2021 BREEDERS’ CUP: Day Two Handicapping Analysis (11/6/21)

I’ll start off this column with a disclaimer: If you don’t want to bet Saturday’s races because of the three-ring circus that happened before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, I completely understand. A lot of people got the short end of the stick with what happened, and I couldn’t write anything else before writing something I posted to Twitter late Friday.

If you want to play, though, there’s plenty to digest Saturday at Del Mar. As with Friday’s races, I’ll spend more time on races where I have a strong opinion and less time on races where I don’t. Let’s take a look!

“Champagne and J.D.,” cued up to our analysis of Saturday’s card!

RACE #1: We’ll start things off with an optional claiming event for older horses. I’m not sure which runner will go favored, but #1 ONE FAST BRO would intrigue me a bit if others took money. His lone recent poor race on turf came in a paceless race at Santa Anita, and it sure seems like he’s taken a step forward late in his 4-year-old season. He’s a stone closer that may need some luck breaking on the rail, but Joe Bravo’s riding style should fit him like a glove, and the jockey got to know this gelding a bit last time out, when he ran second behind next-out stakes-winner Subconscious.

RACE #2: The Grade 2 TAA is the annual marathon race on the Breeders’ Cup undercard, and I think the morning line is off. Yes, #2 LONE ROCK was beaten last time out as a very heavy favorite, but I can’t see #4 TIZAMAGICIAN challenging him for favoritism. I think Lone Rock comes down from his 6/5 morning line price, and that Tizamagician drifts up.

I focused on that because, handicapping-wise, this looks chalky to me. Lone Rock still looks very imposing, and anything close to his races from mid-2021 would make him very tough to beat.

RACE #3: We start cooking with gas in the Grade 2 Goldikova. I respect 8/5 favorite #2 PRINCESS GRACE, who’s won six of seven career starts and wouldn’t be surprising. However, I think there’s value to that one’s inside.

Instead of the chalk, give me #1 ZOFELLE, whose last race is a clear throw-out. She’s shown she detests Belmont Park and its funky one-mile configuration, and she’s also shown she shines going two turns. Her races from early-2021 are sharp, and while the layoff is a concern, she’s been working steadily for a barn that can get fresh horses ready to run.

Zofelle’s best race can win this, and I think things will set up for her. This race isn’t without some early zip, and the faster they go early, the better this one’s chances figure to be. 6-1 hits me as an overlay, and I hope we get that price (or something close to it) come post time.

RACE #4: Many handicappers detest this race, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. It’s down to a five-horse field, and the likely odds-on favorite, #5 GAMINE, has been in the news several times for the wrong reasons.

However, I think there’s money to be made, as Gamine shouldn’t be alone on the front end. She may be joined by #3 EDGEWAY or #6 BELLA SOFIA, and while she may be good enough to overcome that pressure, I think her likely price is an underlay, and that such a scenario would set things up for #4 CE CE.

Ce Ce didn’t get her desired trip in the Ballerina two starts back. Gamine ran her first quarter-mile in :23 and change, and the race was over at that point. That shouldn’t happen again here, and when Ce Ce gets a pace to run at, she’s very, very good. I wish we were likely to get the 4-1 morning line price, but we’ll probably have to make due with 5/2 or so. Still, she’ll be a single for me on multi-race exotics tickets, and if Gamine loses, the payoff potential on those goes up significantly.

RACE #5: Singling Ce Ce is handy, because the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is a puzzling race. I’ve been a big fan of #3 GOLDEN PAL all year long, and a win here wouldn’t surprise me. However, if the 3-year-old misfires against open company, any number of his rivals could potentially get the money.

#1 GLASS SLIPPERS won this race last year, and her stablemate, #2 EMARAATY ANA, may be even better than she is. Golden Pal’s stablemate, #9 KIMARI, hasn’t run since April, but she’s been working consistently at Keeneland and is a world-class sprinter when she’s right.

The one I’m most intrigued by at a price, though, is #11 FAST BOAT. Closers in turf sprints make me nervous, but Del Mar’s surface was a fair one on Friday, and a few closers did reasonably well. Additionally, he’s capitalized on several meltdowns against these types this season, and a similar situation may present itself here. His best is certainly good enough to win this, and he’ll be on all of my tickets.

RACE #6: #5 LIFE IS GOOD is a single for me in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (TV won’t say the sponsor, but I will because I’m a rebel and play by my own rules). I can’t see him getting challenged early, and if he gets comfortable, I think he’ll coast.

RACE #7: The Filly and Mare Turf will be a blast. I’m pumped to see #7 WAR LIKE GODDESS tackle the likes of #6 LOVE and #8 LOVES ONLY YOU, who ship in from England and Japan for this event. Consider this: #12 AUDARYA is the defending champ in this race, and she’s the 5-1 fourth choice on the morning line!

The top three choices are all world-class talents, and Audarya would merit attention if not for a terrible post draw. However, there’s another that I need to advise you to consider. #1 GOING TO VEGAS did sit a dream trip last time out in winning the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive, but everything says she could sit that trip again here. There just isn’t a lot of early speed signed on to chase her, and if she gets comfortable, I think she’ll have every chance to grab a big piece of this at a very nice price.

RACE #8: Neither of my two opinions in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint should surprise you. The first is that #2 JACKIE’S WARRIOR looks very tough, by any conceivable measure. His figures only seem to be going up, he’s very fast out of the gate, and he’s shown an ability to grind his foes into dust. He’s my top pick.

My other opinion is that #7 LEXITONIAN, a first-ballot inductee into the Andrew Champagne Gambling Hall of Fame, hits the board. Toss the Forego, where he got left at the gate, and toss the Met Mile, which I think is a toss for every horse that ran in it (it was a WEIRD race). His two-back Grade 1 win in the Vanderbilt was sharp, and it also helps that he ran very well in his lone Del Mar start, when he fell by a dirty nose after a big late run in the 2020 Bing Crosby. Lexitonian’s an honest horse that should be going the right way late, and I think he’ll clunk up for a piece of it at a big number.

RACE #9: The Breeders’ Cup Mile is always a blast. Some of my favorite horses (Lure and Wise Dan, to name two) have won this race over the years, and from a handicapping perspective, you can make cases for a bunch of these runners.

