SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/28/21; TRAVERS DAY)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $895.90

It’s Travers Day, and I’m going to take advantage of what’s likely the biggest audience I’ll have all year to make a very important statement. In a shocking turn of events, it’s not my usual mocking of the ludicrous, unenforced “no running” rule. This one’s actually serious, and it’ll almost certainly get me hate mail. Then again, I’ve gotten plenty of that this summer for some pretty stupid reasons, so why break precedent?

Longtime readers know I lost my grandmother to COVID-19 last summer. She spent most of her life as a nurse, and if she was still here, she’d be telling everyone she knew (and urging me to tell everyone I know) to get vaccinated.

I’ll add my own spin to it. You’re not going to grow a third arm. You’re not getting microchipped with a tracking device. You’re not going to be safer taking substances meant for horses and cows than you would be getting a vaccine manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson. This has become a politicized topic, and it shouldn’t be. Get the (insert your expletive of choice here) shot.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Miss Alacrity scratched, so my action was cancelled.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ve got a 4:15 pm plane to catch, so I’ll focus early on in the card. I’ll play $5 doubles starting with #1 BACK TO NORMAL and #5 JACK CHRISTOPHER in the second and ending with #1 PRINCESS FAWZIA/#1A SPARKLING SKY and #3 GOLDEN PLUME in the third. Additionally, that’ll start a 50-cent Pick Four ticket that goes like this: 1,5 with 1,3 with 3,6 with 3,4,6.

TOTAL WAGERED: $32.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Essential Quality, Race 12
Longshot: Charmed, Race 6

R1

Sweeping Giant
Doctor Davis
Pletcher entry

#10 SWEEPING GIANT: Ran very well to finish second in his debut last month and is very logical at second asking in the Travers Day opener. The far outside post isn’t ideal, but Joel Rosario is among the best in the game at saving ground on the turf, and if he gets a good trip, he’s probably the one to beat; #7 DOCTOR DAVIS: Was highly-touted in his unveiling, which came in the same race my top pick exits. He faded after setting the pace, but Bill Mott’s horses often need a race or two to get going, and if you were willing to take 8/5 last time, you’ll be happy to know you’ll likely get at least double that price here; #1 ROYAL SPIRIT: Sold for $450,000 at auction last year and boasts a top-notch female family. Her dam is kin to Grade 1-placed runner Beautician, as well as graded stakes winners Mo Tom and Red Ruby, both of whom did their best work going long.

R2

Jack Christopher
Back to Normal
Be Better

#5 JACK CHRISTOPHER: Has been working up a storm for Chad Brown ahead of his debut and looms large here. He’s by strong sire Munnings, and his dam is a half-sister to another strong sire in Street Boss. Between the drills and the pedigree, there’s an awful lot to like; #1 BACK TO NORMAL: Ran a decent race in his debut to finish second behind a runaway winner that has since come back to win again. He’s one of only two runners in this field with prior experience, and his local workouts hint that he’s bounced out of that performance in good order; #3 BE BETTER: Has been working consistently for Todd Pletcher and is another bred to be any kind. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because I think the six-furlong distance may actually be shorter than his preferred trip, given a bottom-side pedigree that boasts an abundance of stamina.

R3

Trinni Luck (MTO)
Golden Plume
Black Swan entry

#3 GOLDEN PLUME: Won for fun in her debut back in January at Tampa and will look to get back to business here. I’m not sure what she beat in that initial effort, but she looked great doing it, and world-class jockey Flavien Prat sees fit to ride for Brown; BLACK SWAN ENTRY: Both of these runners seem well-meant at a price, but I slightly prefer #1A SPARKLING SKY. She’s never run a bad race at Saratoga and had every right to need a race last time out off of a very long break. If she channels her 2019/2020 form, she’s got a chance to light up the tote board; #6 SECRET TIME: Hasn’t won in more than two years but boasts plenty of back class and didn’t run badly when third in her local debut. That was her first start since moving to Danny Gargan’s barn, and any step forward would make her a threat to grab a piece of this.

R4

Viadera
Kalifornia Queen
Platinum Paynter

#3 VIADERA: Didn’t have a great trip when fourth in the De La Rose a few weeks ago. She rated behind a slow pace and didn’t have clear running room until it was too late. Between the likelihood of a cleaner journey and the fact this is her second start off the bench, I think she’s a formidable favorite in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa; #6 KALIFORNIA QUEEN: Makes up the other half of a powerful 1-2 punch for this barn and exits a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth. Prior to that, she chased classy turf distaffers War Like Goddess and Antoinette, and this spot seems a bit softer than those; #5 PLATINUM PAYNTER: Appears a bit outclassed on paper, but she’s also the likeliest early pace-setter in a race light on gate speed. Jose Lezcano is a very sharp turf rider, and if the race shape works in this one’s favor, she could lead them a long way at a price.

R5

Whittington Park
Miracle Nicky
Brady’s Legacy

#4 WHITTINGTON PARK: Was a bit one-paced in his unveiling last month, but the blinkers go on at second asking and this barn’s second-time starters are usually very live. His 63 Beyer Speed Figure is the highest such number in the field by daylight, and if he moves forward, this seems like his race to lose; #3 MIRACLE NICKY: Has been working unusually fast downstate for Rudy Rodriguez, who doesn’t often ask his horses for all that much in the mornings. His dam is a half to a nice horse named Curious Conundrum, who won multiple stakes races, and the $110,000 purchase price hints at some potential; #6 BRADY’S LEGACY: Sold for $250,000 despite not much of a bottom-side pedigree, so he obviously impressed some folks at the OBS sale this past April. He’s got a few solid works, and Jose Ortiz has been enticed to ride this Jeremiah Englehart trainee.

R6

Charmed
Big Package
Shiraz

#6 CHARMED: Was anything but in his last-out effort, when he fell to his knees at the break and somehow found a way to run third. Prior to that, he was a sharp third behind the talented Fauci at Monmouth, and with a clean trip, I think he can get the job done at a bit of a price; #11 BIG PACKAGE: Was second in the race my top pick exits and is a consistent sort that always seems to fire. The outside post isn’t ideal, but Irad Ortiz, Jr., should be able to drop back and make one run, and that’s a strategy that’s worked very well for this one in the past; #9 SHIRAZ: Topped a classy group of state-breds last time out over yielding going and steps back into open company here. Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and he’s run some of his best races over this route of ground.

