We’re back for a second go-around, and this week’s horse racing action takes me to Woodbine. A track I was fortunate enough to go to back in June, Saturday’s card features three Grade 1 races and a bunch of full fields elsewhere on the program. As a reminder, Woodbine’s wagering menu includes multi-race wagers at 20-cent minimums, rather than 50, which allows folks to go a bit deeper.
Meanwhile, Week 2 of the NFL is already underway. From an optics standpoint, there aren’t a lot of eye-catching matchups on Sunday’s slate. However, a few spreads hit me as extremely bettable.
Let’s dive in!
HORSE RACING: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17TH
Woodbine, Race 6: A field of 12 2-year-olds will go two turns. #10 STATE OF MIND is the 3-1 morning line favorite, and I don’t think she’s totally illogical. However, the far outside post is a problem, and 3-1 just hits me as too short a price.
I much prefer fellow second-time starter #5 BIJOU BABY. She debuted going six furlongs, and given that she’s a daughter of turf stayer Point of Entry, chances are that isn’t what she wants to do. Still, she made up a lot of ground while closing into a pretty slow pace. I’m expecting significant improvement given the experience and the added distance.
If you want to go even deeper, #3 OUR LIBERTY BELLE isn’t without a shot at a big price. She hasn’t run well in two turf starts, but her works over the synthetic course are pretty sharp and she adds blinkers in her first two-turn outing. Bijou Baby is my top pick, but I’ll have this one on a few tickets, too.
Woodbine, Race 9: This is the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, and the headliner here is #5 MODERN GAMES. The last time he shipped overseas was for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Things went great for him, as he won, but not for those who bet on him, as he was declared a non-starter following a head-scratching series of events.
A repeat of his runner-up finish in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes would give Modern Games a big chance, but the likely price seems too short. I prefer two others.
My top pick is #2 IVAR. He’s clearly had his issues, judging by the layoff lines, but when he’s right, he’s a handful. He’s finished up close in back-to-back editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and he should get plenty of pace to run at in this spot.
I’ll also pose a question: Is Modern Games that much better than fellow European runner #4 FINEST SOUND? Their Timeform ratings are pretty similar, and the latter runner will be at least five times the price. Jockey Andrea Atzeni has had success over this turf course in the past, and I think this one’s live.
Woodbine, Race 10: Simply put, I want no part of any runner coming out of the Catch A Glimpse. I’m simply not impressed by the race and very much prefer a new face in the Grade 1 Natalma.
#3 G LAURIE was very impressive in winning her debut by six lengths. Graham Motion’s runners aren’t always fully cranked at first asking, but she drew away powerfully, and that day’s third-place finisher has since come back to win.
I know the speed figures weren’t particularly kind to that race, but I’m banking on there being far more in the tank. Add in that I’m just not crazy about this field in general, and I think G Laurie represents a very attractive betting proposition.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: WEEK 2
WEEK 1 RECORD: 1-2
Bucs -2.5 over Saints: This spread has come down over the past few days as a result of some injury-related uncertainty on the Tampa Bay offense. However, while I’ll admit the injury report is unsettling, I think this is a “buy low” opportunity.
Tampa Bay’s defense swarmed the Cowboys last Sunday night. Even before Dak Prescott left the game, Dallas couldn’t get anything going the entire game. Tom Brady may not have all of his weapons on Sunday, but I don’t think he needs them. I’ll take the Bucs in a slow-paced game where their defense gets a chance to shine.
Panthers/Giants OVER 43.5: I’m not exactly bullish about offenses led by Baker Mayfield and Daniel Jones, but both of these teams face significantly weaker defenses than the ones they lined up against in Week 1. Saquon Barkley looked healthy in Big Blue’s stunning win over Tennessee, and Mayfield was at least able to engineer a few good drives against a solid Cleveland defense.
43.5 just seems a bit low to me. It’s possible this becomes a game of attrition and I look pretty silly, but I’ll gamble that each offense appreciates a bit of class relief, to steal a horse racing term. 27-17 is a winner, and that seems likely enough for me to take a shot.
Bears +10 over Packers: I watched all of the Bears’ season opener last weekend. It was ugly. Soldier Field’s turf was a mess, and for the first half, Chicago’s offense was, too. However, they did at least rally to win, and the Bears then sat back and watched the Vikings decimate Gang Green.