I’m spreading in multi-race exotics. #3 SPACE BLUES is a win machine from Europe, and his best race would absolutely put him right there, but he’s stretching out to a mile from seven furlongs, and that’s not insignificant. By contrast, #9 MOTHER EARTH has won at this distance before and ran into Aunt Pearl last fall in her lone stateside start to date. I need to use her, too, especially since she’s run very well over firmer going in the past. Of the American runners, I prefer #6 MO FORZA and #7 IN LOVE, who both come in off of strong wins in prep races a few weeks ago.

RACE #10: The Breeders’ Cup Distaff features #6 LETRUSKA, who enters on a five-race win streak and figures to be one of the day’s heaviest favorites. However, I’m against her in here. I think there’s a lot of other early speed signed on (specifically #7 HOROLOGIST and #8 SHEDARESTHEDEVIL), and I think the race shape could set up for a closer to come from out of the clouds.

With that in mind, I prefer #2 ROYAL FLAG on top. She exits a very nice win in the Beldame at Belmont, where she won by more than four lengths despite a pretty slow early pace. She’s shown an ability to rally from well back in races without much early zip. Given the likelihood of some fast fractions, I think her chances go way up, and 8-1 hits me as an overlay.

Of the front-running types, I prefer #8 SHEDARESTHEDEVIL, who beat Letruska earlier this year and has shown she doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well. Given how fast they’ll probably be going, that could prove valuable.

RACE #11: I could wind up having plenty of fun in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. #13 TARNAWA is logical and hasn’t run a bad race in more than two years. She could win this for the second year in a row, but there’s another runner I like at a significantly bigger price.

Toss the Arc de Triomphe, and doesn’t the form of #8 BROOME look a lot better? He’s run plenty of races at this distance that would be good enough to win, and I love the presence of Frankie Dettori, whose record in this race is excellent. The same can be said of trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has won this race six times. At his likely price, Broome is a must-use, and he’d be a day-maker for me.

RACE #12: We’ll finish, of course, with the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I can’t go too in-depth on this, as I’ll have a longer, race-specific writeup available on Oddschecker US. However, I think #5 KNICKS GO will be very tough to beat, and you can head over there for my reasoning and betting strategy.

2021 BREEDERS’ CUP: Day One Handicapping Analysis (11/5/21)

This week’s “Champagne and J.D.,” filmed before news broke about Jack Christopher scratching out of the Juvenile.

It’s Breeders’ Cup time, and I’m going to do things a little bit differently this year. In the past, I’ve written walls of text on every race. This year, I’m going to follow my own advice about being smarter with time and money management.

I’ll still take looks at every race, but I’ll expound far more on ones where I have strong opinions. Friday’s card, for my money, is far more intriguing than Saturday’s, and I’m looking forward to getting things rolling and hopefully setting us up for more success over the weekend. Let’s dive in, shall we?

RACE #1: We’re bringing some firepower right off the bat. #4 TRIPLE TAP is American Pharoah’s younger half-brother, and he’s been on the sidelines since an impressive first-out score in March at Santa Anita. He’s been working very well, and I think he’s well-meant, but I also think the likely race shape may be kind to others. There’s a lot of other speed in this event, and as a result, I’d advise you to use two closers in your exotics tickets.

#2 I’LL STAND TALLER has rounded into form for Doug O’Neill. He’s won two of his last three starts, and the race shape in his most recent effort didn’t set up for a closer. He’s a Cal-bred stepping up into open company, but his connections saw fit to run him in two stakes races earlier this year, and perhaps he’s just getting better as he gets older.

I’ll also get a little crazy and include #8 EL DIABLO ROJO, whose record looks far better if you toss the turf races. I’m not entirely sure why he’s been running on it, since it’s clear he’s better on dirt, and he has back form from early-2021 that would make him dangerous at a price.

RACE #2: I don’t find the Qatar Golden Mile nearly as appealing. Likely favorite #8 READY TO PURRFORM looms large off of an impressive win in a similar spot at Laurel, and the most appealing alternative will be the likely second choice, #3 DEGREE OF RISK. That one exits a decent third in the Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine and adds both blinkers and Flavien Prat.

RACE #3: One of my strongest opinions of the undercard is here, in the Golden State Juvenile Fillies. It looks like a fantastic betting race if you have one of those, and I like a runner enough to single her in multi-race exotics.

#9 VIVACIOUS VANESSA ran exceptionally well in her debut. Gary Mandella’s first-time starters aren’t usually fully-cranked, and going two turns at first asking isn’t easy to do. However, she broke slowly, uncorked a big rally, and won going away. The fast pace did help her that day, but that’s not the kind of effort that can simply be chalked up to a race falling apart.

Vivacious Vanessa goes turf to dirt here, and the dirt works tell me she’ll take to the new surface just fine. I think there’s plenty of pace signed on to set up for the way she wants to run, and if she wins, it’ll provide a nice stake for the rest of the weekend.

RACE #4: The Ken Maddy is a grass grab bag with a 10-horse field, and many of these fillies and mares have shown plenty of talent. #8 SUPERSTITION loves Del Mar and doesn’t need the lead, which are both good things. She’s not a bad favorite, but she also doesn’t tower over this group, and I think there are two others worthy of consideration.

#1 HEAR MY PRAYER is probably my other “A horse” in multi-race exotics. She’s run just once since February, but that was a winning effort at this route, and she’s been training lights-out at Santa Anita ahead of this event. Given the layoff lines, it’s safe to assume she’s had her issues, but when she’s right, she’s very fast.

I’ll also have some saver tickets with #5 TIME LIMIT, who gets a significant class test but hasn’t run a poor race on turf. She’s got plenty of early zip, but showed she can rate a bit in two wins at Saratoga. One of those wins was over a very good turf sprinter named Risky Mischief, who’s run some fast races and wouldn’t have been out-of-place in this race. Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride for Mike Maker, and we’ll likely be assured a square price on a very nice horse.

RACE #5: The brother race to the third event of the day, the Golden State Juvenile for 2-year-old colts has drawn another big field. I do have a lean here, and while it’s not strong enough to single the horse on all tickets, it’s probably a “lone A” situation.

