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

BANKROLL

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.

TOTAL WAGERED: $95

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

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

R1

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.

R2

Belarus
Caragate
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.

R3

En Wye Cee
L’Imperator
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.

R4

Frills
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.

R5

American Law
Abaan
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.

R6

Ocean Air
Hollywood Gina (MTO)
Entwine

#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.

R7

Don’t Wait Up
Drakon
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.

R8

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.

R9

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.

R10

High Oak
Wit
Defend

#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.

R11

Air Show (MTO)
Ghost Giant
Klickitat

#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.

R12

New York Supreme
Norman Queen
Orma

#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

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!).

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

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

R1

Hope Over Fear
Sweet Lady Ivanka
Alsanah

#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.

R2

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.

R3

Coalition Building
Checksandbalances
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.

R4

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.

R5

Imwaytoocoolforyou
Klaravich entry
Thegoddessofsnakes

#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.

R6

Clever Fellow
Risk Manager
Actuary

#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.

R7

Classy Edition
Belarus
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.

R8

Malibu Kendall
Jester Calls Nojoy
Texian

#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.

R9

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.

R10

Danny California
First Constitution
Superfecto

#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.

R11

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.

R12

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

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.

TOTAL WAGERED: $38.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

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

R1

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.

R2

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.

R3

Cody’s Wish
North Carolina
Pipeline

#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.

R4

Risky Mischief
Lilly Simone
Fetching

#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.

R5

Souper Sensational
Oxana
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.

R6

Immokalee (MTO)
Faith Runner
Annapolis

#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.

R7

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.

R8

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.

R9

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.

R10

Olympiad
Ducale
Tuggle

#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.

R11

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.

R12

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.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/2/21)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $823.90

School may not start in New York for another week or so, but the academic year is already in full swing here in California. Students went back to classrooms in mid-August, and I’ll use this space to send a very simple, very important message: Be nice to teachers.

Everybody’s been struggling during the pandemic, and when it comes to a topic as complex as education, there are no easy answers to questions every family faces. With that in mind, though, teachers have been calling audibles and pivoting how they do very difficult jobs for a year and a half now, and they’re not immune to the stresses and fatigue that exist in everyone’s mind, in one way or another.

I’m admittedly biased. My girlfriend’s an elementary school teacher, and I hear stories about what she’s dealing with now that kids are back in the classroom (for now, at least). This isn’t easy on anyone, and it costs nothing to be kind, especially to those who are underpaid and largely under-appreciated.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Everything was cancelled when Mubarmaj, who would’ve been a very heavy favorite in the second race, scratched out of that event.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’m looking forward to seeing #5 SILVERY RILL run back in the ninth, the P.G. Johnson. I’m a believer in the maiden race she exits, and I’ll single her to finish off the Grand Slam, which starts in the sixth. My $2 ticket reads as follows: 1,6,10 with 6,7,9 with 4,10 with 5. I’ll also have a $14 win ticket on her as well.

TOTAL WAGERED: $50.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Java Buzz, Race 2
Longshot: Hot Doctor, Race 10

R1

Yes I’m Evil
Blue Atlas
Coworth Park

#6 BLUE ATLAS: Almost certainly needed her return to the races, which came off of a layoff of nearly a year. Her last race at this level came in July of 2020, and she was clearly best that day. Improvement second off the bench is logical, and Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride back in the Thursday lid-lifter; #4 COWORTH PARK: Takes a suspicious drop in for a tag after racing against stakes foes at Gulfstream Park two and three starts ago. She spent a lot of time at Monmouth Park after her last-out effort, which is sometimes a red flag, and she’s a 3-year-old going up against a decent group of older horses for the level; #8 MOPOLKA: Drops back to the claiming ranks after running two competitive races against state-bred allowance foes at this stand. She won both of her last two starts against claimers, and she figures to be prominent from a very early stage.

