SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (9/2/20)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $646.20

It’s bizarre to say that this is the final week of the Saratoga season. It’s even more surreal, however, to say that it’s also Kentucky Derby week, but here we are. In just a few days, Belmont and Travers winner Tiz the Law will look to add the Run for the Roses to his ever-growing list of conquests. Meanwhile, those in New York will be preparing for races like the Woodward and the Jim Dandy, among others.

I’ll be making daily judgment calls for this section. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re handicapping both Saratoga and Churchill anyway. If I see something I like in Kentucky, I will give it out here. It’s an unconventional step, to be sure, but this is anything but a conventional year.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Orlando Noda’s stellar summer continued when Zonic rallied from way back to take Sunday’s sixth race. We unfortunately didn’t get the 4-1 morning line price, but that wasn’t going to happen after several key scratches. Still, he paid $6.80 to win, which meant a $68 return on a $20 investment.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I haven’t made my obligatory wager involving a steeplechase race yet this summer, so I’ll do it here. I’m boxing #1 IRANISTAN/#1A TAPER TANTRUM and #5 BODES WELL in $5 exactas and using both betting interests in $10 doubles that single #6 HEY IT’S TATI in the second.

TOTAL WAGERED: $30.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Voting Agreement, Race 6
Longshot: Justintimeforwine, Race 10

R1

Sheppard entry
Bodes Well
Cracker Factory

SHEPPARD ENTRY: Both parts of the entry look pretty tough. #1 IRANISTAN responded to a class drop early in the meet with a gritty score, while #1A TAPER TANTRUM makes his first start since April of 2018 and won a stakes race during that campaign; #5 BODES WELL: Did the dirty work when third behind the talented Snap Decision in the Kiser earlier this meet. He gets weight from several other contenders in here, and his best race could win this; #2 CRACKER FACTORY: May have needed his return to the races a few weeks ago, when he was fifth behind Iranistan. He could improve at a price second off the bench, and this barn has had a very strong season to this point.

R2

Hey It’s Tati
Madam Deputy
Empress Luciana

#6 HEY IT’S TATI: Comes back to dirt and drops back into the maiden claiming ranks after a failed experiment on turf last time out. Her debut against similar saw her finish second beaten just a half-length, and the presence of jockey Jose Ortiz is notable; #5 MADAM DEPUTY: Ran third in her debut downstate and was claimed out of that event by Rudy Rodriguez. She sports a flashy recent local work and could be dangerous if she shows improved early speed at second asking; #4 EMPRESS LUCIANA: Comes back to dirt after two clunkers on the grass. She’s had plenty of chances, sure, but the three and four-back efforts on the main track weren’t bad, and the last two efforts may inflate the price on a horse who could easily rally for a piece of it.

R3

Nashville
Searing Chase
Breithorn

#4 NASHVILLE: Hammered for $460,000 two years ago and has trained forwardly for Steve Asmussen ahead of her unveiling. She’s by Speightstown and her dam is kin to five winners, so she has every right to be a runner; #1 SEARING CHASE: Got cooked on the front end last time out before fading to fourth. The slight cutback in distance could help him, and he’s got enough early zip to make the rail draw an asset; #5 BREITHORN: Just missed against maiden claimers earlier in the meet and makes his first start for Linda Rice, whose numbers with new acquisitions are very solid. Toss the two clunkers on turf, and his career looks significantly better.

R4

Rejected Again (MTO)
Megacity
Bad Beat Brian

#8 MEGACITY: Chased a loose-on-the-lead winner last time out at this level and gets a rider switch to top turf pilot Jose Lezcano. He’s got enough tactical speed to be on or near the lead, and that could give him a shot at an ideal trip in a wide-open turf race; #7 BAD BEAT BRIAN: Did everything but win last time out in what was truly a bad beat for his backers. He lost a photo finish after being on or near the lead every step of the way, and a similar effort could give him a big shot once again; #5 TWELFTH LABOUR: Hasn’t won in a while but was claimed by Mike Maker and tries turf for just the second time in his career. He’s bred to love the lawn and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride. I can’t be too enthusiastic about him at his likely price, but it wouldn’t stun me if he won.