R7

Gamine
Ce Ce
Estilo Talentoso

#1 GAMINE: Is one of racing’s most star-crossed horses, but when she’s right, few are better (especially going one turn). Controversy still swirls around trainer Bob Baffert, but assuming his star female sprinter has shipped to Saratoga in good order, she’s strictly the one to beat; #7 CE CE: Is 2-for-2 this season going seven furlongs and is no stranger to Grade 1 glory, having won a pair of events at this level last year. Her win in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney was very impressive, and if Gamine doesn’t fire, this one’s probably the likeliest beneficiary; #6 ESTILO TALENTOSO: Is very easy to root for because, quite simply, she always shows up. She’s never been worse than third in 15 lifetime outings, and the faster they go early on in the Grade 1 Ballerina, the better her chances figure to be.

R8

Lexitonian
Whitmore
Yaupon

#3 LEXITONIAN: Ensured a spot in this handicapper’s gambling Hall of Fame with a 34-1 victory in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt earlier this summer. He stretches out to seven furlongs here, but he’s shown he can handle this distance and could sit an ideal trip just off the pace in the Grade 1 Forego; #2 WHITMORE: May have needed the race, to an extent, when third in the Vanderbilt following a freshening. He generally races his way into form, and this 8-year-old gelding figures to be heard from late; #7 YAUPON: Was going really well last season and was the 6/5 favorite in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, which Whitmore won. His comeback race at Pimlico was fine, and the main hesitation here is the stretch-out to seven furlongs. That’s not an easy task against a good group, but if he can handle the distance, he may be tough to run down.

R9

Jackie’s Warrior
Life Is Good
Judge N Jury

#2 JACKIE’S WARRIOR: Romped in the Grade 2 Amsterdam after dueling through torrid fractions in the slop. As long as he’s kept around one turn, he’s going to be very tough to beat, and his seasoning edge over his primary rival is enough to give him my nod in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens; #6 LIFE IS GOOD: Was brilliant (my goodness, I hate that word) in three wins on the west coast, including two over eventual Kentucky Derby winner (sort of) Medina Spirit. He’s since been transferred to Todd Pletcher and has been working lights-out over the Oklahoma track, but this is a very tough ask for a horse that hasn’t run since March; #5 JUDGE N JURY: Earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure with an eye-catching romp in a state-bred allowance race at this route last month. This is a gigantic step up, but he may be the only horse in this field that can comfortably rate, and that could be enough to allow him to hit the board at a big price.

R10

Letruska
Swiss Skydiver
Royal Flag

#6 LETRUSKA: Has turned into a freakish distaffer and looms large in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign. She’s won five of her last six starts, with the lone defeat coming to Shedaresthedevil (who doesn’t show up here). She may not be alone up front, but I don’t think it matters; #4 SWISS SKYDIVER: Chased Knicks Go in the Grade 1 Whitney a few weeks ago, and that came after trainer Ken McPeek’s barn was quarantined. She had every right to need that race off a bit of a layoff, too, so I can’t hold it against her in any capacity. She won last year’s Alabama, could sit just off the pace, and is very dangerous; #5 ROYAL FLAG: Came flying late to take the Grade 3 Shuvee over Horologist, who came back to jog in the Summer Colony last weekend. She could once again get a terrific setup, and I expect her to be going the right way late at a fair price for a red-hot barn.

R11

Tribhuvan
Japan
Cross Border

#1 TRIBHUVAN: Has gotten very good, very quickly, and is a threat to wire the field in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer. That was the trip he sat in the Grade 1 United Nations last time out, and if he’s allowed to get comfortable going under the wire the first time, he’ll have a big chance to be in front the second time around, too; #6 JAPAN: Is an intriguing shipper coming across the pond for Aidan O’Brien. Back in 2019, he won two of Europe’s most prestigious races, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Juddmonte International. I’m not sure he’s quite the same horse, but if he brings that type of effort, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with; #7 CROSS BORDER: Is nearly perfect at Saratoga and was pretty impressive in winning the Grade 2 Bowling Green for the second consecutive season. This seems like a stronger group, to be sure, but he was a fair second in this race last August and his best effort would give him a chance.

R12

Essential Quality
Midnight Bourbon
King Fury

#2 ESSENTIAL QUALITY: Is impossible to go against in the Grade 1 Travers. He’ll love the distance, he’s in terrific form, and he exits what hit me as a perfect prep in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy. If he comes with his usual effort, I think he takes a big step to clinching his division’s Eclipse Award; #1 MIDNIGHT BOURBON: Miraculously came out of what looked like a terrible fall in the Grade 1 Haskell with no injuries, and he’s worked well since coming to the Spa after that series of events. He was a good second in the Grade 1 Preakness behind Rombauer, and he’s got enough early speed to make his own trip, which might label him as the one they’ll have to catch turning for home; #7 KING FURY: Is a horse that’s seemed to be crying out for as much distance as possible since his 2-year-old season. He didn’t like the turf last time out, and he’s been snakebitten with rotten luck on several occasions, but now that he’s finally doing what it looks like he wants to do, he’ll be on all of my exotics tickets.

R13

Bella Principessa
Sister Luck
Constitutionalrage

#14 BELLA PRINCIPESSA: Needs some luck in order to draw into the Saturday finale, but she must be respected if she runs. She rated behind a very slow pace last time out and should get a bit more speed in front of her here if two horses scratch and she’s allowed to compete; #12 SISTER LUCK: Has a few red flags, but also has several qualities I can’t ignore. She’s worked well on turf a few times since going to Todd Pletcher’s barn, she drops in class, and she’s shown a lot of early speed going shorter. If she’s got the stamina to go two turns, she could be a handful; #6 CONSTITUTIONALRAGE: Comes back to the turf after being eased in an off-the-turf event last month. Turf is absolutely her preferred surface, and her one start on the lawn at this level resulted in a good second in a race downstate, one where that day’s third-place finisher came back to win.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/1/20; WHITNEY DAY)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $795

On this week’s edition of “Champagne and J.D.,” we sat down with one of my favorite people in the sport. Alicia Wincze Hughes works for the NTRA, and before that, she was one of the top turf writers in the country for the Lexington Herald Leader. We chatted about last weekend’s results of note and previewed several races coming up on the Whitney Day program, and it was great getting a chance to sit down and talk shop with her.

