SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/27/22)


BANKROLL: $890.20

Sunday’s card featured a no-win situation. The seventh race was rightfully ruled a no-contest after a bizarre sequence of events. Pick Four players were briefly left to wonder what was going on until the New York Racing Association made an official announcement that all tickets would be refunded.

Much like with the “make a race an ‘all’” Pick Five situation in the first week of the meet, NYRA made the correct call, albeit a bit later than most handicappers would’ve preferred. In both instances, I wouldn’t have minded a delay of the next race while the matter in question was fully sorted out. Waiting 10 or 15 minutes wouldn’t have hurt anyone, and it would’ve given bettors opportunities to re-evaluate sequences and bet accordingly.

These two instances are freak occurrences, though, and I won’t judge anyone for being thrown off by them. Hopefully, we can return to some semblance of normalcy over the last three-quarters of the meet.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Key of Life was one of several top picks of mine that scratched. As a result, all of my action was called off.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I cannot get past #2 DISARMED in the third, and I’ll wager in hopes of extracting some value. In addition to a $20 win bet on that runner, I’ll single him to finish off $5 doubles that start in the second with #4 DAILY BRIEFING and #6 BIG TONY’S GIRL. If we can beat the even-money chalk in the first leg, those doubles may pay pretty well.



Best Bet: Disarmed, Race 3
Longshot: Alice Kramden, Race 6


Ancient Times
Bee Major

#1 ANCIENT TIMES: Has proven tough when left alone on the lead, both over fences and on the flat. This is his first steeplechase start against winners, but his early speed should be an asset, and I think he can wire this bunch; #8 WELSHMAN: Was perhaps wheeled back a bit quickly after his maiden-breaking score in April. However, Hall of Fame horseman Jack Fisher has rested him up for this one, and I expect him to be prominent from an early stage; #3 BEE MAJOR: Was pulled up last time out but prevailed two back. In his flat racing days, he definitely preferred firmer surfaces, and perhaps the soft going had something to do with his last-out clunker.


Daily Briefing
Big Tony’s Girl
Knot Anymore

#4 DAILY BRIEFING: Has a record that looks very solid if you solely focus on her dirt sprints. She was third last time in a race where she was probably a bit too far back early on. I expect her to be up closer here, and her usual effort would give her a big chance; #6 BIG TONY’S GIRL: Cuts back from seven furlongs to six and may benefit from drier going in this spot. Her lone start over a fast track this season was also her lone win of the year, and she bested my top pick two back downstate; #1 KNOT ANYMORE: Is an even-money favorite and may simply be too much in her first start for a tag, but I have my doubts. It’s not like she was running against world-beaters at Charles Town, and her races at Laurel, while OK, were a cut below her efforts over the West Virginia bullring. At her likely price, I’ll try to beat her.


Noble Huntsman
General Banker

#2 DISARMED: Hammered for $165,000 at auction last summer and has trained forwardly ahead of his debut. The recent four-furlong gate drill was a real head-turner, and there’s plenty of class in his pedigree, as dam Saravati is kin to multiple Grade 1 heroine You; #5 NOBLE HUNTSMAN: Is one of many debuting for barns whose horses tend to need a race or two to get going. However, his dam won her debut sprinting on turf and is a half-sister to stakes-winner Carameaway, so this son of Noble Mission has a right to be a runner; #3 GENERAL BANKER: Is a full sibling to a four-time winner and is bred up and down to be a sharp turf sprinter. The lack of precocity from this barn is a red flag, but he boasts a few solid drills and figures to be a big price.


Bella Sofia
Frank’s Rockette

#2 BELLA SOFIA: Is 2-for-2 this season and looms large in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss. She won last year’s Grade 1 Test over this track, and her lone career misfire came over a Del Mar surface she may not have cared for last November; #1 FRANK’S ROCKETTE: Is as consistent as they come, with 19 top-three finishes in 21 lifetime outings. She hasn’t won in more than a year, but she ran my top pick to a nose in the Grade 3 Vagrancy and gets four pounds from that rival today; #4 KIMARI: Might be over the top as a 5-year-old mare, but boasts the right running style as this event’s lone closing-type. She was third in the Grade 1 Madison two back at Keeneland, a race she won in 2021, and a performance that turns back the clock would put her right there.


