Saratoga Opening Day Picks & Analysis for July 15
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 turf. Stay tuned …
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Thursday, be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Race 7: Dirt, 1 1/8th, ALLW103k, 3+
The Saratoga MT will serve as the reckoning spot for this high-level ALLW Co. contest. This could easily be a tune-up for something like a G2 or G3. It would be exceedingly difficult for most to not take the 2 for 1 deal being offered for the “Coupled” entry from Todd Pletcher’s Barn. Both Arham #1 and Ajaaweed #1A are both interesting possibilities. The former ran nicely at Belmont last in a similar (finishing 2nd), while the latter routed deeply in both the FlatOut100k and the Brooklyn (G2). Both are Shadwell Stables bred and owned, and you cannot go wrong with Luis Saez and Johnny V, respectively. I am not sure I want to accept the 5/2 odds that these will be (honestly, probably will get bet down even further).
So, in light of that statement, I want a runner like Kenny McPeek’s long shot Camp Hope #11 or Rusty Arnold’s lightly-raced Yearn for Victory #6. Both of these have major upside. McPeek’s did not have much of a start to his 2021 campaign with a 5th place finish last time at Churchill Downs. I think the scenery swap to the SPA will be just the ticket. I want to use him because you could just draw a line through that one. His price will be excellent, as Javier Castellano takes over the riding duties. As for Arnold’s charge, he is going to be my top pick, especially since he was $200k buy in the Keeneland Sept. Sale. He won nicely on the frontend at Churchill back in late May. That speed fig was impressive, and I think he can take a step forward, as Jose Lezcano and his hot riding skills go on display. He was sneakily good back at Belmont. Let’s use this pair of solidly-priced routers, and mix in the “couple.” Should give us a juicy score, if it comes through ...
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Wheel, 6/11 w 1/1A
Race 8: Turf, 5½, Quick Call S. (G3), $120k, 3
The first stakes race of the 2021 Meet is a green sprint known as the Quick Call S. Most of the cash wagered in this contest will head towards Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal #3. He is a colt that in the year previous was excellent enroute to a signature win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint (G1) at Keeneland. As one of the shortest prices on the board that weekend, he delivered the goods with Irad Ortiz aboard. Now, he is making his triumphal return to the stage, and it may not be as easy as everyone thinks. Look at Aunt Pearl … she was not that sharp at Churchill Downs on debut after a stellar 2-yr-old run.
If you are looking for an antidote to Ward’s ace, then my eye heads toward Jaxon Traveler #9. Steve Asmussen has this well-traveled son of Munnings pointing the proper direction. After competing against dirt sprinters at Oaklawn and Pimlico, he tried the AW surface at Woodbine in the Woodstock 125k. Though he was countered in those last 2 contests, he has some major ability that can translate to the grass. Jose Ortiz is a jock going well of late, and he can get this one home. How do you take on pedantic power runner like this presumptive favorite? Take it to him … that is the play for Asmussen’s budding star.
Wagering Recommendation: $100 Bankroll, Graduated Wager, WPS #9 ($10-W, $15-P, $75-S)
Race 9: Dirt, 6F, Schuylerville S. (G3), $150k, 2F
The road to the Breeders’ Cup in the fall and then on to the Kentucky Oaks in the spring is a twisty one. Nothing is assured, but this race is one of those markers where you learn who has potential and who does not. Wesley Ward has a Runhappy filly named Happy Soul #7, who has already garnered a ton of attention. She has won a pair of Belmont races in identical fashion … against 4 others … winning by 11-lengths. My conundrum with this runner is whether or not she has faced any “real” competition. She may well have that issue in this race. For my money, I would like to back a pair of fillies.
Tom Amoss’ Cartel Queen #9 has the ability and gets Irad Ortiz in the saddle. Her conditioner has her poised for some “great things,” and I want to be there when she reaches the pinnacle of success. She has all the makings after some steady works. One other that tickles my fancy is Steve Asmussen’s Eagle Express #8. Last time at Lone Star Park, she was pretty swift in a tracking performance that led to a win in a “Non-G” event. She has the potential to be a razor’s edge, in my mind. We could see her elevating her routing game in the future. Let’s use this pair that have the potential to be double-digit odds (although Irad is rarely on one of these types), especially since they will go nicely with the heavy favorite. Bombs away …
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box, 7/8/9
Race 10: Turf, 1 1/16th, MSW85k, 3+
If this one could somehow stay on the SPA turf, then we are going to witness a full field of 12 breaking from the gate. It will not be easy to nab a winner in a spot like this one, but that is what makes Saratoga so utterly fabulous. Of this MSW crew, there is no doubt that Chad Brown’s Clever Fellow #8 has the inside track, what with Irad Ortiz riding on the grass. He makes a difference. Facts are facts … his ability is impressive, and at times, without equal. This gelding out of Lookin At Lucky looks consistent after a number of near misses at the other NYRA tracks. He continued to be well-bet, and is a nice runner. I don’t know if he really blows me out of the proverbial water though, and in these spots, I want to look for an entry that really could flip the script … just to keep the mixed metaphors rolling.
What about a non-grass participant like Tony Ferraro’s Big Georges Kingdm #10? He is a 3-yr-old gelding with no turf experience, but has the makings to take on a field like this one. Though he hasn’t tried the green, his move up the class ladder looks promising. Out of Animal Kingdom, there is a pedigree argument to be made for the turf with this one, and I like his recent works. His conditioner does not enter many on this surface, but then again, he is not one of those with an expansive barn. The best news … Javier Castellano returns to Saratoga, and he has the opportunity to get his sod busting moves into shape. I still think he has “legs,” despite the knee operation this past year. I am hoping that just before post time, his mount will hit some nice double-digit odds. This is Saratoga … everyone has the potential to exhibit their best skills. Looking for overlays is not something to occasionally muse on … it is obligatory!
Wagering Recommendation: $25/$50 WP #10
Enjoy some summer action from Saratoga! The tradition at the SPA continues …