J.D. Fox and I are proud of what we’re building with this show, and we’ve got a number of really good guests coming up this summer. Search for “Champagne and J.D.” on YouTube, and if you like what you see, hit the “subscribe” button so you don’t miss any of our weekly updates!

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: My Pick Four ventures were both blown up in the first legs of their respective sequences. After scratches, I dropped $45.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: For the first time this meet, we’ve got a deadline conflict. I’d love to play #9 CARIBA in the 12th here, but that could go off as the sun is setting. I’m never going to be the guy to hold up print production, so I’ll focus my attention on races earlier in the program. I’ll play $4 doubles starting in the opener using #1 OLYMPIAD/#1A OUTLIER, #4 WINDCRACKER, and #8 TEAM MERCHANTS, and finishing in the second with #1 FOG OF WAR and #4 EN WYE CEE.

TOTAL WAGERED: $24.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Cariba, Race 12
Longshot: Mystery Bank, Race 8

R1

Grandview entry
Windcracker
Team Merchants

GRANDVIEW ENTRY: Either part of the entry could win this wide-open lid-lifter. #1 OLYMPIAD hammered for $700,000 and sports back-to-back bullets for Bill Mott, while #1A OUTLIER also sold for a considerable sum despite a modest pedigree and boasts a strong five-furlong gate work; #4 WINDCRACKER: Ran a good third in his debut at Churchill and could kick off a big day for trainer Tom Amoss, who saddles Allen Jerkens favorite No Parole. He showed some late interest that day, and it helps that the runner-up came right back to win; #8 TEAM MERCHANTS: Debuts for Doug O’Neill, who developed a fine first-out reputation in California. The son of Derby winner Nyquist has several big works on his tab, including a half-mile bullet from the gate over this surface last week.

R2

Fog of War
En Wye Cee
Dream Friend

#1 FOG OF WAR: Returns off the bench for Chad Brown and will be tough to beat if he’s right. He won a Grade 1 as a 2-year-old back in 2018, and the recent bullet work indicates he may be back to his old self; #4 EN WYE CEE: Hasn’t been seen since finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Discovery in November, but boasts a top-notch turf pedigree and could love the lawn. He’ll likely get plenty of pace to rate off of, and we may get some value here, which isn’t always the case with Todd Pletcher trainees; #3 DREAM FRIEND: Set the pace before tiring in the Grade 3 Poker and is being dropped back down in class. He hasn’t won in a while, but of the two likely pace-setters, I prefer him to the enigmatic #5 HIDDEN SCROLL.

R3

K. K. Ichikawa
Allied Invasion
Regal Speaker

#5 K. K. ICHIKAWA: Ran well when third against similar-level foes in his debut. Going long at first asking isn’t an easy thing to do, but this gelding handled it well and could step forward with some experience under his belt; #1 ALLIED INVASION: Debuts for Christophe Clement and has been working steadily ahead of his unveiling. Joel Rosario sees fit to ride, and few trainer/jockey combinations have been better at this meet; #9 REGAL SPEAKER: Showed some late interest when fourth in his debut at Delaware Park. Javier Castellano getting on for a high-percentage barn is a plus, but I’m skeptical about the field he ran against in his debut, and I can’t endorse him at his likely short price.

R4

Ima Pharoah
Dreams of Tomorrow
Futuro

#5 IMA PHAROAH: Has run second in all four outings to date, and this represents a “now or never” spot for him. It certainly seems like he’ll be on or near the lead here, and Saratoga’s main track has played very kindly to horses with that running style; #3 DREAMS OF TOMORROW: Came up a neck short last time out downstate and has a significant chance to graduate at third asking. He beat the third-place finisher by seven lengths that day, and that runner has since come back to win; #4 FUTURO: Debuts for Bill Mott after a series of strong drills at Belmont. Seven furlongs isn’t the easiest route for a first-time starter, but if the workouts are any indication, there’s some talent here.

R5

Midnight Bisou
Vexatious
Point of Honor

#3 MIDNIGHT BISOU: Looms large in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign as one of the best older horses in training regardless of gender. Her comeback race at Churchill was exceptional, and if she’s anywhere close to her usual self, she should blast this group; #4 VEXATIOUS: Made Monomoy Girl work a bit in the Grade 2 Ruffian, and that’s not an easy task. She was nearly nine lengths clear of her closest pursuer, and while she hasn’t won in a while, I think she’s a must-use in vertical exotics; #6 POINT OF HONOR: Has run well in many big spots, including when she finished second in last year’s Grade 1 Alabama over this track. The problem is, she hasn’t won since May of last year, and she may be left with a lot to do late.

R6

Stage Left
Foolish Ghost
Mister Winston

#6 STAGE LEFT: Gets a reluctant top pick in a race where I wish I didn’t have to give one. He steps back up in class after a nice win downstate, could improve second off of a long layoff, and won at this route last summer; #5 FOOLISH GHOST: Looks like the controlling speed in this race and keeps Irad Ortiz, Jr., despite the trainer switch. He looks like the controlling speed, and if the main track keeps penalizing closers, he could have a say at a price; #2 MISTER WINSTON: Gave Creed a fight last time out at Belmont when second beaten just over a length by that classy rival. This distance might suit him, but I think he’ll be left with a lot to do, and at his likely price in a wide-open event, that doesn’t make him feel like a smart play.

R7

Modern Science
King of Miami
Sol Del Sur

#8 MODERN SCIENCE: Got stuck rating well behind a slow early pace in his debut, but he showed plenty of potential rallying for third. That barn’s first-time starters don’t often win, and the presence of Joel Rosario may mean this son of all-world sire Galileo has more in the tank; #7 KING OF MIAMI: Ran pretty well when second in his off-the-turf debut and gets the surface he likely wants here. American Pharoah’s offspring seem to love the lawn, and this one’s 351 turf Tomlinson rating is tied for the highest such number in the field; #5 SOL DEL SUR: Is by Medaglia d’Oro and out of a War Front mare, which gives him turf pedigree on both sides. The recent slow works hint that he wants to go as long as possible, and he intrigues me at a price for Bill Mott.

