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: 8/5/18


BANKROLL: $724.50

Several times in this section over the past few years, I’ve preached the value of some of the forgotten exotics wagers on the menu. Yesterday, one of them gave bettors a real opportunity to make some money. The fourth-race winner was The Caretaker, who came off the main-track-only list and won at odds of 8/5. The fifth-race winner was Uni, the 5/2 co-favorite in the De La Rose. The $2 daily double paid $17.80.

This may not sound like much, but turning two short prices into that sort of return is a way to create value. You won’t retire off of returns like that, but eagle-eyed handicappers that take a more grind-it-out approach to the game appreciate those opportunities.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: I was right to play against Cuarenta, who didn’t run a jump in the third race. However, none of the three horses I boxed in exactas cracked the top two, meaning a loss of $30.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on another forgotten exotic, the Grand Slam. It starts in the seventh, assumes races carded for the turf stay there, and singles best bet #3 TIMELINE in the Alydar Stakes to finish it out. My $2 ticket is as follows: 4,7,8 with 5,6 with 1,3 with 3.



Saturday’s Results: 2 for 9
Meer Results (to date): 37 for 137

Best Bet: Timeline, Race 10
Longshot: Scarf It Down, Race 4


Into Mystic
Sharp entry

#5 INTO MYSTIC: Fetched $650,000 at auction earlier this year and has several sharp works to her credit. She may want a bit longer than this distance, but she could also be precocious enough to win at first asking given her sire, Into Mischief; SHARP ENTRY: I prefer #1 MO WHEELS UP, who’s been working very well of late. Having said that, #1A LADY T N T isn’t without a shot, as she lost all chance early on in her debut; #4 TWEEDIA: Has a very obscure pedigree, but looks the part of a runner in the mornings. We don’t see too many Arkansas-breds at Saratoga, but Brad Cox can win with horses from everywhere, and she may be a bit of a price.


Packed House
Jimmy Jazz
Gambler’s Fallacy

#6 PACKED HOUSE: Didn’t break well last time out and was one-paced going longer. That running style leads me to believe he’ll like two turns, and this seems like a mediocre field for the level; #2 JIMMY JAZZ: Goes two turns for the first time and has been gelded since a fifth-place finish at this level downstate. Jose Lezcano hops aboard, and he has a right to improve at a price; #10 GAMBLER’S FALLACY: May be favored given the powerhouse connections. However, the workouts aren’t anything special, he’ll need to negotiate a trip from the far outside post, and it’s tough to win going two turns right off the bat.


Mighty Zealous
O Shea Can U See
Winston’s Chance

#6 MIGHTY ZEALOUS: Drops down in class after trying stakes foes earlier this meet in a spot that turned up incredibly tough for the level. It helps that he likes a wet track, as there may still be moisture out there following rain earlier in the weekend; #4 O SHEA CAN U SEE: May have figured things out judging by his two straight wire-to-wire wins at Belmont Park. He’ll be prominent early, although he’ll likely have company up front; #1 WINSTON’S CHANCE: Lit up the tote board here last year and returns to the Spa for this event. However, he’s winless in four starts at Finger Lakes, and this seems a bit shorter than his best game.


Scarf It Down
Win With Pride
Top of the Page

#2 SCARF IT DOWN: Hasn’t won in a while, but has been running against tough starter allowance foes and drops in for a tag here. His two starts at this route last season were both sharp, and Luis Saez returning to the saddle can’t be overlooked; #6 WIN WITH PRIDE: Returns to dirt after chasing swifter foes on turf earlier in the meet. He’s won his last two dirt starts against claiming company, and he should be rolling late; #3 TOP OF THE PAGE: Had a rough trip last time out when third against similar going two turns. He cuts back to seven furlongs in his first start for Robertino Diodoro, and he’s won at this distance before.


Disco Partner
Blind Ambition
Holding Gold

#3 DISCO PARTNER: Went further than he wants to go last time out at Belmont and returns to his preferred distance. He won this race two years ago, and he should get a perfect setup given his late-running style and an abundance of early speed in this field; #6 BLIND AMBITION: Also cuts back in distance, and is another that’s had success sprinting on turf at Saratoga. He has tactical speed, but does not need the lead and could get first run on the pace-setters turning for home; #2 HOLDING GOLD: Was a late-running third in the Grade 1 Highlander at Woodbine last time out. He’ll be going the right way in the stretch, but he’s won just one of his last nine starts, so I can’t use him on top.