#11 SLOW DOWN ANDY won his debut like a very good horse. He cruised home clear by nearly five lengths, and that day’s runner-up (#10 MOOSE MITCHELL) came right back to win at next asking. Doug O’Neill’s first-time starters aren’t always fully-cranked, but when this barn gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there. I don’t know if we’ll get 5-1, but I also don’t think he’ll be favored, so we should get a little bit of value.

If Slow Down Andy doesn’t win, I’m not quite sure who does. #1 JOKER BOY will likely be favored, but I just don’t think he beat much in his two wins earlier this year. The bigger price that intrigues me is #4 BILLY’S BET, who led at every call in a five-furlong turf sprint and gets a big class test for a small barn. For a 2-year-old sprint, there isn’t a metric ton of early speed signed on, so maybe he’ll get comfortable and give the field something to think about turning for home.

RACE #6: And now we punch the accelerator, because this is the first Breeders’ Cup race of the day. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint has attracted plenty of speedy, precocious 2-year-olds that will go five furlongs. Traditionally in these races, speed is king, but there’s so much of it signed on that I need to back a closer, and there’s one in here I really like.

#7 ARMOR had nowhere to go most of the way last time out in a Group 1. Still, once he finally got a seam, he finished very nicely and was beaten less than a length by multiple Group 1 winner Perfect Power. Perfect Power would almost certainly be favored in this spot had he shipped over, so it’s tough to see a narrow loss to that rival as a bad thing.

Between his back class and the likely race shape, I think there’s a ton to like here. I don’t think we’ll get the 6-1 morning line, but 9/2 and up would hit me as a pretty fair value. If you’re looking for a closer at an even bigger price, #11 DERRYNANE’s two-back clunker over a boggy turf course is a total throw-out. Her score at Woodbine was excellent, and while the post is awful, she’s got enough talent to where I’ll still be alive on a few tickets if she pops at a price. Having said that, Armor is the heavier lean.

RACE #7: It stinks that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies only drew six horses. Having said that, it’s headed by the flashy #6 ECHO ZULU, who’s 3-for-3 and has never been truly tested.

On one hand, I’m not crazy about betting a horse, as the favorite, doing something it’s never done before (hi, Harvey Pack!). On the other, she’s bred up and down to get better as the distances get longer. She’s by Gun Runner, out of a Menifee mare, and sure looks like the controlling speed. This race won’t get much of my money, as I think the favorite is legitimate and the field size is too short for vertical exotics to pay much.

RACE #8: I’ve got a play here in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. I don’t think there’s much in the way of early speed signed on, and I think a filly stretching out in distance for a top-class barn will sit an ideal trip.

#5 BUBBLE ROCK broke her maiden like a very good horse two starts ago at Saratoga. She finished powerfully, which is no shock since she’s bred to go much longer than that 5 1/2-furlong route. She’s since added a win in the Matron, and while that was more workmanlike than I anticipated, I think it’s entirely possible she just bounced off of her big performance prior to that. She’s shown sprinter speed, and she’s bred to go two turns. Her second dam is a multiple stakes-winner going two turns, and her dam is a half to Blue Chipper, who ran third in the Dirt Mile a few years ago.

Maybe Bubble Rock turns out to just be a sprinter, or maybe she peaked too early in the season. However, at her 8-1 morning line price, I’ll absolutely pay to find out. She’ll be a “separator single” for me on at least a few of my tickets, and while I respect the likes of #11 HAUGHTY and #13 MISE EN SCENE, Bubble Rock would be a day-maker if she runs like I think she can.

RACE #9: I was looking forward to this race a lot more before the scratch of #1 JACK CHRISTOPHER. I didn’t like him, I thought he was a beatable favorite, and I thought his presence would help set things up for a closer.

Now that he’s out, I don’t know what to think. Bob Baffert has three runners in here, including #12 CORNICHE, who will likely assume the favorite’s role. I actually think #9 PINEHURST has some appeal given his two-turn pedigree and a recent stretch of excellent workouts, but he hasn’t yet shown that he can rate.

I’ll use both of those as well as a pair of runners from the Todd Pletcher barn. #10 COMMANDPERFORMANCE sure seems like a wise guy horse, given how many people on horse racing Twitter seem to love him, but there’s no doubt he made up a lot of ground in the Champagne. I’m also intrigued by #5 DOUBLE THUNDER, who’s bred to run all day and has been taking steps forward with each start. These two would benefit from a pace meltdown, as well as a scenario where the Baffert runners just aren’t that special.

RACE #10: In my opinion, they saved the most puzzling Breeders’ Cup race for last. The Juvenile Turf features several well-meant runners from Europe, and those would be my two “A horses,” but there are two Americans that intrigue me a bit, too.

Charles Appleby has a very powerful hand here. He trains #1 MODERN GAMES and #2 ALBAHR, and they’ve combined to win seven of 10 races with just one off-the-board finish (Modern Games was fifth in his debut). Neither would surprise me, though I’d probably give the slight edge to Modern Games, whose Group 3 win at Newmarket last time out was excellent.

Of the Americans, I prefer #4 TIZ THE BOMB, who has won three straight and has shown some versatility in his two recent stakes wins. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was fairly close to a soft pace, which might be set by the other horse I have my eye on, #10 PORTFOLIO COMPANY. I’m not crazy about him having set a very slow pace last time and still getting beat, but I think he’ll be the controlling early speed in here, and the presence of Flavien Prat is encouraging.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/6/21; CLOSING DAY)


BANKROLL: $1,204.60

It’s closing day, and that means it’s time for me to thank a bunch of people. First of all, thanks to everyone at The Saratogian for once again allowing me to contribute to The Pink Sheet. Special kudos go out to Joe Boyle, one of the hardest-working folks in sports journalism. He’s editing multiple sports sections, and if you think that sounds easy, try it sometime.

In addition, the New York Racing Association deserves credit for putting forth another spectacular Saratoga meet. I’m hard on them when it’s merited, but Saratoga is Saratoga for a reason, and the work that gets put into each summer meet isn’t unnoticed. On a similar note, the “Saratoga Live” crew deserves a ton of credit. The on-air and production teams put together a product that’s second to none and brings the Spa into living rooms as effectively as possible.