R8

Mystery Bank
Amano
Holy Emperor

#5 MYSTERY BANK: Sure seems like the lone speed in this turf marathon, which could help considerably given the maiden condition. Orlando Noda has hit pay dirt several times at the meet already, and if this one gets left alone up front early, look out; #7 AMANO: Closed to be third last time out at Belmont and will likely be favored here for Chad Brown and Irad Ortiz. It wouldn’t shock me if he won, but I can’t shake the feeling he may need more pace than he’ll get; #1 HOLY EMPEROR: Was a good second against slightly weaker going a mile at Belmont. He’s bred to want to go long on the grass, and while he doesn’t strike me as a front-runner, he could sit close beneath aggressive gate rider Luis Saez.

R9

Tom’s d’Etat
Code of Honor
By My Standards

#5 TOM’S D’ETAT: Comes in after winning four races in a row, including the Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill. He’s emerged as a force as a 7-year-old, and his combination of talent and versatility make him a deserving favorite in the Grade 1 Whitney; #3 CODE OF HONOR: Ran better than it may look on paper when third in the Grade 1 Met Mile downstate. He was wide that day and had to chase Vekoma, which isn’t easy to do. This two-turn trip should be right up his alley, and he gets it returning to the scene of his score in the Grade 1 Travers last year; #1 BY MY STANDARDS: Was a distant second behind Tom’s d’Etat in the Foster but won a pair of Grade 2 events before that. Jose Ortiz gets the mount here, and his usual race gives him a shot against a field light on numbers but heavy on talent.

R10

No Parole
Eight Rings
Three Technique

#6 NO PAROLE: Simply put, this Louisiana-bred looks like a freak. He’s 4-for-4 in races around one turn, and over a track that’s played very kindly to speed, I think he’ll be a handful. The recent bullet drill over this surface helps, too; #2 EIGHT RINGS: Has been training well for Bob Baffert in California, and he’s not a trainer who ships for the frequent-flyer miles. His effort in Arkansas last time out was a dud, but he showed enough promise as a 2-year-old to make me think he’s sitting on a big effort; #8 THREE TECHNIQUE: Seems like the best-meant closer in the bunch and one that may benefit if the speedballs burn out turning for home. He simply went too long in the Grade 2 Rebel last time out, and he’s 2-for-2 at today’s seven-furlong distance.

R11

Cross Border
Dot Matrix
Pillar Mountain

#2 CROSS BORDER: Jogged against overmatched state-breds here last week and should have plenty in reserve for the Grade 2 Bowling Green. He’s gotten this distance before and should have a favorable trip on or near a pretty slow early pace; #4 DOT MATRIX: Is at his best on or near the front going a long distance, and he should get that sort of trip here. He just missed two back at this distance at Belmont, but Joel Rosario climbs back aboard and should have him in a good spot; #7 PILLAR MOUNTAIN: Merits a look underneath at a big price. He likes this turf course and almost certainly needed the race last time out, which doubled as his first effort since October. Pletcher and Velazquez don’t often provide this kind of value.

R12

Cariba
I’llhandalthecash
Dalika

#9 CARIBA: Responded to the cutback in distance with a nice win downstate. Runner-up Peaceful won here impressively earlier in the meet, and the Clement barn has continued to send out well-meant horses after a scorching start; #2 I’LLHANDALTHECASH: Won here last summer and exits a win in a listed stakes race at Belmont. She was up close to a pretty moderate pace that day, but she’s also shown an ability to sit back and rally, which could prove helpful; #7 DALIKA: Was second behind my runner-up last time out and looms the danger if the race falls apart late. She won at this distance two back at Churchill, and the recent bullet hints she could be well-meant once again.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/24/19, TRAVERS DAY)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $736.10

Happy Travers Day, everyone! We’ve got a 13-race card on tap, complete with six Grade 1 events that have attracted some of the best horses currently in training. The Travers, unfortunately, boasts an underwhelming group that lacks the winners of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont (among other key divisional races), but from top to bottom, this is one of the most exciting cards we’ll see all year long.

There are plenty of opportunities to take stands with juicy prices, and my plays today will reflect that. If you’re diving in, pace yourself. Big fields mean potential for overlays, and a number of these events could be won by a number of contenders. From a bankroll standpoint, it’s an exciting day, as it may only take one winning ticket to ensure a profitable afternoon.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: The good news is that, for the first time in a week, our action wasn’t cancelled due to a surface switch. The bad news is that Bankit needed an extra jump he didn’t get in the Albany. As such, we dropped $30.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll practice what I preach by playing four separate $5 win/place bets throughout the card. I’ll use #7 BALON ROSE (race 3), #7 PAYNE (race 4), #6 YA PRIMO (race 10, the Grade 1 Sword Dancer), and #7 MUCHO GUSTO (race 11, the Travers with an overexposed sponsor I refuse to mention). Additionally, just for fun, I’ll play cold $5 doubles starting in the third and 10th races that use these horses. If morning lines hold up, it won’t take too much for this to be a pretty good day.

TOTAL WAGERED: $50

– – – – –

BEST BET: Brown entry, Race 1
LONGSHOT: Five Alarm Robin, Race 13

R1

Brown entry
Lemonist
Keep Quiet

BROWN ENTRY: It could be a big day for Chad Brown, and he looks loaded here. #1 FRONTIER MARKET hasn’t run a poor race in nearly two years, while #1A UNLEVERAGED gets a class test after two wins in a row downstate; #8 LEMONIST: Is another consistent sort who has hit the board in each of his last nine starts. He cuts back after two solid seconds at marathon distances, and a mile is probably a perfect trip for him; #5 KEEP QUIET: Rallied to be fourth earlier this meet against similar foes and didn’t have much of a pace to rate off of that day. He’d benefit from solid early fractions, and his usual race likely gets him a piece of this.

R2

Atoka
Tap It to Win
Onward

#4 ATOKA: Settled for third in his debut after doing loads of heavy lifting early on. He debuted at a tough distance and adds Lasix here for a barn whose second-time starters are firing on all cylinders of late; #1 TAP IT TO WIN: Debuted with a second-place finish at Woodbine and comes in off of a bullet work over this surface. It’s tough to figure out whether or not Woodbine form will translate to the Spa, but he’s a logical favorite; #7 ONWARD: Hammered for $600,000 last September at Keeneland and has hinted at some precocity in the morning. This barn’s firsters are tough to figure out, but he does boast a fairly recent bullet drill.

