SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/3/22)
Katie Davis returned to the saddle Friday, and her comeback was met with the proper pomp and circumstance on the NYRA broadcast. She’s been through a lot the past few years, both good (getting married and becoming a mom) and bad (the inexcusable, indefensible, demeaning, degrading rule requiring horses ridden by her and husband Trevor McCarthy to be coupled, one that’s since thankfully been stricken from the books).
I worked for HRTV prior to that network being acquired by TVG (now FanDuel TV). One of the last things HRTV did prior to that was a feature on the Davis family as part of the “Inside Information” series. Almost all of those productions have been lost and aren’t available online. This one, however, has been preserved.
Side note: If anyone out there reading this has copies of all of these “Inside Information” shows, can we get those uploaded? Those are some of the best racing history pieces produced in the last few decades, and I’m proud to have been associated with the network that put them together.
FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Meat Loaf once said, “two outta three ain’t bad.” I say, “one outta three is serviceable.” My first and third $10 win bets didn’t hit, but best bet Wicked Halo took the Prioress and allowed me to salvage a $24 profit.
SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to take a few stands early in the program grounded in two opinions. I really like #8 GENERAL JIM in the opener, and I think #6 UP TO THE MARK is a very vulnerable favorite in the third. I’ll play the early Pick Five, and my 50-cent ticket reads as follows: 8 with 3,6,7,8 with 3,4,5,8 with 3 with 2,4,5,7,8,11. I’ll also have a $20 win ticket on General Jim as well.
TOTAL WAGERED: $68.
Best Bet: General Jim, Race 1
Longshot: Fightertown, Race 2
#8 GENERAL JIM: Didn’t run badly when third in his debut sprinting on dirt, and I think he’ll move forward considerably on the grass with a start under his belt. His dam was stakes-placed on turf, and his female family includes the dam of Grade 3-winning turfer Tasha’s Miracle; #3 ARI GOLD: Is a regally-bred son of Medaglia d’Oro who’s kin to Grade 2-placed 2-year-old Petruchio. His bottom-side pedigree includes plenty of distance, which is fantastic, but while he’s working well and is a logical favorite, it’s interesting to note he doesn’t have a single turf work on his sheet; #13 CERTIFIED LOVERBOY: Needs a few defections to draw in but merits respect if he does. He was third in his turf debut last month and has a pedigree that hints two turns won’t be a problem.
#3 FIGHTERTOWN: Has been working extremely well for a trainer that doesn’t always ask a lot of horses that are yet to run. He’s by Into Mischief, out of a mare that’s kin to champion 2-year-old Vindication, and between his pedigree and his work tab, that 10-1 morning line price hits me as a significant overlay; #7 POWERFUL: Just missed in his debut earlier this summer, where he was second beaten a head. They didn’t finish all that quickly that day, and his recent works are on the slower side, but he did earn a 75 Beyer Speed Figure, which may be good enough to win this if he can repeat that effort; #8 UPGRADE: Didn’t break all that well in his debut, when he was a distant third behind one runaway winner and one next-out runaway winner. That race hits me as a key one, and he’s a candidate to improve with experience and a smoother start.
#4 TIWANAKU: Has run well twice since being claimed by Tom Amoss and was most recently third behind Keepmeinmind, who we’ll see in a Grade 1 later on in the program. The cutback to a mile should be to his liking, and anything close to his career-best effort two back at Churchill would make him tough to catch; #5 STRONG QUALITY: Improved in all three starts this winter at Fair Grounds and has been training very well ahead of his first try since March. It’s possible he needs a race given the layoff of more than five months, but it’s also possible he’s a 3-year-old that’s grown into himself in the back half of the season; #3 SEAL BEACH: Tried turf last time out and clearly hated it, so I have no problem drawing a line through that race. His 2-year-old campaign saw him run into one buzzsaw after another (including Epicenter, My Prankster, and Rattle N Roll), and while this isn’t a weak spot, it’s far weaker than some of the ones we’ve seen him in over the past year.
#3 ANNAPOLIS: Was a good second last time out in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby and may be the shortest price on today’s program. The cutback in distance should only help him, and there are no monsters like Nations Pride here in the Grade 3 Saranac; #1 CELESTIAL CITY: Rallied to be third in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame, and that day’s runner-up was an impressive next-out winner of the Better Talk Now. The question is, can he get the trip he needs without much pace signed on, and can he do it from a tricky inside post?; #5 FUERTEVENTURA: Won three in a row before misfiring in the Grade 3 Marine at Woodbine. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was forwardly-placed in here given the relative lack of early zip, and a repeat of his two-back, stakes-winning effort would likely get him a piece of this event.
Cousin Andrew (MTO)
#4 BLINDING LIGHT: Responded to the drop in class by earning the diploma at this route against a weaker group. While class is a fair question, the 83 Beyer Speed Figure off a four-month layoff is encouraging, and another step forward for a barn that excels with new acquisitions isn’t out of the question; #7 CUSTOM BOBBY’S: Rallied to be fourth at Monmouth last time out despite some issues at the gate. His two-back win at Belmont was solid, and the presence of Irad Ortiz, Jr., is encouraging; #5 KING MOONRACER: Has had two nightmare trips up here this summer. While he hasn’t won in a while and may have turned into a horse that just finds trouble, he’s certainly got the ability to win this wide-open event if he finally gets smooth sailing.