R2

Java Buzz
Liza’s Ready
Slipstream

#1 JAVA BUZZ: Didn’t break well in his unveiling at this route, but he still managed to run a very good second that day. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but he likely gained a ton of experience in his debut and would be tough to beat if he takes a logical step forward; #9 LIZA’S READY: Seems like the best-meant of the two Wesley Ward trainees entered to run in this event. This daughter of top turf influence More Than Ready sports a very fast drill on August 13th, and John Velazquez sees fit to ride; #2 SLIPSTREAM: Comes back to the turf after running a distant third in a race rained off the grass back in July. He’s bred to love the lawn, and he’s also got a pedigree that suggests he’ll get better with experience.

R3

Esotica
Red Pepper Grill
East Wing

#2 ESOTICA: Capitalized on a perfect trip last time out to thrash state-bred maiden claimers earlier in the meet. On paper, this seems like a big class jump, but there isn’t a ton of speed in this event, she’s worked well downstate, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back for Mike Maker; #4 RED PEPPER GRILL: Cuts back to a sprint distance after a failed two-turn experiment last time out. Her two-back effort saw her run second at this level and route despite a wide trip, and the faster they go early, the better this closer’s chances figure to be; #7 EAST WING: Showed brief speed against higher-priced claimers last time out and returns from a brief freshening in this spot. The outside draw is certainly a plus, and if she can find the form she showed earlier this season at Tampa Bay Downs, she wouldn’t be a big surprise.

R4

Aloha West
Three Technique
American Power

#4 ALOHA WEST: Got his nose down over optional claiming foes last time out, and he’s really never run a bad race to this point in his career. He comes in off of a string of eye-catching workouts, and he’s certainly a legitimate favorite in a fun optional claimer; #5 THREE TECHNIQUE: Was third two starts ago in the Grade 2 John Nerud downstate and exits the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt, where he couldn’t keep pace with some very fast horses. He’s shown an affinity for this seven-furlong distance, and he’s shown enough early speed to where he could be pretty close to the early pace; #2 AMERICAN POWER: Seems like the most logical early speed horse in this compact field and is another with significant back class. He won the Grade 3 Toboggan over the winter at Aqueduct, and that victory came at this seven-furlong distance.

R5

Boldish (MTO)
Mubtadaa
Brown entry

#3 MUBTADAA: Drops in for a tag for the first time and hasn’t done much wrong in four starts against maiden special weight foes. He looks like the main speed in here, and that trip usually makes horses tough to catch in races run on the inner turf course; BROWN ENTRY: Both #1 DEREGULATION and #1A DEFERRED TAXES are dropping in class, and they’ll likely take significant money due in large part to their red-hot trainer. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because both runners are closers and they may not get a closer-friendly race shape; #8 ARUBA: Boasts a 345 turf Tomlinson figure, and that’s no shock given his world-class pedigree. He’s by Kitten’s Joy, out of an Anabaa mare, and finally makes it to the races for his career debut as a 4-year-old.

R6

Illuminato
The Institute
Ava K’s Boy

#10 ILLUMINATO: Hammered for $220,000 and draws a great outside post in his debut for red-hot trainer Brad Cox. His recent gate works jump off the page, leading rider Luis Saez sees fit to ride, and the 9/2 morning line hits me as a pretty significant overlay; #1 THE INSTITUTE: Debuts for a barn that’s quietly hit at a 20% clip this summer and one that’s shown it can have first-time starters ready to run. Sire Into Mischief throws some of the most precocious foals around, and the last two drills indicate he may be ready to run; #6 AVA K’S BOY: Is a heck of a hunch play (I’m the uncle of an Ava K.) and a second-time starter that should improve off of a decent debut. He was third in his unveiling a few weeks ago, and his pedigree suggests he’ll only get better as he gets older.

