SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/8/20; TRAVERS DAY)



It’s Travers Day, and since my annual diatribe against the pointless “no running” rule is obsolete without fans, I’ll focus on something I’m very good at: Shameless self-promotion.

Friday night featured a chat with the one and only Norman Chad for this week’s edition of “Champagne and J.D.,” my weekly YouTube show. Norman’s one of the voices of the World Series of Poker and has enjoyed a long career as a sportswriter through his “Couch Slouch” column, and it’s an interview I’d wanted to do for 17 years (since a high school-aged Andrew saw him call the 2003 WSOP won by Chris Moneymaker). I hope you’ll check it out, and if you like what you see/hear, hit the “subscribe” button so you don’t miss any of our weekly episodes.

I also sat down with the fine folks at the “IntoTheBit” podcast Thursday night, and we dove into not just the Travers Day card, but my career in horse racing and some of the areas where we feel the sport is falling short as well. I told a few cool stories and also got to expound on some strong opinions, and it was a blast. Go listen to that, too!

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Kemba did indeed win the fourth as my live “longshot” of the day. Unfortunately, not only was that one bet down to 5/2 off a 10-1 morning line (hence the quotes in the last sentence), but my exacta ran 1-3 and doubles were foiled when Honor Way circled most of the field to win the fifth. As a silver lining, scratches reduced my losses in this section to just $20.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: If you listened to “IntoTheBit,” you know I gave out a $21 all-stakes Pick Five, and that’s my primary source of action. It starts in the seventh, and the 50-cent ticket goes as follows: 6,7 with ALL with 1,5,7 with 5 with 6. Additionally, I’ll play a cold $4 exacta in the 10th (the Grade 1 Test) using #5 GAMINE on top of #4 WICKED WHISPER, who I think may be well-meant at a price.



Best Bet: Gamine, Race 10
Longshot: Pink Sands, Race 7


Bay Street Money
The Angry Man

#4 BAY STREET MONEY: Makes sense in a puzzling Travers Day opener. He stepped forward to run a sharp second at second asking on Independence Day, and he finished quick enough that day to make me think he’s got something left in the tank; #6 THE ANGRY MAN: Was second in his turf debut, where he chased a winner who got loose on an easy lead. Luis Saez returns to the saddle, and I think he could be on or near a moderate early pace; #3 DOSWELL: Returns after nearly a year off and showed potential last year when running Good Governance to a nose. If he’s ready, he could easily win this, but he’s making his first start for a patient barn, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he needed this race to some extent.


Atras entry
Creative Style

ATRAS ENTRY: I prefer #1 LIL COMMISSIONER, who’s won four of his last six starts and didn’t miss a beat when moved from the care of Jorge Navarro following the FBI’s actions earlier this year. #1A MUSICAL HEART was second against similar earlier this meet and could improve in his first start for this outfit; #6 CREATIVE STYLE: Looked good winning going long two back at Belmont and was a decent third in a sprint earlier in the meet against slightly better. Two turns is a bit of an unknown, but he’s going well and won’t line up against any monsters here; #3 SHALAKO: Won a race several rivals in here also exit, but he sort of won by default when he rallied in a race that fell apart. That win was the ninth of his career, and he hasn’t fired a bad shot since going to the Rudy Rodriguez barn late last year.


Risky Mischief
Ava K’s Girl
Light in the Sky

#3 RISKY MISCHIEF: Tries turf for the first time and is bred to love it. She’s by Into Mischief, out of a Limehouse mare, boasts a 347 turf Tomlinson rating, and takes a drop in to face state-bred allowance foes second off the layoff; #4 AVA K’S GIRL: Cuts back to a turf sprint after going too long last time out. She ran well late to be fourth two back downstate, and she boasts a win at this route that came in her career debut last summer; #9 LIGHT IN THE SKY: May be a short price, but I have my doubts. She seems to find trouble, and it’s not like the one win of her career was an overpowering effort, so I’ll try to beat her on most of my tickets.


Schettino entry (MTO)
Golden Spear

#5 HIEROGLYPHICS: Drops in class for Mike Maker, who’s been riding a real hot streak of late. This one’s won here twice, and a return to one of her favorite turf courses may be just what the doctor ordered (although he’ll likely be a short price); #8 GOLDEN SPEAR: Won here last year and returned with a solid second downstate in his first start since October. He’s got some versatility to him, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he sat a stalking trip and got first run turning for home; #2 SIDING SPRING: May have needed his return race off a four-month layoff, and he’s got back form that would give him a shot in this spot. He seems like the most logical pace-setter, and the inside draw could be an asset.


