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


BANKROLL: $915.20

Another major track opens today, as the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club kicks off its summer meet. The venue, located just outside sunny San Diego, has recently worked its way into the Breeders’ Cup rotation, and the “Saratoga or Del Mar?” debates are often inescapable.

Here’s my take: One of those two tracks has helped me build my career. The other actively tried to destroy it before it really got started.

If you want the story, find me sometime. We’re coming up on the time where I can tell it publicly, but we’re not quite there yet.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: I scratched out of the Grand Slam (after extolling the virtues of that wager, ironically enough), and my late doubles were washed out when the finale was moved off the turf. Remember: All plays in this section assume races carded for the grass stay there.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll take another swing at the Grand Slam. My $4 ticket starting in the sixth reads as follows: 1,7 with 7 with 3,6 with 6. I’m hoping to extract some value out of #6 EMINENT VICTOR in the Lake George, and this may be a way to do that.



Best Bet: Klaravich entry, Race 2
Longshot: Makart, Race 6


Rarify (MTO)

#2 WICO: Had an eventful journey in his debut, when he missed the break, rushed up, led briefly in midstretch, and ran out of energy. Everything about that effort says he’ll move forward with experience, and such improvement gives him a big chance despite this turning up pretty strong; #6 APPRAISE: Fetched $256,000 at the Tattersalls sale and has every right to be a runner. Chad Brown’s had plenty of success here with debuting runners that possess European pedigree; #4 ALEXIS ZORBA: Makes his U.S. debut for Joseph O’Brien, who’s maintaining a small string here this summer. The intrigue may attract money, but Europe isn’t known for flashy 2-year-olds. Perhaps he’s good enough, but I need more value than I’m likely to get.


Klaravich entry
Happy Bob (MTO)

KLARAVICH ENTRY: Both #1 INDEMNIFY and #1A GLOBAL CAPITAL have big chances here. The former is another European-bred runner that could be any kind, and the latter has run well when second on three straight occasions; #6 OGLETHORPE: Is one of several exiting an off-the-turf event downstate. He closed late to be beaten just a half-length in his unveiling, and this barn’s runners tend to need a race or two to get going; #2 CLUBBING: Was fourth in the race Oglethorpe exits and has plenty of reason to improve here. He’s bred up and down for turf, being a full sibling to a Grade 3-placed grass horse, and the switch to a two-turn configuration should only help him.


Hammerin Aamer

#5 AMOUNT: Threw in a clunker last time and takes a big drop in class for this event. He won three in a row earlier this year, including two at this one-mile distance, and the shallower waters figure to make this Todd Pletcher trainee a formidable foe; #3 CLAYTNTHELIONHEART: Has finished in the money in five of six local starts, and three of those efforts have been winning ones. This is his third start off a long layoff, and a return to his mid-2021 form would make him intriguing; #2 HAMMERIN AAMER: Comes back to what’s probably the right level in his second start off the claim for Linda Rice. He’s been around a while and has run some strong races at this distance, but the 0-for-8 local mark is a significant concern.


Beachfront Bid
I’m Glad
Whiskey Lullaby

#8 BEACHFRONT BID: Has been competitive in six starts against maiden special weight foes and drops in for a tag for the first time. That’s a significant drop from an aggressive barn, and while the recent Monmouth works would normally be a concern, Brown’s horses coming from New Jersey have run well so far at this stand; #7 I’M GLAD: Probably bounced off of a solid debut when last of 10 as a 2-1 favorite at Belmont. This barn is another that doesn’t mess around and boasts very strong numbers going from maiden special weight races to maiden claiming events; #4 WHISKEY LULLABY: Improved at second asking when third at this level downstate. Top-tier turf rider Jose Lezcano climbs back aboard for this one, and she should be prominent early at a bit of a price.