Finally, of course, I’d like to thank you, the reader. Whether you’ve read my stuff in print or on my website every day, know that I appreciate your time and attention and that your support is as big a factor as any in why I continue to do this. It’s been a really fun summer to this point, and I’m hoping we’ve still got some tickets left to cash!

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: My ninth-race exacta box fizzled, and while I hit the double ending there, it wasn’t enough to offset the total investment. I dropped $13.20.

MONDAY’S PLAY: There’s one I really like in the sixth, and that’s where I’ll focus my action (which is sizable since I can play a significant sum and be guaranteed a profit on the meet). #6 OCEAN AIR drops into the claiming ranks after running well against starter allowance foes several times, and 3-1 hits me as an overlay. I’ll start with a $50 win bet on her, and I’ll add $10 exactas with her on top of #3 ENTWINE, #7 PRINCESS PINKY, and #11 PERHAPS TONIGHT and $5 exactas with those runners atop Ocean Air.



Best Bet: Ocean Air, Race 6
Longshot: Ghost Giant, Race 11


Equal Pay
Someday Maybe
I’m Perfect Too

#1 EQUAL PAY: Gets one more shot after a strange beginning to her career. She unseated Irad Ortiz, Jr., in her debut, then abruptly dropped anchor in the mud last time out. She’s still flashed talent in the mornings, though, and if she’s right, I think she’ll have a chance to put it all together; #7 SOMEDAY MAYBE: Debuts for Bill Mott, who’s finishing the meet with a flourish, and she’s been working well downstate. The outside draw should help her, and the way she’s been working, I don’t think the seven-furlong distance will be an issue; #4 I’M PERFECT TOO: Came flying late to be beaten just a half-length in her debut earlier this summer. This barn’s first-time starters aren’t usually fully-cranked, so her rally was noteworthy, but this seems like a stronger group that may require a step forward.


Call Sign Charlie

#4 BELARUS: Debuts for Horacio DePaz, who has done well with first-time starters and found the winner’s circle several times this meet with a small string. This daughter of Sky Mesa has been working well, and the presence of John Velazquez doesn’t hurt, either; #6 CARAGATE: Ran third in her debut going six furlongs despite a pedigree that says she’ll want to go way longer. I’m a bit surprised she runs back going short, but the most recent four-furlong drill indicates she’s moved forward since her unveiling; #7 CALL SIGN CHARLIE: Is set to make her first start for trainer Jorge Abreu, whose first-out numbers are as strong as those of any barn on the circuit. She sold for just $20,000 as a weanling, but she’s worked well and may be ready to run at first asking.


En Wye Cee
Tell Your Daddy

#2 EN WYE CEE: Didn’t have a great trip in his return off a long layoff, when he salvaged third despite racing in tight quarters late. He’s shown plenty of versatility, should improve second off the bench, and attracts leading rider Luis Saez in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch; #3 L’IMPERATOR: Won the race my top pick exits and certainly has a shot in here. He also returned from a very long layoff that day and didn’t have a perfect journey, but he did have room to roll late while my top pick was stymied; #1 TELL YOUR DADDY: Hasn’t won in a long, long time, but he sure looks like the main speed and draws the rail for Tom Morley and Johnny V. He ran a good second in the Lure last time out behind Flavius, and he should have every chance to lead them a long way.


My Roxy Girl
No Deal

#6 FRILLS: Is a tepid top pick in an event that looks extremely wide-open. She did everything but win last time out, when she set scorching fractions for the level and was beaten just a half-length. I think she’s the speed of the speed here, and Linda Rice does excellent work with horses first off the claim; #2 MY ROXY GIRL: Comes back into the claiming ranks after two starts against state-bred optional foes, and the last time she ran at this level, she won. I don’t love that she’s 1-for-10 at Saratoga, but she’s shown an ability to run well from just off the pace, which may help her; #3 NO DEAL: Was freshened up after being claimed by Wayne Potts in January and enters this one without a claiming tag, as the barn utilizes a rule that allows for one free shot first off the bench. I love that move, as I think it’s a sign they don’t want to lose the horse, and she’s got races from 2020 that show she can be competitive here.


American Law
Realm of Law

#8 AMERICAN LAW: Was strangely taken back in his turf debut, where he still ran second despite rating a bit off of a slow early pace. I think he’ll be a bit sharper in this event, and if Luis Saez boots him to the front out of the gate, I don’t think he’ll have much company; #4 ABAAN: Was a close-up second in his turf debut against maiden claiming company, and I think it’s telling he’s coming back in a race where he can’t get claimed. If there’s hesitation here, it’s because Saez saw fit to hop off, but we do get the Pletcher/Velazquez tag team; #6 REALM OF LAW: Has burned a lot of money in his four-start career, having failed as the chalk in all four opportunities. He may have been compromised by the race shape last time, but he’ll face a similar one today, and at his likely price, I cannot endorse him on top.


Ocean Air
Hollywood Gina (MTO)

#6 OCEAN AIR: Drops into the claiming ranks after collecting three checks in as many starts against starter allowance fields that seemed far, far tougher. She won her lone claiming race to date, and I think she’ll find these shallower waters to her liking; #3 ENTWINE: Merits a long look at a big price going back to the turf. Her races on grass haven’t been bad, and her last two outings have come in races that were moved to main tracks she clearly didn’t prefer. A return to her early-2021 form gives her a shot; #8 LINNY KATE: Drops in for Chad Brown and will likely take plenty of money because of that. However, she’s spent a lot of time down at Monmouth and hasn’t won since February of 2020. It’s entirely possible she capitalizes on the drop in class, but this is another instance where I simply cannot back the morning-line favorite at the likely price.


Don’t Wait Up
Torpedo Run

#4 DON’T WAIT UP: Got beaten by a dirty nose in his debut last month, and he runs for a trainer whose horses tend to improve with experience. His lone work since that effort was sharp, and any sort of improvement from his first-out form would make him a handful; #6 DRAKON: Hammered for $200,000 in April and sports several flashy gate drills ahead of his unveiling. His dam is a half to a multiple stakes winner, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Brad Cox has him ready to run on debut; #9 TORPEDO RUN: Sold for $450,000 earlier this season, and offspring of young sire Gun Runner have done very well to this point. John Kimmel is no first-out juggernaut, but the improving work pattern is encouraging and 12-1 hits me as a considerable overlay.


