SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/27/22; TRAVERS DAY)


BANKROLL: $809.45

It’s Travers Day, which means I’ll have one of my biggest audiences of the year. After last week’s sojourn to Saratoga, there’s only one thing I could use this space for. If it resonates with just one casual track-goer, I’ll consider it a victory.

For 150 years, it has been tradition to observe seats with newspapers, coolers, or other things on them as taken. Yes, seating is at a premium, but folks who get to the track when the doors open, set up camp, and go to the bathroom between races shouldn’t come back to see their picnic tables, benches, or chairs vultured by other people.

My father and I had our clubhouse bench vultured five different times last Saturday, a few when we were standing just a few feet away talking to friends (once when I was sitting down and someone decided they were entitled to the rest of the bench, which was covered). I was raised to believe this is unacceptable behavior, and I’ll always feel that way.

Several people I call friends feel differently about this. They’re incorrect. This has been a tradition for 150 years, and the beauty of Saratoga is that traditions that don’t matter elsewhere matter here. Keep that in mind when you’re at the track, both today and each time you head to the Spa.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Unfortunately, the Yaddo was one of several intriguing grass races washed off the turf. My action was cancelled.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: If you watched Thursday’s live-streamed HHH Racing Podcast, you saw me give out a 50-cent Pick Five beginning in the seventh race. I’ll play that ticket here, and it goes as follows: 1,2,3,5,7,8 with 6 with 1,2,3,5 with 1,3,6,8 with 6.



Best Bet: Jackie’s Warrior, Race 5
Longshot: Soldier Rising, Race 10


Game Warden
Standard of Proof

#3 VERIFYING: Hammered for $775,000 at auction last year, and for good reason. He’s by Justify and out of a mare named Diva Delite, which makes him a half-brother to Midnight Bisou. He’s worked well for Brad Cox and looms large in his unveiling bright and early on Travers Saturday; #1 GAME WARDEN: Has several strong works for Bill Mott and may be talented enough to overcome the inside draw. His female family includes the dam of champion Saint Liam, and my biggest hesitation is thinking he may well want more than this six-furlong distance; #7 STANDARD OF PROOF: Sold for $170,000 last fall and has been working consistently for the meet’s leading trainer. The outside draw is a plus, and while I think there’s more turf to his bottom-side pedigree than dirt, offspring of Gun Runner can generally perform on anything.


America’s Guest
Triple Start
Take Me to Jimmy

#7 AMERICA’S GUEST: Rallied a bit to be fifth in his debut for a trainer whose horses tend to need a race to get going. This colt gets a big rider switch to Irad Ortiz, Jr., and sports a recent four-furlong drill that hints he’s sitting on a considerable move forward at second asking; #5 TRIPLE START: Has a pedigree that says he’ll love this two-turn trip. He’s a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Persistently and stakes-placed runner Award It, his second dam is Hall of Famer Heavenly Prize, and offspring of American Pharoah tend to like turf; #8 TAKE ME TO JIMMY: Is a half-brother to multiple Grade 3 winner Tammy the Torpedo and has plenty of class in the bottom side of her pedigree. This daughter of Kitten’s Joy sold for $335,000 across the street last summer, and this outfit must be respected in these races.


On the Hill
Great Workout

#1 ON THE HILL: Won an open starter allowance event last time out and comes back into the state-bred ranks for this seven-furlong event. Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and I certainly don’t see this spot as a class hike. A repeat of the last-out effort may very well be enough; #9 GREAT WORKOUT: Cuts back to one turn after going too long when fifth in a two-turn race last month. His two-back effort was a winning one, albeit against claimers, but that 89 Beyer Speed Figure shows his best may be good enough to win this at a bit of a price; #3 COLORMEPAZZI: Didn’t have an ideal trip last time out, when he was forced to rate behind a fast pace and never kicked on. He wants to be on the lead, and I don’t think he’ll need to overextend himself in order to get there in this event.


Technical Analysis
Fluffy Socks

#5 TECHNICAL ANALYSIS: Hasn’t run a poor race in more than a year, a stretch that includes two local graded stakes wins and a second in the Grade 1 Diana. She certainly looks like the lone speed in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa, and I think she’ll get very comfortable early on and prove tough to catch; #2 LEMISTA: Ended a two-year drought with a win in the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth Park last month. She seems to connect with Flavien Prat, who also rode her to a Grade 1 placing last summer, and she has enough tactical speed to sit a good stalking trip; #4 FLUFFY SOCKS: Has hit the board in 12 of 15 lifetime starts, most of which have been graded stakes races. Her usual race gets her a piece of this one, but it’s fair to wonder if she’s turned into a bit of a hanger given an inability to capitalize on some very nice setups this season.


Jackie’s Warrior
Cody’s Wish
Baby Yoda

#3 JACKIE’S WARRIOR: Will look to run his local record to 6-for-6 in the Grade 1 Forego, and it’s tough to see him getting much of a test here. He couldn’t have won the Grade 1 Vanderbilt any easier, we know he can get the extra furlong this race carries with it, and I think he’ll be a popular single; #5 CODY’S WISH: Has won five of his last six and has clearly turned into a very good one-turn miler. He’s posted back-to-back triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, but I wonder if this seven-furlong trip is a bit shorter than his best distance; #1 BABY YODA: Is another that loves Saratoga, with a 3-for-3 local mark. One of those races saw him post a freakish 114 Beyer Speed Figure, and he exits a solid score at this route early in the meet.


Luni Sima
Life Changer

#8 LUNI SIMA: Lost all chance at the start last time out, when he settled for fourth behind some talented runners at this level downstate. His races prior to that this season were pretty solid, his lone start at seven furlongs was a win at Gulfstream Park, and I think he’ll be going the right way late; #2 LIFE CHANGER: Was second earlier this meet after setting a legitimate early pace, and he’s another that sports a win at this tricky seven-furlong distance. Joel Rosario rides back for John Terranova, and he seems like the main early speed; #5 BALTASAR: Is a consistent sort that generally runs the same race every time. He was fourth last month in the same race my second choice exits, and he has enough tactical speed to work out an ideal stalking trip in what hits me as a wide-open starter allowance.


Ranger Fox
Maxwell Esquire

#5 RANGER FOX: Sure looks far better if you toss his route races. His last-out victory going short on turf at Belmont was very good, he seems like the main speed here, and a step forward second off the bench would make him a tough one to reel in; #2 MAXWELL ESQUIRE: Cuts back to his preferred trip after not finding a two-turn mile to be to his liking last time out. This 5-year-old veteran has run well against tough groups downstate, and he does sport a win at this route (though not a recent one); #7 CAZADERO: Has been off seven months, but a quick glance at his PP’s shows he’s a very fast horse that can run a big race when he’s right. This is his turf debut, but he’s got a grass-friendly pedigree, being by Street Sense and out of a mare who’s a full sister to a stakes-placed turf sprinter.