R3

Balon Rose
Charreada
Ocean Fire

#7 BALON ROSE: Flopped when favored earlier in the meet, but she may not have liked the yielding surface and that day’s winner has since come back to win again. This seems like a softer group, and firmer going should help her; #2 CHARREADA: Just missed when second beaten a neck downstate and stretches back out to two turns. There’s some early speed signed on here, and she figures to be running well late; #6 OCEAN FIRE: Comes back to turf after a failed dirt try and is another that exits the same July 26 event as my top choice. Her debut over firm turf at Belmont was pretty good, as she was third behind a recent stakes-winner.

R4

Payne
Performer
T Loves a Fight

#7 PAYNE: Didn’t have a great trip (nor, to be blunt, the best ride) when third at 4/5 earlier this meet. Jose Ortiz hops back aboard, and a repeat of either of his races downstate would make him a likely winner; #11 PERFORMER: Graduated off a long layoff last time out and tries winners for the first time. The outside draw should help, but regression potential is there and I’m wondering if he wants longer than this distance; #8 T LOVES A FIGHT: Has gotten quite good lately and was most recently beaten less than two lengths when fourth in a tough state-bred stakes race. He won three in a row before that and, like my top pick, would benefit from a fast pace.

R5

Mitole
Promises Fulfilled
Bon Raison

#3 MITOLE: Had to contend with a rail draw and an in-form Imperial Hint in the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt last month. The draw improves, and his rival is nowhere to be found, which means I’m inclined to give him another shot; #1 PROMISES FULFILLED: Is a logical alternative to the likely favorite. He got back on the beam last time out in the Grade 2 John Nerud, and he figures to be prominent early; #5 BON RAISON: Likes Saratoga and would benefit from a pace meltdown. He made several moves when winning the Tale of the Cat, and he could clunk up for a piece of this at a big price.

R6

Separationofpowers
Mia Mischief
Special Relativity

#4 SEPARATIONOFPOWERS: Won last year’s Grade 1 Test and is proven at this seven-furlong distance. She’s been freshened ahead of this race and could sit a dream trip just off the pace; #5 MIA MISCHIEF: Was shuffled back a bit in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss and never recovered when fourth behind a loose-on-the-lead winner. She’s better than she showed that day, and a return to form would give her a big shot; #1 SPECIAL RELATIVITY: Takes a big jump up in class but certainly deserves the opportunity. She’s undefeated in four local starts and won a minor stakes race at this route a few weeks ago.

R7

Shancelot
Hog Creek Hustle
Borracho

#1 SHANCELOT: Reminded some fans of Groovy with his romp in the Grade 2 Amsterdam, where he earned a 121 Beyer Speed Figure. Anything close to that, and the rest of this field will be fighting for second; #9 HOG CREEK HUSTLE: Was last seen finishing with a flourish to win the Grade 1 Woody Stephens on Belmont Day. If Shancelot bounces, he may be the one they have to hold off in the stretch; #4 BORRACHO: Was impressive when winning an optional claimer at this route earlier in the meet. He loves this distance and is another that will be doing his best running late.

R8

Mascha
Starship Jubilee
Fifty Five

#9 MASCHA: Gets a reluctant nod in a wide-open renewal of the Grade 2 Ballston Spa. Her American debut was a winning one, and she showed plenty of class overseas last year; #8 STARSHIP JUBILEE: Ran second in a pair of Grade 2 events at Woodbine and is very flexible. She can sit close to the pace or rate and make one run, which figures to give Jose Lezcano plenty of options; #2 FIFTY FIVE: Is cross-entered in a state-bred race Friday, but is a contender if she shows up here. She hasn’t finished out of the money in nearly two years and was most recently second in a Grade 3 event at Parx.

R9

Elate
Midnight Bisou
Golden Award

#4 ELATE: Seems to be in peak form ahead of another try at the Grade 1 Personal Ensign. She was second in the controversial 2018 renewal and may be better than she was a season ago; #1 MIDNIGHT BISOU: Has reeled off five wins in a row and certainly merits respect. However, she’s 0-for-4 going longer than a mile and a sixteenth, and the rail draw is less than ideal; #6 GOLDEN AWARD: Sprang a mild upset in the Grade 3 Shuvee earlier in the meet and figures to be one of the pace-setters. If she can clear the field going into the first turn, she could dictate terms and hang on for a share.

R10

Ya Primo
Annals of Time
Channel Maker

#6 YA PRIMO: Ran well when second in the Grade 2 Bowling Green, which doubled as his U.S. debut. He may have needed that race off of a layoff, and improvement is logical second off the bench for a world-class barn; #7 ANNALS OF TIME: Looked good when cruising home against optional claiming foes earlier in the meet. At his best, he’s quite good, and this isn’t the strongest Grade 1 Sword Dancer renewal in recent history; #8 CHANNEL MAKER: Was beaten less than a length in the Bowling Green and was second in this race a season ago. He was a bit wide that day, and a smoother trip could make the difference here.

R11

Mucho Gusto
Tacitus
Looking At Bikinis

#7 MUCHO GUSTO: Ships in for Bob Baffert after giving Maximum Security all he could handle in the Grade 1 Haskell. His recent works are strong, and when in doubt, there are far worse strategies than going with Bob Baffert in a big race; #6 TACITUS: Had an eventful journey when second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy. The blinkers come on, and his best is certainly good enough to beat these, but has he gotten to where he actively puts himself in bad spots?; #9 LOOKING AT BIKINIS: Didn’t run well when a distant third in the Curlin, but that was over a sloppy track and he may have bounced to boot. He’s continued to work well, and I think he’s got a shot to hit the board at a nice price.

R12

Fled
Discretionary Marq
Dowse’s Beach

#2 FLED: Has won two in a row since being switched to the turf, and most recently rallied from way back to top state-breds at this route. A repeat effort would put him right there in a wide-open event; #11 DISCRETIONARY MARQ: Drew a terrible post but is absolutely capable of winning with his best effort. He’s finished in the top two in eight of 14 career outings and should be on or near the lead early; #13 DOWSE’S BEACH: May not draw in, and will have to contend with an awful draw if he does, but he’s 5-for-8 at Saratoga and won here earlier in the meet. When Jason Servis gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there.

