SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/24/19)



Generally speaking, as a handicapper, I strive for three winners per day. Three winners per day, over the course of 40 days, translates to 120 winners, which is usually enough to contend for the meet’s handicapping title. If you’d told me I’d be one off of that pace through eight days, despite a doughnut and a one-win Opening Day, I’d have probably been OK with it.

All of this is a prelude to me saying that I want Liam Durbin’s feed and medical records examined, pronto. This man is putting on a handicapping clinic. What he’s done so far this meet is pretty special, and we’ve all got some going to do in order to reel him in. Thankfully, we’ve got plenty of time, but we might need it.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Sequin ran second in the seventh, which spoiled exactas and doubles that had the horse on top. In total, we dropped $30.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: This is tricky, as it rained pretty hard earlier in the week and we may be off the turf. Assuming we’re staying on the turf, I’ll play an early Pick Four that starts in the third race (remember, the opener is a steeplechase) and singles my best bet of the day in the payoff leg. My 50-cent ticket reads as follows: 2,5,8 with 2,8,10 with 2,4,5,8,9 with 7.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Alfie Solomons, Race 6
LONGSHOT: More Than Silver, Race 3



#9 SPORTSWEAR: Has won two in a row since going to the steeplechase ranks and goes out for Jonathan Sheppard in a wide-open renewal of the Jonathan Kiser Novice. His two wins have been sharp, and he gets weight from many of these; #7 ELUCIDATION: Makes his second start off a long layoff and won both starts over fences a season ago. This may be a tougher group, but his return was fine and he may still be improving; #10 BELISARIUS: Comes in off of two clunkers, but his 2018 form was sharp and included a strong second in a Grade 3 event. If he channels that form, he could be competitive at a price.


The Honest Toun
Golani Brigade
Larsen entry

#5 THE HONEST TOUN: Rallied when third in his debut last month for a barn whose horses often need a race to get going. Irad Ortiz rides back, and he ran like he’ll appreciate the extra distance he gets in this spot; #9 GOLANI BRIGADE: Was beaten a half-length by my top pick last time out, when he was a one-paced fourth. He’s another that may improve with experience and an added furlong; LARSEN ENTRY: I prefer #1 FREAKY STYLEY, who has worked well ahead of his debut. Seven furlongs is a tricky distance to debut at, but this barn can pop at a price with first-time starters.


Beyond Brown (MTO)
Jen’s Battle
More Than Silver

#2 JEN’S BATTLE: Ran third in her debut despite checking shortly after the break. She’s bred up and down to go long on turf, and she gets a chance to do exactly that for a barn due to get off the duck sooner rather than later; #5 MORE THAN SILVER: Is another bred to love the lawn and will almost certainly be a square price. She’s by More Than Ready and out of a Mineshaft mare, and this barn has done fairly well with debuting runners over the past few years; #8 ADRIATIC HOLIDAY: Has been working lights-out for Team Funny Cide and will almost certainly be favored here. If there’s an issue here, it’s that this barn hasn’t had much luck with firsters. DIRT SELECTIONS: BEYOND BROWN, JEN’S BATTLE, SKY KITTEN.


Annals of Time
King Zachary

#1 ANNALS OF TIME: Stretches out in distance after running second in his comeback race last month at Belmont. He should be better-meant in this spot, and this length should be more to his liking; #10 DEVAMANI: Has stepped forward this season with two wins and a second in three 2019 starts. He’ll be running well late and could use a solid early pace; #8 KING ZACHARY: Has run in some big spots over the last two years and tries turf for the first time. He’s bred to like it, merits a look at a price, and would also be very imposing if this was rained off the turf.


Crea’s Bklyn Law
Giant Boo Boo
Indigo Yankee

#9 CREA’S BKLYN LAW: Improved first off the claim when second against similar downstate. He’s been freshened since then, should be running well late, and merits a tepid nod in a wide-open event; #8 GIANT BOO BOO: Ran well here twice a season ago and goes out for a barn that’s off to a strong start at the meet. He’s got plenty of early speed, but can also sit just off the pace, which could be helpful; #2 INDIGO YANKEE: Ran a decent fourth first off the claim at Churchill Downs and drops in class a bit for this race. He won here last year and has shown an ability to close from far back.


Alfie Solomons
Green entry
More Like It

#7 ALFIE SOLOMONS: Fetched $285,000 at auction and has been working very well ahead of his debut. Wesley Ward’s one of the best in the game with firsters, and he’s a full brother to world-class sprinter World of Trouble; #1 ANOTHER MIRACLE: Was second in his debut and figures to take a lot of money due to the presence of sire American Pharoah. A repeat of his debut makes him a contender; the question is, does he want turf?; #2 MORE LIKE IT: Is bred for turf and could hit the board at a price. His recent workouts here are solid, and the 331 turf Tomlinson number jumps off the page.


