out a trip given the tricky outside draw.


Four Dawn
Gal in a Rush

#2 FOUR DAWN: Sure looks flashy heading into her debut for Brad Cox, whose barn is firing on all cylinders to start the meet. Her dam, Third Dawn, has thrown five runners to date. All five have won, and this one’s gate works hint that she’s got talent, too; #6 GAL IN A RUSH: Fetched $375,000 at auction earlier this year and has recorded several fast drills, which isn’t always typical of Christophe Clement-trained 2-year-olds. Joel Rosario sees fit to ride, and she’s another that could be well-meant; #3 LEMIEUX: Ran into next-out stakes winner Happy Soul in her debut but didn’t run badly to finish second. She sports a recent bullet over this track, is certainly eligible to improve, and may be an inflated price if there’s steam on some of the debutantes in this event.


Kaely’s Sister
Thief of Hearts
Master of Hope

#7 KAELY’S SISTER: Is odds-on for a good reason, as it looks like she lays over this field. She’s shipped in after a win and a second in her first two starts on dirt, and in both of those races, she showed an abundance of early zip that should put her on the front end soon after the gates are sprung here; #4 THIEF OF HEARTS: Was ready off the long layoff and scored by more than four lengths in her first outing since October. She faces winners for the first time here, but that last-out effort was impressive and I see it as a sign of confidence that they didn’t risk her for a claiming tag for a second race in a row; #3 MASTER OF HOPE: Moved forward off the claim by Orlando Noda when second in a starter allowance event last month. She’ll do her best running late, and if a pace battle develops up front, she certainly figures to be one of the main beneficiaries.


Winston’s Chance (MTO)
City Man
No Word

#9 CITY MAN: Found Grade 1 company too tough when he finished up the track in the Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day, but his two-back effort in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy was quite good. He was a fairly close second that day while earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure, and if he bounces back, he’ll have a big shot; #12 NO WORD: Had nowhere to go most of the way last time out (trust me, I needed him badly) and hasn’t been seen since. He’s been working steadily for Todd Pletcher and his best effort would put him right there, but the far outside post is a big concern; #4 VALUE ENGINEERING: Has never finished off the board in eight career starts but seems to have an aversion to winning. He’s only gotten up at the wire twice, and several of his losses have been pretty brutal if you’ve needed him. The connections merit respect, but I’ll try to beat him, especially if he comes down from the 9/2 morning line price.


Dunbar Road
Royal Flag
Crystal Ball

#4 DUNBAR ROAD: Had every right to need the Grade 1 La Troienne, which was her first start since the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She chased Shedaresthedevil that day, and there are no such monsters here. She won the Grade 1 Alabama here two summers ago and looks poised to fire a big shot in the Grade 3 Shuvee; #7 ROYAL FLAG: Has never missed the board in nine lifetime outings and took a Grade 3 two starts back at Aqueduct. She was second in this race a season ago and once again figures to be a major player; #6 CRYSTAL BALL: Just missed in last year’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at this route and reeled off three straight wins to kick off her 2021 campaign. Those did come against weaker fields, though, and this event should serve as a strong acid test.



#8 MUBARMAJ: Dropped to this level last time out and responded with an easy score against an overmatched group. Several rivals he thumped that day come back for another try, but this Todd Pletcher trainee certainly looks like the one to beat; #5 LEGIT: Didn’t have a great start when chasing my top pick last time out and was claimed by George Weaver, whose new acquisitions tend to improve. He was second beaten less than a length at this route last summer, and he could be formidable if he gets a pace in front of him; #3 VILLAINOUS: Was aggressively spotted last time out and wound up being in over his head. He gets back to the correct level in this spot, and it’s worth noting both of his outings for this claiming price this season have led to second-place finishes.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/24/21)



This week’s edition of “Champagne and J.D.” featured one of our best friends in the game. Barry Spears co-hosts the “Going in Circles” podcast, and you may have seen his stuff all around horse racing’s social media platforms. He’s a great ambassador for the game, and we analyzed Saturday’s late Pick Four in detail.

