SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/22/20)
An excellent piece written by Ray Paulick and Natalie Voss in The Paulick Report implicated trainer Wayne Potts as being in cahoots with Marcus Vitali. According to this article, Potts has been acting as a “paper trainer” for Vitali, whose rap sheet is as long as the newspaper this piece is printed in.
Potts has been barred from running at certain tracks, including Laurel Park, Charles Town, Delaware Park, and Parx. However, the New York Racing Association allowed him to run a horse on Friday’s program. Naturally, that entrant, Our Destiny, won the opener at odds of 9-1.
Optics matter in this sport, perhaps now more than ever. This is a bad look, and is one of many reasons we need some sense of uniformity among circuits around the country. Bad apples need to be thrown out entirely, and those who associate with those bad apples need to be made aware of the consequences of their actions.
FRIDAY’S RESULTS: My Man Flintstone never made the lead and was wrapped up late while well out of it. I dropped $25.
SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll primarily focus on the early Pick Five. My 50-cent ticket starts in the opener and reads thusly: 1,3 with 2,4 with 5,6 with 1,6 with 3,7,9. I’ll also put a $10 win bet on my longshot of the day, #8 HAPPY HILL LIL in the sixth.
TOTAL WAGERED: $34.
Best Bet: Sifting Sands, Race 5
Longshot: Happy Hill Lil, Race 6
My Sea Cottage
#3 AFTER FIVE: Has several very strong works leading up to his unveiling for world-class 2-year-old conditioner Wesley Ward. He’s by strong turf sire The Factor, and looms large as a very logical favorite in the Saturday opener; #1 FOLIAGE: Is bred up and down to be a runner. He’s by Speightstown and out of a mare by Galileo, and the most recent workout on August 13th was a head-turning half-mile drill; #7 MY SEA COTTAGE: Didn’t do much running in his debut downstate, but he’s bred up and down for turf and should improve on what’s likely his desired surface. Joel Rosario sees fit to ride back for Mark Casse.
#4 AIRTOUCH: Is a puzzling case in his return to the races off a long layoff. Given the multiple breaks, it’s safe to assume he’s had his issues, and this is a big drop, but it’s also far from the strongest $25,000 claimer NYRA will card this summer; #2 MACHO JACK: Took a step forward when breaking his maiden off the bench earlier this month. This is his first outing against winners, but there’s a chance he’s starting to figure things out and, as mentioned, this isn’t a salty spot; #3 KILMARKNOCK: Put forth a career-best effort when topping state-bred maiden claimers a few weeks ago. This is a step up in class, but the barn has done well this meet and he could benefit from a fast pace.
Blindwillie McTell (MTO)
#5 FRENCH REEF: Ran a very big race at this route last month to break his maiden. He bucked a trend of front-runners not finishing well by romping that day and earning a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Any improvement from that race would make him very, very tough; #6 CRYOGENIC: Just missed at this level earlier in the meet and faces several foes he topped that day in this event. He was a bit closer to the pace than usual in that race, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him rate behind a speed duel here; #1 FAST GETAWAY: Did all the dirty work in the race my second selection exits, but was third beaten a head. The inside draw is a plus given his gate speed, but I doubt he’ll be alone on the front end going into the turn.
#6 HEAVY ROLLER: Stretches back out to two turns, drops in class, and lands in a race with plenty of early zip on paper. That seems like exactly the scenario this closer wants, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be; #1 THEBIGFUNDAMENTAL: Is another dropper, and likely needed his return race off a long layoff earlier in the meet. His best efforts have come going long; the question is, is he past his prime as a 7-year-old?; #3 SUPER DUDE: Faded against better horses earlier this summer and is yet another taking a big drop down the class ladder. Based on numbers, he fits, but he’s won just once in the last 10 months and finished behind my top pick earlier this year at Churchill Downs.
