SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/31/22)


BANKROLL: $735.45

I’m not the biggest fan of bashing the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority. Racing had a long, long time to get its house in order on its own. It didn’t do that, and that’s why HISA’s here and not going away (despite an epic temper tantrum being thrown by the Texas Racing Commission, which has opted to drop a proverbial nuclear bomb on pari-mutuel operations at its tracks rather than comply with federal legislation).

However, that isn’t to say HISA is perfect, and one of the holes in that legislation exposed itself over the weekend. Drafted, who finished fifth in the Forego over the weekend, was disqualified due to jockey Luis Rodriguez-Castro using the whip 10 times, four more than the six allowed under HISA rules. As a result, Drafted’s connections are now out $26,000 for reasons they had nothing to do with.

I saw Lisa Lazarus speak a few weeks ago at the Racing and Gaming Conference. I believe she and the rest of the folks at HISA mean well. However, there are certain rules and regulations that need to be re-examined and re-written promptly. This is one of them.

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: My price play early in the card was off the board, and my late Pick Four fizzled in the Ballerina. I dropped $34.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I’ll focus on the middle of the card. I really like #5 SCOTTISH STAR in the fourth and #5 SALS DREAM GIRL in the sixth. In addition to $15 win bets on both runners, I’ll play a $5 Pick Three starting in the fourth using those two singles as bookends and including #6 ROAD TO SUCCESS and #7 SCOTTY in the fifth.



Best Bet: Sals Dream Girl, Race 6
Longshot: Banyan Breeze, Race 8


Proven Innocent
Smith entry
Who’s Counting

#7 PROVEN INNOCENT: Was a very good second in his local debut earlier this summer and stretches out in distance, which he should love. He broke his maiden over fences going 2 1/4 miles, and there sure seems to be enough speed in here to set up for his late kick; SMITH ENTRY: Both #1 BANDUA and #1A PROJECT TWO seem well-meant. I slightly prefer the former, whose flat racing days included a third-place finish behind champion Bricks and Mortar in the 2019 Grade 1 Arlington Million; #3 WHO’S COUNTING: Has three wins and two seconds from five starts this year and has shown some flexibility. He can sit close to the pace or rally from behind, and his last-out win over a weaker group at Colonial Downs was a sharp effort.


I’m Nervous Now
Summer Snow

#3 LAUGHTER: Was a close-up second in a similar spot a few weeks ago and topped that day’s third-place finisher by more than eight lengths. The rider switch to Luis Saez is a notable one, and it’s tough to imagine anyone else in this field outpacing her early on; #6 I’M NERVOUS NOW: Debuts for a barn that’s had some success at this stand. She’s been working well since shipping up here from Gulfstream Park, and this filly may not need to be much in order to win first time out; #8 SUMMER SNOW: May have needed her 2022 debut downstate, which came off a very long layoff. She almost certainly needs to take a step forward, but doing so second off the bench wouldn’t be unheard of, and the outside draw isn’t a bad thing.


Rock Chalk
Iron Man Jimmy

#2 WEBSLINGER: Was one-paced in his debut at Ellis Park, but there’s reason to believe sprinting on turf is what he wants to do. His female family includes broodmare sire and top turf influence Hard Spun, and his second dam is kin to Group 1-placed turf miler Clearing; #5 ROCK CHALK: Rallied to be second in a similar race earlier this month, one that doubled as his career debut. I’m not crazy about the quality of that group and think this may be a slightly tougher spot, but it’s often not easy for debuting horses to rate and pass others, and he wouldn’t be a shock; #6 IRON MAN JIMMY: Runs for a barn whose horses tend to need a race or two to get going. However, he’s kin to graded stakes winner Maftool, his dam is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Abraaj, and he sports a recent four-furlong turf drill that looks very solid.