R7

Gotta Go Mo
Tiple
Time Limit

#7 GOTTA GO MO: Chased Caravel in a pair of stakes races two and three back and suffered a dirty beat last time out, when she was beaten a nose at this level and route a few weeks ago. She’s a consistent turf sprinter with plenty of early speed, and she hits me as the one they’ll have to catch turning for home; #6 TIPLE: Came back running off of a long layoff and was beaten less than two lengths in the same race my top pick exits. That was her first race since September, and with a pretty significant amount of early zip in the starting gate, she could be sitting on significant improvement at a price; #9 TIME LIMIT: Has taken to this route like a duck to water and will go for her third consecutive win in this spot. She stepped forward to top allowance foes last time out, but she may need another career-best effort here against a good group, and the outside post isn’t ideal.

R8

Candy Tycoon
Two Thirty Five
American Tattoo

#4 CANDY TYCOON: Takes a drop into the claiming ranks and has been fancied enough by his barn to run in some pretty tough spots. He was fifth at this route last month behind a stakes-caliber runner in Danny California, and anything close to his best would make him a formidable favorite; #10 TWO THIRTY FIVE: Has found stakes company too tough in both of his last two outings. Most recently, he showed some speed before fading to last in a $100,000 stakes race at Pimlico, but he’s shown an ability to beat runners at this level in the past, and this trainer/jockey combination merits respect; #3 AMERICAN TATTOO: Exits a third-place finish for a slightly higher tag and will likely show the way into the first turn. He chased a runaway winner last time out, but did set a solid pace and may not need to go quite as quickly early on in this spot.

R9

Silvery Rill
Mystic Eyes
Expand the Map

#5 SILVERY RILL: Exits one of my favorite 2-year-old races of the summer, one that’s already produced a next-out winner. She may have moved a bit early that day, but it’s not easy to debut going two turns and her pedigree says she’ll move forward as she gets older and gains seasoning; #9 MYSTIC EYES: Never looked like a loser in a very strong debut, where she routed a field of turf sprinters by nearly five lengths. This is a significant jump in class, and the two-turn route is a question mark, but the Pletcher/Velazquez tag team merits respect and it’s not like her pedigree says she can’t go long; #3 EXPAND THE MAP: Was a beaten odds-on favorite earlier this summer, but she’s worked well since then for Chad Brown and may very well go favored in the P.G. Johnson. She’s another that could improve at second asking, but I prefer the race my top pick exits to the one this filly comes out of.

R10

Stonecoldwarrior (MTO)
Hot Doctor
Babagram

#3 HOT DOCTOR: Goes back to a sprint distance after a failed two-turn experiment against maiden special weight foes. His races going shorter were not bad, and between the return to his preferred distance and the class drop, I’m expecting an improved effort at a bit of a price; #6 BABAGRAM: Looked to have every chance last time out at this level and route when second beaten just a length. He has tactical speed, but doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well, and that should give jockey Manuel Franco plenty of options out of the gate; #7 SANDOR CLEGANE: Likely needed her return to the races off of a very long break, and he gets Lasix for the first time while returning to the lawn. He finished fourth against maiden special weight foes two back at Belmont, and he hits me as the most likely leader as the field rolls along the far turn.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/1/21)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $823.90

My girlfriend and I went out to dinner Sunday after I got back from my whirlwind trip to the first of four weddings in six weeks. Shortly after we sat down for dinner in San Ramon, California, a gentleman walked in wearing a Saratoga t-shirt.

To my abject horror, he had no clue who I was (how DARE he?!?!), but we had an amazing 10-minute conversation about the wonders of the Spa and how amazing it is to go to one of horse racing’s last remaining cathedrals. That my girlfriend, by no means a racing fan but someone who got Saratoga’s appeal about five minutes into her first trip there, could understand what we felt made it even more special.

As we head into the last week of the 2021 meet, I urge you to savor that feeling. What Saratoga inspires isn’t something present at every racetrack in the country, and the passion that gets poured into the product each summer is a big reason why I do what I do every season.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Beau Liam was a cinch, but a strange series of events left Montauk Daddy alone on the front end in the race prior to that. He was a chalk I tried to beat, so when he coasted home, I dropped $40.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll employ the same strategy here as well. #2 MUBARMAJ shouldn’t lose the second. I’ll play $5 doubles starting in the steeplechase opener that use #3 RITZY A.P., #4 PERFECT TAPATINO, and #7 PRAYER HOPE, as well as $5 doubles ending in the third that use #1 STATIC FIRE, #6 SWEET SURPRISE, and #12 STORMY STELLA. I’ll also use all of these horses in a $2 Pick Three.

