Once again, the majority of this entry will probably be written from my phone as I drive up to Saratoga this morning for the Woodward day card. I apologize in advance for any nonsensical phrasing or spelling mistakes. It’s a great card so enjoy this last Saturday of the meet and good luck!
Saratoga, Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for two year-olds
Danaus (#3) has plenty of pedigree to take to the grass and should offer better value than many of his less experienced rivals in this race. His sire, Ambassador, is probably not known to most racing fans. He was a Group 2 winner in Germany and is by Acatenango, one of the great German racehorses and sires of the past century. He’s also better know to American fans as the damsire of Animal Kingdom. Danaus is brought in by the same connections who campaigned Quinzieme Monarque to a first time turf win at Belmont last season before being shipped to Germany for a run at the German Derby. I think this horse may be well meant today.
$10 Win 3 [off the turf]
Saratoga, Race 4: Optional Claiming $35,000/N1X at 1 3/8 miles on the turf
There’s not much speed in this race, which is a major concern since it’s very hard to predict who will actually play out to be the speed. I’ve gone with Comes the Dream (#10) as my top selection. He ran just a week ago on the Travers undercard in a race that did not feature enough pace for him to close into. He also likely wants to run farther than that and he gets a chance to use his stamina today. Rajiv Maragh would be wise to send him to the front from his outside post because I think he might be quick enough to clear this field.
I also give a chance to Newfound Zapper (#3) who really has not gotten a chance to do much running as a three year-old but has two year-old form that would make him competitive here if he can build on it. There are some stamina influences on his dams side to suggest this distance might agree with him. He’s a bit more of a wild card but you’re certain to get a price on him.
[UPDATE 2:27 pm] – I don’t usually do this but I’m adding an in-progress wager on “Horse to Watch” Idle American (#4).
$10 Win 4
$15 Win 10 [off the turf] $10 Win 3 [off the turf]
Saratoga, Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at seven furlongs for two year-olds
Grand Arrival (#2) was added to my “Horses to Watch” list after his debut, which was a very solid initial outing (replay). He broke with the field, but was immediately slammed from both sides and forced to steady out to last place. Rosie Napravnik didn’t panic but did allow him to run up past the stragglers to regain contact with the field. Running quite professionally, Grand Arrival handily moved up into sixth place midway around the turn and waited for Rosie to push the button coming to the top of the stretch. Nothing opened up immediately in front of her so she angled Grand Arrival five-wide coming off the turn to mount a late rally. Unfortunatley Big Sugar Soda, who will reappear in Monday’s Hopeful (G1), had plenty left and drew off to an impressive score, but I liked the way that Grand Arrival kept on through the stretch to get up for third. I felt that he made two distinct moves during the race after his rough start and that signals to me that he has some ability. His pedigree suggests that more distance should help and he gets just that today. With a cleaner break he should be able to stalk the pace and run away from these in the stretch.
BEST BET: $15 Win 2 (WINNER; Payout: $37.50)
Saratoga, Race 8: The Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
Im not going to spend too much time talking about this one. Silver Max (#7) is the lone speed, but I think Turallure (#3) is finally rounding back into form and may be a threat with his best effort. The turf condition is a question.
$10 Exacta 7-3
$10 Win 3
Saratoga, Race 10: The Woodward Stakes (G1) at 1 1/8 miles
This race was weakened a bit by the defection of Cross Traffic and the scratch of Fort Larned, but we still have a good field on our hands. Paynter and Mucho Macho Man now figure to contest the pace but I’m not willing to concede the race to those two for that reason. Successful Dan showed the ability to close into a relatively slow pace in the Whitney and Flat Out can certainly stay closer if need be.
I’ve picked Flat Out (#4) because I think he’s returned better than ever at age seven. The old Flat Out was not supposed to run as well as he did in those two one-mile races at Belmont earlier this summer. He outgamed Cross Traffic in the stretch of the Westchester and then would have finished much closer in the Met Mile if not for a bad decision by Junior Alvarado in the far turn. His most recent performance in the Suburban really encouraged me because he was able to sit just off a slow pace and take over when Junior asked him to go. Physically, he’s looked like a monster this year and he’s run well enough at Saratoga in the past to suggest that it might be at least his second favorite racetrack. I think he’s the most likely winner and with Paynter in the race he probably won’t go favored.
$15 Win 4