Guana Cay
Bottle Rocket Man

#7 MUTASAABEQ: Hammered for $425,000 at Keeneland as a weanling and has been working lights-out for Todd Pletcher. He’s by top juvenile sire Into Mischief, and the outside draw should help in his unveiling; #5 GUANA CAY: Is one of just three in here with prior experience, and she ran reasonably well when third on the turf at Keeneland. She seems to have bounced out of that race well, and Irad rides back for Wesley Ward; #6 BOTTLE ROCKET MAN: Is another debuting runner by Into Mischief and sold for $350,000 last year. There are a few nice works on the tab, but note he’d been at Monmouth for a while before coming north, and that’s where Chad Brown generally keeps his second-stringers.


Restored Order (MTO)
Secret Potion
Hidden Enemy

#1 SECRET POTION: Is yet another son of Into Mischief with a big shot on the Saturday undercard. The bottom of his pedigree is also flashy, as his dam is a half to multiple Grade 1-winning turf router Point Of Entry; #4 HIDDEN ENEMY: Is bred up and down to be a very good horse. He’s by Galileo and out of the Empire Maker mare Acoma, who herself is a half to Grade 1 winner and well-known sire Arch; #10 FIRE AT WILL: Has been working consistently for Mike Maker and adds yet another flashy turf pedigree to the mix. His dam is a half to multiple graded stakes winner Decorated Invader, and sire Declaration of War is actually that one’s sire (anyone else think inbreeding’s getting out of hand?).


Pink Sands
Come Dancing

#6 PINK SANDS: Cuts back to her preferred route of ground and should get an ideal setup in the Grade 1 Ballerina. With so much early speed signed on, I want a closer that can come flying late, and this multiple stakes-winner from the McGaughey barn fits that bill at a price; #7 COME DANCING: Returned to the Carlos Martin barn last time out and ran an OK second in the Grade 3 Vagrancy. She’s the defending champion, and with her closing kick, she’ll be a contender once again if Martin has her cranked up; #4 BELLAFINA: Has plenty of talent, but certainly seems like a beatable favorite. Weird stuff happens to her when she ships out of California, and while her best race could win this, she’s yet to put forth anything close to that kind of effort outside of the Pacific time zone.


Pure Sensation
Chewing Gum

#5 PURE SENSATION: Is a reluctant top pick in a wide-open renewal of the Grade 3 Troy. I’m drawing a line through the Grade 1 Jaipur, which was his first start since November, and a return to his best form would put him right there for red-hot trainer Christophe Clement; #1 IMPRIMIS: Returns off the bench, and if he’s at his best, he probably wins, especially given what will likely be a favorable race shape. The issue is, he wasn’t the same since coming back from Royal Ascot last summer, and the lack of a local work is a concern; #7 CHEWING GUM: Is another that figures to sit back and make one big run when the pace-setters’ strides shorten. His win two back was good, and while he may want a bit longer than this distance, it’s not like he’s run terribly going this short in the past.


Mrs. Sippy
Fools Gold
Olympic Games

#1 MRS. SIPPY: Returns to the races for Graham Motion, who’s one of the best in the game at getting turf marathoners ready to run. She won last year’s Grade 2 Glens Falls before running second to Sistercharlie in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl, and at her best, she’ll be the one to beat in the Grade 3 Waya; #7 FOOLS GOLD: Won this race a season ago and likely needed her run in the Grade 2 New York. She may get the benefit of a great trip on or near a slow early pace, and of the two Chad Brown trainees, she intrigues me the most; #5 OLYMPIC GAMES: Has run second in two stateside starts, including one at this distance downstate. She may be at her best with more pace to chase, but at a minimum, the 12-furlong journey shouldn’t be much of an obstacle.


Wicked Whisper
Venetian Harbor

#5 GAMINE: Ran a proverbial hole in the wind in the Grade 1 Acorn and looks much the best on paper in the Grade 1 Test. Simply put, anything close to her last-out effort would make her almost impossible to beat in this spot; #4 WICKED WHISPER: Rate’s a puncher’s chance to crash the exacta at a big price. It wasn’t long ago she was seen as the top 2-year-old filly on the East Coast following a win in the Grade 1 Frizette, and she likely needed her 2020 debut off a long break; #6 VENETIAN HARBOR: Settled for second behind Speech in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland and cuts back to a one-turn sprint here. Her Beyer Speed Figures are strong, but I can’t shake the image of a horse that got an easy lead last time out as a 3/5 favorite and had no answer for the only horse that challenged her.