Hometown (MTO)
Mooney Love

#6 MOONEY LOVE: Makes his American debut after spending his career to date overseas. He cruised home in a minor stakes race in Germany last time out, and his prior connections ran him in a pair of Group 2 events last season. If his form made the trip with him across the Atlantic, look out; #2 FORWARDLY: Graduated last time out at Belmont and faces winners for the first time. He’s lightly-raced, so he may have further potential to improve, but the last-out second and third-place finishers have both come back to run mediocre races up here; #4 CURBSTONE: Gets back to the lawn after several starts over the main track at Churchill Downs. This race seems fairly light on early speed, and this front-runner’s best effort came going a mile and a quarter. He’ll likely be sent early on and lead them as long as he can.


Repole entry
Alice Kramden
Silver Skillet

#1 GAMBLING GIRL: Was 6/5 in her debut last month at Belmont and got a terrible trip. She checked hard going into the turn, got shuffled way back, was floated wide turning for home, and still ran fourth just a length behind the runner-up. A step forward and a less-eventful journey would make her formidable at second asking; #10 ALICE KRAMDEN: Hammered for $200,000 at auction last fall and gets a cushy outside post in her career debut. Her dam and second dam both won stakes races, and there are several works in this one’s tab that indicate she may have potential; #5 SILVER SKILLET: Sold for $260,000 across the street last summer and is training well ahead of her unveiling. Her dam was a stakes-winner that captured her debut, and first-call rider Joel Rosario will be aboard.


Mirth ’n Merriment
Spooky Road

#5 MIRTH ’N MERRIMENT: Seems like the lone speed in this two-turn turf route, and those types are usually tough to bear. She topped older foes over Presque Isle’s synthetic course last time out and boasts a front-running win at Tampa Bay Downs earlier this season; #1 HATARI: Is one of two Mike Maker trainees in this field, and she gets the benefit of both a class drop and new jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. On figures, she fits, but will she get enough pace to run at?; #2 SPOOKY ROAD: May be the more forwardly-placed Maker runner, as she attracts both blinkers and aggressive gate rider Luis Saez. She goes second off the bench here and may have needed her comeback race at Belmont.


O’Gotten Girl

#8 O’GOTTEN GIRL: Takes a massive drop in class for aggressive connections and figures to be prominent early. A return to her mid-2021 form second off the layoff would make her tough to beat, and this is by far the weakest bunch she’s ever run against; #9 UNLOCK: Merits a look coming back to dirt after stopping badly against starter allowance foes on turf. Her effort two back, though, was sharp, and Dylan Davis sticking with this one after the clunker hits me as a good sign; #5 PREPOSTEROUS: Cuts back to this six-furlong distance and runs for a tag for the first time. This barn excels with horses going from routes to sprints, and the recent four-furlong drill here indicates she’s taken to this surface well.


Misty Veil (MTO)
High Opinion
Evvie Jets

#1 HIGH OPINION: Gets some class relief after winning a listed stakes race at Parx last month. She ran well here twice a season ago, including when she ran second to the talented Viadera in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa; #7 EVVIE JETS: Gets back to a two-turn route of ground, which she’s proven she loves. She won a pretty fast race for the level downstate last time out, and her lone local start was a wire-to-wire win last summer; #5 MESSIDOR: Has plenty of back class and most recently ran fourth in the Perfect Sting a few weeks ago. On figures, she more than fits, but she also has a history of finding trouble and doesn’t seem like the easiest horse to ride.


Course Runner
Aquila Moon
Dover Dreams

#4 COURSE RUNNER: Gets a tepid nod in a confusing Wednesday finale. Unlike several of her rivals, she has a recent race, having run fourth last month at Churchill for a barn whose first-time starters don’t usually win. She’s bred to be any kind and could take a significant step forward with experience; #11 AQUILA MOON: Showed speed first time out when fourth behind a pair of next-out winners. That was on Halloween of last year, so the layoff is a concern, but she’s trained consistently ahead of her return and draws well here; #8 DOVER DREAMS: Chased the likes of Nest and Goddess of Fire as a 2-year-old, so she has every right to improve with those fillies off competing at the highest level. She hasn’t run since September, but she gets Lasix for the first time and would be a pretty considerable overlay at anywhere close to the morning line price.

