A couple of excellent Grades Stakes anchor the last Saturday card of the Saratoga Meet ... We have you covered with analysis for all the action! See below ...
Saratoga Race Course hurtles towards its final 3 days of historic racing. As we handicap and offer our selections, there will be some excellent contests headed your way on the Main Track, and over the Inner and Mellon Turf Course.
A reminder ... at HorseRacing.net/us, we will be with you every step of the way, as Labor Day, Monday September 6th marks Closing Day! Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a 12-race card that is sure to bring some major value at the betting windows. Have a look at all of our selections, and targeted analysis by our resident turf-man, J.N. Campbell. There are some Breeders' Cup implications on the line ... so have a read about those too!
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country this Saturday be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Leading off the Saturday Stakes action at The SPA is this venerable G2 that is sure to be a lark. Of course, the gravitational betting pull of Mark Casse’s Souper Sensational #6 will be extra strong because this filly out of Curlin was 2nd in last month’s Test Stakes (G1). Dropping into this spot is technically easier, so with Ricardo Santana back aboard once again, it is likely she will be tops on the tote. There is little to criticize in the current form cycle … she won the “Test” prep, the Victory Ride (G3) before that, so obviously that makes her “deserving” in this spot. I do not want any part of 6/5 or thereabouts. Looking elsewhere is more than sensible, and that makes me head towards the inside. In my mind, what we really need is a speedster that can get to the lead, and put Casse’s ace back on her heels.
Trainer Tim Hills is a chap who regularly heads to the NYRA big leagues (he won the 4th race @The SPA on Friday) … in this instance, after succeeding with Oxana #1 over at Parx and Monmouth, he comes north seeking a score. His entry has the greatest leveler that any Thoroughbred can wield—speed. The filly out of PA bred Uptowncharlybrown won easily in an ALLW contest last out by 10-lengths. That is not easy to do, and even though it was against much lesser company, I think it shows much promise. Hills is going to get together with Irad Ortiz, and what I am hoping for is a blazing beginning. Maybe she will drift away from 3/1, and that will end up suiting me just fine. Just because this one is out of a 2nd-tier track, does not mean she cannot come into this spot, and win the day …
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Cold, 1 w 6
Race 8: Turf, 1 1/16th, Saranac S. (G3), $200k, 3
A “Sinister Six” will create a “web” of options here in this Grade 3 turf contest. It looks like once again that trainer Chad Brown has the inside track … literally … with Klaravich’s Public Sector #1. The well-bred colt out of celebrated grass sire Kingman (GB) is just as strong taking to the turf on his dam side with Parle Moi (IRE). He can and should win this race after a score in the Hall of Fame (G2) back on 6 August. His rise through the class ranks continues to be stellar, and expect Brown to have him ready for this route event. Trading Flavien Prat for Irad Ortiz is not too shabby, and I cannot really find any chinks in the armor with this one. “KS” wins … wait, not so fast.
Before we just hand the cash to the connections, and send them straight to The SPA winner’s circle, I think we should also take a hard look at Todd Pletcher’s play. Repole Stable is just as competitive as Klaravich, and their colt out of Constitution is coming off a rest with the hopes of claiming this prize. Never Surprised #4 has form, despite the break, and getting Luis Saez makes her particularly dangerous. Pletcher is now officially a HOF conditioner, even though we have all known that for some time. After 6 works over at Belmont, she should be ready to get back into some action. When we last saw her down at Gulfstream Park, she was 2nd in the Kittens Joy (G3). That was after 2 months off in the winter, so I would imagine she will be rested and ready in here. Playing a straight “win” bet, against the heavily-favored “KS” entry is the way to make money in here. Once again, let’s try and beat the presumed “chalk.”
The winner of this race, the Flower Bowl S., will score a well-earned trip to the Breeders’ Cup Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf at Del Mar; in other words, an all-expense paid trip to sunny Del Mar. Most eyes will be fixed on Bill Mott’s War Like Goddess #3, who is a 4-yr-old filly out of the great English Channel. She has captivated the faithful with a devastating turn-of-foot, enroute to winning 4 of her 5 career races that she has entered. Her specialty is distances in excess of 1 1/8th, and Mott has come to rely on the guidance of now veteran rider Julien Leparoux. He doesn’t make many trips outside of Kentucky these days, but his skill is undeniable.