Six Percent
Funny Guy

#8 SIX PERCENT: Has improved significantly in each of his three career starts and takes a big jump up in class. However, he’s got some turf pedigree and can close, which should come in handy in a race with plenty of early speed signed on; #3 RINALDI: Upset a similar-quality group last time out at Belmont and tries two turns for the first time. Offspring of Posse don’t necessarily want distance, but any improvement off of his last race would make him tough; #9 FUNNY GUY: Took to turf well when second behind my second choice last time out. He’s another that may like a fast pace.


Mia Mischief
Ours to Run

#4 MIA MISCHIEF: May be hitting her stride as a 4-year-old and looms large in this spot. She won a Grade 1 two back, topped a talented field last time out, and ran well here twice last year; #2 CHALON: Hasn’t finished out of the exacta since September of 2017 and cuts back to six furlongs, which seems like her ideal trip. She was beaten a head in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and seems like the main danger; #6 OURS TO RUN: Has reeled off six wins in a row and ships in for Larry Jones, who generally means business when he makes a trip to upstate New York. It’s a big class test, but she’s won 12 of 20 lifetime outings, beat my top pick two starts ago, and attracts John Velazquez.


Leah’s Dream (MTO)
Enthusiastic Gal
Violent Times

#6 ENTHUSIASTIC GAL: Was outclassed in Grade 3 company last time out but drops back to the right level here. She had two wins and two seconds in her four starts prior to that effort, and she figures to be rolling late; #8 VIOLENT TIMES: Comes back to turf after running third behind a pair of next-out winners last month at Gulfstream. She was second at this route last summer and may be up close early on; #7 MENTALITY: Has lots of early speed and wired the field last time out at Belmont. That was her first start since November, so she could be in even better form here. DIRT SELECTIONS: LEAH’S DREAM, MISS MYSTIQUE, VICTORIAS FIRE.


Risky Mandate
Stifle Yourself
Fair Regis

#3 RISKY MANDATE: Debuted with a bang last month at Churchill, when she cruised home by more than six lengths despite not being fully extended. She facts another full field here, but the local work looks sharp and she seems ready to go; #11 STIFLE YOURSELF: Graduated at first asking over a fast Belmont strip last month, but the recent works indicate that she’s no fluke. The outside draw could help her, as could her tactical speed; #2 FAIR REGIS: Was claimed last time out by an astute outfit and is protected in this event. This may be a bit long for her, but a move forward off of her last-out victory could mean she picks up a check.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/21/19)



My favorite story about the late Marylou Whitney involves Birdstone’s upset of Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes. She was the winning owner of a horse that just won one of racing’s most prestigious races. Her first instinct, though, was not to celebrate, but to apologize to the crowd that came to see a coronation and largely went home disappointed.

You don’t need to be a follower of racing’s social scene (and trust me, I’m not) to understand and appreciate what Marylou Whitney brought to Saratoga. In addition to being a link to the aristocrats of the mid-20th century that congregated in the Saratoga clubhouse each summer, she facilitated a gigantic volume of service to the sport and those around it while asking for nothing in return.

By any measure, Marylou Whitney lived a full life. She was 93 years old when she passed away Friday, just a few weeks away from her induction into racing’s Hall of Fame as a “Pillar of the Turf.” If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s this: Saratoga is a lesser place without her in it.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: After many chances, Andretta graduated out of the maiden ranks in the third race and spoiled Pick Four and double tickets. We dropped $30.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll concentrate on the seventh race, where I like a pair of debuting runners. I’ll key #5 MERITATEN and #10 SEQUIN on top of $3 exactas that include those two, #1 FLY SO PRETTY, #7 MOM’S PASS, and #8 QUEEN OF SHADES underneath. Additionally, as a value play, I’ll use them to finish off $3 doubles that start with #6 MAMMA DEE (my longshot of the day) in the sixth.


– – – –

BEST BET: Guarana, Race 4
LONGSHOT: Mamma Dee, Race 6


Whitman’s Poetry

#1 MARKHAN: Has won three in a row and is undefeated since coming to North America. He seems to be in career form right now, and he looms large as the one to beat in the first steeplechase of the meet; #4 RENOWN: Tossed his rider last time out, but has a solid body of work. Prior to becoming a solid steeplechase horse, he was stakes-placed on the flat and ran third in last year’s John’s Call; #7 WHITMAN’S POETRY: Always seems to fire, but is winless in his last eight starts. He can’t be ignored underneath, but he’s tough to trust on top.


Business Cycle
Brush Country

#6 BUSINESS CYCLE: Has misfired in both of his 2019 starts and takes a gigantic drop in class for this event. There’s a chance he peaked last year, but he did show some late interest last time and may not have to run to his 2018 form to win; #3 BRUSH COUNTRY: Was competitive when third against $40,000 claimers last time out at Churchill. In a race full of class-droppers, he seems fairly logical, especially given that his last two races have both come at this distance; #7 HEYITSNRICOPALAZO: Makes his second start off the layoff here (almost certainly to the delight of track announcer Larry Collmus) and showed some speed last time out. This barn is 2-for-2 so far this meet, and a step forward would make him a candidate to hit the board at a price.