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 (9/6/20)


BANKROLL: $580.20

Tiz the Law had every chance in the Kentucky Derby. He got the perfect trip, had first run on the pace-setter after that one set solid early fractions, and looked like a winner with a quarter-mile to go.

He just couldn’t get by Authentic, who proved to be the genuine article. He had a terrible start, but made the lead going into the first turn and challenged other horses to come get him. Nobody could.

There’s no shame in running second in the Kentucky Derby, and it doesn’t discredit Tiz the Law’s brilliant campaign to this point. I think I echo the sentiments of everyone in racing when I say I hope there’s a rematch coming, either at Pimlico in next month’s Preakness Stakes or at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: I keyed Tiz the Law on top and had Enforceable hitting the board, so I was wrong on everything (although Enforceable ran reasonably well given his price). The late scratch of Thousand Words reduced the losses to $38.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to focus on the early part of this program and two runners I like a fair bit. I’ll put $15 win wagers on #6 CARAMEL SWIRL in the opener and #5 MAJESTIC WEST in the third, and I’ll also play a $1 Pick Three ticket using those two as singles and punching the “ALL” button in the second race. In a rare twist, I’ll be punching that ticket regardless of if the second race stays on the turf or moves to the main track.



Best Bet: Keota, Race 6
Longshot: Calidad, Race 7


Caramel Swirl
Jordan’s Leo

#6 CARAMEL SWIRL: Has been working with intensity ahead of her debut for Bill Mott, who doesn’t often work his 2-year-olds quickly. Her dam is a half-sister to Met Mile winner Frosted, and we may get a bit of a price due to the presence of juvenile-heavy barns; #3 FOUETTE: Went from “home free” to “barely hung on for third” very quickly in her debut. She’s one of just two runners in here with any experience, and that could be a big plus; #1 JORDAN’S LEO: Debuts for Todd Pletcher and comes in off of several very strong drills at Belmont Park. If there’s a negative here, it’s that the pedigree hints she’s a turf horse, but if she runs to the work tab, look out.


Fevola (MTO)
Bourbon Currency
Cardiac Kitten

#5 BOURBON CURRENCY: Was beaten a length at this route a few weeks ago, and Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride this gelding back. It seems as though there’s plenty of early pace signed on, and that may set things up for him to come pick up the pieces; #10 CARDIAC KITTEN: Drops back into the claiming ranks in his second start of the season. His lone other prior start for a tag saw him win by four lengths at Keeneland, and he’ll be a major player if he can work out a trip from his outside post; #6 WILD WILLIAM: Wired a lesser field last time out and is wheeled back fairly quickly by trainer H. James Bond, whose barn has been firing on all cylinders all summer long. Luis Saez rides back, and chances are this one will be prominent from a very early juncture.


Majestic West
Blood Moon
First Rate

#5 MAJESTIC WEST: Stretches back out to two turns and earned his lone win to date at a similar configuration at Fair Grounds. He earned an 81 Beyer Speed Figure that day, and that’s the highest such number of any horse in this field; #3 BLOOD MOON: Gets wheeled back quickly by new trainer Linda Rice, and she’s done that with great success in the past. He hasn’t won in a while, but perhaps a change of scenery will move him up in his fourth start of the summer; #2 FIRST RATE: Was second against similar horses at this route earlier this summer. He’s got the talent to run well here, but he may be stuck rating behind a slow early pace, which wouldn’t be an ideal trip.


Klaravich entry
Dreams of Tomorrow

KLARAVICH ENTRY: #1 PRICE TALK crossed the wire first in his debut, but was disqualified due to interference. Any sort of a step forward will make him very tough, and the recent bullet drill suggests such improvement is on the horizon; #4 ETHOS: Has every right to run a career-best race second off the bench and stretching out to two turns. His dam is a half-sister to both Grade 1 winner Ironicus and multiple graded stakes winner On Leave, and those two did their best running going long; #2 DREAMS OF TOMORROW: Makes his turf debut and should relish the new surface. His dam is a half-sister to top-class turf runner Imagining, and he runs like a horse that will also appreciate the added distance.


