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


BANKROLL: $1,217.80

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

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

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

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

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


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


Hope Over Fear
Sweet Lady Ivanka

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


Hollywood Gina (MTO)
Madam Maclean
Little Dutch Girl

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


Coalition Building
Never Content

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


Spin a Yarn
Lady Traveler
Jades Gelly

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


Klaravich entry

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


Clever Fellow
Risk Manager

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


Classy Edition
Summer Snow

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


Malibu Kendall
Jester Calls Nojoy

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


Trumpet Lilly (MTO)
Baseline Drive
Theodora Grace

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


Danny California
First Constitution

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


Echo Zulu
Girl With a Dream
Dream Lith

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


Scotty Brown
Veterans Beach
King Angelo

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

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/6/20)


BANKROLL: $580.20

Tiz the Law had every chance in the Kentucky Derby. He got the perfect trip, had first run on the pace-setter after that one set solid early fractions, and looked like a winner with a quarter-mile to go.

He just couldn’t get by Authentic, who proved to be the genuine article. He had a terrible start, but made the lead going into the first turn and challenged other horses to come get him. Nobody could.

There’s no shame in running second in the Kentucky Derby, and it doesn’t discredit Tiz the Law’s brilliant campaign to this point. I think I echo the sentiments of everyone in racing when I say I hope there’s a rematch coming, either at Pimlico in next month’s Preakness Stakes or at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: I keyed Tiz the Law on top and had Enforceable hitting the board, so I was wrong on everything (although Enforceable ran reasonably well given his price). The late scratch of Thousand Words reduced the losses to $38.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to focus on the early part of this program and two runners I like a fair bit. I’ll put $15 win wagers on #6 CARAMEL SWIRL in the opener and #5 MAJESTIC WEST in the third, and I’ll also play a $1 Pick Three ticket using those two as singles and punching the “ALL” button in the second race. In a rare twist, I’ll be punching that ticket regardless of if the second race stays on the turf or moves to the main track.



Best Bet: Keota, Race 6
Longshot: Calidad, Race 7


Caramel Swirl
Jordan’s Leo

#6 CARAMEL SWIRL: Has been working with intensity ahead of her debut for Bill Mott, who doesn’t often work his 2-year-olds quickly. Her dam is a half-sister to Met Mile winner Frosted, and we may get a bit of a price due to the presence of juvenile-heavy barns; #3 FOUETTE: Went from “home free” to “barely hung on for third” very quickly in her debut. She’s one of just two runners in here with any experience, and that could be a big plus; #1 JORDAN’S LEO: Debuts for Todd Pletcher and comes in off of several very strong drills at Belmont Park. If there’s a negative here, it’s that the pedigree hints she’s a turf horse, but if she runs to the work tab, look out.


Fevola (MTO)
Bourbon Currency
Cardiac Kitten

#5 BOURBON CURRENCY: Was beaten a length at this route a few weeks ago, and Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride this gelding back. It seems as though there’s plenty of early pace signed on, and that may set things up for him to come pick up the pieces; #10 CARDIAC KITTEN: Drops back into the claiming ranks in his second start of the season. His lone other prior start for a tag saw him win by four lengths at Keeneland, and he’ll be a major player if he can work out a trip from his outside post; #6 WILD WILLIAM: Wired a lesser field last time out and is wheeled back fairly quickly by trainer H. James Bond, whose barn has been firing on all cylinders all summer long. Luis Saez rides back, and chances are this one will be prominent from a very early juncture.


Majestic West
Blood Moon
First Rate

#5 MAJESTIC WEST: Stretches back out to two turns and earned his lone win to date at a similar configuration at Fair Grounds. He earned an 81 Beyer Speed Figure that day, and that’s the highest such number of any horse in this field; #3 BLOOD MOON: Gets wheeled back quickly by new trainer Linda Rice, and she’s done that with great success in the past. He hasn’t won in a while, but perhaps a change of scenery will move him up in his fourth start of the summer; #2 FIRST RATE: Was second against similar horses at this route earlier this summer. He’s got the talent to run well here, but he may be stuck rating behind a slow early pace, which wouldn’t be an ideal trip.


