Travers Week at Saratoga is here! What a set of races coming our way! The stretch run at The SPA is going to be something, as we head towards Labor Day!
Our turf-man will be with you every step of the way! All 10 races, plus some worthy analysis ... Watch the weather prognostications because race conditions will be affected, as we have some "precip" predicted almost everyday this week. Many of the grass races could be affected, so stay tuned ...
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country this Wednesday be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
We find ourselves in the middle of a solid-looking turf sprint. It will not be easy from the world “go,” but that is how these develop … with haste. When it comes to a deserving favorite none will surpass Klaravich’s Digital Future #1. Another pithy name emanates from the bowels of the “KS” camp. With Irad Ortiz aboard yet again, the colt out of Street Boss is poised to break his maiden. We need no lengthy perorations on why this will happen, but in the interest of variety I think supporting Jeremiah O’Dwyer’s First Law #9 is sensible. Jose Ortiz is an excellent foil to his brother … his mount is really the only one drawn in here that has a sliver of hope. Well-bred out of the venerable Constitution, the 4-yr-old gelding has a grass sprinting background, and even though he has yet to notch his 1st win, it will come with time. Maybe this is it …
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Cold, 9 w 1
Race 6: Turf, 1 1/16th, MSW85k, 2F
Heading to the Inner Turf, this group of 2-yr-old fillies are rather short on experience, but that only means that we are going to have a legitimate chance at some boxcar prices. Tops on my list is Jeff Englehart’s Sweet Sugar Baby #2, who has a dam side to die for with that connection to Street Boss. Switching to the turf is natural selection I think, and she should take to the green in short order. Her conditioner put her on the dirt last time, and she did not do too badly in the slop. A 2nd place finish with Luis Saez was excellent. Englehart does not send out a regular cadre of runners at The SPA, so it will be interesting to see how this turns out.
Let’s use that one, but I also think it is a good idea to include the Noda brothers’ Oak Loves a Fight #6 and Christophe Clement’s Waterville #8. These two young ones are out of Race Day and Kitten’s Joy, respectively. I like the jockeys aboard in Dylan Davis and Tyler Gaffalione, as they can guide a sprinter better than most. Gaffalione has absolutely gone supernova, and his numbers are quite strong. Is there anything this guy cannot do? I am sure both of these will get bet down even further, considering the make up of this field. It is not exactly a strong one, but I see this as a bridge race that links to even greater competition. An early semi-final, if you will, that could produce a quality stakes caliber sprinter on the grass at some point.
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box, 2/6/8
Race 9: Turf, 1 5/8ths, John’s Call S., $120k, 4+
The “Wednesday Feature” is this steady fixture on the back half of the Saratoga Meet Calendar—John’s Call. A $120k “Non-G” event, it brings together some turf routers that will be going the unusual North American distance of 1 5/8ths. We do not have a number of those races, if any, so it will be interesting to see how these older males that are drawn in here react. Some are seriously experienced … you will recognize the name Red Knight #1 from the barn of HOF trainer, Bill Mott. The now 7-yr-old gelding has 4 appearances in 2021, and the best finish was against Brad Cox’s Arklow in the Louisville (G3) @CD. Going long like this is clearly what he is able to do, so I do not think that Junior Alvarado will have any issues with a response when he asks the question. That does not sway me to put him on top though, because there is another runner that I like quite a bit more.
It might seem like a good idea to back a Mike Maker runner, and you would not be wrong. However, I am not interested in Paradise Farms Ajourneytofreedom #4. Even though he won last out (only by a whisker), and draws Tyler Gaffalione, I am even more keen on his stablemate. Conviction Trade #5 is the other half of this uncoupled entry, and the 5-yr-old out of Exchange Rate is a better price at 12/1. He has ability, and Maker has entered both of these in the same race on a couple of occasions. I think he needs a distance contest, and Jose Ortiz is just the man to hop aboard. In the past, his conditioner has been aggressive when it comes to entering him in tough contests. So, I find the choice here to be a perfect level. Many bettors will guffaw at his record, but I see nothing but a “best bet.” Let’s go …
Wagering Recommendation: $25/$50 WP #5
Race 10: Turf, 1 1/16th, Clm35k, F&M 3+
Rounding out the opening card of Travers Week, we are graced with a mixed bag race on the grass that will probably end up with a heavy favorite. Mike Maker’s My Candy Girl #11 is only 7/2 on the M/L, but she is tepid at best. Still, with Irad Ortiz riding, that means she will be bet down … majorly. Previously in the barn of Brad Cox, her new trainer is quite magnificent when it comes to turning around average runners. Let’s see what Maker can come up with. Do not be surprised if this one gets home after some lackluster performances at Indiana Grand, and before that, at Keeneland.
Trying to seek a better price on the tote, I am swayed by another “barn switcher” in the filly out of Hard Spun called Joqular #9. She used to be with Tom Morley, but now sits with Linda Rice. The New York-based trainer is hoping she can move up the class ladder into non-winners of 3, after she scored last time at Belmont in a lower-level claimer. I think there is potential here, but of course, it will not be easy on jockey Javier Castellano. Rice has quality number after a swap, and the pedigree line speaks to some solid turf ability. Leave it to JJ because he still has skill in the saddle, even if his current riding numbers do not.