Mo Dean
Lutescoot N Boogie
Jane Grey

#5 MO DEAN: Had an adventurous journey in her debut, when she ran second beaten just a neck. She’s worked consistently since that event, and she’ll be a handful with smoother sailing and/or a logical second-out step forward; #8 LUTESCOOT N BOOGIE: Showed speed in her unveiling, when she was third against state-bred competition. Steve Asmussen has cleaned up in 2-year-old races this summer, and Joel Rosario sees fit to hop aboard; #2 JANE GREY: Is bred up and down to be a good one and comes in off of a bullet drill on the Oklahoma track. This is a patient barn, but if she’s ready to run, she’ll have every chance to grab a piece of it at a nice price.


Brass Ring
A Little Faith

#8 KEOTA: Cruised home to an easy win at this route against starter allowance foes last month. She’s got enough tactical speed to be forwardly-placed, but she doesn’t necessarily need the lead, either, and that should give Irad Ortiz, Jr., plenty of options; #10 BRASS RING: Did a lot of the dirty work when third against similar company last time out. She’s done her best running at this route, and while the outside post doesn’t help, she may be talented enough to outbreak this field and clear her rivals into the turn; #1 A LITTLE FAITH: Hasn’t run a bad race sprinting on turf and exits a win over state-breds in her first start since November. This is a tougher group, to be sure, but the inside draw is a good thing and Jose Ortiz will hop aboard.


Madison Parc
Dancing Kiki

#5 CALIDAD: Is a reluctant top pick in a puzzling race to handicap. She gets that designation due to a strong turf pedigree, one that hints she’ll enjoy this surface in her first start on the lawn. Improvement from her dirt efforts would make her tough; #8 MADISON PARC: Adds blinkers after a one-paced showing earlier this summer. She ran well in her debut going two turns on turf, so I’m willing to give her one more shot (especially against what seems like a suspect group); #9 DANCING KIKI: Has run well at this level many times, but is 0-for-11 and, as a result, tough to trust on top. Still, she can’t be ignored if you’re playing vertical exotics.


Tiz He the One
Creative Style

#5 TIZ HE THE ONE: Takes a significant drop in class for aggressive connections and looms large. It wasn’t long ago he was 9/2 against Firenze Fire in the Grade 3 General George, and he’s been chasing far better horses since coming off the bench earlier this summer; #9 CREATIVE STYLE: Ran second against slightly-lesser company last time out and cuts back to one turn in his first start for new trainer Rob Atras. This route should suit him better, and Atras hits at a very strong clip with new acquisitions; #8 LUSITANO: Overcame a rough start to win his local debut in come-from-behind fashion. This is a tougher group, but he’s won going longer distances than this, so at least you know the extra furlong won’t beat him.


Beautiful Memories
Guana Cay
Irish Constitution

#5 BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES: Never had a chance in the Grade 3 Schuylerville when she was pulled up as the 1/2 favorite. She’s turned in several strong drills ahead of her return, and a clean journey would make her tough in the Grade 1 Spinaway; #6 GUANA CAY: Looks like the lone closer in a race full of early zip. She’s a maiden, but Wesley Ward spots his horses aggressively, and the faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be; #1 IRISH CONSTITUTION: Prevailed in her debut for a trainer whose juveniles often need a race or two to figure things out. This is a far tougher field than the batch of state-breds she beat in her unveiling, but she’s bred to be a good one and could take a step forward at a price.


Lady’s Island
Come Dancing

#7 LADY’S ISLAND: Certainly looks like the speed of the speed in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss. She’s won 16 of 31 career starts and earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure over this surface last year. A similar effort would give her a big shot at a bit of a price; #1 COME DANCING: Was fourth in the Grade 1 Ballerina behind Serengeti Empress, and this spot represents a bit of a class drop. She makes sense, but the cutback in distance is a bit of a concern, as is the rail draw for a horse not reliant on early speed; #2 BLAMED: Was a hard-luck second in the Shine Again earlier this summer and will want to be on or near the lead early. This is another case where six furlongs seems a bit short, but she’s got plenty of back class and has won nine of 16 lifetime starts.