Speedy Solution

#7 DOGTAG: Is one of two Chad Brown trainees in this field, and this one’s works impress me more. She’s bred to be a runner, and while debuting going two turns isn’t easy, she’s yet to do anything wrong in her training; #9 TULA: Had an adventurous trip when third in her debut. She was wide early and well back in a race with no early pace, yet still rallied to finish third. She may have gotten a lot out of that race; #3 SPEEDY SOLUTION: Also had a troubled trip in her unveiling, as she was a close-up third in a roughly-run race downstate. John Velazquez hops aboard, and while Wesley Ward isn’t great with stretch-outs, this filly is bred to want as much ground as possible.


What a Catch
Felix in Fabula
American Power

#4 WHAT A CATCH: Drops in for a tag after spending most of his career collecting checks in state-bred stakes races. There’s a chance he’s peaked already, but this is a steep class drop, and I doubt we’ll get the 5-1 morning line given the presence of Pletcher and Velazquez; #7 FELIX IN FABULA: Has yet to run a bad race around one turn and exits a win downstate at this level. He was claimed by Danny Gargan that day, and the recent works indicate he’s ready to run; #8 AMERICAN POWER: Snuck by the $25,000 level last time out, winning by nearly six lengths for aggressive connections. This is a step up in class, but he’s got two wins and a second in three one-turn outings and is a threat if he can repeat his last-out effort.


Bad Student (MTO)
Roman Approval
Decisive Triumph

#5 ROMAN APPROVAL: Drops way down in class after two failed tries against Grade 3 company. He’s got one way of going, and if he gets an easy lead, he could get brave against a lesser group than the ones he’s faced of late; #6 DECISIVE TRIUMPH: Exits a listed stakes race at Delaware Park where they flew home in the final quarter-mile. He’s got plenty of experience going this far, but he hasn’t won since late-2016, so it’s tough to endorse him on top with much confidence; #10 MASTER PLAN: Has back form that would trounce these, but his last three races haven’t been pretty, which explains the class drop. Two of those races were on dirt, though, and he could wake up if this stays on the grass. DIRT SELECTIONS: BAD STUDENT, HARDLY A SECRET, HALLOWEEN HORROR.


Clutch Cargo (MTO)
Team Valor entry
Uncle Gio

TEAM VALOR ENTRY: I prefer #1 PILLAR MOUNTAIN, who had every right to need his return race last time out. I think he’ll step forward in his second start off the bench, and this distance could suit him; #3 UNCLE GIO: Adds blinkers after having won two of his last four starts. He was a bit compromised last time by a fairly slow pace, and the blinkers could get him more involved early; #2 IM THE CAPTAIN NOW: Missed by a head at this level last time out downstate. He’s got plenty of experience at this distance, but has settled for minor awards more often than not. DIRT SELECTIONS: CLUTCH CARGO, CONVICT PIKE, HOLIDAY BONUS.



#3 TIMELINE: Was second behind Sunny Ridge last time out, but looms large in this spot as the main speed in the race. Additionally, he loves a wet track, which he could get in this spot; #2 OUTPLAY: Won the Curlin Stakes here last year and cuts back in distance after tiring in the Grade 2 Brooklyn. He’s got some early speed, but has shown he doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well; #5 PATCH: Will be well-supported at the windows, though for reasons that have nothing to do with his ability. He could come running late, but both of his wins have come in one-turn races, and it’s fair to wonder if that’s the trip he wants.


Naples Legacy (MTO)
Safe With Me

#10 SAFE WITH ME: Was second behind a next-out winner last time out downstate. The outside post is less than ideal, but she’s won at this route and should be running well late beneath Javier Castellano; #2 SAMARA: Comes back to the appropriate level after a failed try against starter allowance foes. Her races two and three back were solid, and repeats of those races would definitely put her in the mix; #9 JAZZY JUDER: Was fourth in the race my top pick exits, which doubled as her first start in more than 10 months. She could improve second off the bench for sharp connections. DIRT SELECTIONS: NAPLES LEGACY, MISS SIZZLE, PARANOIA.