Silvery Rill
Consumer Spending
Dancin Dee

#7 SILVERY RILL: Exits a maiden race that hit me as extremely live, and she was beaten just a head that day. She was set to come back in the P.G. Johnson, but that race was rained off the turf, and this spot, while no cakewalk, seems considerably softer; #2 CONSUMER SPENDING: Ran second behind talented stablemate McKulick in her debut, and she rallied from last to complete the exacta in that spot. She merits plenty of respect, and it wouldn’t be surprising if she’s set to take a step forward for Brown; #3 DANCIN DEE: Was one-paced in her debut, where she ran fourth in the same race my top pick exits. As I’ve mentioned, I think that was a very tough spot, and if I love the runner-up, surely I need to respect another horse that wasn’t beaten by much that day.


Honey Money
Awesome Debate
Betsy Blue

#8 HONEY MONEY: Has run one bad race since being claimed by Wayne Potts, and that came over a muddy track she clearly didn’t care for. She was a good second last time out despite a stumble at the start, and a cleaner journey would give her a big chance in a wide-open event; #6 AWESOME DEBATE: Drew off to win the Union Avenue by more than four lengths earlier this summer. Perhaps she’s a bit better over wet racetracks, but at 6-for-13 over fast surfaces, it’s not like she’s a slouch in those circumstances, either; #7 BETSY BLUE: Has hit the board in all eight of her career outings, including three earlier this meet. She’s shown an ability to sit off the pace and pounce turning for home, and she may have a say in the outcome if she gets that desired trip.


High Oak

#8 HIGH OAK: Won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special over a pretty nice field and earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. He’s shown he doesn’t need the lead in order to run well, and it’s uncommon for a 2-year-old to show that kind of maturity at such an early stage; #6 WIT: Stormed away to win the Grade 3 Sanford in the opening days of the meet and is certainly a deserving favorite. He’s worked well since that effort and has every right to run his record to 3-for-3, but I was just more impressed by the opponents my top pick beat last time out; #2 DEFEND: Zipped home clear by eight lengths at Delaware Park in his unveiling and gets the riding services of leading jockey Luis Saez here. This is a huge class test, to be sure, but he’s fired nothing but bullets this month and has every right to be a very talented horse.


Air Show (MTO)
Ghost Giant

#4 GHOST GIANT: Has been very popular at the claim box this season and will start for his fourth different trainer in 2021 here. He was third last time out at Belmont over yielding going, but I loved his two-back effort and I think he’ll have a big chance at a square price if he can recapture that form; #12 KLICKITAT: Has recorded two of his three career wins over this turf course and may be well-meant enough to overcome a far outside draw. He’s got plenty of early speed, and he may be able to clear many of his rivals going into the first turn; #6 COLD HARD CASH: Has found a new home on the turf of late and was a close-up third beaten just a neck last time out. Two back, though, this Linda Rice trainee got into the winner’s circle, and this barn has sent out a bunch of live runners this season.


New York Supreme
Norman Queen

#6 NEW YORK SUPREME: Has been competitive twice at this level this summer and looms a major threat in the final race of the meet. She was third behind a next-out winner two back before compromising her chances with a very wide run last time out. Smoother sailing could be all she needs to break her maiden; #5 NORMAN QUEEN: Debuts for Wesley Ward in a turf sprint, which automatically prompts many handicappers to take a second look. Her last two workouts appear very fast, and while this pedigree doesn’t exactly scream turf, she may simply be faster than a less-than-inspiring group; #10 ORMA: Was third last time out in the race my top pick exits, and she’s another that didn’t have a clean journey that day. Saez sees fit to ride back, and he’s certainly talented enough to find ways to save some ground from the outside post.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/5/21)


BANKROLL: $1,217.80

As one boutique meet winds down, another ramps up. Saratoga’s Sunday card is the penultimate one of the summer, and it comes on the same day that Kentucky Downs welcomes folks in for its opening day. If you want world-class turf racing for big purses, with big fields, that’s where you’ll want to look, and you only need to be right once or twice in order to come away with a big score.

This week’s episode of “Champagne and J.D.” featured handicapper Kaitlin Free, and the three of us looked at the late Pick Four sequence. We offered a trio of tickets with wide-ranging opinions, and if you’re handicapping the card, you won’t want to miss it. Check it out on YouTube, and make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss any of our weekly updates!

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: I had a mispunch, as the listed total wagered accounted for a $1 Grand Slam ticket, not $2. My actual investment was $56, not $38, but that benefited me, as I hit $16 worth of wagers when War Like Goddess won the Flower Bowl. Thanks to that, I cashed out for $94.40.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the ninth race, which I think will set up for a closer. I’ll box #2 BASELINE DRIVE, #8 THEODORA GRACE, and #10 CLADDAGH’S RUN in $3 exactas, and I’ll also use them to close out $3 doubles that start with #2 MALIBU KENDALL and #3 JESTER CALLS NOJOY in the eighth.

TOTAL WAGERED: $36 (and this time, I’ve made sure it’s accurate!).


Best Bet: Classy Edition, Race 7
Longshot: Scotty Brown, Race 12


Hope Over Fear
Sweet Lady Ivanka

#7 HOPE OVER FEAR: Debuted going two turns on turf before fading to fourth behind several well-meant debutantes. She’s turned in several strong works of late, including a four-furlong bullet on August 30th, and I think she’s sitting on an improved effort at second asking; #4 SWEET LADY IVANKA: Debuts for Chad Brown and is bred to be any kind. She’s by Candy Ride and out of a mare named Lady Serena, who is a half-sister to champion and sire Honor Code and two other stakes winners; #8 ALSANAH: Debuts for Todd Pletcher and has a distinguished female family. Her second dam is multiple Grade 1 winner Spun Sugar, and everything about her says the seven-furlong distance in Saturday’s opener won’t be a problem.


