SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/23/20)


BANKROLL: $908.50

One of the great things about steeplechase racing is the chance it offers for thoroughbreds to have fruitful second careers. Ones that may be underachievers on the flat can find their form over fences, and it’s always cool to see that happen.

Snap Decision won his sixth straight race in taking Wednesday’s Jonathan Kiser. He did so while carrying an enormous impost of 162 pounds and making up lots of ground in the sprint for home, which isn’t something you see very often in steeplechase races. One has to think a graded stakes race is on the horizon for him, and it’ll be cool to see if his ascent continues when he tries those deeper waters.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: Money was in on Tenderfoot, who was bet down from 4-1 to 3/2 before the gates were sprung in the fourth. However, he was one-paced and finished off the board, which kept me in the red.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: I really like the late Pick Four sequence, assuming races carded for turf stay there. My 50-cent ticket starting in the seventh race reads as follows: 3,8,9,10,12 with 1,4,9 with 1,4,5 with 11. I think this may be a way to squeeze some value out of a short-priced favorite in the nightcap, one that doubles as my best bet of the day.



Best Bet: Financialstability, Race 10
Longshot: Invest, Race 2


Optimus Prime

#5 MOSCATO: Came back running with an easy score against Grade 3 foes and looms large for world-class steeplechase trainer Jack Fisher. His lone true misfire since a long layoff came in last year’s Lonesome Glory, when he bobbled near a fence; #3 OPTIMUS PRIME: Won the 2018 New York Turf Writers Cup and will be tough if he’s right. The question is, can he fire his best shot off a layoff of more than a year?; #2 PRAVALAGUNA: Is another coming in off a long break, but won her U.S. Debut by eight lengths and is ambitiously spotted by Fisher. She’s got plenty of early zip and will likely be prominent for most of the running.


Thomas Shelby
Northern Haze

#4 INVEST: May be a bit of a price off of a last-out clunker. However, he chased a solid pace that day, and this seems like a bit of a class drop. Rosario sees fit to ride, and if he gets comfortable early, he could be tough to run down; #6 THOMAS SHELBY: Takes a gigantic drop for owner/trainer Wesley Ward and has enough back form to go off of. Is this just a move by an aggressive outfit with lots of horses and wins, or is this an attempt to dump the horse?; #8 NORTHERN HAZE: Makes sense if you toss his last two races, and I think there’s reason to do that. He was off for five months after his race in December and broke terribly in his return downstate. He’s run well here in the past, and this is a barn capable of popping at a price.


Stunning Princess
Lost Lake
Mo Normal

#4 STUNNING PRINCESS: Has been working lights-out ahead of her debut, and I’m looking forward to seeing if that form translates to talent in the afternoons. Danny Gargan and Manny Franco have done great work together of late, and it seems as though there’s lots to like; #7 LOST LAKE: Is the only runner in here with experience, and that could be a big help. She’s by Noble Mission and bred for turf, so I’m not too turned off by the first-out clunker at Monmouth; #3 MO NORMAL: Debuts for the red-hot Christophe Clement barn, but there’s some stuff I’m not crazy about. She’s only got one five-furlong work on her tab, and while her dam was a multiple stakes winner, she hasn’t come close to reproducing herself yet.


Dixie Cannon
Nicky Scissors

#1 FRESCO: May be a heavy favorite, which isn’t something said often about maidens in stakes races. However, she’s run well going two turns against open company for powerful connections, and the rest of this field isn’t any great shakes; #2 DIXIE CANNON: Comes up from Maryland to run against state-breds for the first time. She’s won twice going two turns and likely needed her seasonal debut off of a long hiatus; #6 NICKY SCISSORS: Has left the Jason Servis barn and will make her first start for Brad Cox. She’s here in the event rain hits and moves the race to the dirt.


Instinctive Rhythm
Ahead of Plan

#7 INSTINCTIVE RHYTHM: Hammered for $350,000 at auction last year and has been training very well for George Weaver ahead of his debut. There are lots of bullets on the tab, and Castellano’s presence could be telling; #2 O’TROUBLE: Showed speed last time out in his first race since August, where he tired to finish third in a swiftly-run race. He should be in line for a step forward second off the bench; #4 AHEAD OF PLAN: Has burned money as the favorite in all three prior starts and has not run since August of last year. He’s been gelded and goes out for Chad Brown, but given his likely status as a short-priced favorite, I’m going elsewhere.