TOTAL WAGERED: $48.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Mubarmaj, Race 2
Longshot: Vivazano, Race 10

R1

Prayer Hope
Perfect Tapatino
Ritzy A.P.

#7 PRAYER HOPE: Gets a tepid nod in the final jump race of the meet, an event that hits me as very wide-open. He’s run three strong races this season and comes back to the steeplechase ranks after springing a 12-1 upset on the flat at Colonial Downs; #4 PERFECT TAPATINO: Was on or near the lead most of the way last time out and held on for third. His tactical speed could be an advantage here, and he may have every chance to lead them a long way; #3 RITZY A.P.: Was a bit one-paced last time out in his first start over fences against winners, though he was forced to steady a bit early on in that event. He figures to do his best running late, and he’d benefit from an early speed duel that sets things up for his run.

R2

Mubarmaj
Grit and Glory
Schettino entry

#2 MUBARMAJ: Has won two in a row over higher-level claimers and looms very large in this spot. His lone career defeat going two turns came in the Grade 3 Discovery back in 2019, and if he’s right, the race is for second money; #3 GRIT AND GLORY: Won at this route last summer and has been rested after a claim in June at Belmont Park. It’s possible he’ll need a race off the brief freshening, but he has some prior races that would make him a worthy opponent; SCHETTINO ENTRY: I prefer #1A LEGIT, who sheds blinkers in his first start off the claim by this outfit. He’s chased my top pick a few times, but he’s had trouble at the start in each of his last two outings and could get closer with a clean trip.

R3

Static Fire
Stormy Stella
Sweet Surprise

#1 STATIC FIRE: Makes her debut and has been working very, very fast for trainer Brian Lynch. The rail draw isn’t ideal for a debuting runner, but it sure seems like her connections found a fairly soft spot for her unveiling, and she may be ready to run them off their feet; #12 STORMY STELLA: Needs some luck to draw in off the AE list, but debuted in a much tougher spot and adds blinkers at second asking. I think there are several reasons to expect a step forward, and she may be good enough to overcome a wide draw; #6 SWEET SURPRISE: Rallied to be third in her debut earlier this summer and retains the services of Joel Rosario. She may have gained plenty of seasoning that day, and a step forward would put her right there.

R4

Ice Princess (MTO)
Clara Peeters
Sun Summers

#8 CLARA PEETERS: Hasn’t run in more than a year, but she’s working like a mare ready to get back to business. She fired three consecutive bullets over the turf course at the Oklahoma track, and anything close to the form she showed last season would make her tough; #4 SUN SUMMERS: Hasn’t won in a while but was a deceptively-good third here earlier this summer. It says the turf condition was “good,” but there was a significant storm that hit just before that event, and it says something that she was able to make up any ground at all; #3 CHOATE BRIDGE: Was sixth in a pretty loaded stakes race last time out at Indiana Grand, and she may have needed that race after a two-month break. She’s certainly eligible to improve second off the bench, and she’d benefit if the pace is faster than anticipated.

R5

Speed Effect
Lokoya Road
Breaking Stones

#2 SPEED EFFECT: Sure looks like the main pace presence in a race otherwise light on early zip. His last-out effort was his first try since February of 2020, and his lone win to date came going two turns on dirt at Gulfstream, so the stretch-out should agree with him; #5 LOKOYA ROAD: Showed late interest when third against similar-level competition in mid-August. He’s certainly talented enough to win this and is a logical favorite, but the likely race shape might work against him; #3 BREAKING STONES: Probably lost all chance at the break last time out in his first try against winners. This is a significant drop in class from that event, and a repeat of his winning effort two back could get him a piece of this one at a bit of a price.