R13

Magic Star
Five Alarm Robin
Keepme in Thegame

#5 MAGIC STAR: Seems well-meant in her unveiling and could cap off a big day for her connections. Her dam won a Grade 1 as a 2-year-old and is a half to Grade 1 winner Overanalyze, so she’s got every right to be a runner; #9 FIVE ALARM ROBIN: Has improved in every start and was a close-up third downstate. Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and she seems like an overlay at her 8-1 morning line price; #10 KEEPME IN THEGAME: Ran well when third in her debut, which came going two turns at Keeneland. She returns to a similar route here, and given her pedigree, she should embrace this journey.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/26/18

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $1,356.20

A lot of us are very quick to vilify stewards when it appears they get decisions wrong. I think it’s fair to point out when they get things right, especially on big stages.

This was the case in Saturday’s Grade 1 Personal Ensign, where Abel Tasman and Elate made contact in mid-stretch. Social media was split on the final ruling of “no change,” but I thought this was the right call. Abel Tasman did come out, but Elate also came in a bit, and it sure seemed (judging by the head-on) that the eventual winner got the worst of the contact. Either way, it was a fantastic race between two top-notch 4-year-olds, and they’re likely to face off again in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff later this year.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: I wanted to get some value out of Way Early in the second race, and I did that. Despite that one prevailing at even money, the $6 exacta returned $150 (thanks to longshot Appealing Briefs running second), and we also got a few bucks out of a consolation double payoff when Silver Dust scratched at the gate. In total, the $32 post-scratch investment returned a tidy $159.75.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to take a stand against the likely favorite in the third race, as I can’t endorse #4 PARAUARI at short odds given his two duds downstate. I much prefer likely second choice #3 ZORZOR, and I’ll keep things simple with a $30 win bet on that one.

TOTAL WAGERED: $30

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Enliven, Race 5
Longshot: Iron Mast, Race 10

R1

Can’tweallgetalong
Espresso Caliente
Flatexcel

#5 CAN’TWEALLGETALONG: Rallied for third in his first start against winners and could benefit from the likely race shape in this spot. There’s a lot of early speed signed on, and this one’s usual race could leave him in position to capitalize on that; #8 ESPRESSO CALIENTE: Hasn’t won in a while, but drops significantly for this race and may sit a perfect stalking trip from his outside post. Both factors could be enough to wake him up; #2 FLATEXCEL: Went too fast early on last time out and faded badly late. He cuts back in distance and may be the fastest of this bunch out of the gate.

R2

Black Dynamite
Speedy Solution
Miss Rombauer

#12 BLACK DYNAMITE: Merits a long look if she draws in off the AE list. She’s by top turf sire More Than Ready and is a half to Grade 1 winner Killer Graces, who was very precocious; #4 SPEEDY SOLUTION: Ran like a filly that wants to go long in her debut, where she was beaten less than two lengths despite a rough trip. Ward’s numbers with horses stretching out aren’t great, but improvement is logical at second asking; #8 MISS ROMBAUER: Fetched $375,000 at auction earlier this year and looms large for powerhouse connections. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because it’s not easy to debut going two turns and there are no five-furlong works on the tab.

R3

Zorzor
Parauari
Acoustic

#3 ZORZOR: Drops way down in class for this event, and his best race would make him very tough to beat. He topped allowance foes two back at Churchill Downs, and his flexibility is a big plus; #4 PARAUARI: Is another dropping down in class, and he does so for aggressive connections after a pair of misfires downstate. He hasn’t done much running since coming to the U.S., though, and there won’t be much value to speak of; #1 ACOUSTIC: Hasn’t won in a while, but did take a step forward last time out in his first start for Jason Servis. He was beaten just a half-length that day at this level, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back.

R4

Maho Bay
Curiousncuriouser
Nocturnal Mission

#7 MAHO BAY: Was a good second in her local debut last time out and has worked well since then. That was a fast race, and a repeat performance would make her formidable (especially given the cushy outside draw); #3 CURIOUSNCURIOUSER: Missed the break in that race, but romped two back at Belmont in her first start for Chris Englehart. A cleaner break here would make her a contender; #1 NOCTURNAL MISSION: Hasn’t won since her debut in February of 2017, but her local debut wasn’t bad and Javier Castellano sees fit to ride back in this spot.

R5

Enliven
Vomba (2nd dam G1W Cash Run)
Angelia

#8 ENLIVEN: Is out of the Grade 1-winning mare It’s Tricky, which makes her a half to multiple graded stakes-winner Enticed. She’s worked well, and Joe Bravo taking the call could signal that it’s go time; #4 VOMBA: Makes her debut for an outfit that’s very sharp with first-time starters. She’s by all-world sire Candy Ride, and her female family includes second dam Cash Run, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; #3 ANGELIA: Will almost certainly take money based on the Pletcher/Velazquez connections. Her works are OK, and she’s bred to be a runner, but it’s been a very quiet summer for this barn by its lofty standards.

R6

Lunaire
Dr. Edgar
Holiday Bonus

#9 LUNAIRE: Hasn’t won in a while, but could get the benefit of a race with plenty of early speed drawn to his inside. The faster they go early, the better this one’s chances figure to be; #3 DR. EDGAR: Has had his issues, given the layoff lines, but he hasn’t run a bad race in more than two years and comes in off a strong second in his first start for Barclay Tagg. He’s got speed, but can also rate a bit, which opens up the possibility of an ideal stalking trip; #1 HOLIDAY BONUS: Hasn’t found the winner’s circle of late, but cuts back after going much longer last time out. This seems more like the trip he wants, and he’s another that could be moving the right way late.

R7

Myhartblongstodady
Chestnut Street
Way Smart

#7 MYHARTBLONGSTODADY: Missed by a nose at this level last time out, and she nearly got the job done after rallying from 10th in a 12-horse field. She’s drawn favorably here and would benefit from others showing early zip; #11 CHESTNUT STREET: Is the other Chad Brown runner, and she makes her first start against winners. She ran well earlier in the meet and could improve, but the post position is a red flag; #8 WAY SMART: Was third in the race my top pick exits after probably moving a bit too soon. Joe Bravo hops aboard, and he’s made the most of his mounts to this point in the meet.