Borough Boy (MTO)
Value Engineering
Bad Boy

#9 VALUE ENGINEERING: Is one of several dropping in for a tag for this barn Sunday, and like most of the others, he looks tough. He’s been very competitive against straight maidens, and several of his prior opponents have come back to win; #8 BAD BOY: Drops back in for a tag and was competitive against similar-quality foes this past winter at Gulfstream. The return to a two-turn route should suit him; #5 CRYPTO GOLD: Merits a look underneath at double-digit odds. He crossed the wire first two back before being DQ’d and should be moving in the right direction late.


Point of Honor

#1 GUARANA: Certainly seems like the best horse in a below-average group of 3-year-old fillies, and she’s strictly the one to beat in the historic Coaching Club American Oaks. She’s never been two turns, but with her pedigree, such a trip shouldn’t be a problem; #5 POINT OF HONOR: Has won three of four starts and rallied to take a Grade 2 last time out at Pimlico. She may not get as much pace to run at here, but if nothing else, the distance won’t beat her; #3 BOXWOOD: May very well be the lone speed if Guarana’s rider opts to sit back. She was second in a solid optional claimer last time out and could hold on for a piece of it with the right trip.


Per Capita
Majority Rules
Scars Are Cool

#2 PER CAPITA: Tops a strong 1-2 punch for Chad Brown, who may very well sweep the early Pick Four. He was third in a very fast maiden race last month at Belmont and has the pedigree necessary for this two-turn trip; #6 MAJORITY RULES: Was a close-up second in his debut going a mile back in May. The layoff is a bit of a concern, but he boasts a few strong local works and could improve at second asking; #4 SCARS ARE COOL: Tries two turns for the first time after running a close-up third at Churchill Downs. The pedigree says he may want turf, but this barn’s quietly had an excellent year and cannot be ignored.


Mamma Dee
Chestnut Street
Art Buff

#6 MAMMA DEE: Was second against similar company at Belmont and comes back to two turns, a configuration she ran very well at this past winter at Gulfstream. Turf closers have run with aplomb so far this meet, and she figures to get a pace to run at; #1 CHESTNUT STREET: Has not run in nearly 11 months and drops in for a tag for the first time. She showed some talent here a season ago, but neither of those are strong signs for a 5-year-old mare that will likely be favored, so I’ll try to beat her; #9 ART BUFF: Comes back to turf, and while her lone prior turf start was a disaster, there’s reason to think she’ll improve. Her dam was a stakes-winner on the lawn, she boasts a strong 310 turf Tomlinson figure, and this barn’s horses tend to need some time to get going.


Fly So Pretty

#10 SEQUIN: Fetched $500,000 at auction, and the pedigree says she’s a runner. Early returns on young sire Bayern are promising, and her dam is a half-sister to both Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve and Grade 1-placed filly Mother Mother; #5 MERITATEN: Debuts for a barn that can have first-time starters ready to roll. Her dam is a full sister to multiple Group 1 winner The Gurkha, and she was also Grade 3-placed in Ireland; #1 FLY SO PRETTY: Was third in her debut despite a very wide trip and draws more favorably here. Javier Castellano hops aboard, and the Mark Casse barn merits respect.


Three Technique
Yankee Empire

#6 BASIN: Was beaten a nose by By Your Side, who went on to roll in the Grade 3 Sanford earlier in the meet. That flattering result, plus the potential for improvement at second asking, make this one the one to beat; #2 THREE TECHNIQUE: Was a good second in his debut, and the colt owned by Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells is another that could take a step up. The pedigree screams “turf router,” but this barn has done well with 2-year-olds; #3 YANKEE EMPIRE: Ran well when chasing my second selection in his unveiling, and did so for a barn whose firsters aren’t always fully-cranked. The recent bullet workout looks very attractive, and I think he’s a must-use in the exotics.


Bernin’ Thru Gold

#10 HOBOE: Ran well here twice a season ago and has the right running style for how the turf is playing. The outside post isn’t ideal, but he likes two turns and will be rolling late; #7 MORRISON: Is another with solid local experience, as he won an optional claimer here last year before running a competitive fourth in the West Point. He likely needed his last start off of a long layoff, and if you’re looking for a price to light your fire, this one may be it; #1 VARIANT PERCEPTION: Lost a photo last time out at Monmouth, but did so to a next-out winner after coming home very quickly. If he brings that form north, he’s definitely a contender for powerhouse connections.