We have a lot of fun with this show, and I’d put its quality up against any other podcast/video show in the community. Here’s hoping you enjoy it!

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: The scratch of my best bet changed a lot in the seventh race. In the pick box, I inherited a class-dropper that showed little interest, and in here, much of my action was wiped out. After that scratch, I dropped $10.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus my action on the early part of the card, as I’m against the likely chalk in the opener. I’m punching $6 doubles starting with #2 GOOD CULTURE and #5 PRIME TIME PLAYER in that race and ending with #2 FREEDOMOFTHEPRESS and #9 TRACY FLICK in the second.



Best Bet: Malathaat, Race 5
Longshot: Prime Time Player, Race 1


Prime Time Player
Good Culture
Royal Realm

#5 PRIME TIME PLAYER: Broke his maiden last time out at Churchill Downs and comes in off a very strong work here on July 11th. He sold for $430,000 as a yearling in 2019, so someone obviously thought there was talent here, and perhaps he’s finding his footing; #2 GOOD CULTURE: Looks a lot better if you draw a line through his two-back dud at Pimlico. He was second against similar downstate and was claimed by Mike Maker, who has enjoyed plenty of success early in the meet; #7 ROYAL REALM: Takes a very suspicious drop in class and sheds blinkers for this event. Based on numbers, he’s the one to beat, but he was fourth against allowance foes last time out and originally sold for $250,000, so why is he in for less than 20% of that after just four starts?


Tracy Flick

#9 TRACY FLICK: Has a bad habit of finding trouble, but the outside post she’s drawn could really help her in that regard. She was classy enough to try stakes foes as a maiden last time out, and if she can stay out of trouble, she’s strictly the one to beat; #2 FREEDOMOFTHEPRESS: Ran second and third in two starts last season, and each of the runners that beat her also won their next starts. She gets Lasix for the first time, and if she’s ready to run off of her long break, she’s got a big chance; #4 PATHETIQUE: Missed the break in her debut and has every right to improve here. This daughter of Uncle Mo fetched $450,000 at auction, has turned in two sharp four-furlong works since she got here, and may be an inflated price given the last-out clunker.


Cantrell Hill
Win With Pride

#3 CANTRELL HILL: Made his first start off the claim a winning one for Robertino Diodoro last month at Churchill Downs. He’s got six top-two finishes in seven starts this season, and his tactical speed and flexible running style should give David Cohen plenty of options; #2 WIN WITH PRIDE: Rallied to be fourth against higher-priced claimers downstate, and that’s not what he wants to do. He wants to be on or near the lead, and the presence of aggressive rider Luis Saez should benefit him; #5 ALCOOLS: Earned a career-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure when splashing home in the slop earlier this month. He’s since changed barns, but a repeat of that performance could put him right there in a tough race for the level.


Lyrical Poet
Count Down

#2 LYRICAL POET: Was a close-up second at this level at Belmont, and it helps his cause that that day’s third-place finisher won at next asking. Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back for Wesley Ward, and he figures to be prominent from the first jump; #6 TALLAJ: Tries turf for the first time and is bred to love it. He’s by Lemon Drop Kid, out of a Tale of the Cat mare, and makes his first start off the claim for Linda Rice, who does well with new acquisitions; #3 COUNT DOWN: Put it all together with a wire-to-wire win over yielding going on Independence Day. This is his first try against winners, and I’m not quite sure what he beat least time, but Jose Ortiz returns to ride and maybe this gelding is starting to figure things out.



#1 MALATHAAT: Looms very large over an unfortunately short field in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. She’s 5-for-5, comes in fresh for the Pletcher/Velazquez tag team, and has enough speed to be prominent early; #4 CLAIRIERE: Is a very nice filly with a Grade 2 win to her credit. She was most recently third in the Grade 2 Mother Goose at Belmont, and perhaps stretching back out to two turns will help her; #2 MARACUJA: Passed a few rivals to be seventh behind my top pick in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. Ricardo Santana, Jr., picks up the mount, and she’d benefit from a faster-than-expected pace.