R5

Royal Suspect
Brunate
Gratto Swing

#2 ROYAL SUSPECT: Had a rough trip last time out and takes a slight drop in class to run here. He’s run in some fairly tough races for their levels this season, and a smoother journey gives him a big chance in what hit me as a tricky race to handicap; #5 BRUNATE: Has hit the board against similar twice at the meet and once again looks like a top contender. Luis Saez rides for H. James Bond, and that combination has had plenty of success here this summer; #9 GRATTO SWING: Is admittedly a pretty big swing, especially coming off a six-month layoff. However, he’s got early speed in a field that seems light on tactical zip. I like the two most recent works, and if you’re playing vertical exotics, he hits me as a must-use at what could be a gigantic price.

R6

Voting Agreement
Mo Me Mo My
Corey Scores

#8 VOTING AGREEMENT: Comes out of a classy allowance race won by Peaceful, a stakes-caliber turf sprinter. These $40,000 claimers constitute a much weaker group, and I simply can’t get past what looks like a very formidable favorite; #6 MO ME MO MY: Makes her fourth start of the meet and ran second against similar two starts back. She comes back to her preferred surface and is another who may benefit from a drop in class; #11 COREY SCORES: Cuts back in distance to this route, one she ran second at twice a season ago. Irad Ortiz, Jr., hops aboard, and she should be running well late; the question is, can she overcome the wide draw?

R7

Unrighteous (MTO)
Tide of the Sea
Succeedandsurpass

#7 TIDE OF THE SEA: Was second the whole way around at this route a few weeks ago but certainly looks like the lone speed in this turf marathon. If he gets loose early through comfortable fractions, I think he’ll be very tough to catch; #8 SUCCEEDANDSURPASS: Makes his first start for Graham Motion, who immediately stretches him out to a marathon distance for the first time. He’s got the pedigree to go long, and he ran second in a Grade 2 last year, so the back class is present as well; #5 JUNKANOO: Ran well when third in his first start since October of 2018 last time out. They came home very fast that day, and while this route is a question mark, he’s certainly in the right hands to improve in his second start off of a long layoff.

R8

Control Group
Evaluator
One Last Buck

#3 CONTROL GROUP: Loves Saratoga and seeks his third win of the summer in this race. It’s not an easy spot, but he’s in great form for red-hot trainer Orlando Noda, who tends to keep horses on the right track; #4 EVALUATOR: Hasn’t won in nearly three years but has had several long breaks in that time and ran reasonably well when third in his 2020 debut last time out. He’s run well at this route in the past, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be; #5 OUR LAST BUCK: Won two in a row before falling by a neck in the slop last time out at Belmont. His best race can win this, but he’s never gone two turns before, and that’s a major question mark.

R9

American Monarch
Blame the Booze
Nathan Detroit

#2 AMERICAN MONARCH: Won at first asking earlier in the meet, and that’s not something many Bill Mott trainees do. His horses tend to get better with experience, and if he’s sitting on a bigger effort in the Grade 3 With Anticipation, he’ll be strictly the one to beat; #1 BLAME THE BOOZE: Owns both the best name I’ve seen all summer and a debut win in an off-the-turf race at Belmont. He’s bred up and down for the lawn, comes in off a very fast work over the Oklahoma turf course, and may be the one they have to catch; #6 NATHAN DETROIT: Won his debut at Ellis Park, and that day’s third-place finisher has since come back to win. Jose Lezcano has the mount, and if you’re looking for a price on a contender in this short field, you may find one here.

R10

True Palace (MTO)
Justintimeforwine
Bricco

#3 JUSTINTIMEFORWINE: Has had a bunch of chances but drops in for a tag and certainly looks like the main speed in the Wednesday finale. Add in that top-tier speed rider Kendrick Carmouche hops aboard, and the tactics seem pretty clear here; #8 BRICCO: Has run second three straight times at this level and didn’t seem to have an excuse when run down by a big price last time out. The Bond/Saez duo is formidable, and this one’s probably supposed to win this race, but wasn’t he supposed to win last time, too?; #11 K. K. ICHIKAWA: Had an unlucky trip last time out when he raced wide most of the way. The draw doesn’t do him any favors, but if Jose Lezcano can work out a trip and he can channel his decent debut form, he’s got a shot at a bit of a price.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/30/20)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $598.20

I wish I could provide something that is, at a minimum, mildly amusing in this space today. I enjoy doing that, especially for people who really enjoy reading my stuff. However, a family emergency makes that impossible. Thankfully, all parties involved in this particular situation are physically okay, so things could be far worse.