Restoring Hope
Majestic Affair

#2 RESTORING HOPE: Wired a solid field of optional claimers in his 2019 debut at Gulfstream back in March and returns here. This distance should hit him right between the eyes; let’s just hope his journey here doesn’t spark as much outrage as his last one in New York did; #8 BORRACHO: Rallied to finish third in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens, and it’s a bit surprising to see him turn up here rather than in a stakes race. The faster they go early, the better his chances are; #9 MAJESTIC AFFAIR: Steps up in class off a win for Robertino Diodoro, but loves this seven-furlong trip and gets Jose Ortiz. The outside post and a perfect stalking trip could make him a contender.


Significant Form
Broadway Run

#4 SIGNIFICANT FORM: Overcame a slow pace to win her return to the races in the Grade 3 Intercontinental last time out. The cutback to 5 1/2 furlongs is a question mark, but she showed some maturity in her 2019 debut, and I think she can handle it; #5 MORTICIA: Is the other logical top choice in here and always seems to fire. She’s hit the board in 19 of 22 career starts, won nine times, and has a win over this turf course; #2 BROADWAY RUN: Was a close-up fourth behind Significant Form last time out, but seven furlongs may have been a tad long for her. She won a stakes race at this route a season ago and could relish the shorter trip.


Daddy Knows (MTO)
Bad Guy

#10 PIPES: Gets my top pick in what I consider the toughest race of the meet to handicap to this point. I can’t feel too strongly about anything here, but he checked hard last time out and lost all chance, so if nothing else, this is a value play for me; #11 BAD GUY: Has tried two turns on turf once in the last year, and that race was his lone win in that time span. The outside post is an obstacle, but he should be running well late; #8 INTERNET OF THINGS: Tries turf for the first time and may not have to be much to pick up a check. Chad Brown’s numbers with first-time turfers are strong (shocker), and he’s shown some versatility in the past.


Wow Cat
She’s a Julie
Golden Award

#5 WOW CAT: Gets a tepid top selection in a very strong renewal of the Grade 3 Shuvee. I don’t like the layoff, but there’s a lot of early speed signed on (including her stablemate), and that could set the table for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff runner-up; #1 SHE’S A JULIE: Has developed into a very good 4-year-old for Steve Asmussen and won a Grade 1 two back at Churchill. She was second in last year’s Alabama, so we know she likes the track, and she should have enough speed to use the rail to her advantage; #3 GOLDEN AWARD: Has a resume that looks far better if you draw a line through the Grade 3 Doubledogdare. She was a good second last time out, when she was beaten a nose by a next-out winner at this level, and the recent bullet workout is attractive.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/19/19)



There are a ton of jobs on the front side of a racetrack that I would really enjoy. Racing Secretary is not one of them. Everyone lines up to bash the racing office when a card isn’t to their liking, and rarely are they praised for doing the dirty work necessary to fill fields in tough environments.

I don’t envy the position the office has been in ahead of certain graded stakes races. For instance, Friday’s Lake George drew a six-horse field. Three of the entrants are trained by Chad Brown, and two are trained by Wesley Ward. When the balance of power in certain divisions is tilted so heavily to a few particular barns, it creates a tricky situation.

Is it ideal, from the perspective of a racing fan, to have horses in those divisions running less because of who trains them? Of course not. Are racing offices to blame for that? No. Keep this in mind the next time you’re tempted to complain about short fields. In these instances, don’t rush to blame tracks or track management. There are other situations I’ll address where they get shorter leashes, but on this, I give them a pass.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: The fifth race was taken off the turf, so our Pick Four play was cancelled.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll dive right back into the early Pick Four, which starts in the second race. My 50-cent ticket is as follows: 3,6,7 with 5,7,10 with 1,3 with 2,6. Additionally, I’ll play $3 doubles starting in the third race that use #5 DOLL and #7 PLINK FREUD with #1 JAVELIN and #3 SHAREHOLDER VALUE in the fourth.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Bourbon Mission, Race 1
LONGSHOT: Cape Angel, Race 7


Bourbon Mission
Legion Storm

#5 BOURBON MISSION: Drops in for a tag for the first time and catches what seems like a weaker-than-average group for the level. Pletcher does well with similar droppers, and he seems like the one to beat; #6 LORCAN: Just missed last time out, and has been gelded since that event. He tries two turns for the first time, but he has a right to handle such a journey being by Mineshaft; #3 LEGION STORM: Makes his first start off the claim by Rob Atras, whose barn has been going very well. He’s 0-for-11, but does have a right to improve in new surroundings.


First Forever
Destiny Over Fate

#6 CARRIZO: Drops in class first off the claim for an astute barn that’s off to a strong start to the meet. If she brings her Churchill form to Saratoga, she’s going to be a formidable favorite; #3 FIRST FOREVER: Has hit the board in each of her last five starts, two of which were winning efforts. She goes from one strong conditioner to another and could sit a perfect stalking trip; #7 DESTINY OVER FATE: Has been aggressively spotted and may have found the right level. She splashed home to a win in the slop two back and could benefit from the outside draw.


