Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/25/18 (Travers Day)
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
Best Bet: City of Light, Race 9
Longshot: Bird’s Eye View, Race 5
#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.
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.
#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.
#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.
Bird’s Eye View
#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.
Still Having Fun
#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).
#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.
#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.
City of Light
C Z Rocket
#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.
#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.
#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.
A Raving Beauty
#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.
American Rule (MTO)
#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.