Mind you, I’m not saying Chicago is a likely winner. I think Green Bay is significantly sharper in the second week of the season. However, there are question marks here, especially with the Packers’ wide receiver corps. I think it’s likely Green Bay wins, but double-digits just seems like too big a spread.
Vikings +2.5 over Eagles: The second of two games on Monday comes to us from Philadelphia. The Eagles won their lid-lifter, but they survived some anxious moments against a Detroit Lions team that still has some work to do.
I’m not sold on any NFC East team. The Eagles may be the best of the bunch, but I’m eager to take the points with a Vikings team that seems to boast a higher-powered offense, even in a road game. The money line (Minnesota is between +115 and +125 as of this writing) may be worth a small shot, too.
I dug that tweet back up and pinned it to my Twitter page because, for the next nine months, I go from “younger guy who knows Saratoga” to “younger guy a surprising amount of people in horse racing wish would go away.” No such luck.
I’ll be putting together weekly content focused on horse racing and the NFL. Perhaps I’ll also throw in some college football plays as the season rolls on. If there’s something you want to see in this space, let me know. I’m an easy guy to contact, and I want to do what I can to appeal to an audience that (I hope!) enjoyed my stuff for most of the summer.
This weekend’s horse racing action takes me to Kentucky Downs for a power-packed Saturday card. Meanwhile, it’s Week 1 in the NFL, and I’ve got some strong opinions there, too. Let’s dive in!
HORSE RACING: SATURDAY, SEPT. 10
Kentucky Downs, Race 4: One of my bigger plays of the day comes in this maiden race for fillies and mares. I’m very much against #7 HERINGTON ROCKET at her likely price. Perhaps she’s good enough to win, but she’s had chances in each of her last two outings in New York against suspect groups. Anything close to the 5/2 morning line hits me as an underlay.
I much prefer #3 HEDY LAMARR, who gets back to turf and has done her best running on that surface. As a 2-year-old last year, she chased Consumer Spending twice, ran second at Aqueduct, and then went to the sidelines for five months after a lackluster performance at Gulfstream. However, her comeback race at Churchill Downs was quite good, and a similar type of effort gives her a big chance here. 6-1 seems like a very fair price, and I’ll happily take it come post time.
Kentucky Downs, Race 7: This is the Grade 2 FanDuel Turf Sprint, and it’s drawn a field that includes #12 ARREST ME RED, one of the top horses in this division. His best race absolutely wins this, but the 9/5 morning line price seems short given the far outside post and the fact that he won’t be alone up front.
I’ll take a swing with #7 GREGORIAN CHANT. The 10-1 shot makes his local debut, but has run very well coming down the hill at Santa Anita. Form from that course often translates well to this one, and his form looks far better if you toss his two runs in the Grade 1 Jaipur the last two years. He probably just doesn’t like Belmont Park, and if he channels the races he’s run elsewhere, I think he’s got more than a puncher’s chance at springing an upset.
Kentucky Downs, Race 11: The Grade 3 Mint Ladies Sprint houses my last spot play, and it’s not #10 CAMPANELLE. I respect her talent, to be sure, but she’s crossed the wire first just once in the last two years.
I think the early pace will be pretty hot, and with that in mind, I want #6 TOBYS HEART, who was very impressive in victory here last year. She wants to sit back and make one big late run, and that running style should mesh well with the race shape. Add in that she’s shown an affinity for this course, one several of her rivals will be running over for the first time, and I think there’s a lot to like.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: WEEK 1
Colts -7 over Texans: This line opened with Indianapolis giving 8 1/2 points. It’s down to seven, and I cannot understand why. The Texans have significant issues at quarterback, and while rookie running back Dameon Pierce has significant steam, make no mistake about one thing: This is not a good football team.
The Colts, meanwhile, have won 20 games the last two years and have a legitimate chance to win the AFC South. I wouldn’t have been surprised if this was a double-digit spread. Seeing a number of just seven means I have to endorse Indianapolis in this spot.
Ravens -7 over Jets: In a similar vein, the New York Jets…stink. This is especially true of this version of Gang Green, which boasts a depleted offensive line and a backup quarterback.
I’m not the biggest believer in Baltimore. Lamar Jackson will need to rely on all of his skills with a roster lacking depth at the skill positions around him. However, the Ravens should be up to the task against a banged-up Jets team, and it’s another instance where the spread just seems too low.