Mo Mischief (MTO)
#3 SIFTING SANDS: Has a world-class turf pedigree, as evidenced by his sky-high 407 turf Tomlinson rating. Seeing turf numbers greater than 400 is very rare, and trainer Chad Brown unveiled a similar horse, Public Sector, with great success last weekend; #7 SNOW’S ISLAND: Is one of two first-time starters trained by Graham Motion, and they both appear well-meant. He’s out of Grade 2 winner Tuttipaesi and has been working consistently ahead of his debut; #9 EXCURSION: Hammered for $325,000 at Keeneland last year and is bred to be any kind. He’s a half-brother to Preakness winner Oxbow, and dam Tizamazing is herself a full sister to both two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow and multiple graded stakes winner Budroyale.
Happy Hill Lil
Love Me Tomorrow
#8 HAPPY HILL LIL: Looks far better if you toss her last-out clunker. She’s worked twice since being eased out of that race, and her two and three-back efforts both indicate she’ll come running late at a big price; #5 LOVE ME TOMORROW: Got what seemed like a perfect setup against similar company last time out but could only manage to hang on for third. She looks like the controlling speed, and she’ll be a pretty short price, but the “fade” pattern she’s established is a big red flag; #7 SHENANDOAH RIVER: Debuts for Kelly Breen and may not have to be much to pick up a check at first asking. Her recent workouts look pretty sharp, and this barn can get horses ready to run right away.
#7 LONESOME FUGITIVE: Ran second in a weird race last month that saw a run-off leader set unsustainable fractions. He didn’t run badly in defeat that day and looms large assuming more unconventional events don’t transpire; MAKER ENTRY: I prefer #1 TURN OF EVENTS, who responded to a drop in class with a win last time out. This is a jump back up the ladder, but he’s got plenty of early speed and the rail draw could allow him to make the lead out of the gate; #8 KINGMEISTER: Was third in the race my top pick exits, and that was his first start in six months. Again, the race shape likely won’t repeat itself here, but there’s plenty to like second off the bench for Shug McGaughey.
#5 WINSTON’S CHANCE: Has never missed the board in four starts at Saratoga. He’s won here twice and was a very good second in a tough race for the level last time out. He could get first run on tiring pace-setters turning for home, and he may be a bit of a price; REPOLE ENTRY: #1 BLEWITT was third behind next-out graded stakes winner Cross Border in the Lubash on turf earlier in the meet. He has speed but doesn’t need the lead to run well, and that’s a good thing given the abundance of early speed in this field; #2 GROWTH ENGINE: Cruised home at Monmouth in her first start since last July and steps up in class here. He could certainly step forward, but Monmouth is usually where Chad Brown keeps his second-stringers and he’ll likely be a short price.
#6 UNI: Almost certainly needed her return race in the Grade 1 Just A Game downstate. She rated well behind a slow early pace and settled for third that day, but I think she’ll be more fully-cranked here. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winner looks like the one to hold off late in the Grade 1 Fourstardave; #1 RAGING BULL: Won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile two back at Santa Anita and was a close-up third in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland last time out. He was second in this race a season ago and could certainly win on his best day; #5 HALLADAY: Inexplicably conceded the early lead in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch last time out, which made no sense considering his impressive front-running scores at Gulfstream two and three back. He’ll need to outbreak #4 GOT STORMY to make the lead, but he’ll be dangerous if he’s allowed to sit his preferred trip.
#9 RAKEEZ: Is a reluctant top pick in a tricky Saturday finale. He ran well to break his maiden last time out, but that was in January and he takes a curious drop in for a tag after weeks of works at Monmouth. Still, this isn’t a strong race for the level, and a repeat of his last-out effort likely beats these; #6 SCOTTY BROWN: Seems like the main speed in here and put it all together off a long break last time out at Belmont. That was his first start in more than a year, and he’s run well going two turns on turf in the past; #5 BATTALION: Was second behind a next-out winner early in the meet and drops into the claiming ranks for Bill Mott. He won his only other start against claimers and may not need to be so far back early on in this spot.