Klaravich entry
Dreams of Tomorrow

KLARAVICH ENTRY: #1 PRICE TALK crossed the wire first in his debut, but was disqualified due to interference. Any sort of a step forward will make him very tough, and the recent bullet drill suggests such improvement is on the horizon; #4 ETHOS: Has every right to run a career-best race second off the bench and stretching out to two turns. His dam is a half-sister to both Grade 1 winner Ironicus and multiple graded stakes winner On Leave, and those two did their best running going long; #2 DREAMS OF TOMORROW: Makes his turf debut and should relish the new surface. His dam is a half-sister to top-class turf runner Imagining, and he runs like a horse that will also appreciate the added distance.


Mo Dean
Lutescoot N Boogie
Jane Grey

#5 MO DEAN: Had an adventurous journey in her debut, when she ran second beaten just a neck. She’s worked consistently since that event, and she’ll be a handful with smoother sailing and/or a logical second-out step forward; #8 LUTESCOOT N BOOGIE: Showed speed in her unveiling, when she was third against state-bred competition. Steve Asmussen has cleaned up in 2-year-old races this summer, and Joel Rosario sees fit to hop aboard; #2 JANE GREY: Is bred up and down to be a good one and comes in off of a bullet drill on the Oklahoma track. This is a patient barn, but if she’s ready to run, she’ll have every chance to grab a piece of it at a nice price.


Brass Ring
A Little Faith

#8 KEOTA: Cruised home to an easy win at this route against starter allowance foes last month. She’s got enough tactical speed to be forwardly-placed, but she doesn’t necessarily need the lead, either, and that should give Irad Ortiz, Jr., plenty of options; #10 BRASS RING: Did a lot of the dirty work when third against similar company last time out. She’s done her best running at this route, and while the outside post doesn’t help, she may be talented enough to outbreak this field and clear her rivals into the turn; #1 A LITTLE FAITH: Hasn’t run a bad race sprinting on turf and exits a win over state-breds in her first start since November. This is a tougher group, to be sure, but the inside draw is a good thing and Jose Ortiz will hop aboard.


Madison Parc
Dancing Kiki

#5 CALIDAD: Is a reluctant top pick in a puzzling race to handicap. She gets that designation due to a strong turf pedigree, one that hints she’ll enjoy this surface in her first start on the lawn. Improvement from her dirt efforts would make her tough; #8 MADISON PARC: Adds blinkers after a one-paced showing earlier this summer. She ran well in her debut going two turns on turf, so I’m willing to give her one more shot (especially against what seems like a suspect group); #9 DANCING KIKI: Has run well at this level many times, but is 0-for-11 and, as a result, tough to trust on top. Still, she can’t be ignored if you’re playing vertical exotics.


Tiz He the One
Creative Style

#5 TIZ HE THE ONE: Takes a significant drop in class for aggressive connections and looms large. It wasn’t long ago he was 9/2 against Firenze Fire in the Grade 3 General George, and he’s been chasing far better horses since coming off the bench earlier this summer; #9 CREATIVE STYLE: Ran second against slightly-lesser company last time out and cuts back to one turn in his first start for new trainer Rob Atras. This route should suit him better, and Atras hits at a very strong clip with new acquisitions; #8 LUSITANO: Overcame a rough start to win his local debut in come-from-behind fashion. This is a tougher group, but he’s won going longer distances than this, so at least you know the extra furlong won’t beat him.


Beautiful Memories
Guana Cay
Irish Constitution

#5 BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES: Never had a chance in the Grade 3 Schuylerville when she was pulled up as the 1/2 favorite. She’s turned in several strong drills ahead of her return, and a clean journey would make her tough in the Grade 1 Spinaway; #6 GUANA CAY: Looks like the lone closer in a race full of early zip. She’s a maiden, but Wesley Ward spots his horses aggressively, and the faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be; #1 IRISH CONSTITUTION: Prevailed in her debut for a trainer whose juveniles often need a race or two to figure things out. This is a far tougher field than the batch of state-breds she beat in her unveiling, but she’s bred to be a good one and could take a step forward at a price.


Lady’s Island
Come Dancing

#7 LADY’S ISLAND: Certainly looks like the speed of the speed in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss. She’s won 16 of 31 career starts and earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure over this surface last year. A similar effort would give her a big shot at a bit of a price; #1 COME DANCING: Was fourth in the Grade 1 Ballerina behind Serengeti Empress, and this spot represents a bit of a class drop. She makes sense, but the cutback in distance is a bit of a concern, as is the rail draw for a horse not reliant on early speed; #2 BLAMED: Was a hard-luck second in the Shine Again earlier this summer and will want to be on or near the lead early. This is another case where six furlongs seems a bit short, but she’s got plenty of back class and has won nine of 16 lifetime starts.