Hollywood Gina (MTO)
Madam Maclean
Little Dutch Girl

#5 MADAM MACLEAN: May have needed her last-out effort after a bit of a break, but she was beaten less than three lengths by Time Limit and Risky Mischief, who are both talented turf sprinters. She drops in class second off the bench and attracts top turf pilot Jose Lezcano; #6 LITTLE DUTCH GIRL: Has stepped forward in speed figures in each of her three starts to date, including a good third last time out at this level and route. There’s certainly plenty of early zip in this group, and further improvement would certainly make her a major player; #11 SASSY MELISSA: Came flying late to be beaten just a neck last time out and certainly has the talent to run well here. The outside post is a bit of a problem, and this is a decent field for the level, but at a minimum, she’ll be going the right way late.


Coalition Building
Never Content

#7 COALITION BUILDING: Has taken a lot of money this season and is 0-for-5 despite being favored in all five outings. However, this is a significant class drop, and her lone poor effort this year came when she clearly didn’t take to the dirt in an off-the-turf event back in July; #8 CHECKSANDBALANCES: Hasn’t run in nearly a year but showed enough last season to make me think she’s got a shot at a price. She’s been working consistently for Linda Rice, and she was third in a pair of maiden claiming events for this price last summer; #4 NEVER CONTENT: Gets a mulligan for the last-out clunker, as she was left in when the race was moved off the turf. She ran several decent turf races over the winter and spring and may have enough speed to establish positioning going into the first turn.


Spin a Yarn
Lady Traveler
Jades Gelly

#1 SPIN A YARN: Has won seven of nine career starts and gets Lasix for the first time here. For a rich allowance race, there isn’t a ton of other early speed signed on. I think she’ll break on top and get comfortable, and such a trip would make this Finger Lakes invader tough to catch; #5 LADY TRAVELER: Hasn’t won in a while but has run in several big spots. She hit the board in a pair of graded stakes races earlier this year, and while the layoff is a bit of a concern, she’s been working very quickly ahead of her return to the races; #2 JADES GELLY: Romped in an off-the-turf race last time out and earned a career-best 82 Beyer Speed Figure. This is a much tougher spot that represents a significant class test, but she’s in good form for a barn that does strong work with last-out winners, and she’ll likely be a decent price.


Klaravich entry

#5 IMWAYTOOCOOLFORYOU: Finally gets to run on the turf after competing in a pair of off-the-turf races on the mid-Atlantic circuit. This is also her first start for a claiming tag, and she seems like the speed of the speed in this event; KLARAVICH ENTRY: #1 MILESTONE PAYMENT and #1A PARTY LINE VOTE will take plenty of money, and it’s not like they’re impossible. However, the former ships up from Monmouth (which is a red flag for lower-level Chad Brown runners) and the latter has been working very slowly ahead of her debut. At their likely price, I need to try to beat them; #4 THEGODDESSOFSNAKES: May have needed her last-out effort off of an 11-month layoff and tries turf for the first time. Sire Street Boss is a strong turf influence, and at least she showed a little early zip in her return effort.


Clever Fellow
Risk Manager

#9 CLEVER FELLOW: Broke through when dropped in for a tag last time out and tries winners for the first time, but does so against a group that lacks any monsters for the level. Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides back for Chad Brown, and it’s entirely possible the lightbulb has gone off now that he’s gotten the money once; #10 RISK MANAGER: Found starter allowance company a bit too tough last time out and drops back into the claiming ranks in his second start off a brief freshening. He was second for a slightly higher tag last time out, and the faster they go early, the better this closer’s chances figure to be; #5 ACTUARY: Drops in for a tag after two underwhelming starts against allowance foes. However, the winner of his last race is a legitimate stakes prospect, and perhaps he’ll benefit from the cutback in distance.


Classy Edition
Summer Snow

#2 CLASSY EDITION: Hammered for $550,000 at auction earlier this year and has been working very well for Todd Pletcher ahead of her unveiling. She’s a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Newly Minted and stakes-placed New Girl in Town, and she’s got every right to be a runner; #11 BELARUS: Needs some luck to draw in off the AE list but may be a factor if she does. She’s got several flashy works on the tab for a trainer that does well with debuting runners, and her dam was a stakes-winning sprinter that has thrown two multiple winners from as many foals to race; #6 SUMMER SNOW: Debuts for Mark Hennig, whose horses tend to need a race or two to get going. However, she’s shown potential with several sharp gate drills, and her dam is kin to multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter Merry Meadow.


Malibu Kendall
Jester Calls Nojoy

#2 MALIBU KENDALL: Fetched $335,000 at auction last year, and for good reason. She’s by Curlin, out of an Awesome Again mare, and she flashed serious speed at Keeneland earlier this year. Her works here have been a bit slower, but Steve Asmussen doesn’t always ask his workers for much, and if she runs to her earlier works, look out; #3 JESTER CALLS NOJOY: Ran a good second in her debut a few weeks ago and must be respected at second asking. Leading rider Luis Saez sees fit to ride for Pletcher, and she’ll likely be an unsurprising favorite in this spot; #4 TEXIAN: Didn’t do much running first time out, but Shug McGaughey’s first-time starters are rarely fully-cranked. She’s bred to get better as she gets older, and she comes in off of a strong gate drill downstate at Belmont.


Trumpet Lilly (MTO)
Baseline Drive
Theodora Grace

#2 BASELINE DRIVE: Makes her first start for Mark Hennig after running well at Gulfstream Park in the first half of the year. Hennig does great work with new acquisitions, and this one has shown plenty of talent and versatility to this point in her career; #8 THEODORA GRACE: Is worth a look at a big price despite a last-out clunker. She ran very well two starts ago to break her maiden at Belmont, and perhaps the last-out effort was a bounce second off of a very long layoff. A repeat of her two-back effort would give her a shot; #10 CLADDAGH’S RUN: Might have needed her last-out effort off of a three-month break, and she was still a decent fifth that afternoon. The likely race shape favors closers, and she got very good earlier this year at Tampa Bay Downs, where she won three of four races during the winter/spring meet.