My goal is to try and beat her this time around because I think that elevating to win a Grade 1 race like this one, it takes more than a near-perfect record. Speaking of those elevating in class, Chad Brown’s Great Island #6 looks to be able to take a step forward. Though she is lightly-raced compared to the odds-on favorite, she had a really solid score in the Matchmaker (G3) last out. That was against a small, but quality field that included Brown’s Kalifornia Queen and Brad Cox’s Juliet Foxtrot. If Joel Rosario can keep up with Mott’s cloud comer, then this mare out of Scat Daddy might have a sliver of a chance. My chief concern is her class rating because I do not think she is quite ready for a group like this one.
My money will be firmly placed on Brown’s “other” entry … My Sister Nat #4. I have watched this one be well-bet over the past year, and she is overdue for a Grade 1 win. She has the class, the backing of owner Peter Brant, a Breeders’ Cup try in the F&M Turf (G1), and retains the services of Jose Ortiz. What I would like to see this time around is for her rider to get her placed a little more forwardly, and that might get her in a better position to contest the lead late in the game. Turf racing is so contentious, and furious, that one false move can mean the difference between winning and finishing off the board. I think this is her moment to shine!
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Wheel, 4 w 3/6 w 3/6
Race 12: Dirt, 1¼, Jockey Club Gold Cup S. (G1), $1 Million, 3+
Continuing the trend of handing out trips to Del Mar and the Breeders’ Cup, we find ourselves facing the Saturday finale … the JC Gold Cup. On the line? A coveted pass to the Classic … a signature race. This Grade 1 is going to be interesting because we have 3 runners that should vie for supremacy among the pari-mutuel treasure hunters. Namely, Bill Mott’s Forza Di Oro #1, Steve Asmussen’s Max Player #2, and Todd Pletcher’s Happy Saver #4 have strong background class-wise, and/or some key performances of late. Mott’s Don Alberto homebred is coming in on a 3-race win streak. He wowed the crowds back in late July, and everyone has been waiting for him to go for the gusto in this race. With talent that is undeniable, the real question is can Speightstown colt come in here and not romp, but just get the win. Junior Alvarado has a jet engine under him, so it is definitely possible.
As for the other “players,” Asmussen’s charge already has a spot in the starting gate at Del Mar, and this race seems more like a “prep.” It gives North America’s all-time leading conditioner some options before November arrives. What we know is that he was awfully good against Mystic Guide in the Suburban (G2) at Belmont. That was a statement race, that put him into the NTRA Top 10 in my book. With Ricardo Santana aboard again, who will complete nothing short of a great Meet, that should make this one an automatic contender. As for HOF trainer Todd Pletcher, he carefully managed his son of Super Saver during a topsy-turvy year in 2020. He could have put him into the Triple Crown conversation, but instead waited till October to really put him up against some tough competition. Winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont was a shining moment. He returned from the pasture in 2021 with an easy score in an OC100k event at Belmont before running 3rd in the Suburban (G2). Like Asmussen’s runner, he should be well-rested, and ready to contest this one. Much is on the line …
As for a winner, I like Mott’s entry quite a bit, but do not want to take such a short price. The other 2 co-favorites look formidable, but I would not say that I am overly excited about either of them. I am going to instead go with a little longer-priced pick instead … that can bring more value. There is no doubt that Brad Cox has made his presence felt during this SPA Meet. I think this is the perfect opportunity to back the Steve Landers-owned Night Ops #5. The 5-yr-old by Warrior’s Reward has what I believe to be a stellar 2021. I realize he does not have any wins in all 6 of his tries. But I wouldn’t look at his efforts like that. The company he has faced at Oaklawn, Keeneland, Churchill, Monmouth, and finally last out at Saratoga included Silver State, Mighty Heart, Dr Post, Art Collector, and a few others that if you follow racing, you will know. He has 4 2nd place finishes in-a-row, which if you consider that, makes him a pretty live pick. Remember, those efforts may not have included a G1 or G2, but that doesn’t mean they were not tough as nails to run in. Cox will have him ready … that is certain. With Manny Franco aboard, who rode him last time in the Alydar120k, he should be primed for his 1st win of the year. What a pick!
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Wheel, 5 w 1/2/4
Enjoy the final weekend of action from the SPA! The tradition at Saratoga Race Course marches on …