Jack Christopher

#6 JACK CHRISTOPHER: Is 4-for-4 around one turn and has never been seriously tested in those races. His first career defeat came last time out in the Grade 1 Haskell, but that was going much longer. He’s back doing what he wants to do and looks like a handful in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens; #8 GUNITE: Has a pair of graded stakes wins over this surface, including the Grade 2 Amsterdam from a few weeks ago. He’s also got two victories going this seven-furlong distance, and he could be sitting right off the favorite’s flank going into the turn; #1 CONAGHER: Has developed into a very fast horse with wins in three of his last four outings. One of those was a score in a seven-furlong stakes race at Colonial Downs, and he handed Gunite a resounding defeat three back when earning an impressive 105 Beyer Speed Figure.


Search Results

#3 CLAIRIERE: Has won three of four starts this season after taking a big leap forward from age three to age four. She comes in on a two-race win streak over many of the rivals she faces in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, and her usual effort gives her a big chance to extend it; #5 MALATHAAT: Has run second behind Clairiere twice in a row, but did win last year’s Grade 1 Alabama over this surface. Todd Pletcher blames the heat for a bit of a dud in the Grade 2 Shuvee, and it’s tough to hold much against a horse that’s never missed the board in 11 career tries; #2 SEARCH RESULTS: Shipped to Monmouth Park to win the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher, and that day’s runner-up came back to win the Summer Colony last week. This is a considerable step up in class, to be sure, but she pressed a scorching pace in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps and may be up to the task.


Soldier Rising

#3 BROOME: Ships back across the Atlantic for Aidan O’Brien and looms large in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer. His lone prior U.S. start was a hard-luck second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf where he did everything but win, and he’s since been running against some of the top thoroughbreds in Europe; #8 SOLDIER RISING: Got up in the last stride to win his local prep for this event and has a load of back class. He ran second behind Melbourne Cup winner State of Rest and Breeders’ Cup Turf hero Yibir a season ago, and there should be plenty of pace signed on to set up for him to come flying late at a price; #1 ADHAMO: Earned his first Grade 1 win in the United Nations at Monmouth Park last time out. He’s yet to fire a bad shot in North America since coming here over the winter, and Flavien Prat is riding as well as anyone in the colony at this stand.


Early Voting

#6 EPICENTER: Has danced a lot of dances this season and looms large in the Grade 1 Travers. The runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy impressively despite rating behind a pretty moderate pace, and this ultra-consistent colt’s usual effort would make him tough to deny; #7 EARLY VOTING: Came up empty in the Jim Dandy, but I expect an improved effort here. For a race of this magnitude, there isn’t a lot of early pace signed on. Of the three runners from this barn, he’s the one I think could get very comfortable on or near the lead and be in prime position when the real running starts; #1 CYBERKNIFE: Benefited from a picture-perfect ride to win the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park over some talented horses. This field’s lone two-time Grade 1 winner has a sheet that looks far better if you toss his Kentucky Derby clunker, but that Haskell effort was a significant move forward on figures. Can he repeat that performance? He might have to.


Empire Sky
Sir John

#7 HEYMACKIT’SJACK: Has run second against similar foes in back-to-back tries and seems to be in a “now or never” situation against this bunch. Blinkers come on, Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back, and I think he sits a perfect stalking trip just off the pace; #4 EMPIRE SKY: Has run third in a pair of open events at Monmouth Park and ships here to go against state-bred competition. These may be shallower waters, and he’s lightly-raced enough to still have some room for improvement (which would put him right there); #8 SIR JOHN: Cuts back to a sprint in his second start off a long layoff and probably needed his last-out effort. He showed some early interest that day before fading to sixth, but this barn keeps him at this level and retains the first-call rider. At his likely price, he hits me as a must-use.


Jane Grey (MTO)
Miss Tapirado

#6 SALIMAH: Gets a tepid nod in a wide-open finale. She was very impressive breaking her maiden at Tampa Bay Downs by nearly five lengths over the winter, and it helps her cause that that day’s runner-up came back to win at next asking; #9 MISS TAPIRADO: Took a step forward last time out when second at this level and distance at Belmont. She’s won going two turns before (albeit prior to a very long layoff), and the new dimension she showed sitting off the pace last time out will be helpful here; #2 INVINCIBLE GAL: Ran reasonably well when third in her first start off the bench last month. She’s logical on figures, but she also hasn’t won in more than two years. Much of that time has been spent running against stakes foes, so some of that is easily forgiven, but her likely price does hit me as a bit of an underlay.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/28/21; TRAVERS DAY)


BANKROLL: $895.90

It’s Travers Day, and I’m going to take advantage of what’s likely the biggest audience I’ll have all year to make a very important statement. In a shocking turn of events, it’s not my usual mocking of the ludicrous, unenforced “no running” rule. This one’s actually serious, and it’ll almost certainly get me hate mail. Then again, I’ve gotten plenty of that this summer for some pretty stupid reasons, so why break precedent?

Longtime readers know I lost my grandmother to COVID-19 last summer. She spent most of her life as a nurse, and if she was still here, she’d be telling everyone she knew (and urging me to tell everyone I know) to get vaccinated.

I’ll add my own spin to it. You’re not going to grow a third arm. You’re not getting microchipped with a tracking device. You’re not going to be safer taking substances meant for horses and cows than you would be getting a vaccine manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson. This has become a politicized topic, and it shouldn’t be. Get the (insert your expletive of choice here) shot.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Miss Alacrity scratched, so my action was cancelled.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ve got a 4:15 pm plane to catch, so I’ll focus early on in the card. I’ll play $5 doubles starting with #1 BACK TO NORMAL and #5 JACK CHRISTOPHER in the second and ending with #1 PRINCESS FAWZIA/#1A SPARKLING SKY and #3 GOLDEN PLUME in the third. Additionally, that’ll start a 50-cent Pick Four ticket that goes like this: 1,5 with 1,3 with 3,6 with 3,4,6.