Primacy (MTO)

#8 SIMPLICITY: Is a European invader getting Lasix for the first time, which is one of my favorite angles. Her prior connections thought enough of her to run her in five stakes races in France last season, and the Rosario/Clement tag team is formidable; #5 BAREEQA: Is a fun mare to root for, with 13 wins in 44 career starts and earnings of nearly a half-million dollars. She’s shown a powerful closing kick, and I don’t think she’s lost a step as a 7-year-old; #1 BALON ROSE: Goes second off the layoff for Chad Brown and didn’t have a great trip in her return at Churchill Downs. She could win, but her only prior score came with a perfect trip at Aqueduct and this race came up pretty salty.


Fierce Lady
Bustin to Please
My Roxy Girl

#3 FIERCE LADY: Hits me as the one to beat in a huge field, provided she’s ready to run off the bench. She’s been going against stakes-quality opposition since breaking her maiden last year, and she could have the speed to wire this group; #12 BUSTIN TO PLEASE: Came running late to score against claimers at Belmont and certainly deserves a try against this kind of opposition. She’s 6-for-11 lifetime, and sometimes horses just know how to find the wire; #8 MY ROXY GIRL: Returns from the sidelines for Linda Rice, who’s enjoyed a strong start to the summer. Her two-back win against open starter allowance foes was good, and she won here impressively a season ago.


French Reef
Its a Wrap

#4 FRENCH REEF: Showed speed in his debut at Aqueduct, and while he hasn’t been seen since November, he’s worked well for the Brown barn and looms large. It’s tough to debut going long, and I think he may have gotten a lot out of that experience; #1 MODESTO: Has looked like a runner in morning drills for first-out wizard Wesley Ward. He’s by Uncle Mo and has shown zip in several gate drills, which leads me to believe the rail draw may not be a problem; #9 ITS A WRAP: Draws wide second off the bench after being DQ’d from second against similar downstate. He’s got early speed and may have a chance to clear the field from that outside post going into the turn.


Honest Mischief
Wendell Fong

#4 HONEST MISCHIEF: Heads a stakes-caliber allowance event, and has looked like a top-tier sprinter at times during his career. There’s no shame in running second behind Volatile, as he did in his comeback race, and it helps that he doesn’t necessarily need the lead; #5 MIHOS: Cuts back in distance after a dud in the Grade 3 Westchester, and this hits me as the route he wants. His score going seven furlongs two back was strong, and the recent bullet at Belmont indicates he’s in good form; #1 WENDELL FONG: Chased Whitmore twice this spring at Oaklawn and makes his first start for Robertino Diodoro, who tends to move horses up quickly. He’s got enough zip to go early from his inside post, which could make him competitive the whole way around.


Mine the Coin
Deputy Flag

#11 FINANCIALSTABILITY: Appears the most likely winner on the card thanks to his back form and a significant class drop for powerful connections. He draws well with the outside post and doesn’t appear to be facing a strong group for the condition; #9 MINE THE COIN: Was second against similar at Belmont in a race that saw him step forward pretty dramatically. If another step forward is in the offing third off the bench, he could be a player at a price; #3 DEPUTY FLAG: Misfired in a turf experiment that came first off a five-month break. I can easily forgive that race, and despite my concerns about his staying power, I concede he looks like the main early speed.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/9/17


BANKROLL: $970.75

A friend of mine told me this Monday, and I still can’t believe it: Wednesday’s card kicks off the fourth week of racing this summer at Saratoga. What’s more, Saturday’s card is the 20th program of the meet, marking the official halfway point. In a word…yikes.

Got a question or comment? Tweet me at @AndrewChampagne, and you may see my response in print.

MONDAY’S RESULTS: We took a shot with longshot Quanique in the second, but the big price didn’t fire. As such, we dropped $15, but as you’ll see, that hasn’t deterred me from taking a similar approach with another horse I like that could be a very juicy price.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: For the first (and possibly only) time this summer, my bankroll play comes in a steeplechase race. #2 PLATED has shown an affinity for distances similar to this route of ground, and he’s been running against better groups. I’ll put $5 across the board on him, and I’ll gladly take his 12-1 odds if I can get them!



