Is there anything better than a summer at Saratoga? It is a complex question, but it has nothing short of the easiest of answers. Once again, NYRA will host one of the most celebrated meets in all of Thoroughbred racing.
HorseRacing.net/us will be with you every step of the way, as we offer a full slate of selections, and put forth some specific analysis on a select set of races. This time of year, brings the threat of pop-up showers, so be sure to monitor the forecasts each day because it could impact the conditions on the Mellon and Inner Turf Courses. Stay tuned …
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Friday, be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
This “Turf Edition” begins by posing a question … would you rather have an experienced filly or one that is lightly-raced in a situation like this one? Going this distance is never a cinch, and my verdict … take the know-how. For once, and it doesn’t happen often, Chad Brown only has 1 entry, whereas both Graham Motion and Todd Pletcher have a pair of runners each. Go figure … Brown’s charge, Ballacolla #1, looks promising after she debuted down at Tampa back in March. Those TAM turf races are a “best kept secret,” as far as I am concerned. The Juddmonte homebred is getting tossed into a tough mix this time around, and it will not be a foregone conclusion that this is a win, even with Irad Ortiz aboard. I would use her for sure, since his Dam portion is so “grass-centric.”
Instead, turning to one of Pletcher’s pals, I am intrigued by a Curlin progeny named Angelou #7. She is a filly who came into the conditioner’s midst last fall, and she went back to the work tab in April. Even though she failed to win at a short price in her 2021 bow, she can improve off that tracking performance. Luis Saez will serve as guide once again. He has the chance to improve from what was a set of tepid turf tries during the Belmont Meet.
As for Motion’s females, he has one I particularly want to wager on—Fortuna #3. Owner Jack Swain is a dean in the biz (as a breeder too). He and this Herringswell conditioner have teamed up over the years. Well-bred with lines that point to both Medaglia d’Oro and Sky Mesa, this 4-yr-old homebred has 1 start so far, back in Elmont on 20 May. She had trouble getting on track, but I wonder if Motion instructed John Velazquez just to take her out for a spin. Suited to this distance, it will be interesting to see how she responds to some “give” in the ground. That may assist, and I for one want to bet her, since she should be a decent price on the tote.
Money will flow to Brown naturally, and the Christophe Clement entry, Flaming Rouge #5. No doubt that they garner respect, but from a value standpoint, you should be able to push some double-digit prices out of Motion’s and Pletcher’s fillies. I like that prospect. Fortuna … favors the bold!
As we move from the angular turf tracks at Belmont, to the symmetrical oval of Saratoga’s … it always presents a challenge. The SPA green sprints are shorter (5½), and are the typical one-turn types that we North Americans are used to. In this race, I am looking for a runner who is making “strides” when it comes to doing what they do best. That translates to becoming a turf speedster specialist. Looking through this diverse field of 11, plus the AE list, my choice is clear …
I want to back Eddie Kenneally’s Mused #6. She looks full of possibilities, after just missing the board in a sprint on the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs last time. Adam Beschizza got a poor start, and she did not have the chance to make up the ground. Now, she looks fresh, as her conditioner hires Javier Castellano to ride. Back in the UK at Kempton Park, she had a couple of attempts that did not look shabby, so I am hopeful this is her time to shine. These sons and daughters of Charm Spirit (IRE) know how to go fast … I think the move to keep her at this distance is the right one.
It should pay off handsomely, if Castellano can relax her early. She has the gears to make a difference towards the end. I want to tab her as my winning pick, and use Joel Rosario’s mount, Too Sexy #2, to complete the Exacta. It should pay nicely …
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Cold, 6 w 2
Race 9: Turf, 1 Mile, Forbidden Apple S. (G3), $150k, 4+
A yearly highlight race for me is this one, the Forbidden Apple. A Grade III contest, it brings together a nice band of milers who are looking to make their mark on the turf. Moisture might play a factor, so we will keep that in the back of our minds when it comes to handicapping. The pair trained by Chad Brown are going to be very difficult to circumvent. The Klaravich-owned Value Proposition #3 will take his share of the win pool money, and rightly so, based on that score last time out in an OC100k event. It is not assured that he can ratchet back up to G3 Co., but his resume speaks to the ability to game at this level. I am non-plussed … In actuality, the other Brown-ite is pretty splendid. Sacred Life #9 was a runner I have liked since last year @the SPA, and he comes into this spot with a couple of tries under his belt in 2021. Though he could not get home in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland or the Dinner Party (G2) at Pimlico, I have to think that this race is his, if Joel Rosario can rally him late. It is within reason, but traffic troubles can always rear their heads at the most inopportune moment. That’s why you want an aggressive jockey like Rosario in the saddle. He can make a huge difference. The 3rd race in a form cycle is an old angle, but in this case, could ring true. There are certainly others in here that could make some noise, like Jonathan Thomas’ Corelli #2. I would talk anyone off that 6-yr-old gelding. However, in the end, the ownership of Michael Dubb and Madaket, along with Brown and Rosario, should give these the connections a victory, tasting that forbidden … or not so forbidden … apple.
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Win, #9
Race 10: Turf, 5½F, MSW85k, F&M 3+
As our turf perspective concludes with this sprint, we should possess a number of options at our disposal in order to cash a ticket. Short grass runs like this one at Saratoga are fundamentally different than at a place like Belmont, as I previously mentioned, so we need to be on the lookout for some hidden value. For my money, I am jazzed by a first-time starter named Raining Candy #5, who is trained and partially owned by Bruce Levine. Most handicappers will scoff at a selection like this one, since there is not much to go on when it comes to form.
But I beg to differ … Mind you, this is a pretty weak field of entrants, and this might be just the spot to start a career and campaign. I am pretty high on the offspring of Twirling Candy (14%-1st Time Rate) when it comes to the turf. Lest we forget, these grass mowers take to the stuff like gangbusters. Levine doesn’t have an expansive stable, but he has personally invested in this one, and I like the choice of Manny Franco to ride. This 3-yr-old filly has trained consistently over the past couple of months, and could be poised to break her maiden the first time out.
You could easily go with favorites like Linda Rice’s entry, Uncle’s Gem #6, or a runner like I Should B Dancing #4 from the barn of Patrick Kelly. Use them … for sure … but I don’t know if I want to accept them if they end up being below say, 3/1. Looking to a “firster” is not sacrilege in this instance. I am going to leave the truisms at the door. At times, that just seems sensible.
Wagering Recommendation: $25/$50 WP #5
Enjoy some summer action from Saratoga! The tradition at the SPA continues …