If you’ve read my work for the past few years, you know my girlfriend is an elementary school teacher. She’s preparing to go back for the start of the academic year in a few weeks (they start earlier out here), and is doing everything she can to make her public school, fifth-grade classroom the best learning environment it can be.
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Click here if you want to learn more or are interested in donating. Let’s help a bunch of fifth-graders learn by doing!
FRIDAY’S RESULTS: I took a shot against an 8/5 favorite in the fifth race, one that backfired when it won as clearly the best horse. I dropped $30.
SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the early part of the card, and I sincerely hope we get the 5-1 morning line price on #3 TATUM in the opener. I’ll have a $15 win bet, and I’ll single him in $5 doubles ending with #6 C’EST MAGNIFIQUE, #7 MONTEPULCIANO, and #8 DECCAN PRINCE in the second.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30.
Best Bet: Jackie’s Warrior, Race 8
Longshot: Big Bobby, Race 5
Capture the Flag
#3 TATUM: Is the only horse in this field with a start, and it was a good one. He missed by a nose at Parx, has fired a bullet drill since then, and attracts his rider from Philadelphia to come north to Saratoga for just one mount; #2 SWISS GUARD: Has a few solid gate drills for Steve Asmussen and is bred to be a good one. He’s a son of American Pharoah, and his dam is a half to Grade 1-placed runner Holiday Soiree; #5 CAPTURE THE FLAG: Is bred very, very well and has worked consistently for Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey ahead of his debut. However, the fantastic pedigree also says he probably wants turf, so there’s a chance this is a tightener for another race down the line.
#6 C’EST MAGNIFIQUE: Looks like another well-meant first-time starter from the Chad Brown barn and will likely be bet accordingly. This son of Kitten’s Joy is out of a Grade 3-placed mare, one who’s kin to multiple stakes-winner Royal Son; #8 DECCAN PRINCE: Debuted with an OK third in a turf sprint downstate and stretches out at second asking. Blinkers go on, he’s posted a recent bullet drill, and the pedigree says the added distance shouldn’t be a problem; #7 MONTEPULCIANO: Hammered for $210,000 last September at Keeneland and debuts for Todd Pletcher. The recent seven-furlong drill over the Oklahoma turf course is noteworthy, as is the presence of Irad Ortiz, Jr., who landed here when he likely had a few options.
#9 WOLFE COUNTY: Has run well twice since moving to the Ken McPeek barn and broke his maiden going a bit longer last time out. Prior to that, he just missed by a head behind one who came back to win again, and I think he’s turned a corner and sitting on another nice outing; #8 ENDOWED: Has stepped forward with every start and was second last time out in his first try against winners. This is his first two-turn try, but this son of Belmont winner Tonalist may still have room to improve in just his fourth career outing; #7 BOLD VICTORY: Has won twice this season and returns to a two-turn route of ground for this one. He’s performed well over such configurations in the past, even running fourth in a $400,000 stakes race back in 2020.
Doozy Batz (MTO)
#8 DEVILLY: Is probably in a “now or never” situation, going back to the maiden claiming ranks in search of her first career win in her 11th career outing. She’s been competitive against better groups and looms large on speed figures, though, and she seems like the class of this bunch; #5 DIAMANT DAMHSA: Enjoyed a perfect trip when third going seven furlongs downstate and cuts back a bit for this event. She’s got the early speed to be prominent early, and perhaps she’s getting better with experience for one of the top trainers in the game; #11 SPARKLING WATER: Gets back to the turf for the first time since her debut and merits a look at a bonkers price. She’s by Get Stormy, out of a War Front mare, and boasts a 354 turf Tomlinson rating, the second-best such number in the field.
Bank On Shea
#1 BANK ON SHEA: Has won several stakes races and gets a bit of class relief in this optional claiming event. His prior connections saw fit to try the Grade 1 Carter earlier in the year, and a return to that early-2022 form would make him the one to beat, even from a tricky inside post; #4 AMUNDSON: Won here a season ago and would certainly move forward on a wet track. However, that’s not a requirement for him to run well. He exits several strong races for the level, and he could sit an ideal stalking trip; #7 BIG BOBBY: Has every right to improve second off a long layoff, and his 2021 form was quite strong. That season included a pair of second-place finishes over this track, and his record looks far better if you toss the races directly before and after the five-month break.