Plink Freud
Blame It On Mom (MTO)

#7 PLINK FREUD: Comes back to the maiden ranks after a failed try in a stakes race last month. Her race two back was very good, and her debut effort at this route last summer wasn’t bad; #5 DOLL: Has shown ample speed in two prior starts and tries turf for the first time. The surface is an unknown, but based on Beyer Speed Figures, she’s probably the one to beat; #10 TATTERAZZI: Doesn’t draw particularly well in her debut, but she’s bred up and down for turf and comes in off of a few solid workouts. She’s got a shot to hit the board at a price. DIRT SELECTIONS: DOLL, BLAME IT ON MOM, NASTY AFFAIR.


Shareholder Value
Bolita Boyz

#1 JAVELIN: Just missed against similar-level foes downstate, but gets back to his favorite distance at a track he’s won at before. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but there should be plenty of speed here to set up for his late kick; #3 SHAREHOLDER VALUE: Benefited from a perfect trip last time out, when he earned a big Beyer in romping over weaker opposition. A similar effort would make him tough, but this seems like a tougher spot; #7 BOLITA BOYZ: Figures to be running well late and gets the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr. The faster they go early, the more this one figures to like it.


Kiawah Sunset
Sweet Kisses

#6 FINITE: Fetched $200,000 at auction and is bred to be a runner. Her dam is a full sister to graded stakes-winner Tapiture, and she’s been working well ahead of her unveiling; #2 KIAWAH SUNSET: Ran well in her debut and was probably the victim of a horrible post in her last start. Dirt is a bit of an unknown, but a repeat of her debut effort gives her a shot at a bit of a price; #8 SWEET KISSES: Chased the eventual Schuylerville runner-up in her debut last month and seems to have bounced out of that race well. She’ll likely be on the lead early, which could make her dangerous.


Soul Fight (MTO)
Clear for Action
Cross Border

#7 CLEAR FOR ACTION: Has won three of his last four starts and steps up in class for a barn that can move horses up off the claim. He has tactical speed, but doesn’t necessarily need the lead to run well; #11 CROSS BORDER: Ran well off of a long layoff last time out and stretches out to two turns. This may be a hair further than he wants to go, but his comeback race was very encouraging; #1 TACTICAL PURSUIT: Has won two of his last three starts and has back class to spare. He hasn’t run on turf in a while, but he’s won over the surface before and merits a look in the exotics. DIRT SELECTIONS: SOUL FIGHT, TACTICAL PURSUIT, HE IZ GONE.


Turco Bravo (MTO)
Pillar Mountain
Cape Angel

#9 PILLAR MOUNTAIN: Rallied from way back to prevail at this distance last time out. He was a solid second at this route last summer and seems to have moved forward since then; #2 CAPE ANGEL: Has back races that would make him a contender in this spot. He won here twice last summer and is eligible to fire a big shot second off the bench; #10 CRACKSPEED: Wired the field going long last time out at Belmont and seems like this race’s main speed. That running style can be dangerous in these turf marathons, especially for capable connections like these. DIRT SELECTIONS: TURCO BRAVO, CRACKSPEED, MIDNIGHT TEA TIME.


Seven Trumpets
He Hate Me

#2 ENGAGE: Makes his 2019 debut and has been working well ahead of his first start in 10 months. He tried deep waters last year, and if he’s ready to run, he’ll be very tough to fend off; #1 SEVEN TRUMPETS: Was campaigned aggressively a season ago, but hit his stride around one turn in the summer and fall months. Six furlongs may be a hair short for him, and the layoff and rail draw are both concerns, but he’s fired three straight bullets ahead of this event; #6 HE HATE ME: Was edged by a talented sprinter last month at Churchill and would benefit from fast early fractions. His work over the Oklahoma track on July 13th was very good, and he could conceivably rally for a piece of it.


The Mackem Bullet

#7 BLOWOUT: Has yet to run a bad race, with two wins and two seconds in four career starts. She was beaten just a half-length by the ultra-talented Concrete Rose back in March, and she’s improved with every start; #2 THE MACKEM BULLET: Has won two of three since going to the Wesley Ward barn and was Group 1-placed in Europe. Her win in the Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland was very good, and we may get an overlaid price given the trio of Chad Brown trainees she’ll line up against; #4 DOGTAG: Came back running in an ungraded stakes race at Pimlico in May and returns to the graded ranks here. She won the P.G. Johnson here a season ago and figures to be running well late.


Ranger Up
Final Say
Super Silver

#6 RANGER UP: Takes the biggest drop in racing, from a maiden special weight to a maiden claimer, and looms large for powerhouse connections. Based on company kept and Beyer numbers, he’s strictly the one to beat; #5 FINAL SAY: Could very well comprise half of a Todd Pletcher-trained exacta in the Friday finale. He was second in his first start for a tag last time out and may appreciate two turns given his running style; #4 SUPER SILVER: Ran fairly well two back when third against similar foes at Churchill. A return to dirt could help him, and he’ll likely be a pretty big price.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/18/19)



There are times where I don’t get Twitter. Tuesday night, I tweeted a link to my picks and analysis (as a reminder, those are available at every racing day, as are my bankroll plays/blurbs). It was responded to by another user, who said, and I quote, “no one gives a **** what you think.” I went to see who it was…and it turns out he followed me (prior to me hitting the always-handy “block” button, of course).