Chargers/Raiders OVER 52: This should be a lot of fun to watch. Both teams have explosive offenses that can put up points in a hurry. Both teams also have secondaries with lots of question marks. I’m expecting a fair amount of big plays from both sides, and I’ll happily sit back and root for as many points as each team can muster.
It’s closing day at Saratoga, and that means it’s time for me to say thanks. First of all, thank you to editor Joe Boyle, who edits not just The Pink Sheet, but the main sports sections of The Saratogian and The Troy Record. In an age where deadlines get earlier and earlier and staffs get smaller and smaller, this isn’t easy to do. I’m also grateful for a decision made by Catena Media, which graciously agreed to allow me to continue my duties in this capacity when I got hired by that company in January.
Thank you to the New York Racing Association for another stellar Saratoga season. I’m a tough critic sometimes, but I have high standards because I grew up going to this place, which doubles as one of the last cathedrals in American horse racing. In particular, kudos to the TV talent and crew that put together the FOX Sports broadcasts, which bring Saratoga into my living room 3,000 miles away as effectively as anything possibly could.
Finally, I’d like to thank you, the reader. It’s a privilege to be able to put together content enjoyed by tens of thousands of people each summer. I hope I’ve been able to make you some money. If not, we’ve got one more day to do it!
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Neither horse I used on top in the sixth was anywhere close. I dropped $36.
MONDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to wait until the very last two races of the meet for my final wagers. The more I look at #11 SUE ELLEN MISHKIN in the 12th, the more I like her. I’ll have a $50 win ticket on that one, and I’ll also single her to finish off a $20 cold double that begins with #4 GULFPORT in the 11th (the Grade 1 Hopeful). See you next summer!
TOTAL WAGERED: $70.
Best Bet: Crowding Out, Race 4 Longshot: Night Ops, Race 8
Souffle Atomic Girl Kara Para
#15 SOUFFLE: Needs a lot of defections in order to draw in off the AE list but will be formidable if she does. She did everything but win in her debut, where she lost by just a nose, and a repeat of that performance would make her strictly the one to beat; #5 ATOMIC GIRL: Has been training very forwardly ahead of her debut, and she’s bred to love the turf. Her dam was a Grade 3 winner on the lawn, and she sold for $50,000 at auction, which is a lot considering her sire’s stud fee is just $2,500; #1 KARA PARA: Makes her unveiling for a barn whose first-time starters aren’t often cranked-up, but she exits a bullet drill at Belmont and is another who likely wants turf. Offspring of The Factor tend to be turf horses, and she’s one of the ones to consider in a wide-open Closing Day opener.
Atlanta’s Acuna Blame It On Daddy Uncle Marty
#5 ATLANTA’S ACUNA: Makes his debut after a string of solid local drills for a trainer whose first-out numbers are very strong. This son of Cross Traffic is out of a stakes-winning mare, one that’s thrown two winners from three foals to race; #6 BLAME IT ON DADDY: Was second behind a runaway winner in his debut last month and retains the riding services of Luis Saez. He’s got every right to move forward, but I can’t help thinking his best running will come going longer given his pedigree; #3 UNCLE MARTY: Debuted going two turns on turf, which isn’t an easy ask. He didn’t run well that day, but this outfit does far better with second-time starters than first-out runners, and his last two workouts hint that he’s come out of his first race in good form.
City Man Mouillage Emaraaty
#5 CITY MAN: Ran a career-best race to win the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple early in the meet. His races around two turns seem far better than his one-turn efforts, and his flexibility should give Joel Rosario plenty of options in the Grade 3 Bernard Baruch; #2 MOUILLAGE: Was second in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream behind Mira Mission, who recently ran second in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer. He’s been working consistently on the Oklahoma track’s turf course, and he’s never missed the board in 12 lifetime starts; #6 EMARAATY: Won a stakes-caliber allowance event here last month to move to 3-for-4 lifetime over this turf course. Flavien Prat rides back for the meet’s leading trainer, and he’d benefit if a pace battle materializes early.