Shekky Shebaz

#9 GIDU: Cuts back to a turf sprint and may get the firm ground he clearly relishes in the Lucky Coin. He’s spent most of his career running against some of the better turf horses in the country, and betweem the class relief and his ample early zip, I think he’s the horse to beat; #1 SHEKKY SHEBAZ: Was placed second in the Grade 3 Troy last time out and has run several strong races over this turf course in the past. He may not be the same horse he was for Jason Servis last year, but he may not have to be in order to run well here; #8 PULSATE: Had a troubled trip in the Troy, when he was making up ground late before steadying in traffic. Luis Saez gets the mount here, and he’ll at least be going in the right direction when the real running starts.


La Negrita (MTO)

#3 TATTERAZZI: Sure seems like the lone speed in here, and that combined with the presence of Luis Saez is enough to get my top pick in the Sunday finale. She drops in for a tag second off the bench and may prove very tough to catch; #2 LEEWAY: Almost certainly needed her return to the races in July, which came off a layoff of more than nine months. Her maiden-breaking score at Belmont wasn’t bad, and the Clement/Rosario tag team merits respect; #9 BLICHTON LADY: Ran into a good horse two back before breaking her maiden over the Saratoga main track last month. Her turf Tomlinson number of 309 is solid, and it indicates that perhaps her disappointing debut on the lawn may have just been due to her needing a race. She may be worth another shot at a price.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/24/19)



Generally speaking, as a handicapper, I strive for three winners per day. Three winners per day, over the course of 40 days, translates to 120 winners, which is usually enough to contend for the meet’s handicapping title. If you’d told me I’d be one off of that pace through eight days, despite a doughnut and a one-win Opening Day, I’d have probably been OK with it.

All of this is a prelude to me saying that I want Liam Durbin’s feed and medical records examined, pronto. This man is putting on a handicapping clinic. What he’s done so far this meet is pretty special, and we’ve all got some going to do in order to reel him in. Thankfully, we’ve got plenty of time, but we might need it.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Sequin ran second in the seventh, which spoiled exactas and doubles that had the horse on top. In total, we dropped $30.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: This is tricky, as it rained pretty hard earlier in the week and we may be off the turf. Assuming we’re staying on the turf, I’ll play an early Pick Four that starts in the third race (remember, the opener is a steeplechase) and singles my best bet of the day in the payoff leg. My 50-cent ticket reads as follows: 2,5,8 with 2,8,10 with 2,4,5,8,9 with 7.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Alfie Solomons, Race 6
LONGSHOT: More Than Silver, Race 3



#9 SPORTSWEAR: Has won two in a row since going to the steeplechase ranks and goes out for Jonathan Sheppard in a wide-open renewal of the Jonathan Kiser Novice. His two wins have been sharp, and he gets weight from many of these; #7 ELUCIDATION: Makes his second start off a long layoff and won both starts over fences a season ago. This may be a tougher group, but his return was fine and he may still be improving; #10 BELISARIUS: Comes in off of two clunkers, but his 2018 form was sharp and included a strong second in a Grade 3 event. If he channels that form, he could be competitive at a price.


The Honest Toun
Golani Brigade
Larsen entry

#5 THE HONEST TOUN: Rallied when third in his debut last month for a barn whose horses often need a race to get going. Irad Ortiz rides back, and he ran like he’ll appreciate the extra distance he gets in this spot; #9 GOLANI BRIGADE: Was beaten a half-length by my top pick last time out, when he was a one-paced fourth. He’s another that may improve with experience and an added furlong; LARSEN ENTRY: I prefer #1 FREAKY STYLEY, who has worked well ahead of his debut. Seven furlongs is a tricky distance to debut at, but this barn can pop at a price with first-time starters.


Beyond Brown (MTO)
Jen’s Battle
More Than Silver

#2 JEN’S BATTLE: Ran third in her debut despite checking shortly after the break. She’s bred up and down to go long on turf, and she gets a chance to do exactly that for a barn due to get off the duck sooner rather than later; #5 MORE THAN SILVER: Is another bred to love the lawn and will almost certainly be a square price. She’s by More Than Ready and out of a Mineshaft mare, and this barn has done fairly well with debuting runners over the past few years; #8 ADRIATIC HOLIDAY: Has been working lights-out for Team Funny Cide and will almost certainly be favored here. If there’s an issue here, it’s that this barn hasn’t had much luck with firsters. DIRT SELECTIONS: BEYOND BROWN, JEN’S BATTLE, SKY KITTEN.