To review: Someone who followed me saw my tweet, read it, likely clicked on my analysis, and then took the time to tell me that nobody cares what I think. Something sure seems backwards here, doesn’t it?

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: This section didn’t make it into print due to a printing error (though it was online Monday night, much to the delight of my intern at the chiropractic college where I work!). We had $10 to win and place on Project Whiskey in the fifth, and while she ran OK at a price, she could only manage a third-place finish. We dropped $20.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: This is tough, because we don’t know if they’ll be on the turf. Assuming they are (and with the usual caveat that all bets in this section assume turf races stay there), I’ll play the early Pick Four, which starts in the second race. I’ll play it for a dollar (as opposed to the 50-cent minimum), and my ticket looks like this: 2,4,6,7 with 3 with 2,7,9 with 4,8.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Fierce Lady, Race 3
LONGSHOT: Roaming Union, Race 9


Senor Jobim
Golden Tiger
Smile Bryan

#2 SENOR JOBIM: May have just hated Belmont Park, where he didn’t sit his preferred trip. A wet track is likely, and he’s run well over such surfaces in the past; #4 GOLDEN TIGER: Has run well twice at Churchill Downs and has a win over this tricky seven-furlong distance. When Al Stall comes in, he usually means business, and Rosario signing on is a plus; #5 SMILE BRYAN: May need to take a step forward to win, but has the right running style for a race full of early speed. The faster they go early, the more this one figures to like it.


Beyond Gone

#6 JUSTINTIMEFORWINE: Is the only one in here with any experience and comes in off of a bullet drill here a few days ago. This barn’s horses often need a race to get going, and he may be a bit of a price; #2 BEYOND GONE: Has a series of solid works out of town and sold for a solid $40,000 despite a modest pedigree. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because this barn’s numbers with debuting runners aren’t great; #7 JAMFLOWMAN: Debuts for a conditioner who has quietly had a very strong year to this point. He draws well, and both of his dam’s other offspring are winners.


Fierce Lady
Time Limit
Jewel of Arabia

#3 FIERCE LADY: Debuted with a very strong performance downstate where she stopped the timer in :56 and change for five furlongs. Simply put, if she repeats that performance, the race is for second; #6 TIME LIMIT: Was also impressive in victory in her unveiling, though that race didn’t come back as highly-rated as my top pick’s debut. She’s certainly eligible to improve at second asking; #2 JEWEL OF ARABIA: Is ambitiously spotted in her debut, but she fetched $140,000 at auction and debuts for a hot barn. She could be ready enough to hit the board at a square price.


Chief Know It All (MTO)
He’s No Lemon

#7 EVERYONELOVESJAMES: Has come to hand for Jonathan Sheppard, winning two in a row downstate against state-breds. This is certainly a class test, but he seems like the lone speed, which is always dangerous in turf marathons; #2 HE’S NO LEMON: Hasn’t run a bad race this year and comes in off of a race where he earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. He’s got experience at the distance and should be running well late; #9 EXTRAORDINARY JERRY: Handled additional distance pretty well when third at this level last time out. He hasn’t won on turf in a while, but the possibility of a perfect stalking trip is enticing. DIRT SELECTIONS: CHIEF KNOW IT ALL, EXTRAORDINARY JERRY, MILLS.


City Man (MTO)
More Like It

#4 BARLEEWON: Is bred up and down for turf and has worked well ahead of his debut. This doesn’t seem like the strongest field for the level, so he may not have to be much to win right away; #8 MORE LIKE IT: Is worth a look based on his strong turf pedigree. He has a few strong works downstate and is a candidate to run well at a price; #10 FLY FLY AWAY: Is a half-brother to world-class turf sprinter Disco Partner and debuts here for the Clement barn. He merits respect based on his pedigree, but the post position is a big concern. DIRT SELECTIONS: CITY MAN, TURBO DRIVE, SHANDIAN.


Smooth With a Kick

#4 SMOOTH WITH A KICK: Was up close to a face pace last time out, and she should get a much easier trip here. She’s taken steps forward in each of her starts, and a front-running trip going two turns should suit her; #3 HIGHTAILING: Ran well twice earlier this year before throwing in a clunker at Belmont. She’s bred to like two turns, so a return to form is certainly possible; #2 KELLEYCANRUN: Made a bit of a move last time out going shorter for a trainer whose firsters often need a race to get going. She certainly seems like a candidate to improve.