Saratoga Race Course Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll: 8/6/17


BANKROLL: $943.25

When I was growing up, one of my favorite days at the track was when extended family from Connecticut would make the trip. This consisted of my Uncle Bob and cousin Shari (one of Bob’s daughters). In the past few years, since I’ve assumed a “featured handicapper” post here in The Pink Sheet, my uncle would often butter me up by saying I’d surpassed another handicapper whose picks he’d bet religiously. I always got a laugh out of the way he’d say it, and I’d give a lot to hear it once more.

Bob Brandenberger passed away Friday. He was a man of many talents, a devoted father to his daughters, and someone who could always make those around him crack a smile (including Lee Trevino at a PGA tournament many years ago). He’s survived by Shari and fellow daughter Karen, and if you’re the praying type, do me a favor and keep them in your thoughts, will you?

Thanks for believing in me, Uncle Bob. I love you.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Our early Pick Four went up in smoke in the second leg, when Apple Betty and Suffused both faded in the stretch of the Waya. We dropped $32.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: #6 RALLY CRY is the likely favorite in the Alydar, and he’s my best bet of the day. I’ll try to extract some value by singling him in doubles that start and end with him. I’ll play $10 doubles using #2 ESCAPADE and #4 WILD AND FUNNY in the second, and $5 doubles using #5 APPEALING BRIEFS, #7 HOBOE, and #10 FOLLOW THE SIGNS in the fourth.



Best Bet: Rally Cry, Race 3
Longshot: My Bronx Tail, Race 6


Are We Not Men
Lucky Lotto
Cocked and Loaded

ARE WE NOT MEN: Won three in a row before an unsuccessful try against much better horses. He ran into at least two next-out winners that day, and this company should be much more to his liking; LUCKY LOTTO: Won at this level downstate and generally runs the same race every time out. He was claimed back by this barn after that victory, and this gelding could sit a nice trip just off the pace; COCKED AND LOADED: Takes an alarming class drop into this event. He won here last year, and his best wins this, but the drop makes one wonder if this is an attempted dump.


Wild and Funny
Critique (MTO)

ESCAPADE: Came running late to be beaten less than a length in her unveiling and stretches out here. The pedigree indicates the distance won’t be a problem, although Castellano riding elsewhere is odd; WILD AND FUNNY: Ran into the eventual Schuylerville winner in her debut and bested the rest of the field. This barn has gotten off to a slow start, but this filly could be well-meant at second asking; CYRIELLE: Needs luck to draw in, but is bred to be a good one and has worked well ahead of her debut. If she gets into the field, she merits respect. DIRT SELECTIONS: CRITIQUE, REALITY QUEEN, CITY DAY.


Rally Cry
Breaking Lucky
Red Rifle

RALLY CRY: Chased the top milers in the country in his last outing and should relish the drop in class. This one is running the best races of his career, and a step forward would make him very tough to beat; BREAKING LUCKY: Has run into the likes of Arrogate and Gun Runner in the past and is another that could find this a welcome spot away from the heavyweights. He was also entered in Saturday’s Whitney and could scratch, but he’s a major player if he runs; RED RIFLE: Is best known as a Grade 2 winner on turf, but has had success on dirt and should be forwardly-placed early on.


Follow the Signs
Appealing Briefs

FOLLOW THE SIGNS: Took a step forward in his 3-year-old debut, which doubled as his first start for Chad Brown. They’ve been trying to get him on turf, and his pedigree indicates the lawn won’t be an issue; APPEALING BRIEFS: Made a big move to be second in his first start off a long layoff. The relative lack of early speed may work against him, but he should be flying late; HOBOE: Adds blinkers and has taken a large leap forward since switching to the turf. The presence of Jose Ortiz is a big plus. DIRT SELECTIONS: FOLLOW THE SIGNS, PRINCE REIGNER, MOTT ENTRY.