Annals of Time
King Zachary

#1 ANNALS OF TIME: Stretches out in distance after running second in his comeback race last month at Belmont. He should be better-meant in this spot, and this length should be more to his liking; #10 DEVAMANI: Has stepped forward this season with two wins and a second in three 2019 starts. He’ll be running well late and could use a solid early pace; #8 KING ZACHARY: Has run in some big spots over the last two years and tries turf for the first time. He’s bred to like it, merits a look at a price, and would also be very imposing if this was rained off the turf.


Crea’s Bklyn Law
Giant Boo Boo
Indigo Yankee

#9 CREA’S BKLYN LAW: Improved first off the claim when second against similar downstate. He’s been freshened since then, should be running well late, and merits a tepid nod in a wide-open event; #8 GIANT BOO BOO: Ran well here twice a season ago and goes out for a barn that’s off to a strong start at the meet. He’s got plenty of early speed, but can also sit just off the pace, which could be helpful; #2 INDIGO YANKEE: Ran a decent fourth first off the claim at Churchill Downs and drops in class a bit for this race. He won here last year and has shown an ability to close from far back.


Alfie Solomons
Green entry
More Like It

#7 ALFIE SOLOMONS: Fetched $285,000 at auction and has been working very well ahead of his debut. Wesley Ward’s one of the best in the game with firsters, and he’s a full brother to world-class sprinter World of Trouble; #1 ANOTHER MIRACLE: Was second in his debut and figures to take a lot of money due to the presence of sire American Pharoah. A repeat of his debut makes him a contender; the question is, does he want turf?; #2 MORE LIKE IT: Is bred for turf and could hit the board at a price. His recent workouts here are solid, and the 331 turf Tomlinson number jumps off the page.


Six Percent
Funny Guy

#8 SIX PERCENT: Has improved significantly in each of his three career starts and takes a big jump up in class. However, he’s got some turf pedigree and can close, which should come in handy in a race with plenty of early speed signed on; #3 RINALDI: Upset a similar-quality group last time out at Belmont and tries two turns for the first time. Offspring of Posse don’t necessarily want distance, but any improvement off of his last race would make him tough; #9 FUNNY GUY: Took to turf well when second behind my second choice last time out. He’s another that may like a fast pace.


Mia Mischief
Ours to Run

#4 MIA MISCHIEF: May be hitting her stride as a 4-year-old and looms large in this spot. She won a Grade 1 two back, topped a talented field last time out, and ran well here twice last year; #2 CHALON: Hasn’t finished out of the exacta since September of 2017 and cuts back to six furlongs, which seems like her ideal trip. She was beaten a head in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and seems like the main danger; #6 OURS TO RUN: Has reeled off six wins in a row and ships in for Larry Jones, who generally means business when he makes a trip to upstate New York. It’s a big class test, but she’s won 12 of 20 lifetime outings, beat my top pick two starts ago, and attracts John Velazquez.


Leah’s Dream (MTO)
Enthusiastic Gal
Violent Times

#6 ENTHUSIASTIC GAL: Was outclassed in Grade 3 company last time out but drops back to the right level here. She had two wins and two seconds in her four starts prior to that effort, and she figures to be rolling late; #8 VIOLENT TIMES: Comes back to turf after running third behind a pair of next-out winners last month at Gulfstream. She was second at this route last summer and may be up close early on; #7 MENTALITY: Has lots of early speed and wired the field last time out at Belmont. That was her first start since November, so she could be in even better form here. DIRT SELECTIONS: LEAH’S DREAM, MISS MYSTIQUE, VICTORIAS FIRE.