Seven Is Heaven
Wicked Grin

#10 ALPHASTEST: Got caught going seven furlongs last time out, but this shorter trip should be more to his liking. The outside post isn’t ideal, but he could make an easy lead and clear most (or all) of the field pretty quickly; #12 WICKED GRIN: Is another that got burned by the draw, but he drops way down in class for this maiden claiming event. He’s got enough past form to suggest he could overcome the tough post; #4 BETSY’S BEAU: Merits inclusion at a big price. He goes to turf, which he’s bred to handle, and he drops in class for a trainer whose horses often improve with experience.


Brown entry
Phoenix entry

BROWN ENTRY: I prefer #2B VALUE PROPOSITION, who tired in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge after smashing maiden foes at first asking. #2 SPIRIT ANIMAL also seems well-meant off the bench, and he graduated here last summer; #7 OPRY: Won the Grade 3 With Anticipation here in 2018 and recently returned from a long layoff. His race off the break was very good, and a step forward would make him formidable; PHOENIX ENTRY: #1 KADAR makes his American debut and gets Lasix, while #1A MAGNIFICENT MCCOOL has back class and may be tough if this gets rained off the turf. DIRT SELECTIONS: MAGNIFICENT MCCOOL, OPRY, TAPIT WISE.


Roaming Union

#2 HOFBURG: Makes his 2019 debut after a star-crossed 3-year-old campaign where he placed in a pair of Grade 1 races. He’s been training well, should get a setup for his late-running style, and would be tough if he’s fully-cranked; #6 ROAMING UNION: Stretches back out to a two-turn route of ground, and his best races have come at such configurations. This barn is sending out live horses, and while Hofburg would be formidable if he’s ready, maybe he needs a race; #5 VINCENTO: Gets wheeled back quickly by Linda Rice after a win on opening day. He got a perfect setup that day, but he should be on or near the lead early at a price.


Drawing Away entry (MTO)
Sadie Lady
Merlins Muse

#11 SADIE LADY: Has shown plenty of early zip in three turf starts, and that would come in handy here given the outside post and likely race shape. Joel Rosario rides back, and I think she could wire this group; #8 MERLINS MUSE: Has a win at this route and comes in off another victory downstate. John Velazquez doesn’t ride a ton for this barn, but when he does, his mounts are usually live; #7 MAMA MARY: Has won two of her last three starts, including a turf sprint at Belmont last month. Her two turf efforts have both been solid, and she could sit a nice stalking trip just off the speed. DIRT SELECTIONS: DRAWING AWAY ENTRY, CAMORRA, MAMA MARY.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/17/19)



One of the perks of my full-time job at the marketing department of a chiropractic college is the ability to receive adjustments from upperclassmen at the on-campus health clinic. My intern got back from a trip to Australia and New Zealand to adjust me for the first time in a few weeks, and he asked me if there were any additional sources of stress in my life.

I thought to myself, “I’m in constant pursuit of Liam Durbin, I’m 0-for-4 in my bankroll section, and I’m repeatedly trying to prove certain people wrong by thriving when they’d rather I fail.” Instead, I simply said, “I’m doing a lot more writing about horse racing at Saratoga this summer.”

I was in no hurry to talk his ear off about my passion, so I didn’t go into much depth. Regardless of whether he initially thought I was being forthcoming or not, though, I think he got the idea when he adjusted my neck and every bone from my skull to my shoulder blades breathed a collective sigh of relief.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Right idea, wrong horse. A closer did indeed win the seventh, but it wasn’t Zonic (third) or Cerretalto (fourth), so my exacta tickets went up in smoke.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I love the 2-year-old races on today’s card, and my action will focus on the fifth. My longshot of the day is #6 PROJECT WHISKEY, and I’ll keep things simple with a $10 win/place bet.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Talk Veuve to Me, Race 9
LONGSHOT: Project Whiskey, Race 5


Whitman’s Poetry

#3 MARKHAN: Has won three in a row and is undefeated since coming to North America. He seems to be in career form right now, and he looms large as the one to beat in the first steeplechase of the meet; #5 RENOWN: Tossed his rider last time out, but has a solid body of work. Prior to becoming a solid steeplechase horse, he was stakes-placed on the flat and ran third in last year’s John’s Call; #6 WHITMAN’S POETRY: Always seems to fire, but is winless in his last eight starts. He can’t be ignored underneath, but he’s tough to trust on top.


#3 MISSION WRAPITUP: Crushed a field of fellow maidens in his debut and comes in off a very sharp work over this surface. A repeat of his prior race would make him tough in a race named after one of the sport’s good guys; #2 LISTENTOYOURHEART: Led every step of the way in his unveiling and seems like the main speed in here. He boasts the best last-out Beyer Speed Figure in the race and certainly merits respect; #4 SKY OF HOOK: Rallied to win his debut at a price back in May, and in doing so overcame a rough start. He may have learned something from that experience, and it’s encouraging that Luis Saez rides back.


