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.
We are already into our 3rd week of the Meet, and have witnessed some major upsets and surprising results. As far as the Jockey and Trainer Standings go, Luis Saez and Jose Ortiz are neck and neck for the top spot. Both have acquitted themselves well in the "Non-G" contests. Trainer Chad Brown is rolling, like always, and he will look to add to his totals this week.
HorseRacing.net/us 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 Wednesday, be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Race 3: Turf, 1 Mile, New York Stallion Series S., $150k, 3
Some rain moved through Tuesday, but partly cloudy skies appear in our future for Wednesday. Expect some “give” on the sod today. The New York Stallion Series is a major investment by NYRA and the state of New York, and the events span all 3 courses on the circuit. Here is an Inner Turf battle that should offer a nice betting opportunity. Several alums from the previous NYS race 150k 7F on the turf at Belmont on the 19 June have drawn in here. Those include Dreamer’s Disease #1, It’s Gravy #2, Ocala Dream #4, Market Alert #5 (MTO), Step Dancer #6, Barrage #8, and Devious Mo #9. Of those, Tom Morley’s #4 looks obvious. That is not a reason to bet the colt out of Effinex, despite his 2 wins in-a-row. He had what looked to be a fairly easy trip, and that may not come together again. Junior Alvarado is not that fabulous a turf jockey, and there are some other ways to go in here that might offer much better value than 9/5.
If you are looking for a sleeper, then I think Kelly Breen’s #2 entry is the way to go. This is a gelding out of Freud that has a nice mix of back class (NYS experience at the 200k-level), and a nifty turf pedigree on the dam side (It’s Macaroni). Breen is a trainer who is already having a super SPA Meet, and he teams up with the always dangerous Joel Rosario. The jockey is in the hunt towards the top of the standings, and he can really turn up the heat this week with some command performances. Mr Amore Stables have a good one on their hands here, and the switch to the grass is a solid move, as far as I am concerned. Maybe this time around, Rosario can get a much cleaner trip because that 19 June spot was rough having to go 6-wide. If anyone can make the proper corrections, it’s this lawn rider.
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Cold, 2 w 4
Race 7: Turf, 1 1/16th, AOC100k, F&M 3+
We find ourselves in the middle of a salty AOC100k contest, which has all the turf conditioning powers that can be mustered. Shug McGaughey is here … Todd Pletcher … Mike Maker … Christophe Clement … and, of course, Chad Brown.
Of those, Shug sends out a pair of very differently priced runners in favorite Passing Out #5 and longer shot Hungry Kitten #3. The former is coming off a major break, having not been seen since 07 September last year at Kentucky Downs. Now a mare of 5-yrs, she is looking to round into form for what could be another run through Saratoga and KD. Out of Orb, the Stuart Janney and Phipps Stable homebred has talent, but what if her fitness is lacking? There is a good possibility she needs a race.
I actually like the “Kitten” option here because the #3 offers much better value, despite the bench sitting. If layoff runners are not the cat’s meow for you, you know the combo of Clement-Rosario will bring the goods, and they have the ability to take over a race such as this one with an entry like Speaktomeofsummer #4. This older filly is in form, though she has not performed well in the later stages of races when it counts. A 4th at Belmont in this type was off-the-bench, and then she landed in the middle of the Eatontown (G3) at Monmouth against Vigilantes Way, Valletta, and Counterparty Risk. Easing up on the class in this spot should suffice. One to consider …
As for Pletcher and Maker’s entry each we are talking about a couple of “stayers” who have nice experience. Lately, they haven’t impressed though … Pletcher’s filly, Sweet Melania #7, made a name for herself back in 2019. When she won the Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland, bettors swooned. Then, she finished 3rd to Sharing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf (G1). Ever since the Lake George (G3) last year, she just hasn’t found the right spot in which to win. Some of those races (QEII Cup, Sand Springs, and License Fee) were all difficult. Bettors are getting nervous, and when that happens, a good horse can be a great price. Pletcher is trusting his “go-to” turf jockey, Luis Saez, to get this one home. She could be an overlay if she drifts towards 6/1 or 7/1.