It’s been a lousy year for a lot of people, and being divided on seemingly every possible issue hasn’t helped. My plea in this space today: Be nice to each other. We don’t know most of the struggles our fellow human beings are going through, and there may not be a whole lot we can do in those instances. However, being there to listen goes a long way. Do that.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: When your best result is a scratch, you know it’s been a lousy day at the office. My three remaining win-place bets all fizzled, and I dropped $30.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: Once again, it’s tough to dive in without being 100% sure of the track condition. However, I think we may get a fair price on #5 ZONIC in the sixth. I’ll put $20 to win on him and hope trainer Orlando Noda continues his hot streak.

TOTAL WAGERED: $20.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Dubb entry, Race 4
Longshot: Sol Del Sur, Race 10

R1

Thin White Duke
Sam and Sy
Boss Bear

#13 THIN WHITE DUKE: Needs some luck to draw in off the AE list, but he’ll be very tough if he does. He’s run well in all four of his prior starts and took a step forward figure-wise when a tough-luck second last time out; #3 SAM AND SY: Comes in off a pair of bullet drills ahead of his unveiling. He’s by promising young sire Speightster and from the same female family that produced Group 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Sakhee; #2 BOSS BEAR: May have needed his debut earlier this month, and the rough start certainly didn’t help. Mike Maker’s horses often need a race or two to get going, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., sees fit to ride back.

R2

Blood Moon
Super Wicked Charm
Buona Fina

#2 BLOOD MOON: Hasn’t won this year but takes a gigantic drop in class for aggressive connections. He’s run third against a pair of starter allowance fields at this route and should be on or near the lead early. If he gets comfortable, he’ll be tough to catch; #1 SUPER WICKED CHARM: Tried turf at Monmouth last time out and gets back to his preferred surface here. Red-hot reinsman Luis Saez has the mount, he’s won going two turns in the past, and he’ll likely be a pretty nice price; #3 BUONA FINA: Won a pretty ugly maiden claiming event a few weeks ago and faces winners for the first time. He did, however, run a decent second two back in the slop when chasing a next-out winner, so perhaps a step forward is in the offing.

R3

No Mo’ Spending
Elusive Site
Rosey’s Peach

#4 NO MO’ SPENDING: Was third beaten less than two lengths in her local debut and has turned in two strong drills since that effort. This seems like a weaker group than the one she faced last time, and another step forward could make her tough to beat; #6 ELUSIVE SITE: Can’t be dismissed given the barn she comes from and the solid gate work on August 21st. However, that work was a pretty sharp improvement from months’ worth of prior drills, so I’m not sure how much confidence can be gained from it; #2 ROSEY’S PEACH: Debuted by running fourth in the same race my top pick exits. She’s got some ground to make up on that rival, but it’s not inconceivable to think she can step up to grab a piece of it.

R4

Dubb entry
Ian Glass
Golden Decision

#1A HIEROGLYPHICS: Responded to a big drop in class last time out with a romp over several foes that also show up here. He’s won three of six starts on this turf course, and if this race stays on the grass, a fourth victory looks likely; #9 IAN GLASS: Wired a weaker group last time second off the bench beneath a heads-up ride from Joel Rosario. That pilot gets back aboard, and the Ray Handal barn has been sending out live runners for most of the meet; #2 GOLDEN DECISION: Hasn’t won in a while, but drops down in class for this race and won his most recent start for anything close to this claiming price. The faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be, and there’s some early zip signed on here.