Best Bet: Essential Quality, Race 12
Longshot: Charmed, Race 6


Sweeping Giant
Doctor Davis
Pletcher entry

#10 SWEEPING GIANT: Ran very well to finish second in his debut last month and is very logical at second asking in the Travers Day opener. The far outside post isn’t ideal, but Joel Rosario is among the best in the game at saving ground on the turf, and if he gets a good trip, he’s probably the one to beat; #7 DOCTOR DAVIS: Was highly-touted in his unveiling, which came in the same race my top pick exits. He faded after setting the pace, but Bill Mott’s horses often need a race or two to get going, and if you were willing to take 8/5 last time, you’ll be happy to know you’ll likely get at least double that price here; #1 ROYAL SPIRIT: Sold for $450,000 at auction last year and boasts a top-notch female family. Her dam is kin to Grade 1-placed runner Beautician, as well as graded stakes winners Mo Tom and Red Ruby, both of whom did their best work going long.


Jack Christopher
Back to Normal
Be Better

#5 JACK CHRISTOPHER: Has been working up a storm for Chad Brown ahead of his debut and looms large here. He’s by strong sire Munnings, and his dam is a half-sister to another strong sire in Street Boss. Between the drills and the pedigree, there’s an awful lot to like; #1 BACK TO NORMAL: Ran a decent race in his debut to finish second behind a runaway winner that has since come back to win again. He’s one of only two runners in this field with prior experience, and his local workouts hint that he’s bounced out of that performance in good order; #3 BE BETTER: Has been working consistently for Todd Pletcher and is another bred to be any kind. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because I think the six-furlong distance may actually be shorter than his preferred trip, given a bottom-side pedigree that boasts an abundance of stamina.


Trinni Luck (MTO)
Golden Plume
Black Swan entry

#3 GOLDEN PLUME: Won for fun in her debut back in January at Tampa and will look to get back to business here. I’m not sure what she beat in that initial effort, but she looked great doing it, and world-class jockey Flavien Prat sees fit to ride for Brown; BLACK SWAN ENTRY: Both of these runners seem well-meant at a price, but I slightly prefer #1A SPARKLING SKY. She’s never run a bad race at Saratoga and had every right to need a race last time out off of a very long break. If she channels her 2019/2020 form, she’s got a chance to light up the tote board; #6 SECRET TIME: Hasn’t won in more than two years but boasts plenty of back class and didn’t run badly when third in her local debut. That was her first start since moving to Danny Gargan’s barn, and any step forward would make her a threat to grab a piece of this.


Kalifornia Queen
Platinum Paynter

#3 VIADERA: Didn’t have a great trip when fourth in the De La Rose a few weeks ago. She rated behind a slow pace and didn’t have clear running room until it was too late. Between the likelihood of a cleaner journey and the fact this is her second start off the bench, I think she’s a formidable favorite in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa; #6 KALIFORNIA QUEEN: Makes up the other half of a powerful 1-2 punch for this barn and exits a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth. Prior to that, she chased classy turf distaffers War Like Goddess and Antoinette, and this spot seems a bit softer than those; #5 PLATINUM PAYNTER: Appears a bit outclassed on paper, but she’s also the likeliest early pace-setter in a race light on gate speed. Jose Lezcano is a very sharp turf rider, and if the race shape works in this one’s favor, she could lead them a long way at a price.


Whittington Park
Miracle Nicky
Brady’s Legacy

#4 WHITTINGTON PARK: Was a bit one-paced in his unveiling last month, but the blinkers go on at second asking and this barn’s second-time starters are usually very live. His 63 Beyer Speed Figure is the highest such number in the field by daylight, and if he moves forward, this seems like his race to lose; #3 MIRACLE NICKY: Has been working unusually fast downstate for Rudy Rodriguez, who doesn’t often ask his horses for all that much in the mornings. His dam is a half to a nice horse named Curious Conundrum, who won multiple stakes races, and the $110,000 purchase price hints at some potential; #6 BRADY’S LEGACY: Sold for $250,000 despite not much of a bottom-side pedigree, so he obviously impressed some folks at the OBS sale this past April. He’s got a few solid works, and Jose Ortiz has been enticed to ride this Jeremiah Englehart trainee.


Big Package

#6 CHARMED: Was anything but in his last-out effort, when he fell to his knees at the break and somehow found a way to run third. Prior to that, he was a sharp third behind the talented Fauci at Monmouth, and with a clean trip, I think he can get the job done at a bit of a price; #11 BIG PACKAGE: Was second in the race my top pick exits and is a consistent sort that always seems to fire. The outside post isn’t ideal, but Irad Ortiz, Jr., should be able to drop back and make one run, and that’s a strategy that’s worked very well for this one in the past; #9 SHIRAZ: Topped a classy group of state-breds last time out over yielding going and steps back into open company here. Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and he’s run some of his best races over this route of ground.


Ce Ce
Estilo Talentoso

#1 GAMINE: Is one of racing’s most star-crossed horses, but when she’s right, few are better (especially going one turn). Controversy still swirls around trainer Bob Baffert, but assuming his star female sprinter has shipped to Saratoga in good order, she’s strictly the one to beat; #7 CE CE: Is 2-for-2 this season going seven furlongs and is no stranger to Grade 1 glory, having won a pair of events at this level last year. Her win in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney was very impressive, and if Gamine doesn’t fire, this one’s probably the likeliest beneficiary; #6 ESTILO TALENTOSO: Is very easy to root for because, quite simply, she always shows up. She’s never been worse than third in 15 lifetime outings, and the faster they go early on in the Grade 1 Ballerina, the better her chances figure to be.



#3 LEXITONIAN: Ensured a spot in this handicapper’s gambling Hall of Fame with a 34-1 victory in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt earlier this summer. He stretches out to seven furlongs here, but he’s shown he can handle this distance and could sit an ideal trip just off the pace in the Grade 1 Forego; #2 WHITMORE: May have needed the race, to an extent, when third in the Vanderbilt following a freshening. He generally races his way into form, and this 8-year-old gelding figures to be heard from late; #7 YAUPON: Was going really well last season and was the 6/5 favorite in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, which Whitmore won. His comeback race at Pimlico was fine, and the main hesitation here is the stretch-out to seven furlongs. That’s not an easy task against a good group, but if he can handle the distance, he may be tough to run down.


Jackie’s Warrior
Life Is Good
Judge N Jury

#2 JACKIE’S WARRIOR: Romped in the Grade 2 Amsterdam after dueling through torrid fractions in the slop. As long as he’s kept around one turn, he’s going to be very tough to beat, and his seasoning edge over his primary rival is enough to give him my nod in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens; #6 LIFE IS GOOD: Was brilliant (my goodness, I hate that word) in three wins on the west coast, including two over eventual Kentucky Derby winner (sort of) Medina Spirit. He’s since been transferred to Todd Pletcher and has been working lights-out over the Oklahoma track, but this is a very tough ask for a horse that hasn’t run since March; #5 JUDGE N JURY: Earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure with an eye-catching romp in a state-bred allowance race at this route last month. This is a gigantic step up, but he may be the only horse in this field that can comfortably rate, and that could be enough to allow him to hit the board at a big price.