Crowding Out Unlock (MTO) Mostly Harmless
#3 CROWDING OUT: Takes a gigantic drop in class after faltering as a 5/2 favorite in a first-level allowance race in mid-August. This barn wheels her back pretty quickly, by their standards, but anything close to her two-back score over an impressive next-out winner would make her a formidable favorite; #8 MOSTLY HARMLESS: Has had plenty of chances and is a maiden running against winners. However, she’s a closer in a race with plenty of early speed, so it wouldn’t shock me if she clunked up for a piece of it at a big price; #1 SMOKIN’ HOT KITTY: Ran fourth against starter allowance foes and drops down to what’s probably the right level. The rail draw is a tricky one, but her two-back win at this route was good and she’s a contender if Flavien Prat can work out a trip.
Aidanike Backyard Money She Caught My Eye
#5 AIDANIKE: Hasn’t misfired in her 2022 campaign, which has included three wins from six starts. Unlike many of her rivals, she can sit back and do her best running late, which could come in handy given what figures to be a pretty fast pace set by several of these runners; #6 BACKYARD MONEY: Has run well up here twice this summer and gets Lasix for the first time in this spot. The cutback from seven furlongs to six could help her, and she’s another that doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well; #4 SHE CAUGHT MY EYE: Wired a field of maiden claimers off a long layoff and tries winners for the first time. This is a considerable class test, but the most recent drill was a good one and first-call rider Junior Alvarado retains the mount for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
Sweet Mystery (MTO) Schwartz entry New Ginya
SCHWARTZ ENTRY: I prefer #1 WHATLOVELOOKSLIKE, whose two local efforts this season have been very good. She’s a head away from being 2-for-2 in those starts, and she should get plenty of pace to run at (especially with the presence of barn buddy #1A JUSTOK IS NOT OK); #2 NEW GINYA: Has been very close in her last two tries at this level and has every right to break through here. She could sit close to the pace beneath Dylan Davis, who’s been riding very well since coming back from his way-too-long suspension for his role in an accident earlier in the meet; #7 LOOKIN TO FLY: Beat a group of restricted claimers two back before being left with too much to do last time out. Still, she was beaten less than three lengths by my top selection, and the two-back win rider returns to the saddle here.
Radio Red Sounds Spooky Nobilis
#10 RADIO RED: Draws a cushy outside post for his debut in this wide-open baby race for state-breds. His pedigree is very modest, but he’s been training forwardly for this outfit and attracts Joel Rosario, who probably had a few options; #8 SOUNDS SPOOKY: Merits respect based on the connections alone, and this $100,000 yearling purchase exits a solid four-furlong gate drill. All four of this dam’s runners to date are winners, though I wonder if this one maybe wants a bit more ground than this six-furlong trip; #2 NOBILIS: May or may not run, as he’s entered in a spot on Sunday as well. However, he’s been working well for George Weaver prior to his unveiling (whenever that is), and we may get a bit of a price.
Night Ops American Tattoo Portos
#3 NIGHT OPS: Drops way down in class after spending most of the last few seasons running against stakes company. This field is a good one for the level, but it doesn’t contain runners like Maxfield and Art Collector, who appear in this one’s running lines, and I think he’ll be the one they have to hold off; #8 AMERICAN TATTOO: Got loose on the lead last time out at Keeneland and responded with one of the best efforts of his career. I’m not sure he’ll be quite so comfortable up top early, but of the likely pace-setters, he’s the one I want most; #7 PORTOS: Cuts back after running fourth to stablemate Fearless in the 1 3/4-mile Birdstone, and at a minimum, you know the 1 1/8-mile journey won’t be what gets him beat. This is another runner getting class relief, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., takes the call for Todd Pletcher.
Bold Victory (MTO) Digital Software Reckless Spirit
#1 DIGITAL SOFTWARE: Was protected off the layoff last time and cruised home over a weaker group in a race he may very well have needed. I think he’ll be better second off the bench in this spot, and that he has a big chance to record his third local win in his fourth start over this turf course; #2 RECKLESS SPIRIT: Was headstrong last time when fourth as a 2-1 favorite at this level. That happened here last year, too, and perhaps he prefers Belmont, but his best race would be good enough to beat these; #7 SPLENDID SUMMER: Chased my top pick last time out but may be moving forward in the back half of his 3-year-old campaign. Further improvement makes him a major player here, and the 8-1 morning line price hits me as an overlay (especially given the connections involved).