Best Bet: Sunset Ridge, Race 2
Longshot: Plated, Race 1


No Wunder
Selection Sunday

PLATED: Has shown an affinity for distances similar to this route. He’s also been running against some classy steeplechases fields of late, and given that this distance is a question mark for many in here, I’m inclined to take a swing; NO WUNDER: Chased stakes foes earlier in the meet and drops down in class. He hasn’t yet beaten winners over fences, but he graduated over a similar distance to one he’ll run here; SELECTION SUNDAY: Would be tough to beat if he channeled his 2014 and 2015 form. He won a stakes race at this distance back in 2015.


Sunset Ridge
Silly Sister
Tiznow’s Smile

SUNSET RIDGE: Has won the first two starts of her career for a powerhouse barn. She’s worked well since an eight-length score downstate in June, and further improvement would make her tough to beat; SILLY SISTER: Has won two in a row since switching to dirt and seems like the main threat to my top pick (likely an odds-on favorite). Her tactical speed is a plus, especially given the rail draw; TIZNOW’S SMILE: Has not finished out of the money since her debut, and that stretch includes a half-dozen tries in state-bred stakes company. This barn has done well to this point in the meet.


Wildcat Belle (MTO)
Spectacular Me

LAMONTAGNE: Drops way down in class for this and is a threat to wire the field. Her running lines feature many stakes-quality horses, and this barn is due for a hot streak; SPECTACULAR ME: Likes this route of ground and is another dropping in class. She crossed the wire second in a minor stakes race two back, and her best race would make her a major player; DOUBLE DOSE: Won three in a row earlier this year and would benefit from an early battle up front. The main question marks are the post position and her poor record over this turf course. DIRT SELECTIONS: WILDCAT BELLE, RECKLESS HUMOR, SPECTACULAR ME.


Everybody Loves Me
Hint of Mint
Princess Char

EVERYBODY LOVES ME: Fetched $315k at auction and has been working very strongly ahead of her debut. The rail draw isn’t ideal, but if she runs to her recent drills, look out; HINT OF MINT: Ships in for Midwestern connections and also boasts a series of flashy preps. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because this pedigree seems to indicate longer races, perhaps on turf; PRINCESS CHAR: Boasts a recent five-furlong bullet workout as well as a strong pedigree. Her dam placed in numerous graded stakes races going short, and this one seems well-meant in her debut.


Sidd Finch
Singapore Trader
Fox Strike

SIDD FINCH: Took a considerable step forward in his turf debut, running third going shorter downstate. A nod to brilliant scribe George Plimpton, this gelding could embrace the two-turn route he gets today; SINGAPORE TRADER: Faltered at even money in his unveiling on dirt and tries turf. The pedigree screams distance, and these connections merit plenty of respect; FOX STRIKE: Debuted in a race taken off the turf, which means the lackluster showing is easily forgiven. He’s bred to love the grass and could improve at second asking. DIRT SELECTIONS: SINGAPORE TRADER, CAN’TWEALLGETALONG, EVALUATOR.


Crimson Frost (MTO)
Tiz a Kitten
Fahan Mura

TIZ A KITTEN: Showed speed and stopped badly against better last out at Belmont, but ran very well in her previous four starts. Jose Ortiz piloted her to both of her wins earlier this season, and he’s back aboard; FAHAN MURA: Adds blinkers and has not run a truly bad race on turf since her debut. Clement’s numbers with horses adding hoods are very strong; CHA CHA HEELS: Hasn’t won in a while, but has shown a strong closing kick of late and should benefit from a class drop. The faster they go early, the more this one should like it. DIRT SELECTIONS: CRIMSON FROST, CHA CHA HEELS, NISHA.


Cool as You Like
Verdant Pastures
Three Eighty Eight

COOL AS YOU LIKE: Has improved with every start and rallied from well off a slow pace last month at Belmont. This is a step up in class, but there seems to be speed signed on and this doesn’t seem like a strong race for the level; VERDANT PASTURES: Has worked very well of late ahead of her first start since March. Her best races have come around two turns; THREE EIGHTY EIGHT: Is a short price on the morning line, and her best is competitive, but she hasn’t won in a while. Her lone win came against maiden claimers, so if she’s a short price, she may be a favorite worth trying to beat.