As for Maker’s play, I’llhandalthecash #8 … the 5-yr-old mare is well-bred, and she is trying to get on track, figuratively speaking. Two-back, in the Intercontinental (G3) during Belmont Stakes Week, it looked like she was going to have her way up front with Saez aboard. She lost steam, and she couldn’t hold the speed. Maybe the addition of Tyler Gaffalione will make a difference. The Point of Entry daughter, who comes by way of Dynaformer, has turf in her bloodline. This one is a big risk, but we are talking about Maker here.
Last but not least … Chad Brown comes in with a typical favorite in Tamahere #6. Out of celebrated grass progenitor Wootton Bassett (GB), she began her career on the mainland in Europe against some provincial competition. She then came to the U.S. and did what a number of Euro imports do for this trainer—win first out. The Sands Point (G2) at Belmont was her best performance to date, in my opinion. Sure, the effort in this past April’s Jenny Wiley (G1) was nice against Juliet Foxtrot—2nd. I am willing to stand up to her on the class drop out of the Just a Game (G1). Irad is a sniper in the saddle, especially late, so we should expect him to be what he always seems to be. Still, 8/5 is really short … against.
I am inclined to buck Brown’s entry, and I want to look for a much better price. You don’t jump off a runner like Pletcher’s #7 or Clement’s #4. Either of these fillies could improve in this spot, as they have a win each over this surface. I am leaning towards the latter, but this one could be a tote watch.
With some “cut” in the ground, this high-level ALLW Co. turf sprint should get our hearts racing on the Mellon Turf. When glancing through the Form, when you see trainer Wesley Ward, you sit up and take notice. He has a pair of runners who are coming out of long layoffs.
The first, Gypsy King #6, ran well last year at Ellis Park in a MSW46k event. His conditioner tried to up the ante by sending him to Kentucky Downs for one of those impressively funded 500k races. The gelding out of Summer Front led 2/3rds of the way before losing the lead, and any shot at hitting the board. Back in Ward’s Summer Camp, he is looking to take a step forward since running 5th back in October at Belmont. His stablemate that is rolling into this spot is Amsden #12, who happens to be a well-bred and pricey gelding out of American Pharoah. His tag was $350k, which was a good bit of change. He only ran a couple of times in 2020, and though he scored in his debut at Colonial Downs, the class hike in the Ontario Racing S. 135k was a decided miss. Though he continues to school well under the watchful eye of Ward, it is going to be tough to gauge his readiness in this bow.
Both these Wards are going to take money … seems inevitable … but I am not too enthusiastic about either of them. Jockey John Velazquez, who teamed so ably with this trainer during Keeneland, has just been ice cold during the SPA Meet. Until he gets hot, I would stay away from his mounts. A worthy play is the pairing of Luis Saez and Tom Amoss with the 3-yr-old colt out of Violence, Unitedandresolute #10. These Violence-types are excellent when it comes to sprinting, and I would back them when they have the right fitness level. It is always excellent to see Amoss make the trip to upstate New York this time of year, and I think this one can improve second-off a 60k “dash” back at Ellis Park. I want to pair him with the Ward runners, and also add Bill Mott’s Colton’s Command #2 into the mix. This colt out of Twirling Candy needs a cutback in distance race, and I am hoping Junior Alvarado can send him home at the proper time. He has the back class … now, it is time to run!
Race 9: Dirt, 6F, Honorable Miss Handicap (G2), F&M 3+
The Wednesday “Feature” is this G2 contest on the dirt for older females who are prone to sprinting on the dirt. What is most interesting here is that of these 9 entrants, all but a few, are on the make, having never tried “Graded” Co. Of those with “experience,” Godolphin’s Lake Avenue #4 and Lothenbach’s Bell’s the One #9 are clearly the most accomplished. Bill Mott has had the Tapit filly running in the Ruffian (G2) and Bed ‘O Roses (G2) most recently. Those results were not too shabby in that the first was a 4th place finish and the last one, a 2nd. She only lost that G3 by a neck to Estilo Talentoso.
While Neil Pessin’s mare “Bell” ran in a 110k contest last out at Churchill, the seasoned daughter of Majesticperfection, has superb back class. She was awfully good in 2020, and she comes to Saratoga ready to notch a score. Travelling with her regular jock, Corey Lanerie, he knows this one like the back of his hand. It should be, not an easy “win,” but her abilities are sound in this particular Grade 2. I think she has the moxie to best Mott’s entry.
Wagering Recommendation: $25/$50 WP #9
Enjoy some action from the SPA! The tradition at Saratoga Race Course marches on …