Tiz the Law
Uncle Chuck
South Bend

#6 TIZ THE LAW: Is in line to earn his fourth straight win in the Grade 1 Travers (no, I will not mention the sponsor without the money everyone else is getting, thank you very much), and it sure looks like all systems are go. I don’t think the 10-furlong trip will bother him in the slightest given his pedigree, and he’s strictly the one to beat; #3 UNCLE CHUCK: Looms the main danger after shipping from California for Bob Baffert. I respect him a great deal, but taking on the division leader going 10 furlongs in his third career start after flying cross-country to a new track is no easy task; #8 SOUTH BEND: Could be worth a look at a price in his first start for Bill Mott. He hasn’t won in a while, but he could benefit from a pace meltdown, and if multiple riders cook their horses early, this is the one that could sit the Keen Ice trip and pick up the pieces.


Misty Taste
Bankers Beast
Tiny Magoo

#5 MISTY TASTE: Gets my top pick in a mess of a race where I wish I didn’t have to give one. I’m betting that she runs to her recent works for new trainer Kelly Breen, and she may not have to be all that much in her first start against state-bred competition; #9 BANKERS BEAST: Exits a turf sprint that came up reasonably tough and has a right to improve at second asking. She was fifth of 10 that day, and this barn’s runners usually improve with experience; #7 TINY MAGOO: Makes her second start off the layoff for a barn that can pop at a price. She got squeezed at the break in her return to the races, and she was an OK second in her debut against state-bred maiden claimers at Aqueduct.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/3/19)


BANKROLL: $977.10

It’s Whitney Day at Saratoga, and it’s tough to argue with the quality of the program despite the highlighted divisions both experiencing “down” years. The Whitney attracted McKinzie, Thunder Snow, and Preservationist, while the Test drew Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress and the fleet Bellafina, who may be running at her ideal distance.

It’s a great card, the type that horseplayers and casual fans alike can get excited about. We can go on and on about how the older horses and 3-year-old fillies are likely not great groups. In fact, I’d largely agree with that assessment. However, the horses that could’ve shown up for Saturday’s marquee races did, and sometimes, that’s all we can ask for. Enjoy the day, everyone!

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Our key horse in exactas failed to fire in the seventh, but we almost broke even thanks to hitting a $4 seventh-eighth race double. In total, we dropped just 40 cents.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: My action comes early in the card, and I’ll attempt to extract value out of #1 WORLD OF TROUBLE in the fifth (the Grade 3 Troy). I’ll play $5 doubles starting in the fourth that use #2 BATTLE OF BLENHEIM, #3 PATRIOT DRIVE, and #7 HAY DAKOTA and single World of Trouble. I’ll also single World of Trouble in $5 doubles starting in the fifth that end with #6 PICASSO and #8 FREE ENTERPRISE in the sixth. Finally, I’ll play a $1 Pick Three starting in the fourth that uses all of these horses.


– – – – –

BEST BET: World of Trouble, Race 5
LONGSHOT: Battle of Blenheim, Race 4


Our Country

#8 OUR COUNTRY: Had a troubled trip in his debut earlier this meet and has every right to move forward off of that performance. He gets Lasix for the first time, and experience can be very helpful for 2-year-olds in route races; #6 BREWMEISTER: Debuts for Chad Brown and has the pedigree to be a good one. He’s by Point of Entry, and his dam is a daughter of Giant’s Causeway and Canadian champion Ginger Brew; #10 SHAMROCKET: Doesn’t draw a great post, but merits a look at a price. He’s a half to four winners, his second dam is Grade 1 winner Nany’s Sweep, and Flavien Prat has the mount.


Grumps Little Tots
The Rock Says
Felix in Fabula

#3 GRUMPS LITTLE TOTS: Was last seen running second in the Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Toss the Wood Memorial, and his record looks considerably better; #8 THE ROCK SAYS: Hung a bit when third at this route on opening day. He’ll add blinkers for this event, though that may make it tough to see if he’s giving the field the people’s eyebrow; #6 FELIX IN FABULA: Prevailed earlier this meet at this route against weaker competition. He was claimed by an astute barn that day and may be ready for the jump in class.


