Travers Week at Saratoga is almost here! On Friday the stage is being cleared for the NY breds, as they duke it out in a series of really difficult races. The final push at The SPA is going to be something, as we head towards Labor Day
Our turf-man has you covered with selections for all 11 races, plus select analysis that outlines some best selections! Keep an eye on the weather because race conditions will be affected. Many of the grass races will be impacted, so stay tuned ...
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The NY breds take the stage today on this Friday card, and there are some juicy contests for your handicapping taste buds to enjoy. This distance test on the MT should provide us with a good start … time to tuck in! Tops on the tote when this one goes off will most assuredly be Mark Casse’s Make Mischief #9. He teams up for the nth time with respected owner Gary Barber. This filly has loads of experience that is second-to-none in this race. Once she came back to the Canadian-based trainer from Chris Englehart (Casse trained her initially), she contested for the lead in the 8 Belles (G2), Acorn (G1), Mother Goose (G2), and Test (G1). That is some pretty impressive company, even though she could only muster a couple of 3rd places in the 1st of those 2 races. Settling into this spot, she should be the odds on to win against what looks like an inferior field. With Irad Ortiz in the saddle, she will be very tough. Who can stop her? I am not sure … maybe Linda Rice’s Betsy Blue #1 with Jose Ortiz taking over for his brother? I doubt it …
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Cold, 9 w 1
Race 8: Turf, 1 1/16th, West Point S., $150k, 3+
Taking to the Inner Turf, it looks like we have a nice group of routers who will be contesting this 1 1/16th distance. I am going to play against the 2 horses drawn to the inside, at least on top … Christophe Clement’s Therapist #1 and Jimmy Bond’s Rinaldi #2. Both are alums of the Forbidden Apple (G3), and though the latter won that race, I think they are going to be huge underlays. If you are looking for some better prices you need to look to the outside. I am bullish on Clement’s other entry, City Man #7 that will be ridden by Joel Rosario. Out of Mucho Macho Man, it wasn’t that long ago that he was a game 2nd in the Ft. Marcy (G2) back on Derby Day on the Belmont card. Since then, he tried and failed miserably in the Manhattan (G1), and was 7th in an OC80k @The SPA earlier this month. The 4-yr-old colt has talent; it just has not had the opportunity to shine through. This class move fits, as far as I am concerned. Along with this sod specialist, I also like the look of Todd Pletcher’s Mo Ready #8. Getting Flavien Prat to ride while he is at Saratoga offers parity coming into this contest. These Uncle Mo’s love the turf, and they just continue to pump out magnificent wins. Whereas his gatemate failed to hit the board in that OC80k race, Pletcher’s charge was a stellar 2nd. Building on that effort is within the scope, and I would not count this gelding out. Using him under is a must.
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Wheel, 7/8 w 7/8 w 1/2
Race 9: Dirt, 1 1/8th, Albany S., $250k, 3
The Friday Show at what is known affectionately as “The SPA” rolls on, and we have arrived at what most consider the “Feature.” This race pits some salty 3-yr-olds against one another, and it looks like out of these 9, Bob Baffert’s Bobby Bo #5 is going to be the one to catch. The HOF fought hard in the courts to try and get into races like these, and he found support. Now that NYRA has to admit his runners, we will see how it all plays out. There is no doubt this colt out of Speightster has shown promise in the MSW Division out in SoCal, but I don’t know if it truly warrants such a short price (2/1) in this leap. Even with Flavien Prat back aboard, he may be up against some classier types in here. Looking at who could go with this frontrunner or at least track him well, I like the look and price of Jack Sisterson’s Anejo #6. Out of Freud, he switched to the dirt earlier this month for a MSW85k contest at 1 1/8th. He passed that distance test with flying colors, and won going away towards the end. Nothing like one who can rate just off and then make a power run when it counts. If I put this Calumet-owned horse alongside Baffert’s, it is an easy decision. Give me Junior Alvarado and Sisterson, who though they do not work together often, can make an impact here. As for the rest of the field, there is not really anyone else I am afraid of, and that even goes for Todd Pletcher’s Americanrevolution #2. He will take massive amounts of cash, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he deserves to win. Running at Saratoga is much different than competing at Finger Lakes. Do not be too overzealous when betting this son of Constitution; it might be a trap race for him.
Wagering Recommendation: $25/$50 WP #6
Race 10: Turf, 1 1/16th, Yaddo H., $150k, F&M 3+
Rounding out this fine sequence, the final race up for examination is the Yaddo, a lovely little grass route event that will probably inaugurate Jorge Abreu’s Myhartblongstodady #3 as the race time favorite. This mare out of Scat Daddy will standout for her turf pedigree, and the fact that she has some pretty classy grass races under her saddle. Last out in the Eatontown (G3) she was just blown away by the competition, spending the majority of the race in the back of the field. Most will think that dropping into this race will do her some good. Even though she is the defending champ from last year, I am non-plussed. Yes, she can run well coming back to a place where she is 4/2-2-0, but if we are talking about the present and her level of fitness … it is a decided “no,” for me. Instead, I want a super buy, and I have uncovered one that will suit quite well.
Trainer Mark Hennig is an accomplished trainer who does not have near the operation of a Chad Brown or Todd Pletcher. Still, he has some quality runners in his midst. Looking down the form of Kilkea #10, here is a filly out of Blame that has not been on the turf in her past 2 races. That was not her fault, as they were off-track days. Getting back to her preferred surface is what she is up for doing, so I am optimistic that even though her form is not perfect, she can conquer this field. Her only trip to Saratoga resulted in a nice win on the green, so she could possibly do it again. Even better news is two-fold … first, she draws Flavien Prat, and the second, is that smart-looking try she had 2-back in the Mt. Vernon 125k @BEL, finishing 2nd to Robin Sparkles is going to come in handy. Do not sleep on Prat … he can make a major difference with his aggressive style, and bully tactics. I like the look of this one, even if there is no way he will end up 15/1 as they are loading in the gate.