Shekky Shebaz

#9 GIDU: Cuts back to a turf sprint and may get the firm ground he clearly relishes in the Lucky Coin. He’s spent most of his career running against some of the better turf horses in the country, and betweem the class relief and his ample early zip, I think he’s the horse to beat; #1 SHEKKY SHEBAZ: Was placed second in the Grade 3 Troy last time out and has run several strong races over this turf course in the past. He may not be the same horse he was for Jason Servis last year, but he may not have to be in order to run well here; #8 PULSATE: Had a troubled trip in the Troy, when he was making up ground late before steadying in traffic. Luis Saez gets the mount here, and he’ll at least be going in the right direction when the real running starts.


La Negrita (MTO)

#3 TATTERAZZI: Sure seems like the lone speed in here, and that combined with the presence of Luis Saez is enough to get my top pick in the Sunday finale. She drops in for a tag second off the bench and may prove very tough to catch; #2 LEEWAY: Almost certainly needed her return to the races in July, which came off a layoff of more than nine months. Her maiden-breaking score at Belmont wasn’t bad, and the Clement/Rosario tag team merits respect; #9 BLICHTON LADY: Ran into a good horse two back before breaking her maiden over the Saratoga main track last month. Her turf Tomlinson number of 309 is solid, and it indicates that perhaps her disappointing debut on the lawn may have just been due to her needing a race. She may be worth another shot at a price.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/1/19)


BANKROLL: $611.10

It was brought to my attention Saturday that a cover of The Pink Sheet is being used as part of a purse being sold at a shop in town. My face, of course, is on it, and even better, it’s from a day earlier this meet when I was leading in the pick box. This came as horrible news to my girlfriend, which means I likely have to buy her one as a gag gift.

I’m wondering if these people can do custom designs. For instance, I’d like to pass along “WANTED” posters asking for information on whomever had the idea to not play along with my half-charming, half-annoying shtick I inflict on Pink Sheet kids outside the gate. Stan Hudy, you’re the prime suspect!

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Three Technique won impressively, but exactas and doubles all fizzled. We dropped $40.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus my action on the seventh race and once again try to extract value out of a favorite. That’s #6 SPARKLING SKY, who I’ll key in $20 exactas atop #1 LAUGHABLE and #3 BRIDAL PATH.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Summer Sangria, Race 1
LONGSHOT: Mundaye Call, Race 11


Summer Sangria
Chimney Rock
Las Ramblas

#8 SUMMER SANGRIA: Ran well when second in her unveiling, which came against similar-level foes earlier in the meet. John Velazquez rides back for Wesley Ward, and she looks like the one to beat; #6 CHIMNEY ROCK: Drops in class a bit for this event and cuts back in distance after showing speed going two turns. This barn does well with cutbacks, and he’s worth a look; #9 LAS RAMBLAS: Debuts for Ward and may be good enough to overcome a bad post position. She’s bred to be a good turf horse and has worked well ahead of her first start.


Remembering Bobbie
Elegant Rose
Summer Fantasy

#4 REMEMBERING BOBBIE: Didn’t show much in her debut, but drops in class for a new barn and exits a big recent workout. This seems like a weak spot for the level, and she should be a square price; #2 ELEGANT ROSE: Ships up from Monmouth for Jorge Navarro and may very well be a heavy favorite. However, while she tries the maiden claiming ranks for the first time in a while, it’s not like she’s been running against tough competition lately; #7 SUMMER FANTASY: Was an OK third against similar competition earlier in the meet and is one of two in here trained by Jeremiah Englehart. She’s got some speed and could sit a nice stalking trip.


Northern Haze
Talent Scout

#3 NORTHERN HAZE: Rallied to graduate earlier in the meet and was claimed out of that race by Steve Asmussen. He tries winners for the first time, but a repeat of his last effort may be good enough to beat these; #5 TALENT SCOUT: Changed barns following his most recent effort and runs for an outfit that does very well with new acquisitions. His effort two back at this level was fine, and Carmouche may try to get him more involved early on; #4 RAPHAEL: Drops in class and adds blinkers on the slight cutback in distance. Tyler Gaffalione sees fit to ride, and he may appreciate the shallower waters.