Danny California
First Constitution

#3 DANNY CALIFORNIA: Was wheeled back on very short rest in the Evan Shipman and salvaged third behind a loose-on-the-lead winner. He’s gotten a bit more of a breather prior to this event, and there’s no denying he loves going two turns over the Saratoga main track; #8 FIRST CONSTITUTION: Makes his American debut after a strong 2020 campaign in his native Chile, where he won one Group 1 race and ran third in another. His work tab hints at some serious talent, and he could move forward getting Lasix for the first time; #9 SUPERFECTO: Set a legitimate pace in his local debut last time out before being reeled in by my top selection. He earned a career-high 95 Beyer Speed Figure that day, and he and Luis Saez will almost certainly be on the lead again here. If Saez can ration his considerable early zip, he could be tough to catch.


Echo Zulu
Girl With a Dream
Dream Lith

#3 ECHO ZULU: Dazzled in her debut, when she romped by more than five lengths and earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. She’s bred to only get better as the races get longer, and anything close to her lone prior effort would make her tough to beat in the Grade 1 Spinaway; #2 GIRL WITH A DREAM: Came home very quickly to win a five-furlong dash at Ellis Park in late-July. Florent Geroux sees fit to come to New York and ride for Brad Cox, and that’s not a small statement. She’s shown a lot of speed and may be the one they have to catch; #7 DREAM LITH: Lit up the tote board at 36-1 when she won at first asking earlier this summer. That race hasn’t come back super strong, but she’s worked forwardly since her unveiling and is another that shouldn’t have a problem with the seven-furlong distance.


Scotty Brown
Veterans Beach
King Angelo

#5 SCOTTY BROWN: Goes to the Wesley Ward barn and is a tepid top pick in a wide-open Sunday finale. He ran well in a trio of turf sprints at Gulfstream during that track’s championship meet, and the cutback to a 5 1/2-furlong trip should suit him; #1 VETERANS BEACH: Is probably the one to beat based on speed figures, but he’s been at this level for more than three years after breaking his maiden in August of 2018. He was a good second last time out, but he’s been “a good second” a lot and is very difficult to trust on top; #6 KING ANGELO: Broke his maiden in wire-to-wire fashion last time out and tries winners for the first time here. He did get a perfect trip in that score, but there isn’t an abundance of early speed signed on here, and if he gets a dream trip again, he could easily capitalize with another victory.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/4/21)


BANKROLL: $1,179.40

Wedding #2 of my “four weddings in six weeks” stretch takes place Saturday afternoon in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California. It’s extremely remote and not close to anything in particular, but I’m delighted to have the chance to take a five-hour road trip there with my better half and celebrate two fantastic people (congrats, Mike and Monika!).

If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “self, how is Andrew going to have the time and focus to handicap Sunday and Monday?,” know that this is a very, very valid question. I anticipate being yelled at for either going to sleep late or waking up very early, with my defense being, “I’m sorry, honey, but I need to look at the Hopeful!”

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: The best day I’ve ever had in the pick box (eight winners) was accompanied by a nice score here. My ticket scratched down to $30, and it hit for a robust $385.50.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll lean on two strong opinions. The more insane one is that #1 FAITH RUNNER has a big chance at a gigantic price in the sixth, so I’ll have a $10 win/place bet on that longshot. Additionally, and in far more conventional thinking, #3 WAR LIKE GODDESS should not lose the Flower Bowl. She’s a single to end $2 Grand Slam tickets that start in the eighth and look like this: 1,4 with 1,6,10 with 1,3,6 with 3.



Best Bet: War Like Goddess, Race 11
Longshot: Faith Runner, Race 6


Stonecoldwarrior (MTO)
War Smoke
Citizen K

#5 WAR SMOKE: Did everything but win in his debut, when he rallied from 10th of 11 and was beaten just a neck. If his most recent drill is any indication, he’s bounced out of that unveiling well, and he looms large as a logical favorite in the Saturday opener; #3 CITIZEN K: Has not run since October, but he tries turf for the first time and is bred to love it. He’s by Mizzen Mast, out of a Proud Citizen mare, and gets first-time Lasix for a barn that’s connected at a 20% clip this summer; #7 GIRAMONTE: Has had plenty of chances and has run second or third in all five of his career turf outings. He was most recently second against similar company, and his usual effort would likely get him a piece of the purse here.


Supreme Aura
Roaming Union
Universal Payday

#2 SUPREME AURA: Was claimed for $40,000 after a last-out score at Belmont and drops in for half that price here. This barn’s horses have been running well, with 17 top-three finishes in 40 starts, but only two of those are wins, and I’m guessing this is a “get us to the winner’s circle” drop; #4 ROAMING UNION: Cruised to a victory over a lower-level group last time out, and his record looks considerably better if you toss his Belmont races. He’ll likely be on or near the lead early, and Joel Rosario sees fit to ride back; #7 UNIVERSAL PAYDAY: Hasn’t won in a while but did show improvement when stretched back out to two turns last time out. He has a win at this route and has every right to take another step forward in his third start off of a long layoff.


Cody’s Wish
North Carolina

#6 CODY’S WISH: Lost all chance at the start last time out, and it’s pretty remarkable that he salvaged third in that outing. He was a very heavy favorite that day off of a solid debut downstate, and I’m willing to give him another shot; #1 NORTH CAROLINA: Has been working very, very quickly ahead of his first start since June of last year. That’s atypical of Barclay Tagg trainees, as he’s a very patient horseman. If he runs to his works, I think he’s got a chance to spring a mild upset; #7 PIPELINE: Fell by a head in the same race my top pick exits, and that day’s winner came back to win a first-level allowance several days ago. That was a pretty significant step forward for him, though, and I’m curious as to why he’s being cut back to one turn for this event.


Risky Mischief
Lilly Simone

#7 RISKY MISCHIEF: Came up just short in her 2021 debut last month, which was her first outing since late-November. She’s run several strong races at this route, and the faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be; #1 LILLY SIMONE: Came up a head short in a starter allowance race earlier this summer, and that day’s winner came back to win over allowance foes earlier this week. The rail draw is less than ideal, but a repeat of her last-out effort would give her a chance at a nice price; #4 FETCHING: Hasn’t won in quite a while but is extremely consistent and was second behind a next-out winner back in July. Karl Broberg saw fit to claim her out of that race, and her usual effort would put her right there.