Swiss Skydiver
Royal Flag

#6 LETRUSKA: Has turned into a freakish distaffer and looms large in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign. She’s won five of her last six starts, with the lone defeat coming to Shedaresthedevil (who doesn’t show up here). She may not be alone up front, but I don’t think it matters; #4 SWISS SKYDIVER: Chased Knicks Go in the Grade 1 Whitney a few weeks ago, and that came after trainer Ken McPeek’s barn was quarantined. She had every right to need that race off a bit of a layoff, too, so I can’t hold it against her in any capacity. She won last year’s Alabama, could sit just off the pace, and is very dangerous; #5 ROYAL FLAG: Came flying late to take the Grade 3 Shuvee over Horologist, who came back to jog in the Summer Colony last weekend. She could once again get a terrific setup, and I expect her to be going the right way late at a fair price for a red-hot barn.


Cross Border

#1 TRIBHUVAN: Has gotten very good, very quickly, and is a threat to wire the field in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer. That was the trip he sat in the Grade 1 United Nations last time out, and if he’s allowed to get comfortable going under the wire the first time, he’ll have a big chance to be in front the second time around, too; #6 JAPAN: Is an intriguing shipper coming across the pond for Aidan O’Brien. Back in 2019, he won two of Europe’s most prestigious races, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Juddmonte International. I’m not sure he’s quite the same horse, but if he brings that type of effort, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with; #7 CROSS BORDER: Is nearly perfect at Saratoga and was pretty impressive in winning the Grade 2 Bowling Green for the second consecutive season. This seems like a stronger group, to be sure, but he was a fair second in this race last August and his best effort would give him a chance.


Essential Quality
Midnight Bourbon
King Fury

#2 ESSENTIAL QUALITY: Is impossible to go against in the Grade 1 Travers. He’ll love the distance, he’s in terrific form, and he exits what hit me as a perfect prep in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy. If he comes with his usual effort, I think he takes a big step to clinching his division’s Eclipse Award; #1 MIDNIGHT BOURBON: Miraculously came out of what looked like a terrible fall in the Grade 1 Haskell with no injuries, and he’s worked well since coming to the Spa after that series of events. He was a good second in the Grade 1 Preakness behind Rombauer, and he’s got enough early speed to make his own trip, which might label him as the one they’ll have to catch turning for home; #7 KING FURY: Is a horse that’s seemed to be crying out for as much distance as possible since his 2-year-old season. He didn’t like the turf last time out, and he’s been snakebitten with rotten luck on several occasions, but now that he’s finally doing what it looks like he wants to do, he’ll be on all of my exotics tickets.


Bella Principessa
Sister Luck

#14 BELLA PRINCIPESSA: Needs some luck in order to draw into the Saturday finale, but she must be respected if she runs. She rated behind a very slow pace last time out and should get a bit more speed in front of her here if two horses scratch and she’s allowed to compete; #12 SISTER LUCK: Has a few red flags, but also has several qualities I can’t ignore. She’s worked well on turf a few times since going to Todd Pletcher’s barn, she drops in class, and she’s shown a lot of early speed going shorter. If she’s got the stamina to go two turns, she could be a handful; #6 CONSTITUTIONALRAGE: Comes back to the turf after being eased in an off-the-turf event last month. Turf is absolutely her preferred surface, and her one start on the lawn at this level resulted in a good second in a race downstate, one where that day’s third-place finisher came back to win.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/29/20)


BANKROLL: $628.50

Today’s Grade 1 Forego presents an interesting “would you rather?” question for horseplayers. The race didn’t draw Volatile or Vekoma, which is a bummer. However, it did draw a competitive 11-horse field led by Whitmore, who won this race two years ago and is one of the most fun horses in training to root for.

Had Volatile and/or Vekoma shown up here, it’s safe to assume many runners would have gone elsewhere (possibly even several who figure to get bet). Here’s the question: Is it best to have a small field led by horses such as Volatile and Vekoma, or what we have, an 11-horse field with no overwhelming favorite and, thusly, square prices ensured on whichever horse you like?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. However, with field sizes being dissected on a daily basis, I think it’s a fascinating question. If you’ve got an opinion, tweet me at @AndrewChampagne.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: New York’s Finest stalked a very fast pace and had nothing left late, so my $20 win ticket went up in smoke.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: With the last race scheduled to go off at nearly 7 pm Eastern time, I can’t in good conscience play my late Pick Four. That puts this section in danger of missing the print deadline (you will, however, be able to find it online on social media). Instead, I’ll play four $5 win/place tickets throughout the card on horses that seem well-meant. I’ll back #6 BALLAGH ROCKS (race #2), #4 L’IMPERATOR (race #3, the Grade 3 Saranac), #4 ARCHUMYBABY (race #5), and #7 PEDRO CARA (race #9, the Grade 1 Sword Dancer).



Best Bet: Archumybaby, Race 5
Longshot: Pedro Cara, Race 9


Enough Love
Happy Sophia
La Negrita

#7 ENOUGH LOVE: Hasn’t run a bad race in five starts this season and was second against slightly better foes last time out. This barn has hit the board with 10 of 14 runners to this point in the meet, and regular rider Luis Saez stays aboard; #6 HAPPY SOPHIA: Drops in for a tag for the first time after fading in a few starts against state-bred allowance foes. She’ll certainly be prominent early, and perhaps the shallower waters will wake her up; #2 LA NEGRITA: Was a distant second behind a runaway winner at this level earlier this month. Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides back for Rudy Rodriguez, and she’s got enough early speed to sit close going into the turn.


Dynamax Prime (MTO)
Ballagh Rocks
En Wye Cee

#6 BALLAGH ROCKS: Did everything but win last time out at Belmont Park against similar, when he lost a photo finish after rating behind a slow early pace. I think he’s better around two turns than one turn, and there should be enough pace in here to set up for his late kick; #10 EN WYE CEE: Was somehow five-wide in a six-horse field last time out, yet was beaten just a neck in his first outing since November. He seemed to take to the turf fairly well, and he’s another who may benefit from the likely race shape; #7 KING CAUSE: Pulled off a 17-1 upset earlier in the meet and has won three of his last four starts. He’ll be one of the main pace factors in here, and he may be a price once again given the quality of opposition he’ll face.