Slimey (MTO)
My Galina

#3 RESTRUCTURE: Took to turf very well last time out and goes up against winners here. She draws a better post here and should be running well late for a barn that tends to keep horses on the right track; #7 MY GALINA: Drops in class after two tries against stakes company. She was third in a Grade 3 two back and will likely be on or near the lead early on; #8 I’LLHANDALTHECASH: Helped set a pretty fast pace earlier in the meet over a turf course that had some give in it. She doesn’t draw a great post, but she may have the speed to clear most of this field.


Vaya Con Dios

#10 BOBBYFROMTHEPALM: Debuts for a tag for connections that have snuck several good horses by at this level over the years. He’s worked pretty well and draws a cushy outside post; #4 O’BUSHIDO: Comes in off of a very strong workout for Pletcher and Velazquez. That was a head-turning drill, but a $100,000 purchase running for a $50,000 tag hits me as a red flag; #6 VAYA CON DIOS: Improved when dropped to this level last time out. He contended most of the way before fading to third and should be prominent out of the gate.


Carrier Landing
Paolucci entry
Always Forgiven

#4 CARRIER LANDING: Ships in from Kentucky and gets a tepid nod in a perplexing event. He was rated last time out, but he’s got some early speed and may be on or near the lead in what seems like a paceless race; PAOLUCCI ENTRY: I prefer #1 THE SICARII, who loves Saratoga and drops back to what seems like the right level. He popped at a price against similar foes earlier in the meet, and Santana comes back aboard; #6 ALWAYS FORGIVEN: Makes his first start for a new barn after starting his career out west. The recent local work is notable, but his likely price is a bit tough for me to swallow.


Sparkling Sky
Bridal Path

#6 SPARKLING SKY: Is a logical favorite following a strong debut, when she crossed the wire third after being impeded by a next-out stakes winner. A step forward would make this filly very tough to beat; #1 LAUGHABLE: Completes a strong 1-2 punch for Todd Pletcher and is bred to love two turns on turf. Her 329 turf Tomlinson figure is high, and she exits two strong works over the main track; #3 BRIDAL PATH: Didn’t do much running in her debut, but this barn’s first-time starters are rarely fully-cranked. She’s bred to be good, and it’s worth noting that Joel Rosario stayed on when he likely had options.


Always a Queen
Lucky Dime

#2 ORSAY: Will likely be hammered down from her morning line odds given her pedigree and workouts. She’s by American Pharoah, out of multiple Grade 1 winner Life At Ten, and fetched a cool $1.2 million at auction last summer; #5 ALWAYS A QUEEN: Is bred to want distance and debuts for Todd Pletcher. Her two most recent works hint at some talent, but she may want even more distance than she gets here; #12 LUCKY DIME: Debuted with a third-place finish at this distance and may step forward at second asking if she draws in off the AE list. She’s worked well since her debut and showed some tactical speed in her unveiling.


Enjay’s Brass
Here Comes Jackie

#5 ENJAY’S BRASS: Was third against optional claiming foes earlier in the meet and gets the services of Jose Ortiz on the slight drop in class. She may have moved a hair early that day, and she’s improved in all three starts this season; #3 CONNECTIVITY: Loved the drop in class earlier in the meet, when she rolled home against lower-level claimers. She steps up for new trainer Linda Rice, and her prior connections thought highly enough of her to run her in a pair of stakes races; #2 HERE COMES JACKIE: Hasn’t won in a while, but drops into the claiming ranks for the first time and attracts Javier Castellano. This barn has hit the board with four of seven starters at this stand.


Smoken Deb
Excess Capacity

#6 CARRIZO: Has run well twice at the meet and exits a fast race for the level last time out. She’ll almost certainly be prominent from the second the gates open, and she could lead this one every step of the way; #7 SMOKEN DEB: Hasn’t run since March, but was tried in several tough spots earlier this season and has worked steadily ahead of her return. This barn has done very well with horses off of similar layoffs; #3 EXCESS CAPACITY: Capitalized on a perfect trip last time out and takes a big step up in class for new connections. She cuts back in distance, and Jose Ortiz hops aboard for the first time.


Frank’s Rockette
Mundaye Call

#2 FRANK’S ROCKETTE: Had a horrible trip in the Grade 2 Adirondack and was beaten just a half-length that day. It’s tough to believe she’ll have such horrible luck twice in a row, and she’s strictly the one to beat; #1 MUNDAYE CALL: Went way too fast early in her debut, but was still beaten just a head by a talented filly. For a Grade 1 sprint, there isn’t much true early speed signed on, so she could get to dictate terms at a price; #7 SHIPPY: Makes her third career start for a third different trainer following a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Schuylerville. She may not have been fully-cranked that day off of just one workout, and she’s worked steadily ahead of this race.