Extreme Force
Wayne O
Glory Road

#3 EXTREME FORCE: Was third in his debut, and that day’s runner-up came back to win earlier in the meet. This barn isn’t known for success with first-time starters, so it’s conceivable that he may have needed the initial outing; #5 WAYNE O: Has trained like a very good horse leading up to his debut for Steve Asmussen. He hammered for $750,000 at auction last summer and may be ready to run right away; #9 GLORY ROAD: Fetched $220,000 at auction last September despite a modest pedigree and has worked well for Todd Pletcher. If there’s any hesitation here (or with my runner-up), it’s because it’s tough for a horse to debut at this tricky distance.


Take Your Place (MTO)
Battle of Blenheim
Hay Dakota

#2 BATTLE OF BLENHEIM: Ran fifth against a few of these rivals earlier this meet, but may not have liked the wet turf course. He does his best running over firm going, and this barn has had plenty of success with new acquisitions on turf in the past; #7 HAY DAKOTA: Responded to the claim last time out with a strong win at Churchill Downs. The faster they go early, the better this one’s chances figure to be; #3 PATRIOT DRIVE: Has won three in a row and jumps up in class for this event. He’s never finished out of the money in three local starts and seems to be in career-best form.


World of Trouble
Wet Your Whistle
Disco Partner

#1 WORLD OF TROUBLE: Is one of the top sprinters in the country and looms large in this spot. He rolled home in the Grade 1 Jaipur back in June, and his best race would thump these; #5 WET YOUR WHISTLE: Has won four in a row, including the Grade 1 Highlander at Woodbine. My top pick represents a different kind of animal than the ones he’s been facing, but a speed duel would certainly work in this one’s favor; #2 DISCO PARTNER: Has been a mainstay on the New York circuit, but it’s fair to wonder if the 7-year-old’s best days are behind him. He’s won just once in his last seven starts and has lost to World of Trouble twice during that stretch.


Free Enterprise

#8 FREE ENTERPRISE: Was beaten less than a length in his debut at Belmont and seems like the one to beat here. He’s worked well since that performance and should be prominent early; #6 PICASSO: Rallied to be third in his unveiling back in May, and that day’s runner-up has since come back to win. His pedigree (by Tapit, out of an Unbridled’s Song mare) suggests he’ll improve with experience; #1 MUCHACHO: Has run fairly well in two starts to date and has turned in two strong local drills ahead of this event. He adds Lasix here, and forward progression would give him a shot to hit the board at a price.


Voodoo Song

#8 TICONDEROGA: Drops down in class and goes back to a two-turn route of ground, one that he’s shown he appreciates. There’s a lot of speed signed on, and he should come rolling late; #7 VOODOO SONG: Almost certainly needed the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple, which was his first start since October. His most recent work was sparkling, and a return to top form would make him a major player; #2 LUCULLAN: Came back running off of a long layoff and steps back into stakes company here. He’s hit the board in eight of his 10 lifetime starts, and some of those have come against top-class turf horses.


Serengeti Empress
Royal Charlotte

#2 BELLAFINA: Makes her first start since May, and does so at what may be her favorite distance. She doesn’t necessarily need the lead, and that could be huge in a race with so much early speed signed on; #1 SERENGETI EMPRESS: Stole the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on the lead and followed it up with a good second in the Grade 1 Acorn behind Guarana. She’s got enough speed to not be hindered by the rail, which could be key; #5 ROYAL CHARLOTTE: Has won all four of her starts to date and tries Grade 1 company for the first time. These are pretty deep waters, but she’s got the right running style to make an impact in the Grade 1 Test.


Thunder Snow

#6 MCKINZIE: Nearly overcame an eventful trip in the Grade 1 Met Mile, where he steadied several times and was even hit by a bird. He’s shown some flexibility with regard to his running style, and his best race would make him tough; #4 THUNDER SNOW: Was third in the Met Mile, but may want more distance than he got that day. An extra furlong could help the globe-trotter, and he may sit a comfortable trip on or near the lead; #8 PRESERVATIONIST: Overpowered Catholic Boy in the Grade 2 Suburban and may be improving. However, this seems like a much tougher group on the whole, and he might need to take that step forward in order to contend.