Midnight Worker
Fluid Situation

#7 WATASHA: Hammered for $450,000 at Keeneland last September and has been training well for Chad Brown. He’s a half-brother to stakes winner Our Caravan, and his second dam is multiple Grade 1 winner Jersey Town, so he has every right to be a real runner; #1 MIDNIGHT WORKER: Draws the rail in his unveiling for Pletcher. He’s another with a strong work tab, and few barns on the circuit have been as historically solid with first-time starters as this one; #10 FLUID SITUATION: Sold for $200,000 in April despite being by a sire that commands just a $5,000 stud fee. He’s kin to multiple Grade 3 winner Axelrod and stakes-placed sprinter Trelawny, among others, and Joel Rosario has won at a 35% clip when riding for John Terranova in recent years.


Mira Mission
Space Launch
Sifting Sands

#6 MIRA MISSION: Chased a very classy runner home last time out and stretches back out to two turns. He’s 2-for-2 over such configurations, and top turf rider Jose Lezcano sees fit to ride back; #11 SPACE LAUNCH: Hasn’t run a bad one in three lifetime starts and certainly has the ability to win this. Rosario and Clement must be respected, but he won’t have it easy breaking from that far outside post; #3 SIFTING SANDS: Broke his maiden two back before not showing much interest against stakes company at Aqueduct. He’s been rested since, and these are certainly shallower waters than what he saw last time out.


Split Then Double
Ego Trip

#3 RASTAFARA: Has been close in both of her career outings and gets a tepid nod here. She’s at least shown a hint of tactical speed, and she may be tough if she’s forwardly placed here given the lack of apparent early zip in this field; #1 SPLIT THEN DOUBLE: Is the other half of Chad Brown’s 1-2 punch and just missed behind a next-out winner in her first start since October. The rail isn’t an easy draw for a closer, especially in a race that seems to be lacking early speed, but perhaps she’s just better than this bunch; #9 EGO TRIP: Gets Lasix for the first time after running second in her debut overseas. That day’s winner went on to run in the Group 1 St. James’s Palace at Royal Ascot, and he beat the third-place finisher by four lengths.


Caramel Swirl
Amendment Nineteen

#6 CARAMEL SWIRL: May have bounced or simply found Grade 2 company too tough in the Eight Belles. Her maiden-breaking win two back was very good, and she comes into this event off of two bullet drills over the Oklahoma track; #7 ZAINALARAB: Won her debut at Belmont as a 2-year-old and ran into Australasia in her return. Her local drills are very good, and she has every right to run well if she’s ready; #5 AMENDMENT NINETEEN: Chased a next-out winner in her debut before recording a professional score in the slop last time out. Linda Rice will add blinkers for this event, and Jose Ortiz lands here when one has to figure he had some options.


Robin Sparkles

#2 ROBIN SPARKLES: Has won five of six turf starts and looms large in the Grade 3 Caress. She’s got a ton of early speed, has won over this route, and will invite us to the mall if she finds the winner’s circle (or build sand castles in the sand if she loses); #1 CARAVEL: Looms the main treat and comes in off of an impressive win at Monmouth Park. She’s never been out of the money in eight lifetime starts and would benefit from another runner going on a suicide mission and dueling with my top pick; #6 JAKARTA: Looks best of the rest and has enough back class to suggest she’s well-meant. She was second in this race a season ago, has won eight times, and may benefit from the outside draw in a compact field.


My Lips Are Sealed
Just Ok Is Not Ok
Unicorn Sally

#7 MY LIPS ARE SEALED: Is a very logical favorite after finishing a close-up third behind two next-out winners in her last start. She’ll likely be on or near the lead from the jump, and if she gets comfortable, I think she’ll be tough to run down; #6 JUST OK IS NOT OK: Put it all together to break her maiden last time out and has improved in all three of her outings. I’m not quite sure what she beat that day, but Saez will be back in the saddle for Pletcher and maybe she’s figuring things out; #9 UNICORN SALLY: Has run far better around two turns than one and returns to her preferred configuration here. Maybe she’s just off form, but her races from this past winter at Aqueduct and Gulfstream weren’t bad, and repeats of those performances could put her right there at a nice price.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/23/21)


BANKROLL: $1,005

Daily Racing Form reporter David Grening caught up with NYRA representatives regarding the Marcus
Vitali situation. The trainer possesses a long rap sheet, but entered a race on Thursday’s program to the
dismay of many around the horse racing world.