Dubb entry
Our Country
Sonic Speed

DUBB ENTRY: I prefer #1 CHESS’S DREAM, who won the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy in 2021 and hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since. However, he goes second off the bench, gets back to a two-turn route of ground, and attracts Jose Ortiz for this event; #6 OUR COUNTRY: Has been running against starter allowance company for most of this year, but his last start for a claiming tag was a win. Flavien Prat rides back after a one-paced fifth-place finish downstate, which hits me as a good sign; #9 SONIC SPEED: Has a record that looks far better if you only focus on two-turn turf races. Do that and you’re left with wins at Gulfstream and Aqueduct and an OK fourth at Laurel (remember, Belmont’s mile is a one-turn course). This is a high-percentage barn that wins lots of races, and he may be a bit of a price.


Ria’s Angel
Slow Decision

#1 RIA’S ANGEL: Showed improvement two back in his lone dirt route and comes back to the main track after a failed turf experiment. This race out of the Wilson chute is a perplexing one, but a repeat of that early-May effort would put him right there; #7 MAKART: Earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure last time out in his second start off the bench, which doubled as his second start for this barn. He didn’t miss by much that day, and while there were no world-beaters in that field, this field doesn’t appear to be any great shakes, either; #4 SLOW DECISION: Faded to fifth in his debut on turf and goes to dirt here. He’s supposed to take money, and he probably will, but other than the connections, what inspires confidence, especially at his likely price?


Naval Aviator

#7 EFFICIENCY: Romped by 11 lengths in an off-the-turf event to break his maiden last time out and makes his first start against winners here. Perhaps he’s just a mud freak, but offspring of Gun Runner have shown they can perform in any conditions, and the consistent work tab inspires some confidence; #1 KEEPMEINMIND: Danced a lot of dances a season ago, most notably running in two-thirds of the Triple Crown and finishing second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy. If he’s ready and gets a perfect trip, he looms large, but he’s shown he finds trouble, and the rail is often a poor place to be for horses like that; #4 NAVAL AVIATOR: Stepped up in class last time out for trainer Joe Sharp and won with a 90 Beyer Speed Figure first off the claim. There’s plenty of early speed signed on, and it’s not illogical to think he’ll be going the right way late when others are tiring.


Sassy Melissa
Makin My Move

#3 KOKOPELLI: Hasn’t been seen in more than a year but returns for patient connections that boast strong numbers with similar stock. This race seems very heavy on early speed, which could set up perfectly for Joel Rosario and this one-run closer; #6 SASSY MELISSA: Is another closer, and one that has a win and a second in two starts at this route. She was a fast-closing second last time out with a troubled trip, and smooth sailing would make her a major player here; #1 MAKIN MY MOVE: Interests me most of the early speed horses and could capitalize on the inside draw. She wired an OK field last time out, and that day’s runner-up came back to run second in a minor stakes race earlier this week.


Eminent Victor
Koala Princess

#6 EMINENT VICTOR: Hits me as the more logical of the two Chad Brown trainees in the Grade 3 Lake George. She came back running off a long break to take a stakes race at Belmont and should get plenty of pace to chase in this spot. Prat knows her well, and horse and rider should be flying late; #8 SKIMS: Hasn’t gotten a legitimate pace in either of her two graded stakes tries to date but should get one here. That alone is enough for me to consider this daughter of Frankel a threat, and the recent local bullet drill is also noteworthy; #4 KOALA PRINCESS: Was the betting favorite in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, where she was beaten less than three lengths. We haven’t seen her since, but this barn does very well with horses coming back from long breaks and her best effort would put her right there.


Let Her Inspire U
Fancy Feline

#8 LET HER INSPIRE U: Hinted at some potential last year and came back running off the bench with an easy score last month at Belmont. She should be able to sit just off the pace and have first run turning for home, which would give her every chance at a second straight victory; #7 LEELOO: Hasn’t run since March, but returns for a new conditioner and comes in off of a very fast four-furlong gate work at Keeneland. She was favored in a stakes race over the winter and has every right to be a more-developed horse in her comeback race; #6 FANCY FELINE: Gets a big rider switch to Luis Saez and could get a lot of pace in front of her. Perhaps her best isn’t good enough to win, but as one of only a few closers in a race with lots of speed, she’s one I’d use underneath in vertical exotics to end the Friday program.