Don Juan Kitten

#4 L’IMPERATOR: Gets Lasix in his North American debut, which is one of my favorite angles. He won three in a row overseas before being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean and has worked impressively ahead of his American unveiling in the Grade 3 Saranac; #1 VANZZY: Cruised home in the Jersey Derby at Monmouth, which doubled as his third career stakes score. He was third in the Grade 3 Kent two back behind the talented Gufo, and Joel Rosario has the mount; #5 DON JUAN KITTEN: Won a weirdly-run allowance race earlier in the meet where the early leader ran off while setting wicked fractions. That’s unlikely to happen twice, but his lone misfire came in his first start off a long layoff, so consistency certainly isn’t an issue.


Englehart entry
Stay Fond
Bustin to Please

ENGLEHART ENTRY: I prefer #1A TIED UP, who certainly seems like the main speed in here. She’s won 12 of 23 career starts, rolled home against weaker opposition earlier this month, and may have plenty left late if she’s left alone out of the gate; #4 STAY FOND: Has won four of her last five starts and returned to the Linda Rice barn after a last-out victory going seven furlongs. She may be best with a speed duel, but she’s shown a bit more early zip than what she’s displayed in her last two outings; #2 BUSTIN TO PLEASE: Drops back down in class after misfiring against state-bred optional claiming foes last month. That was a pretty solid bunch for the level, and a repeat of her winning effort two back at Belmont would give her a shot.


Prairie Fire

#4 ARCHUMYBABY: Has won 14 of 42 career starts and banked nearly a half-million in career earnings the hard way. She’s got two victories in her last three starts and has four victories and two seconds in six tries at this seven-furlong distance; #1 LETMETAKETHISCALL: Hasn’t won in a while and had every chance when clear late last time out. She got caught in the final strides, but gets a big rider switch to Jose Ortiz and has the speed to utilize her inside draw; #7 PRAIRIE FIRE: Lost all chance at the break last time out and stretches out from six to seven furlongs. I think she’ll respond well to that, and her chances will improve if they fly down the backstretch.



#10 HAPPYMAC: Hammered for $360,000 last year and is a reluctant top pick in the first of two loaded 2-year-old races on the card. He’s been working very well for 2-year-old maestro Steve Asmussen, and if he runs to his work tab, you’d better prepare to see it in commercials for his sire over and over and over and over…; #5 FOUNDER: Has worked very well for Chad Brown, who touted young sire Upstart earlier in the meet when barn buddy Reinvestment Risk romped in his debut. He was a $600,000 purchase in March and has every right to run big here; #1 NEWBOMB: Comes in after a series of strong five-furlong drills for Todd Pletcher and is another who could be sitting on a big first-out effort. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because of the rail draw, which can be a lot for a debuting runner to overcome.


Premier Star

#2 YAUPON: Turned heads with a big win over older allowance foes last month, one where he earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. This is another step up the class ladder, but he may well be the quickest of the quick in the Grade 2 Amsterdam; #1 BASIN: Cuts back to one turn after running in the wrong races for the right reasons. He won the Grade 1 Hopeful here last year and may benefit from being the lone closer in a race full of early speed (I’d love him at 6 1/2 or seven furlongs); #4 PREMIER STAR: Earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure with a nice win at Laurel Park last time out. This is a much tougher spot, but it’s worth noting that Irad Ortiz, Jr., lands here when he likely had options.


Mind Control
Funny Guy

#2 WHITMORE: Ran second to Volatile in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt despite breaking through the starting gate prior to the race. He also rated behind one of the top sprinters in the country when that one was gifted an easy lead. There are no such monsters here, and I think he’s got a big shot to notch his second win in the Grade 1 Forego; #10 MIND CONTROL: Was third in the Vanderbilt and finished just a half-length back of my top selection. He won Grade 1 races at two and three at this very route of ground, and he should respond well to the added furlong; #4 FUNNY GUY: Certainly deserves this shot after two strong wins over state-bred stakes foes. He earned Beyer Speed Figures of 101 and 98 for those victories, he’s 2-for-2 over this track, and his best race likely gets him a piece of it.


Pedro Cara
Cross Border

#7 PEDRO CARA: Makes his first start for Graham Motion after spending the lion’s share of his career overseas. He just missed in a million-dollar race at Belmont last year and was third in another in Qatar back in February. With the American turf horses not knocking my socks off, I’ll take a shot with this one and see if Motion can get his third win in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer; #2 AQUAPHOBIA: May have wanted to be a turf marathoner all along. He won the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth and has found his form since being claimed for $62,500 earlier this year by trainer Mike Maker; #6 CROSS BORDER: Was put up in the Grade 2 Bowling Green to improve to 5-for-5 at Saratoga. He’s another Maker trainee in top form and certainly a “horse for the course;” the question is, can he successfully navigate this 12-furlong distance against Grade 1 competition?



#3 JOUSTER: Sold for $360,000 last summer, and for good reason. Her second dam is Storm Flag Flying, which means she traces back to one of the best female families in racing history (third dam My Flag and fourth dam Personal Ensign). The recent five-furlong gate work indicates she’s a good one, and Velazquez rides for Pletcher; #9 ROOKERY: Came up a neck short at big odds earlier this summer, and that’s notable because Wayne Catalano’s first-time starters very rarely win. I think she’s in line to take a big step forward at a nice price, and the outside post should provide plenty of options for Jose Lezcano; #5 ZAINALARAB: Was a million-dollar baby last year at Keeneland, and that’s not surprising given her pedigree. She’s by War Front, out of a Grade 3-winning Tapit mare, and is one of two debuting Chad Brown runners with very solid work tabs.


Midnight Surprise
Eloquent Speaker
Miss Jimmy

#7 MIDNIGHT SURPRISE: Gets a reluctant top pick in a very intriguing Saturday finale. She won her debut here last month, and the runner-up from that race came back to break her maiden a few days ago. Improvement is logical at second asking, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides back for Todd Pletcher; #3 ELOQUENT SPEAKER: Cuts back to a sprint after nine furlongs proved to be too far for her. In breaking her maiden two back at Belmont, she beat Jewel of Arabia, who has since come back to win twice; #8 MISS JIMMY: Ships in from Finger Lakes and is worth a long look at a big price. She’s run first or second in all but one of her 11 starts, and this is her third start off a long layoff. This filly always tries hard and cannot be ignored.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/24/19, TRAVERS DAY)


BANKROLL: $736.10

Happy Travers Day, everyone! We’ve got a 13-race card on tap, complete with six Grade 1 events that have attracted some of the best horses currently in training. The Travers, unfortunately, boasts an underwhelming group that lacks the winners of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont (among other key divisional races), but from top to bottom, this is one of the most exciting cards we’ll see all year long.