I Love Jaxson (MTO)
Graded On a Curve

#2 GRADED ON A CURVE: Never had a chance with the trip he got last time out, where he lacked running room at crucial times. A less-eventful journey would make him formidable in the Sunday finale; #5 OPT: Was second in that event, which was won by a next-out winner. He’s improved in each career start and should be running well late beneath Javier Castellano; #11 SALTKING: Graduated after a long layoff and tries winners for the first time. A contentious early pace would help him, as he does his best running in the stretch.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 9/1/18 (Woodward Day)


BANKROLL: $1,254.20

In any industry, one is prone to bonding with colleagues. Horse racing is no different, and I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by some extraordinary people over the course of my career. One of them is making his maiden voyage to Saratoga for Woodward Day, so it’s appropriate that I dedicate this section to him.

Danny Kovoloff is one of the kindest, most good-hearted people you’d ever hope to meet. He kept me sane for several years at a prior stop in my career, and was one of a few people I leaned on during a particularly rough situation about a year and a half ago. I owe him a lot, so here’s my request: If any of you readers out there run into him today, please ask him many questions about the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which doubles as his favorite race of all-time.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: We were alive to OK will-pays in our doubles, but could do no better than third in the second leg and dropped $20.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I think today’s Pick Four sequences are pretty attractive, and I’ll focus on the early one starting in the second race. My 50-cent ticket is as follows: 7,9 with 4,8,9 with 2,4,5,8 with 1,4,7. I’m trying to beat morning line favorite Weather Wiz in the payoff leg, and if that one fails to win, this could pay pretty well.



Best Bet: Raging Bull, Race 9
Longshot: Hence, Race 11


Frolic More
Fed Fever

#6 SIGNALMAN: Ran on late to be second behind an eventual graded stakes winner in his debut. He’s coming off a bit of a layoff, but he’s been working very well here for a barn that’s done well at the meet; #5 FROLIC MORE: Has been working lights-out here for a trainer that won with a debuting runner on Travers Day. If he runs to the work tab, he’s got a big shot to win first time out; #8 FED FEVER: Was bet a bit at first asking and finished well behind the promising Nitrous. He’s worked well since that race, and improvement seems logical at second asking.


Platinum Prince
Zoot Suit
Natural Order

#9 PLATINUM PRINCE: Was claimed last time out by Robertino Diodoro, who has strong numbers with new acquisitions. He hasn’t won in a while, but he drops to run here for aggressive connections; #7 ZOOT SUIT: Hasn’t run in a while and drops in class, but he could be tough if he channels some of his back turf form. He’s got plenty of early zip and should be prominent early; #8 NATURAL ORDER: Cuts way back in distance, but has some back turf sprints that aren’t bad. This barn has done well with a limited number of runners this meet, and Franco sees fit to ride back.


Business Cycle
House Limit

#4 BUSINESS CYCLE: Has run well in both of his career starts and looms large in this spot. His most recent race was his first outing since November, and any movement forward off of that race would make him incredibly tough to beat; #9 HOUSE LIMIT: Has been working very well ahead of his debut and draws well towards the outside. This isn’t the easiest spot in the world, but this barn’s gotten hot lately and must be respected; #8 BRASSTOWN: Makes his first start for Jorge Navarro after several outings at Woodbine. His lone dirt effort saw him check right out of the gate, which makes it an easy throw-out, and his recent works are sharp.


Team Colors
Night Prowler

#5 TEAM COLORS: Came flying late to miss by just a half-length last time out. He was claimed by Robertino Diodoro, and he could benefit from a race shape that figures to be kind to closers; #8 ATTRIBUTE: Certainly seems like the main speed in here, especially given the presence of aggressive rider Kendrick Carmouche. He chased a very talented horse home last time out, and he could overcome a pace that will likely be swift; #4 NIGHT PROWLER: Hasn’t won in nearly two years, but drops in class and adds blinkers for Chad Brown. He’ll likely get a pace to close into, and these are shallower waters than he’s used to.