Cocktail Moments Jane Grey More Ammo
#1 COCKTAIL MOMENTS: Is a tepid top pick in the final race out of the Wilson chute this summer. She hasn’t won in a while, but has been running almost exclusively against stakes competition and may have had an excuse last time out given the unlucky trip she had. There’s some speed in this race that could set up for what she wants to do; #3 JANE GREY: Stretches out for Bill Mott after a pair of seconds going shorter. This is her third start off of a long layoff and just the fourth start of her career, so there are plenty of reasons to expect a step forward; #9 MORE AMMO: Almost certainly bounced last time out, when she was nowhere at odds of 2-1 after a big first-out win at Aqueduct. She’s been training well at Monmouth (which is no longer an automatic disqualifying factor for horses from this outfit), and a flashback to her debut performance would put her right there.
Gulfport Mo Strike Forte
#4 GULFPORT: Was second in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, and while I’m not sure checking around the turn cost him a win, he most certainly would’ve been closer to the winner. A cleaner journey would make this Steve Asmussen trainee a handful in the Grade 1 Hopeful; #5 MO STRIKE: Has done nothing wrong to date for Brad Cox, and his two-start career includes a nice win in the Grade 3 Sanford. He ran like a horse that won’t be bothered by more ground, and we may not have seen the best of him yet; #2 FORTE: Was fourth as the 7/5 favorite in the Sanford, but don’t be fooled by the trip notes that say he had no kick. He was moving well late over a very tiring track, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an improved effort here.
Sue Ellen Mishkin Cupid’s Heart Tosconova Beauty
#11 SUE ELLEN MISHKIN: Is very inconsistent, but her best effort would make her the one to beat in the final race of the summer. One of her two wins came here in her debut, so we know she likes this track, and the outside draw is a big plus, too; #1 CUPID’S HEART: Hasn’t run in more than nine months, but gets Lasix for the first time and comes in off of a four-furlong bullet drill over this track. She seems to be doing well ahead of her 2022 debut, and she’s a major player provided she’s ready to run; #2 TOSCONOVA BEAUTY: Has won four of eight career starts and was third in a similar spot a few weeks ago. She gets a huge rider switch to John Velazquez and has enough tactical speed to be sitting in a great spot early on.
Out of respect for my editor, I’ll focus earlier on in the card than what will likely be my biggest real-life play of the day. Since I can’t, in good conscience, push up against a deadline the day before a holiday, my play cannot be in the Sunday finale, which is set to go off just before 7 pm Eastern time.
Having said that, know that I prefer Mouly to the heavily-favored entry that’s even-money on the morning line. If deadlines were not an object, I’d key Mouly on top of exactas with that entry and Roz, and punch a win bet on my top selection as well.
As an aside, 12 races is just too many. I know NYRA is trying to jam in as many races as they can, for obvious reasons, but I can’t help but recall the 2013 meet, where they did the same thing and burned everyone out very, very early.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: It was a very good day in this section. General Jim kicked off the card with a win at odds of 7/2, and a Pick Five ticket built around getting that one home and beating Up to the Mark achieved both objectives en route to cashing (though not for quite as much as I thought it might rooting it home). In total, the $68 investment returned $272.25.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: Instead of a play in the 12th and final, I’ll focus on the sixth, a fascinating maiden race for 2-year-old fillies. I’ll key #3 ST. BENEDICTS PREP and #4 PURE PAULINE on top of $5 exactas that use those two, #5 STUNNINGLY, and #8 MY BETSY underneath. I’ll also play an additional $3 exacta box using my top two horses.
TOTAL WAGERED: $36.
Best Bet: Wonder Wheel, Race 9 Longshot: Prouver, Race 7
Disarmed Nobilis Bobby the Tank
#11 DISARMED: Had horrible racing luck in his debut, when he lost all chance after checking behind a rival. He needs a scratch to draw in off of the AE list, but if he winds up running in the Sunday opener, I think he’ll be very tough to beat; #3 NOBILIS: Has been working very well for trainer George Weaver and looks sharp coming into his unveiling. He sold for just $17,000 at auction last fall, but the drills indicate he may have plenty of potential; #2 BOBBY THE TANK: Showed brief speed on dirt before fading to finish fourth behind a runaway winner. It wouldn’t surprise me if he goes favored here, but this barn doesn’t go dirt-to-turf with 2-year-olds often, so this is a curious move for one that figures to be a short price.