R5

Cease and Desist (MTO)
Red Ghost
So Enchanting

#5 RED GHOST: Sports several strong works ahead of her debut for world-class 2-year-old trainer Wesley Ward. She’s a half-sister to six winners, and her second dam is a Grade 2-winning full sister to the great Alysheba, so there’s plenty to like from a pedigree standpoint; #9 SO ENCHANTING: Sold for $275,000 at auction last September and debuts for top-notch connections. She’s by top turf sire More Than Ready, has been working well for Chad Brown, and may be talented enough to overcome the wide draw; #7 PERFECTION: Is bred up and down for turf and is worth a look at a big price. Her second dam is champion Possibly Perfect, and sire Malibu Moon has been known to throw horses with ability on the grass.

R6

Zonic
Summer Bourbon
Lazarus Project

#5 ZONIC: Rallied late to be third against similar company last time out in his first start for this barn. Improvement is logical second off the bench, especially for a hot trainer, and it helps that he’s never been worse than third in three local starts; #2 SUMMER BOURBON: Ran third when in for twice this tag last time out. The drop from a state-bred $25,000 claimer to an open $12,500 claimer isn’t huge, but his tactical speed is an asset; #4 LAZARUS PROJECT: Hasn’t won in a while but showed significant improvement when third against similar early in the meet. Renowned gate rider Kendrick Carmouche should have him on or near the lead early, and perhaps being able to save some ground will help.

R7

Good Credence (MTO)
Barrel of Destiny
Dancingwthdaffodls

#2 BARREL OF DESTINY: Ran too poorly to be true last time out, so I’m drawing a line through that effort. She won three in a row before that, gets the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr., and may be a bit of a price given the last-out clunker; #7 DANCINGWTHDAFFODLS: Came flying late to take an allowance event going shorter downstate. Two turns is a bit of a question mark, but there’s certainly plenty of speed in this event, so if she’s ever going to get this route, it may well be in this spot; #1 SHORT POUR: Lost all chance when hard to handle early several weeks ago. When she’s right, she’s got a ton of early speed, and Luis Saez will likely send her to the front to capitalize on the inside draw.

R8

Gandy Dancing
Harris Bay
Flying Finish

#4 GANDY DANCING: Chased a well-meant returnee last time out at this level, but still managed to run a solid second. With so much early speed on paper, I’m exclusively going with closers in this race, and he seems like the best of the bunch; #8 HARRIS BAY: Was third in the race my top pick exits and hasn’t really run a bad race to this point. He’s spent most of his career against stakes foes to this point, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be; #6 FLYING FINISH: Came storming home with, well, a flying finish to graduate two back at Belmont. I think the cutback to one turn and the return to state-bred competition will help him here, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., coming back to ride is also encouraging.

R9

Royal Flag
Letruska
Golden Award

#9 ROYAL FLAG: May not have liked the Monmouth Park surface when a distant third in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher. She won three in a row at three different tracks before that and has worked steadily ahead of her run in the Grade 3 Shuvee; #3 LETRUSKA: Wants to go as fast as she can for as long as she can, and that strategy has led to three wins since coming to the states late last year. She’s shown she can get a two-turn route of ground, and if she gets left alone on the lead, look out; #5 GOLDEN AWARD: Was second in the Summer Colony earlier this summer, but should sit her preferred trip here. She seems a bit better when she has a target to chase, as opposed to being on the lead. That situation should materialize here, and she could have every chance to win this event for the second year in a row.

R10

Modern Science
Sol Del Sur
American Diamond

#3 MODERN SCIENCE: Hit the front in the stretch last time out, but had to settle for second that day. He bested the third-place finisher by daylight, and a similar effort here will likely put him in the winner’s circle for the first time; #5 SOL DEL SUR: Showed late interest when fifth in his debut, which came in that same event. Bill Mott’s runners usually step forward with experience, and this son of Medaglia d’Oro is bred to get better as he gets older; #12 AMERICAN DIAMOND: Merits a look at a price if he draws in off the AE list. This son of American Pharoah is bred up and down for turf and sports an impressive 369 turf Tomlinson rating, the highest such number in this field.

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

BANKROLL

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).

TOTAL WAGERED: $40.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

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

R1

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.

R2

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.

R3

L’Imperator
Vanzzy
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.