Scottish Star
Nevisian Sunrise

#5 SCOTTISH STAR: Makes her first start for Todd Pletcher off a long layoff, but she boasts a lot of back class and a work tab full of very strong drills on the grass. Add in that there isn’t much early zip signed on for this one, and that she was fast enough to challenge the likes of Ce Ce last year, and I think there’s a lot to like; #4 NEVISIAN SUNRISE: Was sent away at just 10-1 in the Grade 3 Intercontinental against some tough turf sprinters two starts ago. Both of her wins have come at two-turn mile configurations, though I wonder if she’s stepped forward from age three to age four; #3 ZAINALARAB: Has hit the board twice in as many starts since being switched to the turf earlier this year. This, however, is her first start going two turns, and it comes against what seems like a tough group for the level.


Road to Success
Will E Sutton

#6 ROAD TO SUCCESS: Goes back to two turns first off the claim by George Weaver, and he’s run some of the best races of his career at similar routes. His last two-turn start came at Aqueduct in February, and he romped by more than 16 lengths that day; #7 SCOTTY: Is 0-for-4 since being claimed by this barn over the winter, but the last two outings seem like steps forward. He hasn’t gone two turns recently, but he’s shown an ability to pass others late that could prove valuable; #4 WILL E SUTTON: Would be a major player if he runs back to his winter form in his first start for Rob Falcone. However, his last three starts have been dreadful, including one at this route earlier in the meet. At his likely short price, I’ll try to beat him.


Sals Dream Girl
Eau Claire

#5 SALS DREAM GIRL: Got stuck in a horrid, far-outside post last time out and gets a friendlier draw in her first start against maiden claimers. Her race two back at Belmont was very good, as she ran second sandwiched by a pair of next-out winners. A repeat of that effort would make her very tough to top; #10 CERRETTA: Was one-paced in her local debut and is another dropping in out of a race against maiden special weight foes. The draw wasn’t kind to her, but she does have some early speed and could clear some of this field very early; #4 EAU CLAIRE: Has shown speed against better groups, and her dirt sprint last time out is a throw-out. She’s shown she’s a turf horse, and these shallower waters should be to her liking.


Xy Speed
Seven Scents

#4 XY SPEED: Is a proven closer and looks like the one they’ll have to hold off in a $32,000 claimer that looks more like an ungraded stakes race. The extra half-furlong he gets here should be to his benefit, and there’s certainly enough zip signed on to set up for what he wants to do; #6 SEVEN SCENTS: Ran a clunker last time out at Ellis Park and is certainly a contender if he runs his usual race. The drop in class is a big one, but Brad Cox isn’t afraid to be aggressive with his runners, so it’s not much of a red flag at all; #2 BALLYDOOLEY: Probably needed his last-out effort on the Fourth of July, which was his 2022 debut. He’s got enough early speed to be prominent out of the gate, and improvement second off the bench could get him a piece of it at a bit of a price.


Double Shot
Banyan Breeze
Joe Di Baggio

#6 DOUBLE SHOT: Lost all chance at the break earlier this summer and comes back first off the claim for half the tag. He’s a closer in a sprint with plenty of early speed, and the faster they go out of the gate, the better this one’s chances figure to be; #2 BANYAN BREEZE: Ships in from Finger Lakes, and these shippers are always dangerous in lower-level races. He’s won two in a row in central New York, and he fits if his form travels with him from that venue; #4 JOE DI BAGGIO: Hasn’t won in quite a while at his home track in Florida and makes his local debut here. Some of his recent races have come against better competition, but the last two have been clunkers against Florida-breds, and it’s fair to wonder if this 6-year-old’s best days are behind him.


Our Dream Rye’d

#9 OUR DREAM RYE’D: Rallied from last to first last time out and has already run up against several next-out winners in just two lifetime outings. We know he can win at this distance and that he can pass others late, which is enough to earn a tepid nod in a wide-open renewal of the Grade 3 With Anticipation; #2 ANDTHEWINNERIS: Won impressively first time out on turf at Keeneland before finishing third in the Bashford Manor on dirt at Churchill Downs. He’s back on his preferred surface here, and Flavien Prat, who rode him in his unveiling, sees fit to climb aboard again; #8 LACHAISE: Topped New York-breds at first asking and did so the right way. There wasn’t much pace in that event, but he made up ground and had plenty left late. Prat goes elsewhere, but Jose Ortiz is certainly no slouch.