On My Toes
City Section

ON MY TOES: Unsurprisingly took to the grass last time out and cruised home in a swift time at Indiana Grand. She’s by More Than Ready and out of a Theatrical mare, and while this spot is much tougher than her last one, there seems to be potential here; THRICE: Defeated a weaker group earlier in the meet and was claimed out of that race by Mike Maker. She’s yet to finish worse than second in four starts, and her usual race puts her right there; CITY SECTION: Was second against a starter allowance group at Belmont last month and attracts Javier Castellano, who doesn’t ride for this barn much. DIRT SELECTIONS: QUEENOFTHECHANNEL, INDYGITA, ON MY TOES.


The Money Monster
Expedited Vision
Blind Ambition

THE MONEY MONSTER: Has never tried turf, but is a pace play here. The other entrants will likely all be gunning for the lead early. If this one takes to turf at all, he should be running best of all late; EXPEDITED VISION: Has won the first two starts of his career, including a six-length romp on dirt last time out. This is a class test for him, but it helps that he showed he does not need the lead; BLIND AMBITION: Faltered when trying Grade 3 company last time out after winning two in a row. His lone turf effort earned a high Beyer Speed Figure, and these connections mean business. DIRT SELECTIONS: SAME.


Divine Caroline
Ouro Verde

LOOSE: Drops down in class and looks much more appealing if you only consider races run over fast dirt tracks. Her efforts two and four back were okay, and this seems like a far weaker spot than what she’s used to; DIVINE CAROLINE: Debuts in this spot and has several sharp workouts. Given the $75k purchase price, the $20k tag is a red flag, but she may not need to be much to beat these; OURO VERDE: Woke up a bit when dropped to this level last time out. Improvement is logical second off the brief layoff.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/4/17


BANKROLL: $967.25

I had something witty cued up for this section before the fatal breakdown of Fall Colors in Thursday’s steeplechase race. No matter how long you’ve been in this game, there’s never a point where that stuff doesn’t affect you. My heart goes out to the connections of the fallen horse, who went through unimaginable pain yesterday.

One quick thing: If you think steeplechase racing is at fault for this, you’re wrong. Science has shown that most steeplechase falls are much, much safer than those that occur on the flat, and this part of the game gives many at-risk horses a second career. Being sad about the breakdown is rational, as is abstaining from betting steeplechase races because of the added jumps involved. Blaming the nature of those races for the breakdown we saw Thursday is not.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: We were alive to some pretty nice doubles heading into the fifth, but the horses we used in that race did not include 15-1 shot Tarawa, who won going away. As such, we dropped $30.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the eighth race of a very difficult card. #4 PETROV was nearly my best bet of the day given his back class, and given the big field that will go postward, we may get his 3-1 morning line price. I’ll put $5 on him to win and place and key him in $2 exacta plays that use him above and below #7 POCKET SQUARE, #9 PORTFOLIO MANAGER, #10 DIVINE INTERVENTIO, and #11 LENSTAR.



Best Bet: Switzerland, Race 3
Longshot: Team Colors, Race 5


Sand City
Corey Q

SAND CITY: Has run just one bad race on dirt, and that effort was followed by a six-month layoff, so it’s safe to assume something went wrong that day. This barn has quietly had a very strong start to the meet; COREY Q: Drops down in class and goes back to dirt for one of the top barns on the grounds. Her debut on dirt wasn’t bad, but demand value on this one before moving forward; LIGHTWORKER: Was a good second in her debut at Delaware against weaker foes. This is a class test for her, but she could improve at second asking and may be a bit of a price.


Luna Rising
Talkn Til Midnight

LUNA RISING: Showed interest early on in the meet against better before fading late. She was up close to a pretty fast pace that day, and she should sit an easier trip here; BAHNAHNO: Takes a huge class drop and may benefit from some speed having signed on. The rail isn’t ideal for her running style, but the faster they go early, the better this one figures to like it; TALKN TIL MIDNIGHT: Cuts back in distance, returns to dirt, and is another taking a big drop in class. This barn must be respected in spots like these.


Fully Vested (MTO)

SWITZERLAND: Completely missed the break last time out, and as such, you can draw a line through that effort. His dam was a strong turf runner, so he should take to the lawn just fine; SETHARY: Woke up in his turf debut, running a good second against maiden claimers. This is a tougher field, but he does figure to be the main speed; FACTORIAL: Probably needed his last race, which came off a layoff of nearly five months. The top three finishers from that event have all come back to win at next asking. DIRT SELECTIONS: SWITZERLAND, FULLY VESTED, UNCLE PANCHO.