R6

Freudian Fate
Big Little Risk
A Colt Named Susie

#9 FREUDIAN FATE: Takes a big drop in class to race against state-bred maiden claimers for just the second time in his career. He also comes back to the dirt for this one after a few failed starts on grass, and some of his dirt races look strong compared to those of his opponents; #6 BIG LITTLE RISK: Was third at this level and route earlier in the meet and was prominent in the lane before fading in the final furlong. Luis Saez sees fit to ride back for H. James Bond, and he figures to be prominent early; #8 A COLT NAMED SUSIE: Exits a key maiden special weight race on turf that produced three next-out winners. The drop in for a tag is notable, and while his dirt races aren’t special, he boasts a very strong five-furlong dirt drill earlier this month. He may not have to be much to hit the board in a race where the field is a combined 0-for-83.

R7

Jill’s a Hot Mess
Social Whirl
Bonus Baby

#1 JILL’S A HOT MESS: Has found a home sprinting on turf and topped starter allowance foes in her first start at this route. That was a solid field she beat that day, and she has enough early zip to avoid being shuffled back along the rail in the early stages; #9 SOCIAL WHIRL: Has won both of her starts here this summer and attracts Irad Ortiz, Jr., for her stiffest test to date. This isn’t an easy group, but she’s in form, she’s had plenty of success at this route, and when trainer Tom Morley gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there; #11 BONUS BABY: Makes her first start since February but sports several sharp drills downstate and ran well at this route when second behind the talented Robin Sparkles last summer. The post position isn’t ideal, but she should still be able to drop back and make one run at a price.

R8

Runnin’ Ray
Maker entry
Vindictive

#3 RUNNIN’ RAY: Has won both of his starts this season, including a starter allowance at this route very early in the meet. That day’s runner-up came back to win (albeit in controversial fashion), and this one should have every chance to sit a perfect stalking trip and keep the streak going; MAKER ENTRY: Both #1 MR. TIP and #1A FIRST LINE seem live in this spot. The former exits a very tough allowance race with several legitimate prospects, and the latter boasts several strong efforts earlier this season and exits a failed turf experiment against classier runners; #6 VINDICTIVE: Earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure in his maiden-breaking score and tries winners for the first time. That effort was a significant step forward from a disappointing debut, though, and if this one is so well-meant, why did the Pletcher barn also enter #4 TEXAS SWING? At his likely price, I’ll try to beat him.

R9

Portfolio Company
Limited Liability
Gooch Go Bragh

#4 PORTFOLIO COMPANY: May have moved a bit early in his debut, but was good enough to hold on that day despite being a bit green. Chad Brown has enjoyed great success with first-out turf routers this meet, and I think it’s telling this one is his only runner in the Grade 3 With Anticipation; #1 LIMITED LIABILITY: Came storming home to win his debut going away for trainer Shug McGaughey, who doesn’t always have his first-time starters fully cranked. If there’s hesitation here, it’s that a few runners from that race came back on Travers Day, but none won the maiden special weight they ran in; #3 GOOCH GO BRAGH: Was second behind a promising runner that put forth a head-turning performance (in more ways than one) last time out. That day’s winner would be one of the favorites in this spot, so I can’t hold the defeat against this one too much.

R10

Vivazano
Tingling Mint
Fist Full of Dice

#9 VIVAZANO: Gets one more chance from me in the Wednesday finale after a tough beat last time out in an off-the-turf race. Her lone turf race to date was a pretty strong effort, as she was third against what seems like a better group, and I think she’ll be forwardly-placed in a group without many that want to pass others; #8 TINGLING MINT: Is bred up and down to want to go long on the lawn, and debuts getting that precise route of ground for a trainer that excels with first-time starters on turf. This daughter of Lemon Drop Kid is out of a Footstepsinthesand mare, and she may not have to be all that much to win on debut; #5 FIST FULL OF DICE: Ships in after several strong late runs at Belterra Park and merits a look at a big price. Unlike others in this field that haven’t shown an ability to pass others, this one will do her best running late, and the price figures to be right.