There are plenty of opportunities to take stands with juicy prices, and my plays today will reflect that. If you’re diving in, pace yourself. Big fields mean potential for overlays, and a number of these events could be won by a number of contenders. From a bankroll standpoint, it’s an exciting day, as it may only take one winning ticket to ensure a profitable afternoon.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: The good news is that, for the first time in a week, our action wasn’t cancelled due to a surface switch. The bad news is that Bankit needed an extra jump he didn’t get in the Albany. As such, we dropped $30.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll practice what I preach by playing four separate $5 win/place bets throughout the card. I’ll use #7 BALON ROSE (race 3), #7 PAYNE (race 4), #6 YA PRIMO (race 10, the Grade 1 Sword Dancer), and #7 MUCHO GUSTO (race 11, the Travers with an overexposed sponsor I refuse to mention). Additionally, just for fun, I’ll play cold $5 doubles starting in the third and 10th races that use these horses. If morning lines hold up, it won’t take too much for this to be a pretty good day.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Brown entry, Race 1
LONGSHOT: Five Alarm Robin, Race 13


Brown entry
Keep Quiet

BROWN ENTRY: It could be a big day for Chad Brown, and he looks loaded here. #1 FRONTIER MARKET hasn’t run a poor race in nearly two years, while #1A UNLEVERAGED gets a class test after two wins in a row downstate; #8 LEMONIST: Is another consistent sort who has hit the board in each of his last nine starts. He cuts back after two solid seconds at marathon distances, and a mile is probably a perfect trip for him; #5 KEEP QUIET: Rallied to be fourth earlier this meet against similar foes and didn’t have much of a pace to rate off of that day. He’d benefit from solid early fractions, and his usual race likely gets him a piece of this.


Tap It to Win

#4 ATOKA: Settled for third in his debut after doing loads of heavy lifting early on. He debuted at a tough distance and adds Lasix here for a barn whose second-time starters are firing on all cylinders of late; #1 TAP IT TO WIN: Debuted with a second-place finish at Woodbine and comes in off of a bullet work over this surface. It’s tough to figure out whether or not Woodbine form will translate to the Spa, but he’s a logical favorite; #7 ONWARD: Hammered for $600,000 last September at Keeneland and has hinted at some precocity in the morning. This barn’s firsters are tough to figure out, but he does boast a fairly recent bullet drill.


Balon Rose
Ocean Fire

#7 BALON ROSE: Flopped when favored earlier in the meet, but she may not have liked the yielding surface and that day’s winner has since come back to win again. This seems like a softer group, and firmer going should help her; #2 CHARREADA: Just missed when second beaten a neck downstate and stretches back out to two turns. There’s some early speed signed on here, and she figures to be running well late; #6 OCEAN FIRE: Comes back to turf after a failed dirt try and is another that exits the same July 26 event as my top choice. Her debut over firm turf at Belmont was pretty good, as she was third behind a recent stakes-winner.


T Loves a Fight

#7 PAYNE: Didn’t have a great trip (nor, to be blunt, the best ride) when third at 4/5 earlier this meet. Jose Ortiz hops back aboard, and a repeat of either of his races downstate would make him a likely winner; #11 PERFORMER: Graduated off a long layoff last time out and tries winners for the first time. The outside draw should help, but regression potential is there and I’m wondering if he wants longer than this distance; #8 T LOVES A FIGHT: Has gotten quite good lately and was most recently beaten less than two lengths when fourth in a tough state-bred stakes race. He won three in a row before that and, like my top pick, would benefit from a fast pace.


Promises Fulfilled
Bon Raison

#3 MITOLE: Had to contend with a rail draw and an in-form Imperial Hint in the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt last month. The draw improves, and his rival is nowhere to be found, which means I’m inclined to give him another shot; #1 PROMISES FULFILLED: Is a logical alternative to the likely favorite. He got back on the beam last time out in the Grade 2 John Nerud, and he figures to be prominent early; #5 BON RAISON: Likes Saratoga and would benefit from a pace meltdown. He made several moves when winning the Tale of the Cat, and he could clunk up for a piece of this at a big price.


Mia Mischief
Special Relativity

#4 SEPARATIONOFPOWERS: Won last year’s Grade 1 Test and is proven at this seven-furlong distance. She’s been freshened ahead of this race and could sit a dream trip just off the pace; #5 MIA MISCHIEF: Was shuffled back a bit in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss and never recovered when fourth behind a loose-on-the-lead winner. She’s better than she showed that day, and a return to form would give her a big shot; #1 SPECIAL RELATIVITY: Takes a big jump up in class but certainly deserves the opportunity. She’s undefeated in four local starts and won a minor stakes race at this route a few weeks ago.


Hog Creek Hustle

#1 SHANCELOT: Reminded some fans of Groovy with his romp in the Grade 2 Amsterdam, where he earned a 121 Beyer Speed Figure. Anything close to that, and the rest of this field will be fighting for second; #9 HOG CREEK HUSTLE: Was last seen finishing with a flourish to win the Grade 1 Woody Stephens on Belmont Day. If Shancelot bounces, he may be the one they have to hold off in the stretch; #4 BORRACHO: Was impressive when winning an optional claimer at this route earlier in the meet. He loves this distance and is another that will be doing his best running late.


Starship Jubilee
Fifty Five

#9 MASCHA: Gets a reluctant nod in a wide-open renewal of the Grade 2 Ballston Spa. Her American debut was a winning one, and she showed plenty of class overseas last year; #8 STARSHIP JUBILEE: Ran second in a pair of Grade 2 events at Woodbine and is very flexible. She can sit close to the pace or rate and make one run, which figures to give Jose Lezcano plenty of options; #2 FIFTY FIVE: Is cross-entered in a state-bred race Friday, but is a contender if she shows up here. She hasn’t finished out of the money in nearly two years and was most recently second in a Grade 3 event at Parx.


Midnight Bisou
Golden Award

#4 ELATE: Seems to be in peak form ahead of another try at the Grade 1 Personal Ensign. She was second in the controversial 2018 renewal and may be better than she was a season ago; #1 MIDNIGHT BISOU: Has reeled off five wins in a row and certainly merits respect. However, she’s 0-for-4 going longer than a mile and a sixteenth, and the rail draw is less than ideal; #6 GOLDEN AWARD: Sprang a mild upset in the Grade 3 Shuvee earlier in the meet and figures to be one of the pace-setters. If she can clear the field going into the first turn, she could dictate terms and hang on for a share.