#9 CHAMPIONS DREAM: Hammered for $425,000 at auction earlier this year and has been training very, very well ahead of his debut. Offspring of Justify have gotten off to very strong starts, and while this barn is just so-so with first-time starters, one has to think he’s the one to beat if he runs to his impressive work tab; #10 CAGLIOSTRO: Sold for $385,000 and is another first-time starter working well for a barn that doesn’t boast exceptional numbers with debuting runners. The outside draw is a big plus, and there’s plenty of class on the bottom side of his pedigree if you dig a little bit; #2 MINDTAP: Was a $725,000 yearling purchase and is bred to be any kind. This son of Tapit is kin to multiple Grade 1 winner Curalina, and he’s worked well, but the lone turf work on August 19th raises more questions than answers.
Hoist the Gold
#5 ELITE POWER: Comes in off of back-to-back impressive scores at Churchill Downs and has clearly come into his own as a 4-year-old for a barn that knows what to do with maturing horses. If the Churchill form comes with him in this spot, he’ll be a very formidable favorite; ROMAN ENTRY: Both #1 GREELEY AND BEN and #1A AMUNDSON are logical contenders. The former has won 20 of 34 career starts, the latter comes in off of a nice win over state-breds, and both seem well-meant in this spot; #7 HOIST THE GOLD: Takes a significant class drop after chasing Gunite in the Grade 2 Amsterdam last month. He’s been running against stakes foes for most of the season, and his running style could mean he benefits from the hot pace that’s likely to materialize.
#8 JUAN VALDEZ: Has a price tag and a work tab that’ll really wake you up when you’re looking at this race (low-hanging fruit, I know). He’s a half-brother to Grade 1 winner and top sire Constitution, Luis Saez sees fit to ride for Shug McGaughey, and I think he’s got a big shot in a fascinating 2-year-old maiden race; #4 DUBYUHNELL: Sold for $400,000 last year at Keeneland and is another with a flashy tab and a pedigree to match. His dam was a multiple Grade 3 winner, and she’s already thrown stakes-winning 2-year-old Cazadero, among others; #10 CRUPI: Rallied from last to be third in his unveiling last month, and the experience edge is a real plus. I’m just not sure of the quality of that race, though, and the early pace did certainly set up for him to pick up the pieces and salvage a minor award.
Eyes On Target
Graded On a Curve
#2 ANALYZE IT: Has a career that includes a third-place finish in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile, and he’s a handful when he’s right. His sheet includes a bunch of layoff lines, and dropping in for a tag is alarming, but these are aggressive connections that want owner and trainer titles, so it doesn’t concern me as much as it otherwise might; #10 EYES ON TARGET: Won three in a row not long ago and hasn’t run a bad one since being claimed by Mike Maker in December. He’s got some early speed and figures to be prominent early, though he might lose some ground from his outside post; #5 GRADED ON A CURVE: Is another runner from this barn that’s had his issues but is a handful when he’s right. He’s won four of six starts since October of 2020, and while he does exit state-bred competition for this one, his speed figures say he’s not out of his element.
War Like Goddess
Temple City Terror
#4 WAR LIKE GODDESS: Goes for her second Grade 2 Flower Bowl victory in a row, which would double as her ninth in 11 career starts and seventh in her last eight. She’s been the queen of this division for a while, and anything close to her usual effort puts her in the winner’s circle; #3 VIRGINIA JOY: May very well inherit the lead by default in what sure seems like a paceless turf marathon. If she gets comfortable, she could prove tough to catch, and she capitalized on that sort of trip in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay, which she won in a romp; #6 TEMPLE CITY TERROR: Has chased my top pick on a few occasions, including last time out when she was second in the Grade 2 Glens Falls. This barn has had a long meet to this point, but Luis Saez lands here when he probably had several options.
#2 OLYMPIAD: May have bounced off of a career-best two-back effort when a distant fourth in the Grade 1 Whitney. That prior performance, where he cruised home in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster, resulted in a 111 Beyer Speed Figure, and I think we see that version of this horse in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup; #6 FIRST CAPTAIN: Dueled between horses when second in the Grade 2 Suburban, and that’s not an ideal spot for a horse that’s shown he wants to be outside of his rivals. The draw should help him negotiate that trip, and the two-back bullet drill over this surface is encouraging; #5 AMERICANREVOLUTION: Is one of four Todd Pletcher trainees in this eight-horse field and got back to his 2021 form when second in the Stephen Foster. He won the Albany over this surface a season ago and will be a major player if the 1 1/4-mile distance isn’t too far for him.
#6 PATIENT CAPITAL: Is a “hold your nose” option in a restricted claiming race where it seems every runner could fit that description. He takes a gigantic drop in class out of an allowance race at Ellis Park, recently fired a strong four-furlong drill over this surface, and has at least shown an ability to pass others late; #10 MIDNIGHT WORKER: Spent part of his 2-year-old season in graded stakes company, but came back with an absolute clunker in a turf mile event a few weeks ago. A return to his 2021 form would give him a big chance, but the outside draw is a concern; #3 MR BREADWINNER: Comes in off of an allowance race and, in an odd quirk, has yet to run over a fast dirt track. If he gets that here, perhaps there’s room for improvement in a race where I’d advise players to go as deep as humanly possible.
Quick Power Nap
#8 IZEAMALIBUMOON: Missed by a nose to a former stablemate last time out and was claimed out of that race by an outfit that doesn’t reach in for many runners. She’s run well in a pair of turf sprints to date and retains the riding services of Irad Ortiz, Jr., in the Saturday finale; #11 QUICK POWER NAP: Hasn’t missed the board in three starts to date and drops in for a tag for the first time. The far outside post is a problem, but few ride this turf course better than Joel Rosario, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if this one works out a winning trip; #9 ELI DANCER: Has a record that looks far better if you toss her two-back clunker, which came off a significant layoff. Her turf debut last time out was a solid second at this level and route, and she doesn’t have to move forward much to be a major player.