Devil Boy
Basis Risk
Sinful Dancer

#3 DEVIL BOY: Drops into the maiden claiming ranks for the first time and makes the most sense in a confusing finale. He may have bounced last time out off of a solid third-place finish two back. If the two-back form comes with him here, he’s got a big chance; #10 BASIS RISK: Has been gelded since a first-out clunker back in April and has worked consistently ahead of his return to the races. This is, indeed, a pretty big drop for a one-time $310,000 purchase, but these are aggressive connections who don’t mind doing this sort of thing; #5 SINFUL DANCER: Is another running for a tag for the first time and seems like the main early speed. Perhaps the drop wakes him up, but he’s had plenty of chances, including ones where he’s sat dream trips. At 0-for-10, how much can one trust him, at least on top?

SARATOGA RACE COURSE: Analysis, Selections, and Bankroll (8/28/19)


BANKROLL: $683.60

I haven’t had the time to write many columns this summer, but I posted one Monday that I’m quite proud of. Another piece of turf writing provoked a strong reaction that I haven’t felt in a long time, and what came out was about 1,500 words pertaining to my thoughts on my place in the industry. If you haven’t seen it, go check it out.

Meanwhile, I’ll be spending most of Wednesday in the air traveling northeast. I’ll be at the track Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and if you see me, don’t hesitate to say hi!

SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Larry’s Baby outran her odds, but couldn’t hit the board. We dropped $25 after scratches refunded a double.

WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: This didn’t hit me as the most exciting betting card. I’ll focus on the seventh race and hope to extract value out of the likely favorite, #7 NIC AND ZOE. I’ll play her in $15 exactas above the Chad Brown-trained duo of #5 JAZZIQUE and #6 SELFLESSLY.


– – – – –

BEST BET: Teodoro, Race 1
LONGSHOT: Bareeqa, Race 3


Go Get the Basil

#3 TEODORO: Hasn’t done much wrong since going to the steeplechase ranks and aired by 14 last time out. He faces winners for the first time, but this is far from the strongest race for the level; #6 SOLUBLE: Has hit the board in his last six starts, including all five this season. He’s got tactical speed and could sit a nice trip just off the pace; #2 GO GET THE BASIL: Was second behind a runaway winner earlier in the meet. He hasn’t won in a while, but he’s got seven top-two finishes in 11 starts over fences.


Jump for Joy
Mo Flash
Le Weekend

#1 JUMP FOR JOY: Has won four of her last six starts and has enough speed to use her inside post position as an asset. The presence of Irad Ortiz, Jr., is a plus, and she’s a logical favorite; #4 MO FLASH: Chased a runaway winner earlier this month and drops in class a bit for this event. She’s in for the tag, which may not be a great sign, but she could appreciate the shallower waters; #5 LE WEEKEND: Hasn’t won since being claimed earlier this year but has tried some tough spots. Most notably, she was third in a $100,000 stakes race at Delaware last month.


Cartwheel (MTO)
War Canoe

#9 WAR CANOE: Was claimed by a hot barn last time out and should move up. She hasn’t raced on firm turf in a while, and if she channels the form she displayed here in 2018, she’ll be tough; #3 BAREEQA: Loves Saratoga and was a deceptively-good third here earlier this month. She didn’t get much pace to run at that day, and she completes a powerful 1-2 punch for the Gargan barn; #5 FETCHING: Returns to turf after her connections took a shot in a stakes race on the main track. This is her preferred trip, and the rider change to Irad Ortiz, Jr., is noteworthy.