Uncle Sigh

#7 PLAINSMAN: Makes his first start following a trainer switch to Brad Cox. This is a pace play, as while he hasn’t won in a while, every other horse wants to be on or near the lead, which could set things up for this one to pick up the pieces; #1 UNCLE SIGH: Was second against similar foes earlier in the meet and generally runs the same race every time out. He may need to go early to secure position from the rail, but his best could certainly win this; #4 WOODERSON: Graduated earlier in the meet, and while he sat a perfect trip, he came home very quickly. Rachel Alexandra’s younger half-brother may be coming into his own, but he’ll likely need to go much faster early on.


Noble Spirit
Noble Nebraskan
Spirit Animal

#2 NOBLE SPIRIT: Was a solid third in his debut going two turns, which is never an easy route to travel first time out. George Weaver saddles a pair of contenders in this race, and this one’s worked well since his unveiling; #7 NOBLE NEBRASKAN: May finally get a chance to run for Weaver after scratching several times earlier in the meet. He’s bred up and down to be a strong turf horse, and I’ve been waiting for him to debut for weeks; #3 SPIRIT ANIMAL: Was a distant fourth in an off-the-turf event, and every bit of his pedigree says he’s a grass horse, so I can draw a line through that race. This seems like the trip he wants, and these connections merit respect.


Long Haul Bay
Uno Mas Modelo
Devils Halo

#6 LONG HAUL BAY: Ran terribly in a state-bred stakes race, but that was such a departure from his prior form that I’m ignoring it. I think it’s likely he bounces back to his early-season form, and if he does, he’s got a big shot in a wide-open event; #3 UNO MAS MODELO: Has won two in a row, including a swiftly-run allowance race earlier in the meet at a big price. Javier Castellano rides in this spot for a barn that’s hit with four of its 12 local runners this summer; #7 DEVILS HALO: Has won two of his three starts and has shown a lot of early zip. This is a class test, but he’s bred to get better with experience, and the outside draw could be a big help.


Strike Me Down
Vegas Kitten

#4 STRIKE ME DOWN: Made a big middle move last time out against similar-level foes, only to be beaten a neck. He always seems to fire, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he shows a bit more early speed in this spot; #10 HIZEEM: Broke his maiden earlier in the meet and tries winners for the first time. He’s worked very well since that race and has a big shot, but he must negotiate a trip from the far outside post; #2 VEGAS KITTEN: Add blinkers for the first time after an OK showing at this level in late-July. His lone win came when he was close to the pace, and the blinkers could get him involved early on.


Raging Bull
Golden Brown

#3 RAGING BULL: Had a lot going against him in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame, but rallied and got up in the last jump over yielding going. The faster they go early, the more he figures to like it, and there’s some speed signed on here; #7 THERAPIST: Has won six of eight career starts, and while he’s beaten weaker groups in his last two outings, there’s a chance he’s peaking coming into this race. His flexibility is a plus, and he may be a bit of a price given the class jump; #4 GOLDEN BROWN: Prevailed in the Grade 3 Kent two back, where he beat eventual Grade 1 Secretariat winner Carrick. A dirt experiment in the Grade 1 Haskell didn’t go well, but this seems like the right level and spot for him.


Chasing Yesterday
Restless Rider
Virginia Eloise

#7 CHASING YESTERDAY: Is the younger sister of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and ran very well in her debut at Del Mar. Baffert and Smith mean business when they come to Saratoga, and she’s been working very well ahead of this Grade 1 event; #11 RESTLESS RIDER: Has done nothing wrong to this point, as she’s gone 2 for 2 with two daylight wins. She has a recent bullet work to her credit over the training track, and the outside draw could be a boost; #3 VIRGINIA ELOISE: Made up lots of ground in the Grade 2 Adirondack, where she missed by just a half-length. There’s a ton of speed signed on, and this one’s bred to want the additional distance some of her opponents may be dreading.


Seeking the Soul

#9 GUNNEVERA: Came back running against a much weaker group at Gulfstream in a prep for this Grade 1 event. He was second in last year’s Travers and won the 2016 Saratoga Special here, so the surface isn’t a problem, and there’s a chance he’s only getting better in his 4-year-old campaign; #10 SEEKING THE SOUL: Missed by a head last time out in his first start since January, but that race was not the goal. He’s worked very well since that race, and he figures to be going the right direction late; #5 HENCE: Is inconsistent and sometimes throws in dull efforts, but when he’s right, he’s quite good. He could clunk up for a piece of it in a wide-open renewal of the Woodward.