Risky Mandate
Stifle Yourself
Fair Regis

#3 RISKY MANDATE: Debuted with a bang last month at Churchill, when she cruised home by more than six lengths despite not being fully extended. She facts another full field here, but the local work looks sharp and she seems ready to go; #11 STIFLE YOURSELF: Graduated at first asking over a fast Belmont strip last month, but the recent works indicate that she’s no fluke. The outside draw could help her, as could her tactical speed; #2 FAIR REGIS: Was claimed last time out by an astute outfit and is protected in this event. This may be a bit long for her, but a move forward off of her last-out victory could mean she picks up a check.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 7/25/18


BANKROLL: $915.50

The section you’re reading right now was inspired by the “Battle of Saratoga” feature that once ran in the New York Daily News. Handicappers like Dave Little, Jerry Bossert, Bill Finley, and Sherry Ross (among others) would trade barbs while offering daily plays. It was the first serious horse racing analysis that I ever read, and it’s an honor to do my own version of it.

If you saw the news about that publication yesterday, you know where this is going. Upon purchasing the paper, its new owners laid off some of the best newspaper journalists in the northeast. Local newspapers are vital to communities in many ways, and given the wages, the hours, and other external forces obvious to anyone who follows current events, it’s tougher than ever to be a newspaper journalist.

I could go on, but we’re probably short on space at this point. At any rate, my thoughts are with the writers who worked their rear ends off and were shown the door. I hope they land on their feet.

MONDAY’S RESULTS: Another good day in the pick box, another bad day in the bankroll. Triple Chelsea didn’t take to the soft turf course at all, and we dropped $30.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: My action comes in the fifth race, a fascinating maiden event for state-bred fillies. My top two are #4 BULL FEATHERS and #6 TIME WARP, who could both be nice prices. I’ll start $4 doubles there that also use #4 PURRFECT MISS and #5 PRAY FOR LESLIE in the sixth, as well as a $2 Pick Three that uses those horses (as well as #6 COME DANCING in the sixth) and singles #6 HOLLYWOOD CAT (my best bet of the day) in the seventh.



Monday’s Results: 4 for 9
Meet Results (to date): 14 for 40

Best Bet: Hollywood Cat, Race 7
Longshot: Bull Feathers, Race 5


Lord Justice
Officer Sidney

#5 LORD JUSTICE: Has yet to run a bad race over fences since coming to America last summer. He’s got some tactical speed, and the likely race shape could benefit him in the first steeplechase race of the season; #2 OFFICER SYDNEY: Has turned a corner in his last four starts, a stretch that includes a pair of wins. He was third behind two of today’s rivals last time out, but the cutback in distance should work to his benefit; #6 MUTASAAWY: Would benefit from a fast pace and figures to be going best of all late. He won an allowance here last summer, and his win two back was sharp, but he may need a specific setup.


Raging Town
North End

#4 RAGING TOWN: May desperately need the drop in class, but I’m willing to give her a shot. She seems like the main speed, and the addition of blinkers could give her an even bigger edge in that regard; #2 TERRALSOLE: Hasn’t run since December, but merits a look at a price. The Bond barn has quietly had a solid year to this point, and she ran third against a much better group when she was last seen; #6 NORTH END: Makes her first start for Jorge Abreu and drops in class. I’m willing to consider that she hates Aqueduct’s new main track, and the most recent workout indicates she could be ready to run off the bench.


Consensus Thinking (MTO)
Ding Dong Ditch

#6 DING DONG DITCH: Comes to the Todd Pletcher barn and drops in class after being beaten as the favorite on Kentucky Derby Day. That was a funky turf course that day, so I’m more than willing to excuse it, and he’s got back races that, if repeated, would make him tough here; #4 SPORT: Has had plenty of chances, but came back running off a long layoff when second at this level. I usually don’t like betting horses that have had this many opportunities, but his usual race probably gets him a big piece of it; #9 WISELY: Has been gelded since his last start and drops in for a tag for the first time. His two-turn turf races aren’t bad, and this seems like the right level. DIRT SELECTIONS: CONSENSUS THINKING, CURLIN’S NEW MOON, HOT MESA.


Summer Bourbon
Riff Raff

#5 SUMMER BOURBON: Just missed last time out at Belmont Park when rallying from much further back than he’d been accustomed to racing. He may show more tactical speed today, and it’s tough to quibble with these connections; #2 RIFF RAFF: Is another that could benefit from the likely race shape. He hasn’t won in a while, but he was a good second last time out and it’s worth noting the presence of Joel Rosario; #3 RECTIFY: Loves Saratoga and comes in off a clear win against lesser foes. He’ll be one of a few in here that wants the early lead.