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


BANKROLL: $1,005

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

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

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

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

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



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


Buckingham Prince
Stolen Base
Big Scully

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


Time Limit
Awsum Roar

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


Realm of Law
Pletcher entry
Reeves entry

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


Dark Money
Just Right
Big Mountain

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


Dame Time
Tuscan Queen

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


Math Wizard (MTO)
He’s No Lemon

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


Air Show
U. S. Steel

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


Big Bobby
Judge N Jury

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


Amy C
Fluffy Socks
Runaway Rumor

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


Commandandcontrol (MTO)
Weaver entry

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

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 7/21/17

(NOTE: Most days, the bankroll section will be edited in after my picks are posted, as it must wait until the races in question are run the previous day. This doesn’t apply for opening day, obviously, and it won’t apply for Wednesdays either, since Tuesday is the dark day.)


BANKROLL: $1,000

It’s great to be back! For those who missed this segment when it debuted last summer, I’ll be making bets in this space all summer long, hopefully growing my starting bankroll as the meet rolls on (NOTE: All wagers on turf races are contingent on those races staying there).

Additionally, the kind folks at The Saratogian have given me some space to expound with some thoughts, and that’s where you come in. Got a question, comment, or rant? Tweet me at @AndrewChampagne, and I may answer it in print. Some ground rules: No politics, and no potshots. Breaking these rules could get you mocked and/or ridiculed. You’ve been warned.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll wait until the final two races of the day and play $10 doubles. Mark Casse holds a strong hand in the ninth (the Lake George), and both of his entrants are reasonable prices on the morning line. I’ll use #10 VICTORY TO VICTORY and #11 DREAM DANCING there and single Chad Brown class-dropper #8 SWEET CONNIE GIRL in the 10th and final.



Best Bet: Sweet Connie Girl, Race #10
Longshot: Victory to Victory, Race #9


Rich Daddy
Marriage Fever

INDYCOTT: Was second in the slop against slightly better last time out downstate. He’s won twice here, including a race at this level and route last summer, and he should sit a dream trip just off the speed; RICH DADDY: Is a 10-time winner with 30 in-the-money finishes in 45 career starts. He’s relished the class drop he took earlier in the year and would benefit from a pace meltdown; MARRIAGE FEVER: Has run some of his best races around two turns and could relish a return to such a route today. He could hold on for a share at a bit of a price.


Trouble for Skylar (MTO)
Misty Forest

SCATBACK: Is by strong turf sire Scat Daddy and seems to have found a fairly soft spot for her unveiling. She’s a half to three winners, and her dam is a half to Grade 3 winner Z Humor; MISTY FOREST: Fetched $67k at auction last year and has a few workouts downstate that hint at some talent. Trainer John Kimmel can pop at a price with 2-year-olds; BEAUX ARTS: Was second at a big price in her debut at Monmouth Park and tries turf here. Sire Freud can throw turf runners, but the cold barn is a concern. DIRT SELECTIONS: TROUBLE FOR SKYLAR, BEAUX ARTS, SCATBACK.


Point Hope
Offlee Brawn
Planet Trailblazer

POINT HOPE: Took a big step forward in his first start for Robertino Diodoro, romping against a weaker group. Regression is logical, but his record looks considerably better if you toss the inner track and turf races, so it’s not like his last effort is totally out of place; OFFLEE BRAWN: Is the main speed in this race on paper and routed lesser company at Monmouth when last seen. Paco Lopez and Kelly Breen do great work together, and he could be tough to run down if he shakes loose early; PLANET TRAILBLAZER: Has never missed the board in six dirt starts and was third behind a next-out winner last month downstate. The lack of a win since the debut is discouraging, but he can’t be ignored in exotics wagers.


Reason to Soar
Via Egnatia

PATTERNRECOGNITION: Chased possible Amsterdam favorite Coal Front last out after winning his debut in April at Aqueduct. He’s worked very well since then and looms large for powerhouse connections; REASON TO SOAR: Didn’t take to the turf downstate but ran several strong races against restricted stakes company earlier in the season. He’d benefit from a fast early pace, which could happen given the speed signed on; VIA EGNATIA: Makes his U.S. debut for Bill Mott and gets Lasix for the first time. He’s a half to sire First Defence, the dam is a half to Belmont winner Empire Maker, and the workouts indicate he could be well-meant.