Happy Farm Greeley and Ben Hero Tiger
#3 HAPPY FARM: Has won two in a row, including a race at this level and route early in the met. He went from one good barn to another that day, but Flavien Prat sees fit to ride back and could guide him to yet another ideal stalking trip just behind a pretty fast pace; #2 GREELEY AND BEN: Has shown up in the entries several times this summer, and perhaps this is the time we get to see this hard-knocker run. He’s won 20 of 34 career starts, including several stakes races, and anything close to his best would give him a shot; #4 HERO TIGER: Ships in from Monmouth Park, where he most recently ran third in a swiftly-run five-furlong sprint. He has tactical speed, but doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well, which could give Javier Castellano a few options out of the gate.
#7 CHARGE ACCOUNT: Exits a win in a similar race last month and goes first off the claim for Mike Maker. The new trainer has enlisted leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., to take the mount, and her tactical speed certainly looks like a plus in this event; #4 FOREVER DREAMING: Almost certainly needed her return race off a three-month break, and that race wasn’t on her preferred surface. She gets back to the lawn here, and she flashed enough talent against better horses earlier this year to make me think she’s got a shot here; #2 STATE CROWN: Has won two of her last three and ships in after winning an optional claiming event at Presque Isle. Her two-back clunker is forgivable given the marathon distance, and I think she may come rolling late for a piece of this one.
Cousteau Critical Threat Ampersand
#5 COUSTEAU: Takes a huge drop to this restricted, bottom-level claiming event just two starts after winning a starter allowance race at Belmont. He earned a career-high 83 Beyer Speed Figure last time out when second for more than double this tag, and his normal race crushes these; #2 CRITICAL THREAT: Is another dropping in class, and he does so after running third for a $25,000 tag last month. He hasn’t won since January, but Luis Saez sees fit to ride and perhaps he can channel his late-2021 form, which was quite good; #10 AMPERSAND: Romped over non-winners of two last time out and was claimed by Peter Walder. This is a step up in class, but both of his wins have come over this surface and Walder does well with new acquisitions.
Athenry Sheriff Bianco Me ’n Sap
#8 ATHENRY: Was a close-up fourth at this route last time out and looks like one of only a few types that can pass others late in this turf sprint. I think he’ll get a pace to rate behind and be able to rally late beneath Manny Franco; #6 SHERIFF BIANCO: Hit the front in the stretch last time before settling for third, a neck behind that day’s winner. The runner-up came back to win at next asking, and of the likely front-runners, the likely favorite hits me as the most likely winner; #4 ME ’N SAP: Was beaten a nose at this route two starts ago, albeit against weaker competition. She likely needs to step up in order to be a win threat, but she’s a type that can close in a race full of speed, which means she can’t be ignored underneath.
Pure Pauline St. Benedicts Prep Stunningly
#4 PURE PAULINE: Has been training forwardly ahead of her debut for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher and is bred to be any kind. This daughter of Curlin is out of a Grade 2 winner, and as stupid as it sounds, when Stonestreet names a runner Pauline (after Stonestreet head Barbara Banke’s mother), the horse in question can usually run; #3 ST. BENEDICTS PREP: Chased freakish debutante Prank last time out and has every right to improve now that that buzzsaw has graduated out of the maiden ranks. A recent five-furlong drill indicates a step forward could be in the offing; #5 STUNNINGLY: Exits a key race at Churchill on the Fourth of July. Winner Naughty Gal won the Grade 2 Adirondack, and that day’s runner-up came back to win at next asking, too. She’s got some speed and is another with potential to build off of her debut.
Free Look Avant Prouver
#4 FREE LOOK: Was third behind next-out stakes winner Be Your Best in her debut, where she was taken back to last of 10 before coming with a rally. Flavien Prat sees fit to ride back, and I’m expecting a move forward in her second career start; #9 AVANT: Hammered for $360,000 at auction last summer, and this daughter of Uncle Mo has a world-class bottom-side pedigree. She’s kin to two stakes winners, and her third dam, Bound, is the second dam of champion and stalwart sire Blame; #7 PROUVER: Is by first-crop sire Justify, whose offspring have hit the ground running to this point in the season. Dam Ready to Act won stakes races on turf and dirt, and when Luis Saez rides for this barn, it usually means the horse he’s on is live.