Indian Pride
Rapido Gatta
Doll Collection

#4 INDIAN PRIDE: Debuts off of a series of strong workouts for Chad Brown and looms large. She seems to have found a reasonable spot, and if she runs to the work tab, she may be tough to beat; #8 RAPIDO GATTA: Was second in a race several of these runners exit last month. She showed speed that day, but it’s worth noting Castellano gets off this one to ride my top pick; #3 DOLL COLLECTION: Will get some play because of her pedigree (she’s out of world-class mare Groupie Doll), but she always seems to find trouble. She gets John Velazquez here, though, and a clean trip would almost certainly get her a piece of it.


Decorated Ace
Bronco Sally
Retro Street

#12 DECORATED ACE: Looms large despite the terrible post. She’s run well twice at the meet and may have enough speed to clear most of the field going into the first turn; #4 BRONCO SALLY: Hasn’t won since January but wasn’t far behind my top pick last time out. She’s flexible and can run well from a variety of spots in the pack, and Saez stays on; #9 RETRO STREET: Merits a look at a price. She won three races in a row not long ago, and she makes her first start off the claim for a barn that’s won a few races at this stand.


Blame the Cake

#8 BLAME THE CAKE: Was a good second at a price in his debut and adds Lasix for a barn whose horses tend to move forward with experience. The one concern, though, is Castellano hopping off, and he doesn’t have another mount in this event; #4 LORENZEN: Hammered for $205,000 here last summer and has trained well for Mark Casse. The two local works appear sharp, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he was ready to run right away; #9 CRYPTOGRAPHER: Debuts for a barn not known for working horses quickly, yet sports several sharp four-furlong drills ahead of this event. New sire Honor Code was a multiple Grade 1 winner, and it’s encouraging to see Saez aboard.


Nic and Zoe

#7 NIC AND ZOE: Debuts for first-out maestro Wesley Ward and attracts John Velazquez. She exits a stellar gate work last week, and several other drills on the tab indicate that wasn’t a fluke; #5 JAZZIQUE: Is one of two contenders in here trained by Chad Brown. She boasts a strong European pedigree and has every right to be a runner; #6 SELFLESSLY: Is by More Than Ready, one of the top turf sires in the sport. She completes the Brown tag team, and 8-1 certainly seems like way too big a price on a horse from this barn that’s been working well.


Dark Money
Smile Bryan
Hardcore Folklore

#2 DARK MONEY: Aired last time out at Belmont and was claimed by a sharp outfit following that race. This is a step up in class, for sure, but his two most recent races were very sharp; #6 SMILE BRYAN: Fell a neck short against similar foes early in the meet, and this barn has heated up since then. He cuts back in distance and may get more of a pace to run at; #3 HARDCORE FOLKLORE: Rallied to win going away against a weaker group, and has won four of his last six starts. This is the toughest field he’s faced, but he figures to be going well late at a square price.


Our Country
Field Pass

#2 OUR COUNTRY: Was extremely impressive when breaking his maiden earlier in the meet. He came home very quickly in the last quarter-mile and is proven to like this route of ground; #1 TUGGLE: Tries turf for the first time but is bred to like it. He may be favored after running third in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, but demand value on a horse trying a new surface and two turns for the first time; #8 FIELD PASS: Has run well twice, including a maiden-breaking score early in the meet. That day’s runner-up came back to win impressively, which flatters him.


Winifred J
Mike’s Girl
Here Comes Meg

#5 WINIFRED J: Was claimed by a sharp outfit last time out and looms large second off the layoff. A step forward seems logical, especially given the presence of leading rider Jose Ortiz; #6 MIKE’S GIRL: Has run second twice in a row at this level and is certainly logical. She didn’t sit her preferred trip last time out and could be dangerous with a cleaner break; #3 HERE COMES MEG: Took a step forward when third at a big price last month. This barn has quietly hit the board with eight of 16 runners this summer, and she may be a big price yet again here.