Ya Primo
Annals of Time
Channel Maker

#6 YA PRIMO: Ran well when second in the Grade 2 Bowling Green, which doubled as his U.S. debut. He may have needed that race off of a layoff, and improvement is logical second off the bench for a world-class barn; #7 ANNALS OF TIME: Looked good when cruising home against optional claiming foes earlier in the meet. At his best, he’s quite good, and this isn’t the strongest Grade 1 Sword Dancer renewal in recent history; #8 CHANNEL MAKER: Was beaten less than a length in the Bowling Green and was second in this race a season ago. He was a bit wide that day, and a smoother trip could make the difference here.


Mucho Gusto
Looking At Bikinis

#7 MUCHO GUSTO: Ships in for Bob Baffert after giving Maximum Security all he could handle in the Grade 1 Haskell. His recent works are strong, and when in doubt, there are far worse strategies than going with Bob Baffert in a big race; #6 TACITUS: Had an eventful journey when second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy. The blinkers come on, and his best is certainly good enough to beat these, but has he gotten to where he actively puts himself in bad spots?; #9 LOOKING AT BIKINIS: Didn’t run well when a distant third in the Curlin, but that was over a sloppy track and he may have bounced to boot. He’s continued to work well, and I think he’s got a shot to hit the board at a nice price.


Discretionary Marq
Dowse’s Beach

#2 FLED: Has won two in a row since being switched to the turf, and most recently rallied from way back to top state-breds at this route. A repeat effort would put him right there in a wide-open event; #11 DISCRETIONARY MARQ: Drew a terrible post but is absolutely capable of winning with his best effort. He’s finished in the top two in eight of 14 career outings and should be on or near the lead early; #13 DOWSE’S BEACH: May not draw in, and will have to contend with an awful draw if he does, but he’s 5-for-8 at Saratoga and won here earlier in the meet. When Jason Servis gets horses on the right track, they tend to stay there.


Magic Star
Five Alarm Robin
Keepme in Thegame

#5 MAGIC STAR: Seems well-meant in her unveiling and could cap off a big day for her connections. Her dam won a Grade 1 as a 2-year-old and is a half to Grade 1 winner Overanalyze, so she’s got every right to be a runner; #9 FIVE ALARM ROBIN: Has improved in every start and was a close-up third downstate. Luis Saez sees fit to ride back, and she seems like an overlay at her 8-1 morning line price; #10 KEEPME IN THEGAME: Ran well when third in her debut, which came going two turns at Keeneland. She returns to a similar route here, and given her pedigree, she should embrace this journey.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/25/18 (Travers Day)


BANKROLL: $1,228.45

It’s Travers Day, which usually means some joke about NYRA’s ridiculous (and selectively-enforced) policy against running on the grounds. However, I’m breaking tradition to deal with something much more important, on a day where I hopefully have the audience to do it.

Over the past few weeks, journalism at some colleges and universities has come under attack. One school has merged journalism and public relations into the same major. Another (which I wrote about at length this past week) has gone so far as to restructure its student newspaper to essentially be a parrot for administrators and their missions. I highly doubt these schools are alone in taking these steps, and I want to do something about it.

If you’re an aspiring journalist/writer/reporter, and you’re looking for advice, my Twitter direct message box is open. I specifically opened it up for this purpose, and I’m happy to provide some sort of guidance to anyone who wants it. If you’re out there, and you’re somehow affected by the nonsense some administrators think is standard operating procedure, feel free to reach out (@AndrewChampagne).

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Kharafa winning may have been a feel-good moment given his advanced age, but it knocked us out of the Grand Slam (not like it was going to pay much, though). We dropped $24.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I think the stakes races are a bit chalky today, so I’ll focus on the early part of the program. My plays come in the second race, where I think there’s a way to extract some value out of #4 WAY EARLY. I’ll play $6 exactas using him above #2 NEW JERSEY JOHN, #6 IDES OF ARCH, and #10 APPEALING BRIEFS, as well as $3 exactas with him behind those three. Finally, I’ll single Way Early in $5 doubles that end with #1 TOMMY T and #8 SILVER DUST in the third.



Best Bet: City of Light, Race 9
Longshot: Bird’s Eye View, Race 5


Greyes Creek
Mischievous Bird

#5 PUTTHEGLASSDOWN: Debuted with a strong second to Nitrous, one of the better 2-year-olds on the grounds. We won’t get the 19-1 odds he was that day, but if he steps forward, he’ll be tough to beat; #1 GREYES CREEK: Fetched $850,000 at auction earlier this year and has worked like a good horse. The rail draw isn’t ideal for a debuting runner, but he may be talented enough to overcome it; #2 MISCHIEVOUS BIRD: Represents local racing institution Marylou Whitney and has been working very well for trainer Norm Casse. Offspring of Into Mischief tend to be precocious, and if you like him, you may get a bit of a price.


Way Early
New Jersey John
Ides of Arch

#4 WAY EARLY: Drops into a first-level allowance after chasing graded stakes foes in each of his last two starts. He was second in the Grade 2 Penn Mile, and his usual race should beat this bunch; #2 NEW JERSEY JOHN: Was second at this level as a 24-1 shot earlier in the meet and won two of his three previous starts since coming off the bench. This barn hasn’t started many runners, but all five starters have hit the board; #6 IDES OF ARCH: Rallied to be third in his first start since November downstate, and his lone win came over this turf course. There’s some pace signed on in this race, and he could come running late for a piece of it.


Tommy T
Silver Dust
Hollywood Star

#1 TOMMY T: Came off the bench running earlier in the meet, when he was second in a swift seven-furlong event. He’ll likely show speed from the rail, and it’s encouraging to see Rosario ride back; #8 SILVER DUST: Was fourth in that race, but likely went too fast early on. He’s worked well since and could be ripe for a bounce-back effort; #6 HOLLYWOOD STAR: Was third when cutting back to a sprint distance off of a freshening. The extra sixteenth could help him, and he may come running late at a price.


Digital Footprint
Noble Nebraskan
Social Paranoia

#3 DIGITAL FOOTPRINT: Was a late-running second in his unveiling, which came at a two-turn distance. It’s tough to debut at such a route, and he wasn’t helped by the slow pace set in front of him; #14 NOBLE NEBRASKAN: May not draw in, but if he does, I need to use him. He’s bred up and down to be a good turf horse, and I’ve picked him three or four times this meet. One of these days, he’s going to run, right?; #7 SOCIAL PARANOIA: Goes to the turf and is bred to like it. He’s by solid turf sire Street Boss, and his 319 turf Tomlinson is one of the top such numbers in the field.