R4

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.

R5

Archumybaby
Letmetakethiscall
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.

R6

Happymac
Founder
Newbomb

#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.

R7

Yaupon
Basin
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.

R8

Whitmore
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.

R9

Pedro Cara
Aquaphobia
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?

R10

Jouster
Rookery
Zainalarab

#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.

R11

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 (8/28/20)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $648.50

Over the past few years, I’ve developed fun relationships with the people at Delta Downs in Louisiana. Track announcer Don Stevens has been incredibly kind to me, and the racing product there is fun to handicap. Some of my biggest Pick Four scores have come handicapping that track.

For various reasons, seeing photos out of Louisiana after Hurricane Laura came ashore has been jarring. 2020 didn’t need another way to make people suffer, and Delta wasn’t spared from the storm’s wrath. The tote board was destroyed, there was plenty of damage to the track, and at least one starting gate was flipped over.

I sincerely hope all people and horses that have to deal with this are okay. It’s been a historically tough year for a lot of folks, and I feel terrible for all who are affected by this in some way, shape, or form.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS: My Pick Five was cancelled when a good, old-fashioned Saratoga monsoon swept through the area and moved all turf races to the main track.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: Without knowing the track condition and the status of the turf course, I can’t dive in as enthusiastically as I’d like. However, if the seventh stays on turf, I’ll have a $20 win bet on #5 NEW YORK’S FINEST. I know a “horse for the course” when I see one, and a win here will give him six triumphs in eight local turf sprints.

TOTAL WAGERED: $20.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Captain Bombastic, Race 1
Longshot: New York’s Finest, Race 7

R1

Captain Bombastic
Dream Bigger
Chowda

#2 CAPTAIN BOMBASTIC: Tried much tougher company last time out when fourth in the Grade 1 Allen Jerkens earlier this month. He seems to have come into his own in the summer of his 3-year-old year, and his usual race would beat these; #5 DREAM BIGGER: Has won three stakes races for state-breds and was second in the maiden race that produced Tiz the Law a season ago. He’s got plenty of speed and should be prominent from the first jump; #1 CHOWDA: Got pretty good earlier this year when winning three of four at Aqueduct. He hasn’t been seen since, but he’s worked steadily ahead of his return to the races and could pick up a check if he’s ready to run.

R2

Herwaze (MTO)
Hurricane Breeze
Princess Fawzia

#5 HURRICANE BREEZE: Rallied into a slow pace last time out against several of these, but was still beaten less than two lengths. It certainly seems like there’s more speed signed on here, and if you solely consider her two-turn efforts, her form looks significantly better; #4 PRINCESS FAWZIA: Has come out on the wrong end of two photo finishes since coming off the bench earlier this year. She probably makes the lead; the two-part question is, how hard will she have to work to get there, and how much will she have left late; #7 COME STORMING: Hit the front late last time out but finished third beaten a half-length. She’s gotten better for Tom Bush since coming off the layoff in April, and continued improvement could put her right there.

R3

Principal Dancer
Bank On This
Wardenofthenorth

#6 PRINCIPAL DANCER: Stepped forward when third against similar here last month in his second start off a layoff. Luis Saez hops aboard, and he’s been riding as well as any jockey in the country of late; #7 BANK ON THIS: Merits a long look at a price in what seems like a wide-open event. He hasn’t run since December, but his recent works at Finger Lakes are solid and he catches a suspect field in his first start for a tag; #1 WARDENOFTHENORTH: Improved to earn his diploma at second asking last time out at Belmont. That was his first start off the claim by Linda Rice, and while the rail draw doesn’t seem ideal, it’s not as if he’s completely devoid of tactical speed.

R4

Stage Left
Cobble Hill
Majestic West

#2 STAGE LEFT: Gets a reluctant top pick in a starter allowance where I could make cases for most of the field. He won two back and was fourth in a tough allowance heat earlier this month. Take out the two-turn clunker four back at Churchill, and his recent record looks far better; #1 COBBLE HILL: Was second in his first start for Rudy Rodriguez last time out. That came against a suspect group of claimers, but he showed a new dimension that day racing very close to the pace. He may very well be reaching his peak; #6 MAJESTIC WEST: May have needed his 2020 debut and still didn’t run badly when third at Churchill. That was his first start against winners, and he was a good second at this route in his debut a season ago.