Amazing Belle
Honey Glow
Sunny’s Funny

AMAZING BELLE: Has run two strong races in as many career outings. She’s a half to Grade 1 winner Unrivaled Belle, the dam of Unique Bella, and experience counts; HONEY GLOW: Is a regally-bred Todd Pletcher trainee who could win on debut. The worktab is solid, but the pedigree suggests she may want to go longer, and I doubt we’ll get the 7/2 morning line odds; SUNNY’S FUNNY: Was a decent third on debut at Churchill Downs for a trainer whose horses sometimes need a race or two to get going. Improvement is logical at second asking.


Buffalo Miss

ITSINTHESTARS: Ran a clunker last time going long, but cuts back to a distance that should be more to her liking. There’s a ton of early speed here on paper, and she should be rolling late; SWAYED: Is another coming in off a dull effort, but she likely needed the race off a long layoff. She gets Lasix for the first time and is another who would benefit from rating off a hot pace; BUFFALO MISS: Romped at this route last summer. Her best race could win this, but John Terranova isn’t great off of this type of layoff, and she figures to have company up front early on. DIRT SELECTIONS: INGRID, SWAYED, MO PROMISE.


Brown entry
Highland Sky

BLACK SEA: Likely needed his North American debut, which came going shorter than his preferred distance. He’s been gelded since that effort, and anything close to his 2016 form would make him a major player; HIGHLAND SKY: Has had the misfortune of being a stone closer in a paceless race twice this year. He’ll be formidable if he gets a setup in front of him, but the fear of another dawdling pace means I can’t endorse him on top; MESSI: Was third in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy two back before running a distant ninth in the Grade 1 United Nations. He may be a hair past his peak, but he wouldn’t be a shock in what’s turned out to be an incredibly tough optional claimer. DIRT SELECTIONS: SPLASHTASTIC, RED RIFLE, BACKSIDEOFTHEMOON.


Buy Sell Hold

SNOWFIRE: Has something the rest of this field doesn’t, which is a win at today’s six-furlong distance. She drew away powerfully that day and turned in a strong local workout on July 14th that could bode well for today’s co-feature; BUY SELL HOLD: Prevailed against boys in stakes company last time out at Churchill Downs and is a logical favorite. She turned in a bullet three works back and showed an ability to rate in the aforementioned win; STAINLESS: Was an easy winner on debut at Gulfstream, and the runner-up came back to win at next asking. Trainer Todd Pletcher swept the local graded stakes for 2-year-old fillies last year, and this one could continue the winning streak.


Victory to Victory
Dream Dancing
Sweeping Paddy

VICTORY TO VICTORY: Is one of two Mark Casse trainees in the field and should love the two-turn route and race shape she should see here. She figures to be the main speed, she shouldn’t have to go as fast early on as she did two back against similar, and we may get a bit of a price; DREAM DANCING: May have bounced last time out after a very strong second two back to La Coronel, who’d probably be favored here. She should appreciate the return to a two-turn route, and she may be talented enough to overcome the bad post; SWEEPING PADDY: Broke through in a big way last out when taking the Grade 3 Regret. A repeat would put her right there, but that was a substantial jump from her prior form, meaning a regression could be coming here.


Sweet Connie Girl
Joyful Joyful

SWEET CONNIE GIRL: Drops in for a tag for the first time after a pair of evenly-run races at Monmouth. This doesn’t seem to be the toughest field for the level, though, and the addition of Javier Castellano is a big plus; SUBMIT: Ran an OK fourth at this level downstate when returning from a long layoff. Jose Ortiz hops aboard, and she should be running well late; JOYFUL JOYFUL: Merits a look at a big price. She has some races from 2016 that would make her competitive in this spot, and she didn’t embarrass herself when third last out at Monmouth in her first start for a solid barn. DIRT SELECTIONS: PINCHPENNY, GRAND BANKS, MIZZENCAT.