The explanation is, predictably, disappointing. Vitali has a valid license to train in New York, and per
Grening’s report, NYRA says it is “establishing a due process mechanism that will allow it to take action
against individuals whose conduct is contrary to the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”

Shady characters have been around racing for as long as there’s been racing. It’s easy to play “Monday
morning quarterback,” but it’s not like the existence of this stuff shocks anyone. With that in mind,
here’s a very simple follow-up question: Why doesn’t that mechanism already exist?

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: For the second day in the row, it was a fantastic afternoon in the pick box but a
lousy day here. Late doubles fizzled, and while Sassy Belle outran her odds, she didn’t hit the board. We
dropped $24.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll go after the late Pick Four, which is headlined by the Grade 3 Lake George. My main
50-cent ticket is as follows: 4,10 with 6,7 with 2,3,5,6,8 with 1,6. I’ll also play another 50-cent ticket that
doubles down on a few of my stronger opinions. That one goes like this: 10 with 6 with 2,3,6 with 1,6.



Best Bet: Air Show, Race 7
Longshot: Closertotheheart, Race 10


Buckingham Prince
Stolen Base
Big Scully

#8 BUCKINGHAM PRINCE: Did everything but win in the slop last time out at Ellis Park and looms large in the opener. He chased several next-out winners in his debut two back, and this seems like the softest group he’s faced yet; #7 STOLEN BASE: Sold for $45,000 at auction, which just barely qualifies him for this event. Mike Maker’s horses sometimes need a race to get going, but he’s worked well at Keeneland and looks like he has some potential; #9 BIG SCULLY: Turned in a series of solid four-furlong drills at Churchill Downs prior to shipping to upstate New York. The Louisiana-bred draws a cushy outside post, which could help him get comfortable in his career debut.


Time Limit
Awsum Roar

#10 TIME LIMIT: Has an abundance of early speed and will almost certainly be the one to catch going into the turn. This is her third start off a very long layoff, and she’s run well against some very solid groups in the past; #1 FETCHING: Hasn’t won in quite a while but could move forward off the claim by George Weaver, who doesn’t claim many horses but is excellent with the ones he acquires. Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and she has a win and a second in three starts over this turf course; #5 AWSUM ROAR: Is an ultra-consistent mare from Florida who arrives here having hit the board in eight straight races. She’s won here before, and that’s a plus, but is here enough speed signed on to set things up for the way she wants to run?


Realm of Law
Pletcher entry
Reeves entry

#9 REALM OF LAW: Was third in a race many of these exit and didn’t have a great trip that day. He got shuffled back most of the way before making up plenty of ground, and I think he’s a candidate to improve with a luckier journey here; PLETCHER ENTRY: #2 MUBTADAA nearly capitalized on a perfect trip last time when second at odds of 14-1. He’ll certainly be on or near the lead, but I don’t think he’ll be alone this time around; REEVES ENTRY: #1 BIG EVEREST was rank last time and had every right to need that race off of a long layoff. His debut race last October was very good, and if he steps forward in this spot, he’ll have every chance to get the job done in his third career start.


Dark Money
Just Right
Big Mountain

#8 DARK MONEY: Has won three of his last five starts, including a last-out score at this level downstate. He was claimed out of that event by George Weaver, who retains the riding services of Irad Ortiz, Jr.; #2 JUST RIGHT: Comes back to what’s probably the correct level after several failed tries against optional claiming competition. His last several wins have come against similar foes, and his two victories at this seven-furlong distance can’t be ignored; #7 BIG MOUNTAIN: Suffered due to not making the lead last time out, but is dangerous when he gets his preferred trip. If he’s sent to the front by Dylan Davis, he could lead them a long way at a square price.


