Saratoga comes into Friday, with an Alabama Stakes Saturday on deck ... 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! Watch the weather forecast because race conditions will be affected, as we have periods of heavy rain in the forecast almost everyday this week. Many of the grass races will be taken off, so stay tuned ...
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country this Friday be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Saratoga is such a wonderful handicapping puzzle that I only wish it could go on and on, ad nauseum. We start our analysis with this tough one … a Claimer that is anything but cheap. Going a 1 1/8th on the MT, you could simply back Rob Atras’ new acquisition, a ridgeling out of Quality Road named … Road to Success #1. I don’t know if 2/1 is really warranted, but let’s face it, this is a pure training play. The conditioner is hot right now, and that makes him highly-desirable on the tote. Don’t forget, this 3-yr-old is moving up from the MC ranks, so he is unproven when it comes to a spot like this one. Manny Franco won on him last time, but it is not a lock that will happen again.
If you are looking for a dropper, then perhaps Gimme Some Mo #6 is to your liking? Todd Pletcher’s runners always get bet, and though the newly inducted trainer is battling COVID-19, he has the kind of operation that is constantly sound. His staff is just superb, and though this colt out of Uncle Mo failed miserably on the grass last out @The SPA, that doesn’t mean he cannot rebound here. Getting Irad Ortiz is news, and though his numbers are not as strong as normal, he is still accomplished.
I am not into backing either of these runners, and I want an entry that is flying under the radar. In that vein, I am looking long and hard at Patrick Reynolds’ Breaking Stones #7. Back in July, this trainer entered the gelding into a Clm40k2L, and everything that unfolded after the break was a mess. He did not want to run that day … it happens. Coming back at the same distance, I think this son of Congrats can improve. Drawing the proverbial line through that contest makes sense, and with Jose Ortiz aboard, he will rectify that poor showing. The price is going to be excellent, even if it drops from the M/L of 10/1. This one is a bet for sure!
Much to like in what amounts to my “play of the day” from the barn of the excellent Brendan Walsh. He teams up with Marc Wampler’s Pocket Aces Racing to bring this runner, Critical Threat #9, back to the racetrack. The last time we saw this son of Mshawish was at Keeneland last October. He broke his maiden on debut, and was summarily shelved until July of this year, when he started training once again. His Ellis Park tabs look inviting, and there is some real synergy here having Tyler Gaffalione ride. He is going well at Saratoga, much better than many imagined, and that puts him in the upper echelons of this highly-rated jock colony. The fact that this gelding gets Lasix for the 1st time only adds to the argument. If we are looking at double-digit odds, and I think that will happen, this could be a massive score. Walsh’s prowess as a conditioner speaks for itself, and I fully expect this one will fire … and fire well. Bet’em …
Wagering Recommendation: $25/$50 WP #9
Race 9: Turf, 5½F, Skidmore S. $120k, 2
If the rain will stay away for a bit on this Friday at Saratoga, then there is a good chance this “Non G” might be able to remain on the turf. That is good news considering what already has been a wet week. Thumbing through the form you will quickly notice the hegemonic grass training ability of one Mr. Wesley Ward. He has Kaufymaker #3 and Overbore #9 entered in this spot. Both of these runners have significant upside, especially the former. Owned by Greg Kaufman, this filly out of Jimmy Creed is taking on the boys. She shipped to Royal Ascot as part of her trainer’s regular jaunt overseas. Though the filly finished 8th, it still was an impressive try against 16 others. Coming back from that kind of trip, and running once again in North America is not easy. Ward has prepared her well, and John Velazquez (who rode her @RA) should have the edge.
As for the #9, a colt out of celebrated sprint sire Speightstown, he was impressive last out on the muddy track at Belmont in a “Non-G” 150k. At such a short price, it was no wonder he scored, as Joel Rosario got him home from the top of the stretch on. Coming back to the grass, if it stays on, he should be a tough customer against his stablemate. If there is anyone in this race who can game with the “Wards” it has to be Mike Maker’s Pure Panic #8. This 2-yr-old colt out of Summer Front shocked the world (name of his dam btw …), in winning in his debut at Ellis Park back on 9 July. That score in a MSW51k event showed remarkable turn-of-foot late in the game. The 2nd place horse came back and recently won, and that is always a promising sign. The choice of Tyler Gaffalione makes perfect sense, and he could be the answer to this puzzle. Who wins? I want Ward’s Royal A. alum, she seems best. Who doesn’t want to see her beat up on the boys?
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box, 3/8/9
Race 10: Turf, 1 1/16th, MC40k, F&M 3+
The odds are against this one staying on the grass, so preparing for a ground assault on the MT is a good plan. In warfare, as Sunzi would advise, always anticipate your enemy’s next move, and the one after that … and the one after that. If this is an “off-track” affair, then there will be a rash of scratches. Planning for that moment is what handicapping, Art of War-style, is all about. In trying to find a dirt runner in this spot, who also is a great price, is rather easy. All of these in here are turfers, through and through, save one … Malibu Anthem #6. An MC stalwart for Tom Albertrani, this 4-yr-old filly likes the MT at Saratoga, finishing 2nd in that 40k on 29 July. Drawing Javier Castellano once again looks inviting, and so does the price of 15/1. Let’s use her, along with Kenny McPeek’s Salino #1. This 3-yr-old filly looks pretty smart to me. Should be a juicy score!
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Box, 1/6
Enjoy some action from the SPA! The tradition at Saratoga Race Course marches on …