Big Expense
My Roxy Girl

PAUSEFORTHECAUSE: Has worked well ahead of her unveiling. This barn isn’t the best with first-time starters, but this one was bred to be a real runner (her dam was Grade 1-placed); BIG EXPENSE: Is another who may need a race, but she’s flashed potential in several downstate drills. The ones that have run before don’t impress me much, so I’ll use this firster at a bit of a price; MY ROXY GIRL: Probably has the most potential to move up of all the runners who have race experience. The jockey switch to Castellano is huge, especially since he doesn’t ride for this barn much.


Schivarelli (MTO)
Team Colors

FORGE: Broke through last time out at Churchill, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. He’s flashed potential dating back to his time in Europe, and he may be reaching a high level; TEAM COLORS: Would be a tremendous value play at anywhere close to the morning line. He comes back to the turf, where he’s run a number of high-quality races, and he gets significant class relief; MONSTER BEA: Is another accomplished turf runner who drops in from graded stakes company. This barn got off to a cold start to the meet, but this gelding is a contender in this spot. DIRT SELECTIONS: SCHIVARELLI, TEAM COLORS, LINE JUDGE.


Barrel of Dreams
Style Drift

TIZELLE: Came back running off the long layoff, winning an entry-level allowance downstate. She’s done very little wrong in three career starts, and we may not have seen the best of her yet; BARREL OF DREAMS: Loves Saratoga, having won here twice a year ago. Her last-out effort was an improvement, and her best race could win this; STYLE DRIFT: Hasn’t been seen in nearly two years, but did not run a bad race in four starts before the extended break, and the Chad Brown barn merits respect. DIRT SELECTIONS: YOUNG ANNA LEE, BARREL OF DREAMS, IRON MIZZ.


Lifelong Dreamer
Italian Syndicate

LIFELONG DREAMER: Probably lost all chance at the break last time out in his search for a third straight win. Gary Gullo does excellent work with new acquisitions, and top rider Jose Ortiz will be in the irons; CURTIS: Takes a big drop in class for aggressive connections after running against some tough 3-year-olds in each of his last two starts. The recent bullet drill could indicate he’s sitting on a nice race; ITALIAN SYNDICATE: Was a spectacular flop at 3/5 when last seen. He was claimed out of that race by a high-percentage barn, and if you draw a line through that race, he certainly fits.


Divine Interventio
Pocket Square

PETROV: Spent most of the spring on the Derby trail and has run against graded stakes foes in each of his last five starts. He was fourth behind likely Allen Jerkens favorite American Anthem at this distance two back, and a similar race wins this; DIVINE INTERVENTIO: Hasn’t run a bad race since cutting back to sprint distances last fall. He was third behind Coal Front in his last start and should be coming late; POCKET SQUARE: Went wire-to-wire in his first start off a long layoff. His July 22nd work was very sharp, and given his relative inexperience, we may get a price.


Bricks and Mortar
Snap Decision

BRICKS AND MORTAR: Is a perfect 3-for-3 and beat several of these foes last time out in a stakes race downstate. He won going two turns in his debut and could be another top-class turf runner for this barn; YOSHIDA: May not have wanted the Belmont Derby distance, and the slow pace set in front of him didn’t help. He showed tons of talent in his stakes win two back and cannot be ignored; SNAP DECISION: Was second behind my top pick two back and most recently won a solid optional claimer. The runner-up has since come back to win, and this one could sit a perfect stalking trip here.


Set Me Up
Calculated Risker
Captain Kidd

SET ME UP: Needs lots of luck to draw in but looks imposing on the drop in class if he does. His turf races last year against straight maidens were not bad, and these connections mean business; CALCULATED RISKER: Also drops in class off of a solid last-out effort going shorter. This barn hasn’t gotten off to a great start, but this seems like a logical spot for this morning-line favorite; CAPTAIN KIDD: Was handed no favors when rating off of a slow pace last time out, yet rallied to be beaten just a length. Two turns is a question mark, but this gelding seems to be in good form. DIRT SELECTIONS: ARTHUR AVENUE, MR. MASSENA, CALCULATED RISKER.