R5

Herald Angel
Party At Page’s
She’s a Majestic

#11 HERALD ANGEL: Will merit much respect if she draws in off the AE list. She debuted with a solid second-place finish at this route a few weeks ago, and this barn’s runners usually improve at second asking; #2 PARTY AT PAGE’S: Did everything but win in her debut early in the meet, when she lost a head-bob and topped the third-place finisher by more than eight lengths. Turf is a question mark, but her talent is not; #7 SHE’S A MAJESTIC: Debuts for Steve Asmussen, who has already unveiled several promising 2-year-olds this summer. She’s bred up and down for turf, and she’s got several solid gate drills to her credit ahead of her debut.

R6

Black Magic Woman
Back Channel
Barista Vixen

#3 BLACK MAGIC WOMAN: Debuted with much fanfare and several Santana references from yours truly and didn’t disgrace herself in defeat. She got caught after setting a fast pace going seven furlongs, and it wouldn’t take a soul sacrifice for her to improve at second asking (sorry, I had to get at least one); #6 BACK CHANNEL: Has run well in her first two career starts downstate and comes into this event off of a bullet workout on August 17th. She sold for plenty of money two years ago, and it wouldn’t take a huge step forward for her to recoup some of it here; #7 BARISTA VIXEN: Made up a lot of ground in her debut late last year and hasn’t been seen since. She’s been working well of late for Bill Mott, though, and with all the speed to her inside, she could be the beneficiary of what looks like a closer-friendly race shape.

R7

Big Engine (MTO)
New York’s Finest
Sayyaaf

#5 NEW YORK’S FINEST: Is a true “horse for course,” as he’s won five of seven starts going short on turf at Saratoga. Kendrick Carmouche should fit this front-runner like a glove, and I think he has the speed to wire this classy group; #2 SAYYAAF: Was inexplicably rated off the pace earlier in the meet and disappointed as an even-money favorite. A return to his 2019 form would make him tough, but after a series of defeats as a short-priced favorite, it’s fair to wonder if his best days are behind him; #3 MATTA: Comes north from Laurel Park and hasn’t finished worse than second in three turf starts to this point. It’s interesting that Irad Ortiz, Jr., lands here when he likely had several options, and he could be sitting in a perfect spot just off the pace.

R8

Irish Front
Blindwillie McTell
Famished

#2 IRISH FRONT: Came off the bench running with an easy score against maidens last time out. This is his first start against winners, and he does face older company, but the Todd Pletcher trainee has all the makings of an exciting prospect; #4 BLINDWILLIE MCTELL: Came off the bench with a solid third-place finish here earlier in the meet. That day’s winner, Yaupon, is a serious racehorse, and improvement is logical second off the layoff; #7 FAMISHED: Hasn’t won in nearly a year, but that victory came at this route and he was an OK third against similar last time out. This trip seems to suit him, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be.

R9

Miss Peppina (MTO)
Sweet Melania
Witez

#1 SWEET MELANIA: Stole the Grade 3 Wonder Again on the lead in her 3-year-old debut, and it certainly seems like the early lead is ripe for the taking here in the Grade 3 Lake Placid. She’s yet to run a bad race on the lawn, and she may well be on the improve for Pletcher, which is a scary thought; #3 WITEZ: Won her local debut last time out and has back races that would make her competitive here. Ian Wilkes trainees tend to get better as they get older, and her form looks more attractive to the eye if you draw a line through the Grade 3 Regret two back; #2 MICHELINE: Won a stakes race two back at Gulfstream before being caught wide in the Regret last time out. She may need more pace than she’s likely to get in this spot, but she’s certainly talented enough to win this on her best day.