Capla Temptress
Got Stormy
Stella di Camelot

#7 CAPLA TEMPTRESS: Broke through with a win last month at Delaware Park and gets another try going two turns here. She was second in the Grade 2 Lake Placid last summer, and also won a Grade 3 at a similar two-turn configuration late last year; #8 GOT STORMY: Has chased some of the top horses in the division and gets a bit of class relief here. Most recently, she was second in a Grade 2 at Churchill Downs, and she earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure in that race; #9 STELLA DI CAMELOT: Made up a lot of ground late when third in the Grade 3 Intercontinental at Belmont. She won at this distance last fall at Belmont, and it’s tough to poke holes in the connections.


Three Outlaws
Veterans Beach

#11 THREE OUTLAWS: Makes his second start off of a long layoff and gets Lasix for the first time. His comeback race was fine, and Luis Saez chooses to ride him back for Brian Lynch; #12 VETERANS BEACH: Was second in the race my top pick exits, but must overcome a very tough post. He may need to use some of his speed to clear this field going into the field; #6 BROCKMONINOFF: Hasn’t run since October, but he likes this route and will be dangerous if he’s ready to run. This barn is due to get going and knows how to win with horses coming off of long layoffs.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/4/18


BANKROLL: $754.50

When I was a kid, there was one summer where former New York Daily News racing writer/handicapper Bill Finley ran so terribly in the “Battle of Saratoga” that he ran out of money before the meet was over. As a kid, I laughed pretty hard at that and wondered how it could happen.

Well, given the slump I’ve been in in this section since the meet started, I get it now. I don’t think we’ll get to the point where we run out of funds, but some cold streaks do make it easy to see how that may happen. If there’s consolation, it’s that I heated up as last year’s meet rolled along, so hopefully things will begin to pick up sooner rather than later.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: An attempt to get some value out of Sudden Surprise fizzled early, when multi-race exotics horses were nowhere in the second race. We dropped $27.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll take a stand against likely third-race favorite #6 CUARENTA, who debuts for a tag that’s 25% of his 2017 purchase price. That hits me as a big red flag. I’ll box #5 ROGUE NATION, #7 ONE MORE TOM, and #9 PRETERNATURAL in $5 exactas.



Friday’s Results: 2 for 10
Meet Results (to date): 35 for 128

Best Bet: Business Cycle, Race 6
Longshot: Mr. Cub, Race 11


Moss entry (MTO)
Souper Tapit

#2 SOUPER TAPIT: Ran well in his return to the races last month at Churchill. When he’s right, he’s a stakes-caliber runner on any surface, and his pedigree hints that he may be getting even better; #4 HEMBREE: Hasn’t run a bad race in a more than a year and exits a win in a swiftly-run allowance downstate. He figures to be prominent early, and he hasn’t finished out of the top two in three local starts; #3 BIRD’S EYE VIEW: Was beaten a half-length by a strong runner last time out and has kept strong company in the past. If there’s any hesitation here, it’s because he may want even more ground than he gets in this race. DIRT SELECTIONS: MOSS ENTRY, SOUPER TAPIT, FUNDY’S TIDE.


Noble Nebraskan
Brown entry
Medina Ridge

#4 NOBLE NEBRASKAN: Is bred to be a top-class runner. He’s by promising young sire Noble Mission, his second dam is G1 winner Honest Lady, and his third dam is Toussaud, the dam of Belmont winner/top sire Empire Maker; BROWN ENTRY: #1 SPIRIT ANIMAL is bred to like turf and is a threat if he draws in, while #1A STANDARD DEVIATION fetched $450,000 at auction, has trained like he could be a runner, and may be favored if the race is switched to the main track; #6 MEDINA RIDGE: Is out of a dam who won multiple graded stakes races going long on the grass. This barn isn’t necessarily known for having horses ready right away, but has had success with firsters on turf. DIRT SELECTIONS: STANDARD DEVIATION, SOCIAL PARANOIA, BRONXVILLE.


Rogue Nation
One More Tom

#9 PRETERNATURAL: Drops in for a tag and cuts back to a sprint, which seems like the trip he wants. His debut effort going short wasn’t bad, and that race’s winner has since run well twice against allowance foes; #5 ROGUE NATION: Debuts in this spot for a trainer that can win with first-time starters at this level. His workouts appear solid, and running to those drills may be enough to beat what seems like an underwhelming group; #7 ONE MORE TOM: Has plenty of seasoning and runs for a tag for the first time. His lack of early speed is a concern, but Javier Castellano signing on can’t be ignored.