Souper Sensational
Li’l Tootsie

#6 SOUPER SENSATIONAL: Was impressive in winning the Grade 3 Victory Ride two starts ago and ran into a buzzsaw when second to Bella Sofia in the Grade 1 Test. She draws a cushy outside post and will likely get plenty of pace to chase in the Grade 2 Prioress, which would make her tough to go against; #1 OXANA: Has shown serious talent in a pair of runaway victories at Parx and gets a significant class test here. She fits on speed figures and attracts Irad Ortiz, Jr., who almost certainly had several options in this spot; #3 LI’L TOOTSIE: Took a pair of shots in the last two starts and likely gets back to what she wants to do here. Her dirt sprint form looks very solid, and trainer Tom Amoss isn’t one to take crazy shots in big races. I think she’ll have every chance to outrun her odds and hit the board at a big number.


Immokalee (MTO)
Faith Runner

#1 FAITH RUNNER: Is a gigantic price on the morning line, but I think there’s a lot to like. He’s bred to be any kind, sold for $300,000 at auction last year, and stretches out to two turns after a bullet five-furlong drill. His likely price hits me as a gigantic overlay; #6 ANNAPOLIS: Debuts for Todd Pletcher and is one of the best-bred 2-year-olds we’ve seen all summer. He’s by all-world sire War Front, out of Grade 2 winner My Miss Sophia, and has been working steadily going long ahead of his unveiling; #9 OHTWOOHTHREEFIVE: Led briefly last time out before fading to third behind a well-meant Shug McGaughey trainee and may find this spot a bit softer. The outside post isn’t ideal, but he did show some tactical speed last time out and that could allow him to get the jump on this group.


Brigadier General
Classic Causeway
Ten Gauge

#10 BRIGADIER GENERAL: Tired after setting a contested early pace last time out and may have bounced off of a strong second in his debut. He’s since posted a pair of very impressive workouts, and I’m expecting an improved effort at a better price than the one we got last month; #2 CLASSIC CAUSEWAY: Debuts for Brian Lynch and boasts a curious workout pattern. It’s not often you see an unraced 2-year-old with back-to-back six-furlong drills, but this one has them, and that should at least mean he’ll be fit; #3 TEN GAUGE: Dueled in the mud at Monmouth and was beaten just a length in his debut. Offspring of Gun Runner have proven to be runners, and the presence of broodmare sire Empire Maker hints that he’ll only get better as the distances get longer.


Risk Taking (MTO)
Public Sector
Never Surprised

#1 PUBLIC SECTOR: Has two wins and two seconds in four starts this season and captured the Grade 2 Hall of Fame last time out. His record looks far better if you draw a line through his puzzling clunker in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and he looks like the class of the field in the Grade 3 Saranac; #4 NEVER SURPRISED: Hasn’t run since January, when he was a beaten 1/5 favorite in the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream Park. He showed plenty of talent as a 2-year-old, when he won a stakes race at Aqueduct, and it’s entirely possible he’s matured in his time away; #5 FOUNDER: Rallied to win an ungraded stakes race on the lawn at Monmouth last time out and may have benefited from a very fast pace. He was a very impressive first-out winner here last summer, and he may be figuring things out in the back half of his 3-year-old campaign.


Just Ok Is Not Ok
English Breeze
Friedman entry

#6 JUST OK IS NOT OK: Had a terrible trip last time out in her first start against winners, and I have no problem tossing that effort. Her win two starts ago was solid, and we may get an inflated price given a last-out clunker that probably isn’t reflective of this filly’s ability; #10 ENGLISH BREEZE: Won first time out two summers ago and has been searching for her second score ever since. She exits a very competitive race for the level at Belmont, and that day’s winner and second-place finisher have since come back to win; #1A CARA’S DREAMER: Just missed at this level two starts ago, when she was beaten a dirty nose at 17-1. She’s a closer that will need a lively pace in front of her, and she’ll certainly be going the right direction late when the real running starts.



#6 OLYMPIAD: Was very highly-regarded as a 2-year-old last season and broke his maiden near the end of the meet when he topped eventual stakes winners Caddo River and Greatest Honour. He hasn’t run since, but he’s trained forwardly for Bill Mott and gets Lasix for the first time ahead of his return; #3 DUCALE: Earned a lofty 97 Beyer Speed Figure when topping maidens early in the stand and tries winners for the first time. He’ll likely be a short price and could be good enough with further progression, but this is far from an easy first-level allowance race, and I’d prefer more value than we’re likely to get; #1 TUGGLE: Came back running when second in his first start since April of 2020 downstate. Toss the two turf outings back in 2019, and you have a colt that’s never been worse than third in five dirt starts and one that hit the board in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special as a 2-year-old.


War Like Goddess
My Sister Nat
Great Island

#3 WAR LIKE GODDESS: Has turned into one of the country’s top turf horses and looms very large in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl. She was extremely impressive in taking the Grade 2 Glens Falls for her third straight graded stakes score, and she’s tough to go against here; #4 MY SISTER NAT: Is one of two upset hopefuls trained by Chad Brown, and she’s an ultra-consistent mare with 14 in-the-money finishes in 18 lifetime starts. She was second behind my top pick in the Glens Falls, and she won the Grade 3 Waya over this turf course a season ago; #6 GREAT ISLAND: Is the second Brown runner and comes in after taking the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth Park. She tries a marathon distance for the first time, but her pedigree says that shouldn’t be a problem.


Forza Di Oro
Happy Saver
Night Ops

#1 FORZA DI ORO: Came back running off of a long layoff with an easy win over optional claiming foes and gets a major acid test in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. However, he’s shown he has immense talent and may be in a position where he’s put it all together as a 4-year-old; #4 HAPPY SAVER: Won this race a season ago and will look to rebound from his first career defeat in the Grade 2 Suburban downstate. The sloppy track may have been a factor that day, and at a minimum, we know that the 10-furlong distance will not be a problem; #5 NIGHT OPS: Has come frustratingly close on a number of occasions this season and was most recently second in the Alydar. That day’s winner, Art Collector, won the rich Charles Town Classic in his next start, and perhaps the stretch-out to a mile and a quarter will be what he needs to break through.