Saratoga Sunday Picks & Analysis for July 18

Jockey Joel Rosario looks to get on track at Saratoga, and he figures prominently in J.N. Campbell's select analysis. See where, when, and why ...
Jockey Joel Rosario looks to get on track at Saratoga, and he figures prominently in J.N. Campbell's select analysis. See where, when, and why ...

Is there anything better than a summer at Saratoga? It is a complex question, but it has nothing short of the easiest of answers. Once again, NYRA will host one of the most celebrated meets in all of Thoroughbred racing. will be with you every step of the way, as we offer a full slate of selections, and put forth some specific analysis on a select set of races. This time of year, brings the threat of pop-up showers, so be sure to monitor the forecasts each day because it could impact the conditions on the Mellon and Inner Turf Courses. Stay tuned …

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Sunday, be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Horse Racing Picks

Race 2: Turf, 1 1/16th, MC75k, 3+

The Saratoga Sunday begins with this Inner Turf extravaganza, and it is a special Maiden Claiming event—75k level. This lot of 3-4-yr-olds comprises a full-field of 12, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a price came through in the end. I am not at all interested in backing Chad Brown’s Amano #8, who will be making his 2021 debut as a 4-yr-old. The newly-minted gelding out of Temple City was a tepid MSW division runner last year, competing in distance grass events. He never finished better than 3rd out of 5 races, some of them taking place @the SPA. I know Irad Ortiz is a turf riding extraordinaire, but he cannot win them all.

Instead, I would rather focus on a few others. Jeremiah Englehart’s Charleston Strong #2 is one that automatically comes to mind. At least this colt out of Flatter has a ride under him, after he finished 3rd at Belmont in a MSW90k race. He had some pace to run into (.46 @the half), but he got jostled around pretty hard. Maybe that excuse will suit … The move by Englehart to put “blinkers on” appears shrewd. Manny Franco can improve upon his turf riding, and if he can, you might see some late gears ... throttled up.

As for bit of a longer shot, I want someone who could look the part when it comes to a nice grass pedigree, and who has a decent lawn jockey. I am fairly convinced that Al Stall’s entry, Mystical Man #6 fits the bill. After all, he comes from Mucho Macho Man, and get Joel Rosario in the saddle—thumbs up to those points. I like the fact that though this gelding has not tried the turf, he comes out of some high-level MSW contests that were mighty tough. That experience should serve him well, and ironically, his debut was on the Saratoga grass last August (finished 5th out of 10). The action looks palatable, and I want to work this one in … the odds are in my favor at nearly 6/1!

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Box, 2/6/8


Race 3: Turf, 5½F, ALLW90k, F&M 3+  

A state-bred New York lot are coming into this race, and they will be burning down the lane, trying to get home in this turf sprint. It is a good bet that trainer Michelle Nevin will have the favorite in Get the Candy #5, by the time this one is set to go. Sons and daughters of Twirling Candy garner quite a bit of attention on the sod, and this one is no exception. The services of Luis Saez are retained, and last out she took it all the way in a MSW75k event. No competitors were really able to take her on that day, but I doubt that will be the case again today at Saratoga.

Some money is going to flow into the pocket of Christophe Clement’s 4-yr-old, Snicket #9, that is assured. When this trainer and jockey Joel Rosario get together, they can form a powerful consortium. This daughter of Lemon Drop Kid has major ALLW Co. experience under her saddle, and she has the ability to take over a race. The problem is that it remains to be seen whether she can actually deliver a win. I am taking a stand against.

In a spot like this one, I want to try and find a nicely-priced filly who has enough back class to contend, but who will be overlooked by the masses. Fractorization #10 comes out of a nice turf sire in The Factor, and John Kimmel has him 3rd off the proverbial layoff. What can be better? I think this one would like to get back to going a little shorter on the grass. Jose Ortiz just turned in a solid Belmont Meet, and he has the chance to once again ride this filly. The timing looks right, especially at 8/1 … My pick …

Wagering Recommendation: $100 Bankroll, Graduated Wager, WPS #10 ($10-W, $15-P, $75-S)


Race 8: Dirt, 6F, AOC45k, F&M 3+

Sprinting on the grass turns to sprinting on the dirt, and we have another group of New Yorkers heading out of the gate. Going 6F takes moxie up front because, as every handicapper knows, it is difficult to come from the back of the field. Trainer Danny Gargan knows how to train 1st off-the-claim, and he is sending Awesome Debate #8 into this AOC event. It could go well (looking at his numbers), but even with Luis Saez, I am not convinced that this is your winner.

Of course, the pool money isn’t going to neglect the coffer of Linda Rice’s Betsy Blue #7. A filly out of Tonalist, she looks special after winning at 125k “Non-G” at the end of May in Elmont. That was a 5-length victory that day, and Rice could use some more good news after the 2021 she has had. There is no question that she can win with this one, especially considering Irad Ortiz retains the mount. There is no way she ends up 4/1 come post time … more like 2/1, or even less so.

Looking for some value elsewhere, I have turned up a gem that could bring some major profits. Ray Handal has a pair entered in this race, but I particularly like the look of his higher odds entry. Diva Banker #4 is class elevating at just the right time, and I want to be there to bear witness. When Handal took over this 5-yr-old mare she was your average claimer. He made some changes, and got her ready to race in the late spring at Keeneland. It was a disappointing run in an OC10k in Lexington, which saw her finish dead last. Her conditioner, who by the way also owns her, recalibrated once again, and she was smart looking at Churchill Downs. Coming to Belmont, she then won an ALLW80k … is she ready for this limelight? I think so … as the crafty Dylan Davis climbs aboard once again. I am hoping this one drifts towards double-digits … could be interesting.

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box, 4/7/8


Race 9: Turf, 5½F, Coronation Cup S., $120k, 3F

The Sunday “Feature” is this turf sprint that will have your head spinning with the possibilities. They aren’t quite infinite, but it’s close.

When it comes to a top pick, and am pretty high on the exploits of Christophe Clement’s Bye Bye #5. This is my kind of runner … you get the Into Mischief bloodline … Joel Rosario’s aggressive riding style … and the best news of all, a cutback to 5½ F. Back at Gulfstream, this filly shone in a MSW55k, then her conditioner sent her into a G3 at Belmont. The result was a signature win. In the Wild Applause100k Rosario made the mistake to take her out on the frontend.

Whether or not Clement instructed him to do so or not is immaterial. I think she is much more suited to rating 2 or 3 off the speed … if she can be taken back, it might be essential for a score in the spot. Others like Honey Pants #3, Goin’ Good #4, and Illegal Smile #10 will stuff the ballot boxes, but do not sleep on those who possess clandestine form. Uncover something much better … That’s a great message … horse racing as an allegory.

Wagering Recommendation: $25/$50 WP #5


Enjoy some action from the SPA! The tradition at Saratoga Race Course marches on …

Horse Racing Results