#1 MARVELOUS MAUDE: Has never finished out of the money in seven career starts and makes a lot of sense here. Her last-out score against state-breds at Belmont was sharp, and while this is probably a tougher group, she should have plenty of pace to run at; #5 BLISSFUL: Faced a tall task in her first try off a long layoff and had too much to do in a race without much early zip. Still, she was beaten less than two lengths in a stakes race, and she looked good when winning here at first asking last summer; #6 WICKED GROOVE: Goes to the Rob Atras barn second off the layoff, and it’s intriguing to see Flavien Prat aboard. She’s run very well going two turns on turf, and her eight turf starts include four wins and seven top-three finishes.
Tommy Gun (MTO)
Built to Last
#5 MISTER CHAIRMAN: Was a fast-closing second in his debut, which came against maiden claimers. This barn protects him here, though, and with the amount of speed horses signed on, this late-runner stands to benefit from the likely race shape; #1 BUILT TO LAST: Was clear by three lengths in mid-stretch last time out before finishing third behind a next-out winner. The cutback in distance could suit him, and he has the early speed to make the rail draw an asset; #4 FEATHERS ROAD: Has been a consistent check-getter at this level and figures to take plenty of betting money. However, he’s got a history of finding trouble, and it’s tough for me to endorse those runners at short prices. Given his likely odds, I’ll try to beat him.
#4 JACKIE’S WARRIOR: Has done plenty to earn the mantle of America’s top sprinter and looms large in the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt. Four of his 11 wins have come here at Saratoga, including a huge one over Life Is Good in last year’s Grade 1 Allen Jerkens. Anything close to his best would make for quite a show here; #2 WILLY BOI: Is 3-for-3 since a trainer switch, and one of those wins was a score in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint at Gulfstream Park. It’s possible he’s a “horse for the course,” but if his form travels north with him, he could rally for a piece of it; #3 NY TRAFFIC: Comes in off of a pair of scores in listed stakes races, and his lone loss this season came to Speaker’s Corner in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile. His local works are sharp, and he’s certainly found life as a sprinter after contesting Triple Crown races in 2020.
#2 EPICENTER: Did everything but win the Kentucky Derby and rallied for second in the Preakness despite a slow start. This short field should provide no such obstacles. I expect him to sit his preferred trip, and I think that journey will make him tough in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy; #4 EARLY VOTING: Got the trip in the Preakness and had enough left late to hold off Epicenter, which isn’t easy to do. His lone loss to date came to eventual Belmont winner Mo Donegal in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, and further improvement could allow him to keep rolling; #5 ZANDON: Won the Grade 1 Blue Grass and looked like a possible winner turning for home in the Derby. However, he never got past Epicenter, and while he’s a definite Travers contender later in the season, I’m concerned he won’t get the pace he may want here given the short field and lack of early zip.
Three Jokers (MTO)
#12 CAPENSIS: Hammered for $2 million in 2020 and looked every bit of that price when he stormed home clear by five lengths in his debut earlier this month. This is his first try against winners, and the post position isn’t ideal, but there’s reason to believe he’s simply a freak and much better than this bunch; #8 RICOCHET: Does his best running around two turns and came home a winner downstate against starter allowance company. Mike Maker’s barn is doing very well to this point in the meet, and this one’s versatility should give Luis Saez some options; #10 COLOSSEO: Makes his American debut and gets Lasix for the first time, which is always a notable angle. He got very good last season, when he was second behind the ultra-talented St. Mark’s Basilica in one Group 1 race and chased eventual Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Space Blues home in another.
Jack the Cat
#3 BIG AGENDA: Has won twice this year, including a two-back event at this level downstate, and earns a tepid nod in a wide-open turf race. He’s won seven times in 33 races, with 20 in-the-money finishes, and he’s a consistent sort that always seems to run the same race; #16 MONARCHS GLEN: Needs a lot of luck to run here but is a must-use if he does. He hasn’t won in quite a while, but most of his races have come against far classier opponents, and that may be enough to carry him through despite a very wide post; #7 JACK THE CAT: Has proven to be very sharp at this level and goes first off the claim for a barn that excels with new acquisitions. The rider switch to Joel Rosario is a big one, and the faster they go early, the better this one’s chances figure to be.