Fully Vested
Pete’s Play Call (MTO)
Discretionary Marq

#9 FULLY VESTED: Took to turf pretty well when second at Monmouth despite a horrible post. He should step forward in his second start off the bench, and he’s displayed plenty of off-track form in the past (which could come in handy here); #7 DISCRETIONARY MARQ: Has come to hand of late, having won four of his last six starts. He came off a long layoff to wire a field at Belmont, and he figures to be prominent early; #4 PAGLIACCI: Topped a field of claimers last time out and makes his first start for new trainer Linda Rice. He could sit a perfect stalking trip here, although the jump up in class is an obstacle. DIRT SELECTIONS: FULLY VESTED, PETE’S PLAY CALL, STORM ADVISORY.


Flat Rate (MTO)
Tricky Magician

#12 TRICKY MAGICIAN: Drew terribly for this wide-open event, but does drop in class and should appreciate the two-turn route of ground. Irad Ortiz, Jr., will have his work cut out for him, but this one has hinted at plenty of talent in the past; #3 SEANOW: Broke his maiden here last year and defeated a similar-quality field two back at Belmont. He figures to be the main speed, and he could be dangerous if he’s left alone on the lead; #2 HOPE AGAIN: Rallied to defeat a much weaker group last time out at Monmouth. He’s never missed the board in five career starts and should be moving in the right direction late.


Project Whiskey
Ain’t None Lucky

#6 PROJECT WHISKEY: Comes in from Parx, and it’s always encouraging when an out-of-town trainer brings a jockey in to ride. She’s worked well, and her dam is a half-sister to Ready’s Image, who won a Grade 2 and was second in the Grade 1 Hopeful; #3 MYAWAYA: Goes out for the tandem of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez and comes in off a big work here last week. Her dam is a half to Grade 2 winner Sharp Humor, and she makes a lot of sense; #2 AIN’T NONE LUCKY: Blew the start in her debut at Laurel, but rallied to finish third behind a talented filly. She could move forward here, and her pedigree says she’d move up over a wet track.


#5 MATZO BELLA: Drops in for a tag after just missing in an allowance event downstate. She’ll likely be flying late, and she hasn’t run a bad race since being claimed by Jason Servis; #2 AVOCADO TOAST: Got nailed at the wire in her first start since February last month. That race came at this level, and she draws favorably in this event; #3 TIPLE: Put it all together last time out in the maiden claiming ranks, where she rallied from way back against a suspect group. She may be putting things together, and this barn is dangerous in turf sprints.


Azrael (MTO)
Border Town
Good Governance

#9 BORDER TOWN: Is one of two in here trained by Chad Brown, and gets my tepid nod in a tough race. He’s been working consistently and is bred to be a good one; #6 GOOD GOVERNANCE: Will likely be favored judging by the morning line and is bred to be a good one. However, there’s a big gap in his works in June, and debuting at two turns isn’t an easy task; #7 EMBELLISHER: Was third in a swiftly-run maiden race at Ellis Park on Independence Day. Speed is dangerous on the inner turf, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he got a perfect trip. DIRT SELECTIONS: AZRAEL, OFF THE RECORD, CORCORAN.


Maiden Beauty
Miss Marcela
Dovey Lovey

#6 MAIDEN BEAUTY: Showed a new dimension when wiring a field of state-breds last month at Belmont. Most importantly, she loves wet tracks, and she may see such a surface in this spot; #5 MISS MARCELA: Comes back to the dirt in her second start for Phil Serpe and merits respect. She won a stakes race earlier this year at Gulfstream and is a contender if she gets back to that form; #3 DOVEY LOVEY: Cuts back in distance and looks a lot better if you draw lines through her route races. She’s run well over a wet track and was third in the Ruthless at Aqueduct this past January.


Talk Veuve to Me
Honor Way
Carrera Cat

#6 TALK VEUVE TO ME: Drops down to the allowance ranks after misfiring in Grade 1 company. Simply put, her best race would thump these, and anything close would still make her very tough; #5 HONOR WAY: Rallied to prevail at Belmont last month and always seems to fire a good shot. Linda Rice has gotten off to a great start this meet, and Jose Ortiz rides back; #2 CARRERA CAT: Has reeled off four wins in a row and gets a major class test. She’ll be flying early; the question is, can she withstand pressure from the likely favorite?


Light in the Sky
Colts Neck entry
Violent Point

#4 LIGHT IN THE SKY: Is bred to be a good one and debuts for the Rice barn. Her dam was a stakes-winner, and she’s already thrown six winners (including 2-year-old stakes-winner Iron Mizz); COLTS NECK ENTRY: #1 STRONGERTHANUKNOW showed speed in her debut, but I prefer #1A SILKY BLUE, who needs some luck to draw in. She fetched $220,000 at auction and is bred to be a strong turf horse; #9 VIOLENT POINT: Was a distant third when favored in her unveiling at Belmont, but she pressed a very fast pace that day and is certainly eligible to improve here.