Another Genius
Rice entry
Cozy Spring

ANOTHER GENIUS: Returns off a long layoff and has a worktab that indicates she may be ready to run off the bench. She was an impressive winner in her debut, which came at this route last summer; RICE ENTRY: Linda Rice also has two others in here. STARTWITHSILVER has run well at this route in the past, while SILLY SISTER has won two in a row and is the one to beat if this gets switched to the dirt; COZY SPRING: Tries turf for the first time after having won two in a row on dirt. If her early speed translates to grass, she may be tough to catch. DIRT SELECTIONS: SILLY SISTER, COZZY SPRING, MOONDANCE JOY.


History Supreme
Everybody Loves Me
My Bronx Tail

HISTORY SUPREME: Showed early speed in her debut, when she faded to fifth as an odds-on favorite. However, this barn’s first-time starters don’t often fire, and she’s the only horse in this field with experience, which could be a big help; EVERYBODY LOVES ME: Fetched $315k at auction earlier this year and has been working like a precocious filly. She needs a scratch to draw in, but she merits respect if she runs; MY BRONX TAIL: Hails from a barn that isn’t great with debuting runners, but her dam is a half to graded stakes-winning 2-year-old Kauai Katie, which means this one could be ready to run at a price.


Diamond Jim

MUTARAAMY: Drops in for a tag after showing ample early zip against allowance foes. The rider is on a cold streak, but he excels on frontrunners, which makes this gelding an ideal fit; DIAMOND JIM: Adds blinkers on the drop in class following a failed turf try last month. Given the rail draw and the equipment change, he’ll likely be on or near the lead out of the gate; REEDINI: Cuts back in distance and has shown an ability to rate. His effort two back was solid, and this one could grab a piece of it at a price.


Jewel Can Disco (MTO)
Storm Prophet

STORM PROPHET: Hasn’t won in a while, but took a big step forward in his first start off a layoff. He missed by just a neck in a swiftly-run race, and a repeat effort likely wins this; SHIRAZ: Was third in a Grade 3 event earlier this season and has run some solid races going two turns. This route of ground could be to his liking, and the presence of Javier Castellano is intriguing; NUTZFORBOLTZ: May have been a turf horse all along judging by his last two efforts. Both of those races were won by next-out winners, so there’s back class here. DIRT SELECTIONS: JEWEL CAN DISCO, BOURBON EMPIRE, PECULIAR SENSATION.


Libby’s Tail
Godolphin entry
Stormy’s Song

LIBBY’S TAIL: Scratched from a similar spot earlier in the meet due to a wet track and looks very tough here. She’s a head away from being a Grade 1 winner, and I’ve been waiting for her to run back; GODOLPHIN ENTRY: Given the likely race shape, I prefer TASTEFUL. She hasn’t run since making a sweeping move to win a maiden event at Keeneland in April, and there appears to be ample early speed signed on; STORMY’S SONG: May have found a mile to be a bit long last time out. She earned a bullet on July 29th with the fastest of 122 drills at that distance, and if she runs to the worktab, she could be tough.


Green Mask
Weekend Hideaway (MTO)
Pure Sensation

GREEN MASK: Has never been better than he is now. He’s yet to finish outside the exacta in five starts this year, and that streak includes a pair of graded stakes wins; PURE SENSATION: Loves this route and figures to be prominent early. His win in the Grade 3 Parx Dash was excellent, and he may have what it takes to lead every step of the way; LONG ON VALUE: Returns to America after making a pair of starts abroad. One of them was a near-miss in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai, and a repeat performance would make this one tough. DIRT SELECTIONS: WEEKEND HIDEAWAY, LONG ON VALUE, MONGOLIAN SATURDAY.


Harlan Punch (MTO)
Escape Velocity

ESCAPE VELOCITY: Won his debut two back and then ran into a strong field for the level last time out. The winner came back to run fairly well in a Grade 2, the runner-up came back to win, and these rivals today don’t seem to be in that class; OTTO: Was third behind a next-out winner after dropping to this level last time out. Ricardo Santana hops aboard, and he should be running well late; SON OF OAHU: Hasn’t won in a while but fared reasonably well in two starts here last year against better horses. John Velazquez rides back, and he could be forwardly-placed early. DIRT SELECTIONS: HARLAN PUNCH, BUNYAAN, BELLOWS.