By Sean Morris

Saratoga All-Stakes Pick 4 Picks & Analysis for August 1

By Sean Morris
A great of racing ahead at Saratoga this Saturday
A great of racing ahead at Saratoga this Saturday

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Saturday is a spectacular day of racing at Saratoga with three Grade I Stakes all taking place on the same card. Our in-house handicapper has taken a look at the Late Pick-4 Races and written up his Personal Ensign Stakes Picks in a separate article as that race wasn't part of this sequence...

Race 9

With all due respect to this small but talented G1 Whitney lineup, Tom’s d’Etat (#5) just seems to be on another level right now. This horse got consistently better during his 6-year-old campaign, which culminated in a win in the G1 Clark, and I believe he’s returned even better at the ripe age of 7. He had every right to need a race in his 2020 debut going a mile over a wet track at Oaklawn Park, but he prevailed by three-quarters of a length over fellow Whitney entrant Improbable (#2) in the Oaklawn Mile before demolishing a quality field next out in the G2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. Tom’s d’Etat did get a great trip in the Stephen Foster sitting just off a leisurely pace, but there’s not much stopping him from working out a similar journey in this race and he was downright explosive last out. Quite simply, if he repeats that effort, he’s going to win.

The main challenger to Tom’s d’Etat in my view is Code of Honor (#3). Last year’s runaway G1 Travers winner has focused on shorter races to begin his 4-year-old season, with a win in the G3 Westchester and a close third-place finish in the G1 Met Mile last out, but I think two-turn racing is more his game. Though he’s been effective going a flat mile in the past, his two biggest wins last year came going a mile and a quarter, so I think he’s going to appreciate the stretch-out to 1 ⅛ miles. Whether or not he proves capable of overtaking Tom’s d’Etat is another matter.

Improbable is also going to attract a good deal of support on the heels of a dominant win in the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park. While he earned a speed figure that day that would make him competitive in this race, I have a hard time believing that he’s going to be able to duplicate that performance. Improbable has always been a bit mercurial, and while it’s possible that his Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has finally figured him out, I’m not convinced he’s going to be a model of consistency going forward.

By My Standards (#1) is the final horse to consider. He’s been terrific this year, as well, but he was beaten 4 ¼ lengths by Tom’s d’Etat in the Stephen Foster and it’s hard to imagine him making up that margin unless something drastic happens with the favorite.

Main:  5     Backup:  2,3

Order of preference:  5-3-2-1

 

Race 10

I don’t love myself for picking another favorite, and this edition of the G1 H. Allen Jerkens features 11 horses as opposed to just five in the G1 Whitney, but how do you get around No Parole (#6) in this race? This horse has the early speed to make his own trip, as his four over-matched rivals found out last time in the G1 Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard, and though there is a bit more pace to go with him this time, it’s not as if he didn’t have to work for the lead in the Woody Stephens. I’m not going out on any limb here, but No Parole seems like a strong candidate to wire this field.

There are definitely some alternatives to the favorite, including three horses that finished behind him in the Woody Stephens, as well as new shooters Three Technique (#8) and Tap It to Win (#11), but none are terribly appealing. Echo Town (#4), Shoplifted (#7), and Mischevious Alex (#5) finished second through fourth, respectively, in the Woody Stephens, but all were well beaten by the winner and none had any significant trouble that would lead you to believe they’re poised to reverse that decision in this race. Their best hope is that No Parole is dueled into defeat by one of the other speeds in the Allen Jerkens, but that doesn’t seem like a likely scenario.

Tap It to Win has some appeal as he returns to sprinting after most recently contesting the G1 Belmont Stakes, in which he finished fifth. He probably is better suited to shorter races, but his effort in the Belmont was still a little disappointing given the fact he was able to make the lead and set a reasonable pace for the distance. I believe he has the talent to win a race like this, but he’s so unreliable and may not be in top form at the moment.

I think the most interesting challenger to No Parole is the Jeremiah Englehart-trained Three Technique. I’ve long been a fan of this horse and thought he ran two deceptively strong races over the winter at Oaklawn Park when his connections tried to see if they had a Derby horse on their hands. Even though he ran well in both starts at Oaklawn, it didn’t quite pan out, and I think they’re doing right by the horse by turning him back to seven furlongs. He’s already won over this track and distance last year, and if he fires fresh he may have a legitimate chance to run down No Parole.

Main:  6     Backup (priority):  4,7,8,11

Order of preference:  6-8-7-11

 

Race 11

Full disclosure, I have a tough time getting a feel for the hard-knocking veterans Channel Maker (#5) and Sadler’s Joy (#6). They’re both clearly fast enough to win this race, but they so often settle for minor awards and at times turn in head-scratching performances. Of the two, my preference is Sadler’s Joy, who is a bit more consistent and is coming off a strong run in the G1 Manhattan at Belmont Park, but he’s so tough to trust at a short price given his late-running style.

Conversely, speed is such a weapon in these turf marathons, particularly on the NYRA circuit, which is why I’m very interested in Cross Border (#2), who runs back on just 10 days’ rest after a facile win in a New York-bred stake. This horse has always been most effective at marathon distances, and as long as his stablemate Marzo (#1) doesn’t challenge him early, he’s going to have the lead all to himself.

Cross Border is a serious threat to wire the field, but my top pick in this race is Dot Matrix (#4). He finished worst among those coming out of the Manhattan, but he’s clearly better with more ground, as evidenced by a fantastic runner-up finish two back in the 1 ⅜-mile Tiller at Belmont Park. The winner of that race, Paret, came back to finish second in the G1 United Nations at Monmouth Park, and Dot Matrix also finished well ahead of the likes of Sadler’s Joy and Channel Maker in that race. Despite its ungraded status, it was a very strong race, and if Dot Matrix can get back to that level of performance I think he’s going to win.

Main:  2,4,6     Backup:  1,5

Order of preference:  4-2-6-5

 

Race 12

Everything seems to be aligning for Jakarta (#5), who finally gets back to what seems to be her preferred trip in a race with very little early speed signed on. This filly ran very well in her first start with Mike Maker on March 18 at Gulfstream Park, completely dusting a decent field of turf sprinters, and though she won at a mile next out in an off-the-turf edition of the Powder Break, little has gone right for her since. She clearly didn’t care for the very soft conditions of the G3 Intercontinental two back, and she was on the worst part of the racetrack for the G3 Vagrancy in her most recent start on dirt. I love her getting back on turf, and her pace advantage in this race should be substantial.

The other filly I like in this race is the late-running Dalika (#7), who should serve as a nice complement to Jakarta. She’s been very good since her connections decided to focus on one-turn races with her this year, and she’s coming off a better-than-it-looks effort in the License Fee at Belmont Park. That race was run in the pouring rain and she really only got an opportunity to run in the final sixteenth of a mile, when she made up ground in a hurry to almost win. Based on her win two back, 5 ½ furlongs is well within her scope, the only worry with her is that she may not get enough pace in front of her to be effective.

Main:  5,7     Backup (priority):  2,9

Order of preference:  5-7-9-2
 

Most Likely Winner:  Tom’s d’Etat (Race 9)

Best Value:  Jakarta (Race 12)

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