Palm Cottage Boston Post Road Piece of My Heart
#6 PALM COTTAGE: Posted a 92 Beyer Speed Figure when romping at Ellis Park in her 2022 debut. Whether or not she runs back to that effort is anyone’s guess, but I don’t necessarily think she’ll have to. This spot doesn’t seem to have come up particularly strong for the level; #4 BOSTON POST ROAD: Just missed in a race out of the Wilson chute last month, and her record looks far better if you ignore the race that came right before a very long layoff. The question is, is this six-furlong distance a bit shorter than she wants to go?; #1 PIECE OF MY HEART: Hasn’t won in a long, long time, but has shown an affinity for clunking up for minor awards. She may very well get the setup to do just that in this spot, which seems to boast plenty of early speed.
Great Workout (MTO) Dubb entry Frank’s Art
DUBB ENTRY: I prefer #1A CATCH THAT PARTY, who rallied from 10th to win last time out despite not having much pace to run at. He’s won two of his last three outings, and the loss came in a race where two of the three runners that beat him came back to win at next asking; #5 FRANK’S ART: Showed his debut wasn’t a fluke when he finished a close-up third in his first try against winners. Joel Rosario gets off, but Flavien Prat’s far from a slouch, and he’d benefit from a faster-than-expected early pace; #4 TIMBUKTU: Was marooned on the far outside last time out and surrendered plenty of ground. He gets a better draw here, and a repeat of his two-back effort would give this Brad Cox trainee a chance at a bit of a price.
La Victoria Succulent Cape Cod Causeway
#3 LA VICTORIA: Has taken a bunch of money in her career to date (largely because of the connections and dam La Verdad), but she’s found a home going long and nearly broke her maiden off of an 11-month break last time out. She seems like the main speed in this two-turn, inner-turf affair, and if she gets comfortable second off the bench, she could get brave; #2 SUCCULENT: Rallied from last of 12 to be second beaten just a half-length earlier this summer. That was easily a career-best race for her, and whether or not she can replicate that is a valid question, but David Donk has enjoyed a very good meet and could have this one primed; #4 CAPE COD CAUSEWAY: Was second in his local debut earlier this summer at a big price. It’s been a long meet for this barn, but it’s possible this filly’s getting better in the back half of her 3-year-old season, and a repeat of the last-out effort could get her a piece of this easily enough.
Wonder Wheel Just Cindy Naughty Gal
#9 WONDER WHEEL: Is a perfect 2-for-2 and hasn’t really been tested yet. Her win in the Debutante at Churchill Downs was exceptional, and she’s put forth several head-turning drills in the mornings ahead of her New York debut in the Grade 1 Spinaway; #5 JUST CINDY: Is also 2-for-2 with a last-out stakes score, as she cruised home in the Grade 3 Schuylerville on Opening Day. The stretch-out to seven furlongs shouldn’t be a problem, and she’s shown she can stalk and pounce, which could be a valuable asset here; #4 NAUGHTY GAL: Won the Grade 3 Adirondack despite lugging out badly turning for home. The field she beat that day was a weaker group, but if Jose Ortiz can keep her on a steadier path, she’ll have a chance to contend at a square price.
Mouly Dubb entry Roz
#3 MOULY: Ships up from Gulfstream Park to face New York-breds for the first time. This barn has been firing at this stand, and while the fields she’s run against in Florida haven’t been any great shakes, she may benefit from running against state-bred competition in the Sunday finale; DUBB ENTRY: #1 TOUGH STREET is probably the one the public will bet dropping down in class for the meet’s leading trainer. She’s got plenty of early speed, but it’s also not like she’ll be alone on the front end, and there are legitimate stamina questions. She’s not illogical, but in the words of the late, great Russ Harris, demand value; #10 ROZ: Has a sheet that looks far better if you solely focus on her sprint races. She’s never missed the board in three starts at seven furlongs or shorter, and she’s shown an ability to stalk the pace, which could give her first run turning for home.
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
General Jim Ari Gold Certified Loverboy
#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.
Fightertown Powerful Upgrade
#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.
Tiwanaku Strong Quality Seal Beach
#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.
Annapolis Celestial City Fuerteventura
#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) Blinding Light Custom Bobby’s
#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.
Champions Dream Cagliostro Mindtap
#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.
Elite Power Roman entry 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.
Juan Valdez Dubyuhnell Crupi
#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.
Analyze It 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 Virginia Joy 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.
Olympiad First Captain Americanrevolution
#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.
Patient Capital Midnight Worker Mr Breadwinner
#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.
Izeamalibumoon Quick Power Nap Eli Dancer
#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.