Broman entry
Not So Quiet Man

BROMAN ENTRY: #1 FAST GETAWAY took to the turf last time out, when he closed to break his maiden at Belmont Park. He merits respect on the lawn, while #1A THE CARETAKER seems like the most logical selection if the race is taken off the turf; #2 VITSAL: Is certainly fast enough to win this race, but I’ll take a shot against him. He’s found trouble in each of his last three starts, and that trend is worrisome for a horse that’s drawn the rail; #10 NOT SO QUIET MAN: Has run well twice at Saratoga and comes in off a win at Monmouth Park. This is a class hike for him, but this barn doesn’t ship to NYRA tracks to sight-see. DIRT SELECTIONS: THE CARETAKER, CALL ME A STAR, BELLEVILLE SPRING.


On Leave

#5 PRECIEUSE: Won a Group 1 in France two back and gets Lasix for her American debut. This isn’t a bad group, but it’s far from what she’s been running against overseas, and it seems like she’s been working well; #1 UNI: Has been working her way back since coming up sick prior to the Grade 1 Gamely, which she had to scratch out of. On her best day, she can certainly win this, but there’s a chance she needs the race; #7 ON LEAVE: Has been running against some of the best female turf horses in the country and was most recently seen running fifth in the Grade 1 Just A Game. Her best race would make her competitive, but she may be a hair past her peak.


Business Cycle

#5 BUSINESS CYCLE: Was second in his debut late last year and hasn’t run since, but he’s been working incredibly well for Chad Brown. A repeat of that debut effort would make him very tough to beat; #4 HERSH: Rallied to finish second in his debut last month. He had some trouble that day and could step forward at second asking; #1 ALKHAATAM: Was bet to 2-1 odds in the Grade 2 Remsen, but ran fourth behind Catholic Boy and hasn’t been seen since. He’s got some solid works to his credit, but he’s bred to go much further, so this seems like a prep.


Justice of War
Brown entry

#2 JUSTICE OF WAR: Fetched $550,000 at auction and goes out for one of the top trainer/jockey combinations to this point in the meet. He’s got a few very strong gate works that hint he has serious talent; BROWN ENTRY: While #1 FULLNESS OF TIME has some things to recommend, I actually prefer #1A AHEAD OF PLAN, who needs some luck to draw in off the AE list. The latter hammered for $475,000 despite a modest pedigree and has a number of eye-catching workouts; #6 MUCHO: Ran well to be second behind Whiskey Echo in his debut, and that rival went on to run an OK third in the Grade 3 Sanford. Bill Mott’s horses tend to get better with experience, and that experience could help him given the abundance of debuting runners here.


Classy Act
Mia Mischief

#6 SEPARATIONOFPOWERS: Gets a tepid top pick in a puzzling renewal of the Grade 1 Test. She missed the break in the Grade 3 Victory Ride, yet rallied to be beaten less than two lengths. She should take a big step forward here with a cleaner trip; #4 CLASSY ACT: Ran a colossal race in defeat in the Victory Ride, when she helped set a very fast early pace, turned back her early rivals, and was nipped by a huge longshot. She’ll likely be prominent again in this race; #7 MIA MISCHIEF: Faded to finish fifth as the favorite in the Victory Ride, but her lesser races have come off of layoffs. She could be more fit here, and if she is, she’s absolutely good enough to win.


Backyard Heaven
Mind Your Biscuits

#2 BACKYARD HEAVEN: Bounced badly when sixth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, and I’m choosing to draw a line through that race. If he runs back to the Grade 2 Alysheba, he may be the horse to beat, and we could get a bit of a price based on the last-out clunker; #4 MIND YOUR BISCUITS: Tries nine furlongs for the first time after just missing in the Grade 1 Met Mile. His pedigree says he doesn’t want to go this far, but you can’t blame the connections for trying given the purse and the likely race shape that could favor his closing kick; #6 DIVERSIFY: Turned in a huge performance in the Grade 2 Suburban, where he smashed several of today’s foes and earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. That was easily his best performance to date, though, and given the other speed in the field and lack of any value here, I’ll try to beat him.


