Saratoga Thursday Picks & Betting Analysis for August 19: Dirt Edition

Known affectionally as 'The SPA,' Saratoga has yet another card that is sure to bring us some of the best that North American racing has to offer. Take a look at our selections for this Thursday!
Known affectionally as "The SPA," Saratoga has yet another card that is sure to bring us some of the best that North American racing has to offer. Take a look at our selections for this Thursday!

Saratoga rolls on, as Travers Week is right around the corner ... The stretch run 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 Thursday be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Horse Racing Picks

Race 4: Dirt, 1 1/8th, ALLW103k, F&M 3+

As mentioned, with the Saratoga grass courses taking significant moisture during the week, it will be touch-and-go to see if we are looking at an off-track day. What is for sure is that significant scratches may be headed our way. Focusing on the MT, we begin with this high-level ALLW Co. race. These have become the home of favorites, but that doesn’t mean you could not get a price horse home. In here, if you are after the latter, then you are going to have to take a swing at Bill Mott’s More Moonshine #5, the presumptive favorite. This filly out of the now passed on Malibu Moon has 1 race under her. But she broke her maiden in fine style with a low 90s speed fig. That turned some heads, and got people thinking about her next race. Well, here it is … She will be stretching out, and that makes this spot a major distance test for Jose Ortiz. How do you modulate her speed? She looks like she can come from off of it, maybe that is a distinct advantage. Then again, if the track is wet, or dare we say sealed, what if it is favoring those up front?

Keeping that in mind, I want to go after someone with some tasty-looking odds, and not a runner that is 1/1. I am going to tempt fate, and the better angels … give me Dale Romans’ Family Time #6. I might be one of the only handicappers in all of America who discusses this trainer’s poor record outside of Churchill Downs, and then turns around and picks him. I just keep thinking that the time will come when I am right. To paraphrase, a few good "rationalizations helps you get through the day," is what Goldblum said in The Big Chill … didn’t he? Still, this filly out of Not This Time is not devoid of promise. She already ran at Saratoga on a wet track at this specific distance. The fact that she draws Tyler Gaffalione is superb. His work continues to be impressive. I think she is fast and fit enough to keep up with this crowd. And her price? Well, that will for sure be double-digits as bettors look elsewhere. Romans has strengths, and I want to be there when he gets his 1st SPA win of the Meet.

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


Race 5: Dirt, 6½F, MSW100k, 3F

Out of these magnificent 7 fillies, is there a chance that Silver Strand #5 (from the barn of Todd Pletcher) can lose in this her first “go” in a live race? If you believe that, then I would urge you to look elsewhere. Nothing is for sure when we are talking about Thoroughbreds, and there are 6 others that will be contesting this sprint. Her price tag speaks to winning ($575k), and that is what sons and daughters of Frosted are supposed to do. But I like contrarian-thinking when it comes to this type of business.

Instead, of backing a 9/5, let’s look more closely at Horacio DePaz’s Shalimar Gardens #3. Here is a filly that will probably hover around 7/2, and has Jose Ortiz at the controls. You should not be too critical of her because she was awfully good in her debut at Belmont. No, she didn’t win, but her 3rd place was only by a neck in what was a blanket finish. The 2nd place horse in that MSW75k has already come back with a score … so it looks like DePaz has this one pointed towards a win. He is quietly having a good Meet with a record of 15/3:2:3. Using this one on top, and in a variety of other exotics, might be a splendid idea.

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Cold, 3 w 5


Race 6: Dirt, 6F, MSW85k, 3+, NY Breds

The NY State breds will be on display in Races 6 and 9 … this sprint is a chance for the boys to strut their stuff going 6F … as fast as can be. Leading off this bunch is a Fenway #6 who comes from the barn of one Mr. Bob Baffert. The SoCal trainer had to fight it out in the courts just to be here at a NYRA track. He made it (not sure how much the retainer was …), but what we do know is that his reputation, his legacy, is on the line. Of course, this isn’t the Travers (G1), but it is indicative of the current temperature. In other words, how will bettors respond? Will they back this runner, or try to take a shot against the colt. Out of Into Mischief, he is owned by the celebrated group of Starlight, Madaket,, and already has 4 runs under him. None of those resulted in wins at Santa Anita back in the spring, and it appears he spent the intermediary training well. I am not sure that he deserves to be 7/5 when this one goes off … there seems little value here.

Trying to find an antidote to Baffert’s entry, you might think about the Baker Barn’s Gold Panda #2. The gelding is 6/5 on the M/L, so the only hope here is that he drifts upwards. That might happen given Baffert’s notoriety. Baker has this one coming off a tepid performance at Belmont on debut. The son of Goldencents was a distant 3rd in that spot, and it is hard to say for sure whether he can improve off that performance. I am not terribly bullish on either of these supposed “top selections,” so that makes me what a long shot. I found a good’en in Mark Hennig’s Seizer #1 … this one is a first-time starter, and though that has perils associated with it, I like a speedster on the dirt that is breaking from the rail. This is the one time where inexperience is not a detriment for this son of Carpe Diem … Latin indeed.

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box, 1/2/6


Race 9: Dirt, 6½F, Union Avenue Handicap, $100k, F&M 3+, NY Breds

The Thursday spotlight is shinning brightly on this “Non-G” 100k event. It pits a massive underlay up against 5 others who are going to try and dethrone him from up high on the tote. I am not sure anyone can beat Sadie Lady #1, but they will try. No matter what occurs in this race, what is for certain is that trainer Rob Atras continues to have a superb Meet. He just is churning out runners who are competitive in a variety of races. With a record of 27/9-2-0, his 33% clip is nicely done. The reason his 5-yr-old mare is burning up the form is her speed figs, especially during the 1st 2/3rds of races are impressive. This daughter of Freud is going to have everyone stretched out, and chasing her, if they do not stay close.

Looking through the rest of this group, if there is anyone that can keep pace with her, it might be Ray Handal’s filly out of Constitution. This “Irish” #3 is quick, and she better be, up against Atras’ roller. I think it is going to be absolutely essential that she makes the lead. If there was one jockey in America that I could pick to take on this aggressive role, then it would be Joel Rosario. He can handle the assignment rather easily, if his mount can respond. If you think this team can make it happen, then she is a definite “win” bet. If you do not, then it is going to be over rather quickly. Give me Rosario … I will take my chances with him.

Wagering Recommendation: $50 W #3


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

Horse Racing Results