SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (7/23/20)
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.
TOTAL WAGERED: $22.50
Best Bet: Financialstability, Race 10
Longshot: Invest, Race 2
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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.
#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.
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.
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.
#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
#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.