Santa Monica
Mom’s On Strike

#5 SANTA MONICA: Has won two of three starts since coming to America and most recently took the Grade 2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine. She beat a pretty good group that day, and a similar performance here would likely make her a formidable foe; #2 MOM’S ON STRIKE: Has won five of her last seven starts and was beaten just two lengths in the Grade 2 New York, a race whose second and third-place finishers have already come back to win. Joe Sharp has gotten off to a great start at the meet, and she’s shown she can get this distance; #8 LOTTIE: May be a cut below these, but is one of only a few that’s ever shown early speed. She was up close throughout last time out, and a similar trip here seems likely.


Mr. Cub

#2 TICONDEROGA: Gets my top selection in a very deep renewal of the Lure Stakes. He’s kept tremendous company throughout his career, and I think he’s significantly better around two turns; #3 MR. CUB: Was beaten just a half-length in the Grade 2 Wise Dan, and with #8 VOODOO SONG likely scratching in favor of next weekend’s Grade 1 Fourstardave, this one figures to be the main early speed. He could get an easy trip, and such a journey would make him an overlay at his morning line price; #7 ZENNOR: Won three in a row, including this race last year, before being sidelined. If he’s back to that form, he’s a contender, but between the long layoff and the jockey switch, I’m treading fairly lightly.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/5/17


BANKROLL: $975.25

Just how bad was my luck Thursday? After 10 top picks led to nine in-the-money finishes but just one win, I went to an establishment near my apartment for dinner. I ordered a sandwich with no mushrooms or onions, and it was delivered in two halves. One half was made as ordered. The other half of the same sandwich, you guessed it, had mushrooms and onions. When something as confounding as that happens, you know you’re having a strange day.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Petrov was ultra-impressive in victory in the eighth race. Our exactas got split by a longshot, but our $22 post-scratch investment returned an even $30 thanks to a successful win-place bet.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll take a shot in the early Pick Four, which begins in the second race. I’m punching the “ALL” button to start things off, and I’ll use #1 APPLE BETTY and #4 SUFFUSED in the third, include #5 STRONG CURRENT, #6 ECLIPSED MOON, #8 SEABHAC, and #10 SURVEY in the fourth, and single #5 DELTA PRINCE (one of my best bets of the day) in the fifth. I’m hoping we get a price or two home early in the sequence before Royal Delta’s little brother takes the stage. As usual, this wager assumes all races carded for the turf stay there.



Best Bet: Projected, Race 7
Longshot: Schivarelli, Race 11


Dubb entry
Sandy’z Slew
Uncle Youdge

DUBB ENTRY: This owner has a powerful hand, as GRAND SKY is a major player if this stays on turf and stakes-winner MARRIEDTOTHEMUSIC is strictly the one to beat if it gets rained off; SANDY’Z SLEW: Improved last time out in his second start off a layoff and has run some strong races at this route in the past; UNCLE YOUDGE: Ships up from Monmouth Park and seems like the main speed in here. The outside draw isn’t great, but he may be fast enough early to clear the field. DIRT SELECTIONS: MARRIEDTOTHEMUSIC, LOVE THAT JAZZ, NOBODY MOVE.


Zap Zap Zap
Godolphin entry
Ride On Faith

ZAP ZAP ZAP: Goes to the barn of Todd Pletcher and exits a very fast race at this level downstate. The runner-up came back to crush similar company earlier in the meet, and this gelding gets a big rider switch to John Velazquez; GODOLPHIN ENTRY: Either part of this entry could win this, but I prefer FULLY VESTED, who was a solid second in his debut for a barn whose horses often need a race to get going. The addition of Lasix could make a big difference; RIDE ON FAITH: Ran into the promising Phi Beta Express last time out and has improved with every start. Further progression would likely lead to a piece of it here.


Apple Betty
Guilty Twelve

SUFFUSED: Loves this turf course and gets a bit of class relief. She was beaten less than a length in a contentious Grade 2 last time out, and this seems like a bit softer of a spot; APPLE BETTY: Took advantage of a slow pace last time out against a number of rivals that also show up here. A similar scenario could present itself here, as there isn’t much other speed signed on; GUILTY TWELVE: Has won two in a row, including a Grade 3 at Delaware. She’s in career-best form and boasts a win over this turf course.