R10

Madam Deputy (MTO)
Little Red Button
Cainudothetwist

#1 LITTLE RED BUTTON: Ran well when third in her first start going two turns last time out. She got caught a bit wide that day and gets a friendlier inside draw in this spot, which should help her in what seems like a wide-open finale; #8 CAINUDOTHETWIST: Debuted with a solid second downstate and has every right to step forward with a start under her belt. I’m not sold on the quality of the field she faced in her unveiling, but that race came back pretty solid on figures; #6 BEYOND BROWN: Sure looks like the main speed in her return to the turf. She was a distant second in a race rained off the grass earlier this month, and this will be her first start for a tag on the lawn if it stays there.

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/27/20)

BANKROLL

BANKROLL: $648.50

Today’s bankroll blurb is a public service announcement.

A friend of mine is a sports broadcaster at a radio station in central New York. He got an email from someone pitching stations on the topic of cleaning products. However, this wasn’t the worst part of the message. No, that came later, when the emailer brought up that the guest in question could discuss cleaning tips for the holidays, which are apparently, ahem, “coming up soon.”

Hanukkah begins December 10th. Christmas is December 25th. Kwanzaa kicks off December 26th. Hyping up the holidays before Halloween should be frowned upon. Hyping up the holidays before Labor Day should be prosecuted by The Hague as a crime against humanity.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS: I was right to play against Munnings Muse in the first leg of the Pick Five, but I didn’t like the eventual winner at all. Scratches reduced the loss to $15.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: I’ll take another swing at a Pick Five and focus on the late sequence, which starts in the fifth. My 50-cent ticket reads as follows: 1,2,8 with 1,4,6,9 with 3,7,8 with 2,6 with 3. Hopefully, I can extract some value out of #3 ROBIN SPARKLES and build sand castles in the sand in celebration following the day’s events.

TOTAL WAGERED: $36.

ANALYSIS/SELECTIONS

Best Bet: Robin Sparkles, Race 9
Longshot: Preamble, Race 5

R1

Imperio D
Majestic View
Lady’s Boy

#6 IMPERIO D: Enters what seems like a “now or never” spot. He’s been competitive at this level twice this summer, and it certainly looks like he’ll be the controlling speed in the opener. If he’s ever going to break through on this circuit, this looks like the spot; #1 MAJESTIC VIEW: Drops way down in class after disappointing at 5/2 odds last month. John Kimmel has good numbers with runners adding blinkers, and the recent work looks pretty good; #7 LADY’S BOY: Draws a cushy outside post in his debut and might not have to be much to pick up a check here. The August 9th work on the training track looks pretty flashy, and that could mean this gelding has some potential.

R2

Prairie Wings
Forty Zip
All Others Follow

#2 PRAIRIE WINGS: Sat a perfect trip in her turf debut but got ran down by a better horse going a marathon distance. I can’t hold that against her too much, and she gets another strong setup here. It certainly doesn’t seem like there’s any other speed in the race, which has to be music to Luis Saez’s ears; #1 FORTY ZIP: Has run reasonably well in two starts and goes second off the bench for Shug McGaughey. She sat a bit closer last time out at Keeneland and may be forwardly-placed by default given the likely race shape; #6 ALL OTHERS FOLLOW: Has improved in all three starts and most recently ran a solid second at Monmouth. The 80 Beyer Speed Figure she earned that day is the highest such number in this field, but form doesn’t always travel north up the Jersey Turnpike.

R3

Value Proposition
Sentry
Seismic Wave

#4 VALUE PROPOSITION: Was a bit one-pace when third in the Grade 3 Poker at Belmont. With his running style, I think he’ll much prefer this two-turn route of ground, and he may sit close to what figures to be a slow early pace; #5 SENTRY: Has two wins and two seconds in his last four starts. He most recently ran a hard-luck second off the layoff earlier in the meet, and if a faster-than-expected pace materializes, he may be the one to hold off late; #1 SEISMIC WAVE: Has back form that shows he can win this race, but the 0-for-3 local mark is a concern. He may prefer tracks with firmer turf courses like Belmont or Gulfstream, and he’s another that could be compromised by the race shape.