Santa Monica
Lady Montdore

#5 SANTA MONICA: Has won two of three starts since coming to North America, including the Grade 2 Dance Smartly. She’s taken steps forward in every one of those outings, and her best race would make her very tough; #3 ONTHEMOONAGAIN: Had a rough trip in her North American debut, where she did not get through along the rail. She should improve off of that showing, and her races in France indicate that the added distance won’t be a problem; #8 LADY MONTDORE: Romped at this route earlier in the meet in a race that doubled as her first start in 11 months. A bounce is possible, but she’s another that showed potential overseas and could simply be putting things together with experience.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 9/2/17


BANKROLL: $878.35

Closing weekend is upon us at Saratoga, and as usual, there’s a lot going on. Saturday’s card boasts two Grade 1 races, one of which is headlined by the top handicap horse on the grounds. Meanwhile, the Labor Day program features the Grade 1 Hopeful, and that’s an intriguing race considering the relative lack of standouts in the 2-year-old male division to this point. This’ll be fun, and hopefully we’ll cash a few tickets along the way!

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: We had nothing behind New York’s Finest in the seventh, and Lem Me Dance was off the board despite an OK effort (missed the break and ran wide). We dropped $30.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’m going to keep this simple with a pair of $25 plays. I’ll punch a $25 double using top Spinaway pick #1 SEPARATIONOFPOWERS with #2 GUN RUNNER in the Woodward, and I’ll play a cold $25 exacta using Gun Runner with #1 NEOLITHIC.



Best Bet: Gun Runner, Race 11
Longshot: Always a Suspect, Race 7


Driven by Thunder
Borsa Vento
Honor Thy Father

DRIVEN BY THUNDER: Drops way down in class for aggressive connections and has never run a bad race on a fast dirt course. This trainer/jockey tandem merits respect, and he seems like the one to beat; BORSA VENTO: Graduated last time out and was claimed out of that race by Steven Asmussen, who does strong work with new acquisitions. This is his first outing against winners, but his most recent effort was solid; HONOR THY FATHER: Drops down in class, and he made some noise as a 2-year-old when running in a few stakes races. It can be argued his best effort was in the Ellis Park Juvenile, which was run around one turn, and he comes back to that route here.


Say the Word

MARAUD: Is bred up and down to be a very good turf horse. He’s a half to graded stakes winner Arklow, his female family is very distinguished, and he’s got a few strong local works on the tap; OROSCOPO: Fetched $325k at auction earlier this year and has the pedigree to love turf. He’s by Orb, whose first offspring have taken to the lawn in a big, big way; SAY THE WORD: Is another bred for the grass, and he ships down for a Canadian owning and breeding institution. A trip through the pedigree leads to third dam Dance Smartly, one of the top Canadian thoroughbreds in history.


Bluegrass Jamboree
Frosty Gal
Palladian Bridge

BLUEGRASS JAMBOREE: Has yet to run a bad race in four career starts. She was second at this level despite a rough trip, and the rider switch to John Velazquez is notable; FROSTY GAL: Has run in three stakes races this season and should find this level more to her liking. Several local workouts are solid; PALLADIAN BRIDGE: Hasn’t won in a while, but comes back to her preferred surface after chasing a next-out stakes winner on turf last time out. She should be prominent early, and her best is good enough for a piece of it.


Slim Shadey
Docs Legacy

SLIM SHADEY: Stood up last time out at this level and route, winning a swiftly-run race for the level. This veteran did get an ideal trip that day, but there’s plenty of speed signed on here and he could come running once again; DOCS LEGACY: Pulled off a 31-1 upset against similar foes earlier in the meet and cuts back in distance. He needs some luck to draw in, but must be respected if he does; INDEBTED: Ran second behind my second selection last time out and was claimed out of that race by a small barn that’s done tremendous work with new acquisitions. He’s another closer that needs a pace to run at, but he should get it.


Phi Beta Express (MTO)
J. S. Choice

J. S. CHOICE: Was a solid second last time out in a weirdly-run race. The winner got loose on an uncontested lead early on, and this one didn’t miss by much. There’s plenty of speed signed on here, which is a plus; FUNTASTIC: Graduated last time out in his turf debut, and this trainer/jockey combination has been tremendous all meet long. He could be good enough to beat winners in his first start at the level; LUNAIRE: Has run against much better horses for most of this season and was way too far back last time out at Delaware Park. He should appreciate the class relief he gets in this spot. DIRT SELECTIONS: PHI BETA EXPRESS, LENSTAR, SOUND OFF.