Super Sermon (MTO)
Eclipsed Moon
Strong Current

ECLIPSED MOON: Came flying late in his unveiling and was beaten just a neck. This barn’s horses usually get better with experience, and given the $400k pricetag, it’s safe to assume big things are expected; STRONG CURRENT: Didn’t do much running in his debut, but he’s bred to go long and adds blinkers here. First-crop stallion Orb has already sired one turf winner this meet; SURVEY: Is another who was one-paced in a sprint debut, but this pedigree says he’ll love going long on the lawn. He also didn’t get an ideal setup in his unveiling, which featured a very slow early pace. DIRT SELECTIONS: SUPER SERMON, VARIANT PERCEPTION, ROAMING UNION.


Gift Box (MTO)
Delta Prince

DELTA PRINCE: May not be the same kind of horse as sister Royal Delta, but he’s shown plenty of ability. He was a close second in a Grade 3 earlier this year, and if he’s ready to run off the bench, he’s strictly the one to beat; MUTAZEN: Was third in a classy allowance race downstate and has shown plenty of early zip. Lezcano getting off is a bit befuddling, but this one should be prominent early; STRIKE MIDNIGHT: Hasn’t won in a while, but has plenty of back class. His last win came off a long layoff similar to what he returns from here, and he was third in a Grade 2 on this turf course last summer. DIRT SELECTIONS: GIFT BOX, DELTA PRINCE, VULCAN’S FORGE.



ENGAGE: Has worked like one of the top 2-year-olds on the grounds ahead of his debut. He boasts a lofty $550k purchase price, and these connections must be respected; SLOT: Has a dam whose full brother is Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Trinniberg. He’s bred to be a rocket ship, and it’s tough to ignore the tag team of Pletcher and Castellano; ARRIVAL: Probably lost all chance at the start in his debut. He salvaged fourth that day, and improvement is logical at second asking.


Ring Weekend
Camelot Kitten

PROJECTED: Has run second in back-to-back graded races and drops into the ungraded ranks. A repeat of either of those efforts would make him very tough to beat; RING WEEKEND: Won a Grade 1 in 2015 and captured a pair of Grade 2 events last year, but hasn’t shown as much in his 2017 campaign. His best race wins this, but it’s unclear if he can channel that form; CAMELOT KITTEN: Won four graded events as a 3-year-old and makes his seasonal debut here. His back class is substantial, but he faces many heavy hitters here (including my top pick, a stablemate).


American Gal

AMERICAN GAL: Is undefeated in sprint races and was extremely impressive in her 2017 debut. She won the Victory Ride by nearly five lengths, and her recent works indicate she bounced out of that race very well; FAYPIEN: Has won three in a row and merits respect shipping east for Bob Baffert. She won a Grade 2 going longer when last seen, and the recent works are very strong; CHALON: Took advantage of an easy lead in an ungraded stakes race downstate. She’ll be prominent early, and this California-based barn is firing on all cylinders.


Gun Runner
Breaking Lucky
Keen Ice

GUN RUNNER: Has gone from a very good 3-year-old to an excellent 4-year-old. His only loss since the 2016 Breeders’ Cup came when Arrogate put forth an otherworldly performance in Dubai, and while the likely wet track is a bit of a concern, note that it was wet in Dubai, too; BREAKING LUCKY: Hasn’t won in a while but may benefit from the likely race shape. Unlike many in here, he does not need the lead, and he could sit a perfect stalking trip just off the ample early speed; KEEN ICE: Sprang an upset in the Grade 2 Suburban downstate for his first win since the 2015 Travers. The race shape figures to suit him, but he may want even more ground than the nine furlongs he’ll get here.


Clipthecouponannie (MTO)
Sassy Little Lila
On Leave

SASSY LITTLE LILA: Was a close second in the Grade 1 Just A Game last time out and figures to be the main speed in here. Her back class is substantial, and she ran a massive race over this turf course last year on closing day; ON LEAVE: Is a Grade 2 winner and the other major player in here. She may be best around one turn, but she’ll certainly be running well late; ELYSEA’S WORLD: Drops down in class a bit after spending her entire 2017 campaign to date against graded stakes company. Her best race puts her right there, but this isn’t much easier than the fields she’s faced of late.


Mo Town

NEOLITHIC: Ran third to Arrogate twice earlier this season and begins his summer/fall campaign here. This may be a bit shorter than he wants to go, but if he’s right, he’ll be very tough to beat; SCHIVARELLI: Drops back down the class ladder after chasing some tough sprinters in his last two. He won at this route last year, and this distance hits him right between the eyes; MO TOWN: Is very tough when he’s right, but his two 2017 efforts were total duds. He’s been working well, though, and he’d certainly benefit from a wet track.