Travers Week at Saratoga is coming to a close! We saw NY breds on display back on Friday, then Super Saturday arrived with much fanfare, and it did not disappoint. 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 10 races, plus a tailored "turf-centered" analysis! Grass cutting through this form is headed your way!
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This higher-end MC contest draws a good group of turf sprinters, and it looks as though trainer Jeremiah Englehart is going to have the presumptive favorite, Charleston Strong #9. Much to like about this colt out of Flatter. He is dropping out of running in MSW100k Co. last out at Saratoga, and he is also cutting back in distance from 1 Mile. Having the blistering Luis Saez in the irons is a positive, and the grass pedigree on the dam side is superb. He will take money, but so will Saffie Joseph’s Everesting #10. He already made this class relief move, and last time in a similar race to this one, finished 2nd. I do not necessarily care for how the colt out of Frosted lost the lead before the top of the lane. Frankly, accepting 7/2 or lower on both of these runners seems like a poor idea.
Instead, I much prefer Wayne Potts’ Uncle Mo’s Cat #5. The gelding is a MC pro, who just needs the right fractions to run into, now that he has a better level of fitness. I am hoping Jose Ortiz can get his best from him, and that will win the day at around 8/1. Another entry that I am interested in betting is Linda Rice’s recent claim from Kenny McPeek—Partner’s Hope #4. She bought this well-bred More Than Ready colt from Three Chimneys, and ran him just the other day on 25 August! Talk about a runback … Rice clearly sees the potential for a strike, and with Javier Castellano aboard, who is riding as well in sprints as I have ever seen, this burner could be on the verge of breaking his maiden.
My head bob goes to Potts’ nicely-bred sodbuster … this is going to be a tough race!
Here is another “grass go” that perplexes the mind, and bends the pocketbook. The central question here … can anyone challenge Rob Atras’ Montauk Daddy #5? Possibly … Even though the colt out of Daddy Long Legs won last time, that was on a dropdown to the Clm35k ranks. Now, he heads back into ALLW Co. Third off sounds inviting, and so does having Ricardo Santana ride again, but I am not sure 5/2 is worth it. There is not enough to go on here that warrants taking such an underlay. When you are looking at these types, make sure you are not just looking at a runner’s last race. There can be much more beneath the surface.
Speaking on this subject, I would much prefer a choice like Rudy Rodriguez’s Stanhope #4. The 4-yr-old colt came over before his last race from the barn of John Toscano, and then tried an ALLW90k contest. He was underwater in the end, going 1 Mile on the Saratoga grass. I get the sense that the main issue in that race was jockey Irad Ortiz took him out way too quickly, and there was not enough gas in the end to close the deal. “Rudy Rod” is thinking the cutback will do him some good. I don’t think this is specious reasoning, and I am sure the Street Sense son will not be 8/1 in the end.
The Sunday “Feature” is named for a celebrated grass runner who wowed the crowds all the way to the Breeders’ Cup for trainer Graham Motion and jockey Ramón Dominguez. Heading to the Inner Turf, this “Non-G” will probably see Chad Brown’s Sifting Sands #8 as the favorite, when race time rolls around. Peter Brant invested in this sturdy turfer out of celebrated grass sire, Dubawi (IRE). He doesn’t invest willy-nilly, so you know you might be looking at a colt who could be a budding superstar. Last out in an OC80k, Brown brought this one off the bench, and at a huge price of 28/1, he won at the wire with Manny Franco aboard. Now, his connections are starting to dream bigger, and it is certainly possible that he can win.
Taking a stand against Brown on the turf can be fatal, and you have to pick your spots. If he is vulnerable in places, then it has to be when one of the members of his barn is ratcheting upwards in class. For that reason, I particularly like an entry in here that has already been at war in “Non-G” Co. That nod goes to Jack Sisterson’s Calumet homebred out of Dialed In—In Effect #6. This colt has a solid late turn-of-foot, and even though he missed the board in the American Derby 100k at Arlington back in July, it was a game last furlong that he ran. Sisterson (who currently is 3/14 during The SPA Meet) got aggressive, and sent him into way deeper waters in the Hall of Fame S. (G2). That was quite a leap running against the likes of Public Sector and Annex. So, when you think about … a 3rd place ending against that field was stellar. Coming into this race, getting Jose Lezcano again should be deemed as a good sign, and if you get 6/1 or higher, take it … that’s a gift.
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Cold, 6 w 8
Race 10: Turf, 1 1/16th, St.ALLW50k, 3+
If you were perhaps thinking that we were going to have an easy one to round out the “Turf Edition” card at Saratoga, you would be decidedly incorrect. This ALLW Co. contest will be full of pitfalls, but extremely fun to handicap. If you look at the M/L odds there are few clues when it comes to just who will be the favorite late on this Sunday. I am sure Rudy Rodriguez’s Count Down #1, Chad Brown’s Molino #2, and George Weaver’s Girl Dad #4 will get bet for various reasons. Even though pundits like to argue that jockeys do not matter much when it comes to their impact on a race, I beg to differ when it comes to turf racing. You need a rider who has a clear head, and is going well early/late in a race. Traffic troubles abound … Getting a mount to “settle” is the chief concern of any jockey. If they lack patience, then it will become exponentially difficult to deliver a score.
As for my top selection, I have a pair that should be of interest. Tops on my list is Jarreau #7 from the barn of Mike Maker. Can you believe this trainer has already sent out 118+ runners during this Meet? This particular gelding came from Graham Motion’s midst, and I know him quite well, because I followed his progress at Tampa … wagering on him each time he took to the grass. Though he faced an off-track last out at Saratoga, getting back “on” should suit. I have a new found respect for rider Ricardo Santana, as I see his grass choices continually improving. This one is a bet, especially being out of Pioneerof the Nile, who has sired some solid turf runners. Let’s use him, and also Mike Stidham’s Made My Day #8. The 5-yr-old, out of the great green sire Kingman (GB), gets Tyler Gaffalione and already has a try at this level during the Meet. That result was a 3rd place finish, and I think he can improve on that effort markedly. Based on these facts, he is my top pick!
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Wheel, 7/8 w 7/8 w 1/2/4 and/or 7/8 w 1/2/4 w 7/8
Enjoy some action from the SPA! The tradition at Saratoga Race Course marches on …