Time Warp
Bull Feathers

#6 TIME WARP: Fetched $230,000 at auction here last year and has been working well for a trainer whose horses often need a race or two to get going. Her female family has links to high-quality horses Editor’s Note and Hold That Tiger, so she’s got every right to be a runner; #4 BULL FEATHERS: Merits a look, especially at her morning line price. Her dam has thrown four winners (including two full siblings), and was herself a full sister to an 11-time winner. The most recent work may have tipped her hand; #9 CHILLINWITHFRIENDS: May be favorite given trainer Rudy Rodriguez’s high profile. It’s tough to read too much into her work tab, but Rudy’s snuck a few firsters by in recent years that fit this profile.


Purrfect Miss
Pray for Leslie
Come Dancing

#4 PURRFECT MISS: Rebounded from a lackluster run in a Grade 3 to take an allowance downstate. She ran two very good races here last year, and there’s a chance she’s getting better for a strong trainer; #5 PRAY FOR LESLIE: Is undefeated through two starts and goes out for one of the hottest barns in the country. If she brings the Churchill Downs form here, she’ll be tough, but she set a pretty easy pace last time and likely won’t get a similar trip in this spot; #6 COME DANCING: Hasn’t raced since January, where something clearly went amiss in a stakes race at Aqueduct. Her recent workouts are sharp, but this race came up pretty salty for the level.


Hollywood Cat
Stay Fond (MTO)

#6 HOLLYWOOD CAT: Makes her first start for Jason Servis and returns to Saratoga, where she earned a stakes placing last summer. She gets a big rider switch to Irad Ortiz, Jr., and this seems like a weaker-than-average race for the level; #11 CODRINGTON: Was claimed by Mike Maker after being compromised by a slow early pace last time out. She ran well here three times last season, but must negotiate a trip from a tricky outside post; #5 SWEET CONNIE GIRL: Merits respect if for no other reason than her trainer/jockey combination of Chad Brown and Javier Castellano. She was an OK fourth at this level when last seen in late-May. DIRT SELECTIONS: STAY FOND, HOLLYWOOD CAT, SOLITARY GEM.


Mo Diddley
Ivery Sisters entry

#4 MO DIDDLEY: Has gotten better with every start this season since coming back in turf races. His connections thought enough of him to run him in two graded stakes races a season ago, and his last effort was a good second behind a next-out winner; IVERY SISTERS ENTRY: #1A FOX RULES seems like the main speed in this race, while #1 OSTROLENKA merits a big chance should this race be moved to the main track; #2 MASCARELLO: Has won three of his last five, including a last-out victory at Suffolk Downs. He’s got a win and a second in two local starts and may get first run at the leaders turning for home. DIRT SELECTIONS: OSTROLENKA, MORRISON, ROYAL BLESSING.


Vertical Oak

#5 FAYPIEN: Has a lot of speed, but has shown an ability to sit just off the pace that may be helpful in a speed-heavy renewal of the Honorable Miss. Cross out her dud in December’s La Brea, and you’ve got a filly that’s missed the board just once for the always-formidable Bob Baffert barn; #6 FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM: Ran a bang-up race in defeat in last year’s renewal of this race. Her best effort could certainly win this, but her chances do suffer slightly if there’s moisture in the track; #1 VERTICAL OAK: May not be as fast as these on a fast track, but would love a wet track (which she could very well get). She romped in last year’s Grade 2 Prioress here in a bog, and a repeat of that race would put her right there.


Rucksack (MTO)
Spring On Curlin
Four Knights

#7 SPRING ON CURLIN: Has had a ton of chances, but drops to the lowest level he’s ever run at and gets a very significant rider switch to Joel Rosario. Arguably his best race came here last summer at this route; #11 FOUR KNIGHTS: Has been gelded since being claimed by Joe Sharp. He goes back to the turf, and his two-turn grass races are OK enough to give him a big shot here; #2 MONEIGH MOPROBLEMS: Drops down in class and exits the same race my top pick comes out of. He’s shown a solid closing kick, but he may not get much pace to run at in this spot. DIRT SELECTIONS: RUCKSACK, SPRING ON CURLIN, SACRED WALK.