R8

Proven Reserves
Souper Tapit
Secret House

#6 PROVEN RESERVES: Bounced back from a disappointing run two back with a daylight win earlier in the meet. If he can string two strong races together, he’ll strictly be the one to beat; #3 SOUPER TAPIT: Has run two sharp races in back-to-back off-the-turf events this season. He hasn’t won in more than a year, and this barn is cold, but the last race was strong enough that I can’t ignore him; #5 SECRET HOUSE: Was second as an odds-on favorite last time out and was claimed by Tom Amoss that day. His best race puts him in the mix, but it’s been a long summer for Amoss, who’s 0 for 12 at the meet as of this writing.

R9

Morticia
Epping Forest
Tillie’s Lily

#8 MORTICIA: Was one of many that was likely compromised by the soft going in the Caress Stakes last time out. Her usual race is certainly good enough to win, and we may get a price given the large field; #12 EPPING FOREST: Has won three of her last four coming into this race and figures to be running well late. She may have been my top pick if not for the horrendous post position, and she could very well overcome that; #5 TILLIE’S LILY: Has won four races in a row and will likely go very fast out of the gate. She may not be alone up front, but there’s a chance she’s faster than her opposition and will have plenty left for the stretch run.

R10

Iron Mast
Joe’s Smokin Gun
Powerstroke

#10 IRON MAST: Debuts in this spot for a sharp first-out trainer and is bred to be a solid turf horse. Given the lackluster field, that may be good enough to put him into the winner’s circle at a bit of a price; #8 JOE’S SMOKIN GUN: Is 0 for 12 lifetime and has run second three times in a row coming into this event. He’ll likely be forwardly placed, and that could help, but it’s tough to have too much confidence given the career record; #6 POWERSTROKE: Looks like the main early speed in this race, where he’ll come back to the turf course. I’m not sure how far he wants to go, but the inner turf does tend to move speed horses up a bit.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/25/18 (Travers Day)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $1,228.45

It’s Travers Day, which usually means some joke about NYRA’s ridiculous (and selectively-enforced) policy against running on the grounds. However, I’m breaking tradition to deal with something much more important, on a day where I hopefully have the audience to do it.

Over the past few weeks, journalism at some colleges and universities has come under attack. One school has merged journalism and public relations into the same major. Another (which I wrote about at length this past week) has gone so far as to restructure its student newspaper to essentially be a parrot for administrators and their missions. I highly doubt these schools are alone in taking these steps, and I want to do something about it.

If you’re an aspiring journalist/writer/reporter, and you’re looking for advice, my Twitter direct message box is open. I specifically opened it up for this purpose, and I’m happy to provide some sort of guidance to anyone who wants it. If you’re out there, and you’re somehow affected by the nonsense some administrators think is standard operating procedure, feel free to reach out (@AndrewChampagne).

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Kharafa winning may have been a feel-good moment given his advanced age, but it knocked us out of the Grand Slam (not like it was going to pay much, though). We dropped $24.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I think the stakes races are a bit chalky today, so I’ll focus on the early part of the program. My plays come in the second race, where I think there’s a way to extract some value out of #4 WAY EARLY. I’ll play $6 exactas using him above #2 NEW JERSEY JOHN, #6 IDES OF ARCH, and #10 APPEALING BRIEFS, as well as $3 exactas with him behind those three. Finally, I’ll single Way Early in $5 doubles that end with #1 TOMMY T and #8 SILVER DUST in the third.

TOTAL WAGERED: $37

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: City of Light, Race 9
Longshot: Bird’s Eye View, Race 5

R1

Puttheglassdown
Greyes Creek
Mischievous Bird

#5 PUTTHEGLASSDOWN: Debuted with a strong second to Nitrous, one of the better 2-year-olds on the grounds. We won’t get the 19-1 odds he was that day, but if he steps forward, he’ll be tough to beat; #1 GREYES CREEK: Fetched $850,000 at auction earlier this year and has worked like a good horse. The rail draw isn’t ideal for a debuting runner, but he may be talented enough to overcome it; #2 MISCHIEVOUS BIRD: Represents local racing institution Marylou Whitney and has been working very well for trainer Norm Casse. Offspring of Into Mischief tend to be precocious, and if you like him, you may get a bit of a price.

R2

Way Early
New Jersey John
Ides of Arch

#4 WAY EARLY: Drops into a first-level allowance after chasing graded stakes foes in each of his last two starts. He was second in the Grade 2 Penn Mile, and his usual race should beat this bunch; #2 NEW JERSEY JOHN: Was second at this level as a 24-1 shot earlier in the meet and won two of his three previous starts since coming off the bench. This barn hasn’t started many runners, but all five starters have hit the board; #6 IDES OF ARCH: Rallied to be third in his first start since November downstate, and his lone win came over this turf course. There’s some pace signed on in this race, and he could come running late for a piece of it.

R3

Tommy T
Silver Dust
Hollywood Star

#1 TOMMY T: Came off the bench running earlier in the meet, when he was second in a swift seven-furlong event. He’ll likely show speed from the rail, and it’s encouraging to see Rosario ride back; #8 SILVER DUST: Was fourth in that race, but likely went too fast early on. He’s worked well since and could be ripe for a bounce-back effort; #6 HOLLYWOOD STAR: Was third when cutting back to a sprint distance off of a freshening. The extra sixteenth could help him, and he may come running late at a price.

R4

Digital Footprint
Noble Nebraskan
Social Paranoia

#3 DIGITAL FOOTPRINT: Was a late-running second in his unveiling, which came at a two-turn distance. It’s tough to debut at such a route, and he wasn’t helped by the slow pace set in front of him; #14 NOBLE NEBRASKAN: May not draw in, but if he does, I need to use him. He’s bred up and down to be a good turf horse, and I’ve picked him three or four times this meet. One of these days, he’s going to run, right?; #7 SOCIAL PARANOIA: Goes to the turf and is bred to like it. He’s by solid turf sire Street Boss, and his 319 turf Tomlinson is one of the top such numbers in the field.