Bird’s Eye View
Red Knight
Classic Covey

#2 BIRD’S EYE VIEW: Seems to have turned a corner from age three to age four. All three of his starts this year have shown significant improvement from his 2017 form, and he was a close second behind stakes-quality runner Patterson Cross last time out at Belmont; #4 RED KNIGHT: Has yet to miss the exacta in six career starts and showed a bit of tactical speed last time out. He’s one-half of a solid one-two punch for trainer Bill Mott, who’s had a good meet; #5 CLASSIC COVEY: Is the other Mott runner, and he’s chased some of the top turf horses on the East Coast in his last three starts. This class drop should help, although it’s a bit concerning that he hasn’t found a way to win since October.


Promises Fulfilled
Still Having Fun
Firenze Fire

#1 PROMISES FULFILLED: May have been a one-turn horse all along. He ran a huge race in the Grade 3 Amsterdam, and while the potential for a bounce does exist, a repeat of that race would make him incredibly tough; #7 STILL HAVING FUN: Came from well back to win the Grade 2 Woody Stephens over several horses that also show up here (including my top pick). I doubt he’ll get that kind of setup again here, but he’s worked well, Rosario rides back, and he’d certainly benefit if my top pick isn’t gifted an easy lead; #8 FIRENZE FIRE: Ran a colossal race in the Grade 3 Dwyer, but I’m a bit skeptical he can repeat it. His best races have come at Belmont, where he also won last year’s Grade 1 Champagne, and that was such a huge improvement over his previous 2018 form that I’m skeptical he can reproduce that form (though he’ll be formidable if he does).


Abel Tasman

#1 ABEL TASMAN: Got back in the winner’s circle in emphatic fashion when romping in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day. She won the Coaching Club American Oaks here last year, and while the rail draw isn’t ideal, she’s definitely the one to beat; #6 ELATE: Came back running in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap, where she overpowered a questionable field going a 10-furlong distance she’s shown she loves. She won last year’s Grade 1 Alabama here and will get plenty of pace to rate behind; #5 FARRELL: Led all the way in the Grade 3 Shuvee and generally runs the same race every time out. She likely won’t be alone on the front end, but when this barn gets a horse on the right track, they tend to stay there.


Marley’s Freedom
Lewis Bay

#5 FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM: Won the Grade 2 Honorable Miss off a bit of a freshening and looms large here. For a top-level sprint, there’s not a ton of early speed signed on, so she could sit a picture-perfect trip; #7 MARLEY’S FREEDOM: Ships east for the Bob Baffert barn and merits respect solely off of that fact. She’s won three in a row, including two graded stakes races, but her starts at seven furlongs haven’t been quite as impressive as her efforts going shorter; #6 LEWIS BAY: Took advantage in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses when main foe American Gal did not fire. She won by 5 1/2 lengths that day, and a repeat performance would almost certainly get her a piece of it here.


City of Light
C Z Rocket
Limousine Liberal

#8 CITY OF LIGHT: Ships east for this event after a strong campaign to date. This seven-furlong trip hits him right between the eyes, and he’s already won a pair of Grade 1 events at this trip; #6 C Z ROCKET: Seems to have gotten stronger from age three to age four, and won a minor stakes last time out in impressive fashion. Toss the Grade 1 Malibu, and you’re left with a horse that’s won four of five starts for a high-percentage outfit; #1 LIMOUSINE LIBERAL: Has repeatedly shown that this is his best distance. He prevailed in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship last time out, but must once again work out a trip from a tricky inside post.


Sadler’s Joy
Spring Quality

#10 SADLER’S JOY: Likely wasn’t helped by the soft going in the Grade 2 Bowling Green, but he was still beaten just a half-length in a race that did not set up for his running style. He won this event last year, and a repeat seems within his grasp; #2 SPRING QUALITY: Won the Grade 1 Manhattan, which has proven to be a very strong race. He won’t be 18-1 today, unfortunately, and the distance is a bit of an unknown, but the versatility he’s shown is a big plus; #3 FUNTASTIC: Has shown significant talent since being stretched out to extended turf routes. He wired the field in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth, and while there were some circumstances in that race that didn’t help other runners (namely oppressive heat), there’s also a chance this one’s developed into a top-notch marathoner.


Good Magic

#9 GOOD MAGIC: Was an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth and has trained well since shipping to upstate New York. There’s a chance this distance is a bit far for him, but if he repeats his last-out effort, I think he’s the most likely winner; #3 GRONKOWSKI: Rallied to be second behind Justify in the Belmont Stakes, a race that doubled as his American debut. He was sidelined with a minor injury earlier in the summer, but he’s working well and would benefit from a speed duel; #8 MENDELSSOHN: Almost certainly went too fast early on in the Grade 3 Dwyer, where horse-for-course Firenze Fire romped. His Kentucky Derby effort is a throw-out, and I think it’s encouraging that he’s been shipped back across the Atlantic for another shot at this level.


A Raving Beauty
Proctor’s Ledge

#1 A RAVING BEAUTY: Won two in a row before being beaten less than a length by next-out Grade 1 Beverly D. winner Sistercharlie in the Grade 1 Diana. She’s not an easy horse to ride, and I’m not crazy about the post, but her best race beats these; #3 PROCTOR’S LEDGE: Had a troubled trip in the Diana, but has shown an affinity for this turf course and is reunited with John Velazquez, who piloted her to her two top efforts of the season. It does help that there’s some speed signed on; #5 QUIDURA: May have needed the race last time out, one that doubled as her first start in nine months. She’s won a pair of graded stakes races and was beaten a head by Lady Eli in last year’s Diana on this turf course.


American Rule (MTO)
Victor Lounge

#5 AZZEDINE: Drops further down the class ladder after misfiring at 7/5 against $75,000 maiden claimers earlier in the meet. He didn’t have the best of trips that day, and this seems like a “now or never” spot; #9 VICTOR LOUNGE: Has shown ample early speed in several starts at this level and returns to a two-turn route of ground. He’s run several of his better races at such a configuration, and he could get brave if given an easy lead; #11 SPRING ON CURLIN: Has certainly had plenty of chances, but was a fast-closing fourth when dropped to this level last time out. That was over a yielding surface that may have dulled his late kick a bit, and he could improve at a price over firm going. DIRT SELECTIONS: AMERICAN RULE, UNCLE LARRY, WISELY.