LIONITE: Chased the possible Hopeful favorite last time out in his debut for a barn whose runners sometimes need a race to get going. He could take a big step forward today, and his pedigree suggests the added distance won’t be a problem; SLOT: Ran on well late to be third in his debut behind a few live runners, including one that runs in Monday’s Hopeful. This is another that should improve stretching out at second asking; VENEZUELA: Seems the most live of all of the first-time starters in here. He fetched $300k at auction last year, has worked well, and has a strong female pedigree (his dam, second dam, and third dam were all stakes-winners).


Always a Suspect
Gift Box
Servis entry

ALWAYS A SUSPECT: Came off a brief freshening last time out and ran well, finishing less than a length behind Woodward entrant Neolithic. There’s a lot of speed signed on here, so I’m inclined to pick a horse that doesn’t need to be on or near the lead to run well; GIFT BOX: Was a highly-regarded 3-year-old in 2016 and ran fourth behind Arrogate in the Travers. He hasn’t run since, and while his best race likely wins, he also probably wants to go much longer than this route; SERVIS ENTRY: I prefer STILL KRZ, who was third in the Decathlon behind two next-out winners. One of those horses was Vanderbilt winner El Deal, so there’s lots of back class here.


Create a Dream
Dubb entry

THAIS: Makes her North American debut after showing plenty of class in Europe. Her prior connections thought enough of her to try her against boys in last year’s Group 1 Grand Criterium, and she’s since hit the board in two Group 3 events; CREATE A DREAM: Makes her 2017 debut after a solid 2-year-old campaign saw her win a stakes race and run fourth in two graded events, including the Albany at Royal Ascot. Chad Brown could easily run 1-2 in this spot; DUBB ENTRY: TRUTH IN THE LIES steps up in class after an impressive win in her first start for these connections, while LITERATA won a stakes race here last time out and is the one to beat if this gets rained off the turf.


Bricks and Mortar
Voodoo Song

BRICKS AND MORTAR: Is 4-for-4 and looked great in winning a Grade 2 here earlier in the meet. He’s improved with every start, and is strictly the one to beat in here; YOSHIDA: Was beaten less than a length by my top pick last out and is another that seems to be improving with experience. He’s hinted at major talent in the past and can’t be ignored; VOODOO SONG: Has won three times at this meet and takes a step up in class in his search for a fourth local win in less than two months. I’m not sure he’s got the talent of my top two, but he figures to make the early lead, and at least you know he loves this turf course.


Pure Silver
Lady Ivanka

SEPARATIONOFPOWERS: Was probably the most impressive maiden-breaker of the entire meet. She dominated an overmatched field earlier in the meet, and if she improves off of that performance, look out; PURE SILVER: Ran away with the Grade 2 Adirondack and will likely be favored. A repeat of that race would make her tough, but I’m just not sure what she beat that day; LADY IVANKA: Romped by eight in her unveiling last month. She looked great that day, but the runner-up threw in a clunker at next asking, and that’s a red flag.


Gun Runner
Rally Cry

GUN RUNNER: Is arguably the best older horse in the country and romped at this route in the Grade 1 Whitney. He should sit another perfect trip, and his best race wins this handily; NEOLITHIC: Clearly needed the race last time out when all-out to top optional claimers going shorter than he probably wants to go. He was third behind Arrogate and Gun Runner in Dubai, and I think he’ll take a big step forward in his second start off the layoff; RALLY CRY: Was very sharp in winning the Alydar, and he’ll likely take most of the “wise guy” money from those looking to go against my top pick. However, that race was a considerable step forward, and he didn’t beat a lot there, so a bounce is very possible.


War Flag

SARANDIA: Ran well in her North American debut when beaten less than three lengths in the Grade 1 Beverly D. by several top-notch runners. I’m taking the stance that that was a much tougher race than the ones others in here exit, and as such, she gets my top pick in a wide-open race; WAR FLAG: Was a close second in the Grade 3 Matchmaker, and among those she beat was Grade 1 winner Miss Temple City. She’s bred to go this route of ground, and note the presence of Jose Ortiz; ESTRECHADA: Beat many of these rivals in the Grade 3 Waya at a similar route. Javier Castellano rides back, and she merits respect.