Yesterday was an excellent day of racing but a frustrating day of wagering. I had a decent winner early in the day (Devoted Wildcat), but I can’t help but feel like I should have been a winner in at least two of the three stakes. Dominus dominated the Bernard Baruch on the front end, but Sky Blazer, the horse I used him with was a terribly unlucky third. I realize he created his own trouble, but after breaking slowly he ran on so well that I have to think he would have been at least second if he’d been able to secure his usual stalking trip. Then in the Woodward, I needed Mucho Macho Man to win since I had singled him in a few multi-race wagers and while this one was a bit more subtle, he certainly had a tougher trip than the winner. To Honor and Serve outgamed the favorite in the stretch, but earlier in the race Mucho Macho Man was stuck down on the rail and could not extricate himself from that spot until just slightly too late. Nevertheless they were exciting races and all of the winners (including Emcee) look like major players in their respective divisions down the road.
As for today, while I don’t have a strong opinion in the Spinaway, although I would like to see Teen Pauline turn out to be special since I was at the Spa for her debut and her potential is limitless. Meanwhile there are plenty of other bettable races on the card:
Race 2: Maiden special weight at seven furlongs
Unless one of the firsters gets seriously bet down in here, I wouldn’t say that I’m too scared of the likely favorites, Lucky Friend and Liquid Lunch. Instead I’m interested in another one of the horses with experience. Rossweisse (#3) was in the same live maiden race that Lucky Friend comes out of, which was won by Teen Pauline, the favorite in today’s Spinaway Stakes. She only finished eight lengths behind that rival and had significantly more trouble. After breaking well and contesting the pace for about a furlong, she was squeeze back as the horses outside of her angled towards the inside for the run into the far turn. She appeared to take a bad step and lost all her momentum. When a race is only five furlongs and the winner sets a track record it probably isn’t too surprising that an inexperienced two year-old would be eliminated by an incident such as that. Today Lukas gives her Lasix for the first time and perhaps she can sustain that early speed that she showed last time. The price should be right.
$10 Win 3
Race 4: Maiden claiming $65,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
I added Twigazuri Strait (#8) to my “Horses to Watch” list after he was severely restrained behind a very slow pace last time. The horses that were running first, second, and third early in the running that day finished exactly that way under the wire. Twigazuri Strait was the only one that made up any significant ground in the stretch despite passing only one horse. I know that Native Wave and Barrymore finished ahead of him that day, but that was due to the dynamics of the race. Today, the duo of Relentless Road and Espiritu Libre should ensure a swift pace, so I expect Twigazuri Strait to take full advantage under new jockey John Velazquez.
$15 Win 8
Race 7: Starter Optional claiming $50,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
Mykindofladyfriend (#6) is the new face in this spot and at first glance it might be hard to decide exactly what to make of her chances. She made her Saratoga debut only eight days ago when finishing last in the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2). She was sent off at 46-1 that day put should have been about five times that price given the quality of that field. Before that she had been running in claiming and allowance races at Parx and Delaware. However, I recognize a couple of names from her past performances that might give some indication of her ability. On June 9th she was entered in a $35,000 claiming event versus males and ran a huge race at almost 20-1 to just miss behind Mikoshi. I’m mildly familiar with that horse and know that he is better than any filly or mare in this race. Going back a bit further to April 27th at Tampa, Mykindofladyfriend finished just a length behind Presumptive, who has since come back to run two back up races here at the Spa for trainer Roy Lerman and would also destroy this field. I think Mykindofladyfriend definitely stacks up with this field class-wise and is tops on the Beyer scale. Despite all of that, she is 15-1 on the morning line. I don’t expect to get quite that price, but I’ll definitely be playing her.
$10 Win 6
Race 8: NY-bred Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
This pick may be a bit of a stretch, but I think Bonatini (#4) has a chance to upset in her second try on the turf. I have to stay faithful because I picked her last time at 33-1 and came up empty handed when she just barely missed getting into the exacta while finishing third losing the race by just three-quarters of a length. That race was three months ago, but she has worked steadily since with her last three drills coming on the turf course. Her dam was best running over turf and her pedigree suggests that she should want more ground than the seven furlongs she got last time. She needs to run the best race of her life, but perhaps she is finally getting to do what she really wants today.
$5 Win 4
Race 9: The Saranac Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf
It’s hard not to think that this race is going to come apart late. King Kreesa is a very good horse, but he is sure to receive plenty of early pressure from Excaper, Spring to the Sky, and Skyring. The obvious closer is Lucky Chappy (#1) who is proven at this level and showed no ill effects from his trip to Dubai when a closing second last time behind Silver Max. He can certainly win, but I will also be using the other closer in the race, Shkspeare Shaliyah (#7), whose good form is a bit obscured by some subpar performances earlier this year and will be a much bigger price. Shkspeare Shaliyah showed some real promise at the Spa last year when running third behind Daddy Nose Best in his debut after breaking slowly. He then built upon that promise at Belmont by breaking his maiden and stepping up to take the Pilgrim Stakes (G3). Not much has gone right since then, however, as he has finished off the board in his last six races. But there is some reason to believe that he is rounding back into form. Two races ago, in the London Company Stakes, he was rated well off an extremely slow pace set by King Kreesa and actually put in a good stretch run to just miss hitting the board. Then last time, despite having shown previously that he wants no part of dirt racing, he actually ran a credible race in the off-the-turf Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) closing to finish fourth beaten just over five lengths. On the Beyer scale, that was the best race of his life and I am certain that he is a much, much better turf horse, so perhaps he is just taking a step forward and is ready to once again compete with graded stakes competition. I’ll use him to win and in the exacta with Lucky Chappy.
BEST BET OF THE DAY: $10 WIN 7 // $5 EXACTA BOX 1-7