Dame Time
Tuscan Queen

#2 DAME TIME: Took to the lawn well when second last time out at Belmont, and it’s interesting that she showed a bit more early interest in that start. That zip could come in handy here given the inside draw, and she hasn’t done much wrong to this point; #5 TUSCAN QUEEN: Led briefly in her unveiling last month for a barn whose first-time starters usually aren’t fully-cranked. She’s worked well since coming upstate, and it wouldn’t be a shock if she stepped forward enough to win here; #3 GAILHORSEWIND: Has shown a solid closing kick to this point and would benefit from a pace meltdown. Linda Rice’s barn has won plenty of these turf sprints over the years, and Jose Lezcano nearly piloted this one to a win two back.


Math Wizard (MTO)
He’s No Lemon

#11 HE’S NO LEMON: Almost certainly needed his last-out effort, where he was way too far back to have any chance late. He stretches back out to a marathon distance here, and he’s won going long over this turf course two seasons in a row; #7 AJOURNEYTOFREEDOM: Hasn’t won since March of 2020 but has spent much of that time going up against legitimate stakes horses. He was most recently third in the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup going two miles, and these waters are significantly more shallow; #4 KENTUCKY GHOST: Was a solid fifth in the Grade 2 Wise Dan after two wins and a second to kick off his 2021 campaign. If he can stretch his form out to this marathon distance, he certainly has a chance, and he did run second in a longer race at Kentucky Downs last fall.


Air Show
U. S. Steel

#10 AIR SHOW: Drops in for a tag for aggressive connections after running well in three starts following an April claim. The races in Indiana have gotten far stronger of late, and if he can bring that form east with him, the race may be for second money; #4 U. S. STEEL: Takes a colossal drop in his first start as a gelding, and he has back form that would make him competitive here. He won first time out in a dirt sprint at Delaware, and perhaps the ultimate equipment change will help him find that form; #5 BRUNATE: Comes in off an effort that’s too poor to be true. Drawing a line through that race makes this one’s form look considerably better, and he hit the board three times here a season ago.


Big Bobby
Judge N Jury

#6 BIG BOBBY: Moved forward to break his maiden at second asking after running into an impressive next-out winner in his debut. Bill Mott’s horses have been firing early in the Saratoga meet, and this one’s strictly the horse to beat; #7 JUDGE N JURY: Has been working well ahead of his return to the races, one that will come in both his first start as a gelding and his first outing with Lasix. Danny Gargan’s numbers with similar stock are excellent, and it sure looks like he’ll be the one dictating terms early; #3 QUICKFLASH: Hasn’t won since February of 2020 but came close last time out, when he was a good second in the slop earlier this month. Irad sees fit to ride back, and he could sit an ideal stalking trip just off the speed.


Amy C
Fluffy Socks
Runaway Rumor

#6 AMY C: Is one of several Chad Brown trainees with big chances in the Grade 3 Lake George. She’s my top pick due to her impressive U.S. debut, where she rated behind a slow pace and still hit the line first. This is where Irad lands, and that matters; #3 FLUFFY SOCKS: Got stuck rating behind a slow pace in the Grade 3 Wonder Again and is better than she showed in that outing. She’s won two stakes races, has placed in two others, and gets the services of Joel Rosario here; #2 RUNAWAY RUMOUR: Has won each of her first three starts and passed a big test by winning the Wild Applause last month. That was her first start against horses other than state-breds, and her pedigree says two turns shouldn’t be an issue.


Commandandcontrol (MTO)
Weaver entry

#6 CLOSERTOTHEHEART: Sure looks like she’s always wanted to sprint, and she gets a chance to do so here against a suspect group. She was fourth in a $100,000 race at Laurel Park last fall, and while her lone turf sprint doesn’t look inspiring, that race was her first start in four months and she probably needed it; WEAVER ENTRY: #1 THRILL and #1A MISS DOMINA will almost certainly go favored, and I understand why. Having said that, the former hasn’t run since last August, and the latter was second against a weaker bunch last month at Gulfstream; #3 EPICUREAN: Looks like the main speed in here and figures to be prominent out of the gate. She tired to third going slightly longer last time out, and perhaps the slight cutback will agree with her.