R4

Judicial Restraint
Flying P entry
Height

#2 JUDICIAL RESTRAINT: Gets my top pick despite coming in from Monmouth for Chad Brown, which is often a red flag. However, I genuinely feel like I’ve got nowhere else to go. He adds blinkers after running second against similar at Belmont; FLYING P ENTRY: #1 CORKMAN drops back in for a tag after losing all chance at the break against special weight foes at Monmouth. He’s run reasonably well going two turns in the past and, most importantly, doesn’t exit a race I find suspect, unlike many others; #4 HEIGHT: Ran second in that aforementioned event and may well be favored here. However, he had every chance to go by a tired leader in the stretch and couldn’t get the job done. Perhaps that race is better than I think it was, but I can’t endorse him at his likely price.

R5

Dubb entry
Preamble
Morley entry

DUBB ENTRY: I’ll give #1 DOWSE’S BEACH one more shot. He was a close-up second last time out, which was his seventh top-two finish in 11 local starts. Perhaps he’s not as good as he was, but this doesn’t seem like the toughest race for the level; #8 PREAMBLE: Goes short on turf for the first time, and he’s bred to like the grass. His 326 turf Tomlinson rating is very solid, and that may be what he needs to recapture his 2018 and early-2019 form; MORLEY ENTRY: #2 DUNCASTLE was fourth in the race my top pick exits and may be the main speed in this event. He looks like the speed of the speed, and he’ll likely be the one they have to catch turning for home.

R6

Leaveuwithasmile (MTO)
Maker entry
Glass Ceiling

MAKER ENTRY: #1 MORE MANGO stole her most recent race on the front end. She got a brilliant ride that day from Jose Ortiz, who sees fit to ride back in a race where the other presumed speed horses have very little in the way of turf form; #4 GLASS CEILING: Tries turf for the first time, but her connections attempted to get her a race on the lawn this past May. Between that, her back class, and her grass-friendly pedigree, she should have every shot to run well here; #9 BELLA ROSE: Won her lone start to date going two turns on turf and didn’t disgrace herself when third against similar downstate. The outside post isn’t ideal, but she’s certainly got the potential to step forward at a bit of a price.

R7

Peaceful
Victory Kingdom
Getmotherarose

#7 PEACEFUL: Has run her best races at this route and wired an allowance field earlier in the meet. For a stakes race going short on the lawn, this race doesn’t seem to have much early zip, and I think she could steal this at a square price; #8 VICTORY KINGDOM: Comes in from Australia and gets Lasix for the first time, which could make her very dangerous. She’s run fairly well against stakes competition in her homeland, and Luis Saez sees fit to ride; #3 GETMOTHERAROSE: Had a terrible trip in the Caress Stakes earlier this month and should move forward with smoother sailing here. It’s possible her best days are behind her, but it wasn’t too long ago that she had five wins in an eight-start span (including the Grade 3 Honey Fox).

R8

Texas Swing
Danny California
Creative Style

#2 TEXAS SWING: Was promising enough to earn a trip to the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, where he ran third behind the Kentucky Derby-bound King Guillermo. He’s been off nearly six months, but anything close to his early-2020 form would make him tough to beat; #6 DANNY CALIFORNIA: Has proven he’s a far better two-turn horse, and did so once again with a runaway score against state-breds last month. He has three wins and a second in four two-turn starts over the past 12 months, and this barn has done very well this season; #5 CREATIVE STYLE: Was claimed by a strong barn last time out and has already hit the board twice at this meet. The question is, does he want to go two turns, or is he better as a one-turn miler?

R9

Robin Sparkles
Secure Connection
Mo Me Mo My

#3 ROBIN SPARKLES: Rocked her backers’ bodies until Canada Day with an impressive win over state-bred maiden claimers two weeks ago. This is a big step up, but anything close to her last-out Beyer Speed Figure of 90 will likely earn her another trip to the mall; #6 SECURE CONNECTION: Looks a lot better if you solely consider her efforts going shorter than a mile on grass. She went from last to first in beating claimers earlier in the meet and would be the beneficiary of any early action up front; #4 MO ME MO MY: Was a beaten favorite last time out, but was rated behind a pretty slow early pace for the distance. Irad Ortiz, Jr., signs on, and perhaps she’ll have a bit more racing luck in this spot than she did earlier this month.