R5

Bird’s Eye View
Red Knight
Classic Covey

#2 BIRD’S EYE VIEW: Seems to have turned a corner from age three to age four. All three of his starts this year have shown significant improvement from his 2017 form, and he was a close second behind stakes-quality runner Patterson Cross last time out at Belmont; #4 RED KNIGHT: Has yet to miss the exacta in six career starts and showed a bit of tactical speed last time out. He’s one-half of a solid one-two punch for trainer Bill Mott, who’s had a good meet; #5 CLASSIC COVEY: Is the other Mott runner, and he’s chased some of the top turf horses on the East Coast in his last three starts. This class drop should help, although it’s a bit concerning that he hasn’t found a way to win since October.

R6

Promises Fulfilled
Still Having Fun
Firenze Fire

#1 PROMISES FULFILLED: May have been a one-turn horse all along. He ran a huge race in the Grade 3 Amsterdam, and while the potential for a bounce does exist, a repeat of that race would make him incredibly tough; #7 STILL HAVING FUN: Came from well back to win the Grade 2 Woody Stephens over several horses that also show up here (including my top pick). I doubt he’ll get that kind of setup again here, but he’s worked well, Rosario rides back, and he’d certainly benefit if my top pick isn’t gifted an easy lead; #8 FIRENZE FIRE: Ran a colossal race in the Grade 3 Dwyer, but I’m a bit skeptical he can repeat it. His best races have come at Belmont, where he also won last year’s Grade 1 Champagne, and that was such a huge improvement over his previous 2018 form that I’m skeptical he can reproduce that form (though he’ll be formidable if he does).

R7

Abel Tasman
Elate
Farrell

#1 ABEL TASMAN: Got back in the winner’s circle in emphatic fashion when romping in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day. She won the Coaching Club American Oaks here last year, and while the rail draw isn’t ideal, she’s definitely the one to beat; #6 ELATE: Came back running in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap, where she overpowered a questionable field going a 10-furlong distance she’s shown she loves. She won last year’s Grade 1 Alabama here and will get plenty of pace to rate behind; #5 FARRELL: Led all the way in the Grade 3 Shuvee and generally runs the same race every time out. She likely won’t be alone on the front end, but when this barn gets a horse on the right track, they tend to stay there.

R8

Finley’sluckycharm
Marley’s Freedom
Lewis Bay

#5 FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM: Won the Grade 2 Honorable Miss off a bit of a freshening and looms large here. For a top-level sprint, there’s not a ton of early speed signed on, so she could sit a picture-perfect trip; #7 MARLEY’S FREEDOM: Ships east for the Bob Baffert barn and merits respect solely off of that fact. She’s won three in a row, including two graded stakes races, but her starts at seven furlongs haven’t been quite as impressive as her efforts going shorter; #6 LEWIS BAY: Took advantage in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses when main foe American Gal did not fire. She won by 5 1/2 lengths that day, and a repeat performance would almost certainly get her a piece of it here.

R9

City of Light
C Z Rocket
Limousine Liberal

#8 CITY OF LIGHT: Ships east for this event after a strong campaign to date. This seven-furlong trip hits him right between the eyes, and he’s already won a pair of Grade 1 events at this trip; #6 C Z ROCKET: Seems to have gotten stronger from age three to age four, and won a minor stakes last time out in impressive fashion. Toss the Grade 1 Malibu, and you’re left with a horse that’s won four of five starts for a high-percentage outfit; #1 LIMOUSINE LIBERAL: Has repeatedly shown that this is his best distance. He prevailed in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship last time out, but must once again work out a trip from a tricky inside post.

R10

Sadler’s Joy
Spring Quality
Funtastic

#10 SADLER’S JOY: Likely wasn’t helped by the soft going in the Grade 2 Bowling Green, but he was still beaten just a half-length in a race that did not set up for his running style. He won this event last year, and a repeat seems within his grasp; #2 SPRING QUALITY: Won the Grade 1 Manhattan, which has proven to be a very strong race. He won’t be 18-1 today, unfortunately, and the distance is a bit of an unknown, but the versatility he’s shown is a big plus; #3 FUNTASTIC: Has shown significant talent since being stretched out to extended turf routes. He wired the field in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth, and while there were some circumstances in that race that didn’t help other runners (namely oppressive heat), there’s also a chance this one’s developed into a top-notch marathoner.

R11

Good Magic
Gronkowski
Mendelssohn

#9 GOOD MAGIC: Was an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth and has trained well since shipping to upstate New York. There’s a chance this distance is a bit far for him, but if he repeats his last-out effort, I think he’s the most likely winner; #3 GRONKOWSKI: Rallied to be second behind Justify in the Belmont Stakes, a race that doubled as his American debut. He was sidelined with a minor injury earlier in the summer, but he’s working well and would benefit from a speed duel; #8 MENDELSSOHN: Almost certainly went too fast early on in the Grade 3 Dwyer, where horse-for-course Firenze Fire romped. His Kentucky Derby effort is a throw-out, and I think it’s encouraging that he’s been shipped back across the Atlantic for another shot at this level.

R12

A Raving Beauty
Proctor’s Ledge
Quidura

#1 A RAVING BEAUTY: Won two in a row before being beaten less than a length by next-out Grade 1 Beverly D. winner Sistercharlie in the Grade 1 Diana. She’s not an easy horse to ride, and I’m not crazy about the post, but her best race beats these; #3 PROCTOR’S LEDGE: Had a troubled trip in the Diana, but has shown an affinity for this turf course and is reunited with John Velazquez, who piloted her to her two top efforts of the season. It does help that there’s some speed signed on; #5 QUIDURA: May have needed the race last time out, one that doubled as her first start in nine months. She’s won a pair of graded stakes races and was beaten a head by Lady Eli in last year’s Diana on this turf course.

R13

American Rule (MTO)
Azzedine
Victor Lounge

#5 AZZEDINE: Drops further down the class ladder after misfiring at 7/5 against $75,000 maiden claimers earlier in the meet. He didn’t have the best of trips that day, and this seems like a “now or never” spot; #9 VICTOR LOUNGE: Has shown ample early speed in several starts at this level and returns to a two-turn route of ground. He’s run several of his better races at such a configuration, and he could get brave if given an easy lead; #11 SPRING ON CURLIN: Has certainly had plenty of chances, but was a fast-closing fourth when dropped to this level last time out. That was over a yielding surface that may have dulled his late kick a bit, and he could improve at a price over firm going. DIRT SELECTIONS: AMERICAN RULE, UNCLE LARRY, WISELY.