Sunday, July 20
Race 3: Optional Claiming $80,000/N3X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
1 – Mariel N Kathy
I expect that Gathering and Scampering will attract plenty of attention as they drop out of the New York (G2), but let’s be honest: beyond Riposte and Tannery, the rest of that field was hardly graded stakes quality. I recognize that they can win, but their prior races do not justify them being much shorter prices than my top selection.
MARIEL N KATHY (#1) has run races that make her competitive with this field and she has a clear pace advantage. Perhaps it appears that she has not been quite as effective as a four year-old, but she had significant trouble in her last race. After breaking a step slowly, John Velazquez made a tactical error by not forcing his way to the front and she ended up getting caught in a pocket behind slow fractions. When the horses in front of her began to fade coming to the top of the stretch, she was trapped in behind them and was basically shuffled out of the race.
Today should be a different story. Mariel N Kathy can sail to the front on an uncontested lead and should take this field wire-to-wire. I’ll bet her to win and will also use her in the exacta with Maximova (#6), who did not get the right trip last time when too keen off the layoff. If Maximova sits back and makes one run, she may be able to use her electrifying turn of foot to overcome a likely slow pace. They are the two that I want to use in here.
$15 Win 1
$5 Exacta Box 1,6
Race 6: Claiming $25,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
6 – Mia Poppy
I would love MIA POPPY (#6) in this spot if Beeliner were not entered just to his outside. Mia Poppy has run much better than it appears in each of his last two starts. Both times he was cooked in extremely swift paces, and last time actually ran on valiantly in a race that totally collapsed. John Velazquez needs to be assertive early here and discourage Jose Ortiz on Beeliner from going forward to challenge him for the front. If that scenario plays out, I believe that Mia Poppy is good enough to wire this field. At what should be a fair price, I’ll take my chances and hope for the best.
$10 Win 6
$2 Exacta 2,3,9 with 6
Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf
4 – Ireland’s Eye
Of the horses who have already raced on turf, Eternal Bull is the clear choice after setting a fast pace that fell apart going six furlongs at Belmont. The problem with him is that the maiden race he’s exiting was not that strong. This race may not have drawn the toughest field either, but I’m inclined to look elsewhere for a price. IRELAND’S EYE (#4) ran like a horse that needed a start in his first race. He showed good speed from the inside, but seemed to get discouraged when horses surrounded him coming to the top of the stretch, and showed a lot of greenness as he backed up through the pack. He was given time since then, gets Lasix, and has been working very well in the interim. Cowtown Cat is not the strongest turf sire, but his dam did earn her only win on the turf, so perhaps Ireland’s Eye will handle it. At what should be a big price, I’ll take a shot.
$10 Win 4
Race 8: Optional Claiming $40,000/N2X at 1 1/8 miles for NY-breds
7 – Beautyinthepulpit
I know that his current form looks suspect, but BEAUTYINTHEPULPIT (#7) has been facing much, much tougher fields than this one. He’s just not going to be competitive against top New York-breds like Zivo, Big Business, Sailmate, and Escapefromreality. His connections seem to have finally realized that, and they’re dropping him into this realistic spot for a $40,000 tag. His two-turn races are actually some of his bettor efforts, so I’m not concerned about the mile and an eighth. If he can get back to the races he was running in January and February, he’s going to win this race.
What makes Beautyinthepulpit such a strong selection for me is that I just don’t trust the other runners. Cousin Michael and Fiona’s Hero are questionable at this distance. Go Get the Basil has been awful so far this year and may not be able to run anymore. Sir Leslie and Ultimate Empire are certainly good enough to win, but I cannot bet the rider of Sir Leslie, and Ultimate Empire has trouble getting to the winner’s circle. Beautyinthepulpit is a great bet at his morning line price of 5-1.
$15 Win 7 (Payout: $118.50)
Race 9: Allowance N1X at 1 3/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
11 – Crown Queen
9 – Princess Mara
10 – Cloture
12 – Fizzy Pink
CROWN QUEEN (#11) has shown a lot of promise in her first three starts and is better than her printed past performances suggest. She was against a turf rail bias in her debut, and acted up badly in her second start. Last time, she didn’t beat much, but she won in hand as much the best horse. This stretch-out to a mile and three-sixteenths should agree with her, since she is a half-sister to ten-furlong specialist Royal Delta.
Rather than simply bet Crown Queen to win, I’m going to play around with a couple of exactas. I’m not that interested in some horses who are going to take money here, like Silky and Kitten’s Queen, who both put in subpar efforts last time, but I do like some other horses that are drawn towards the outside.
Princess Mara (#9) actually ran a pretty big race last time setting a solid pace at a distance that is too far for her. She’s the controlling speed again today and may be able to hang on for a large chunk of the purse. Cloture (#10) feels like an improving horse for Shug, and was much the best when she broke her maiden last time, rallying from last in a slowly-paced race. Fizzy Pink (#12) won’t offer much value, but she has run decently in her two races in this country and may just want to go farther than a flat mile. I’ll use all three of these runners over and under my top selection in the exacta.
$10 Exacta 11 with 9,10,12
$5 Exacta 9,10,12 with 11
Race 10: The Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at 1 1/8 miles for three year-old fillies
5 – America
I recognize that Unbridled Forever is the horse to beat, but I don’t think she’s any kind of cinch in this race. I know that she finished third in two very important races, but she lost the Kentucky Oaks by ten lengths, and was no match for Sweet Reason in the Acorn. I get the impression that a mile and an eighth might be stretching it a bit for her and that she prefers distances of seven furlongs to a mile. At what should be a short price, I’m going to try to beat her.
Stopchargingmaria can win, but she’s gotten very good trips in her two mile and an eighth victories. I don’t think there’s going to be much difference in price between she and Unbridled Forever, and the latter is the better horse.
I know I’m being perhaps foolishly bold in this strong stance I’m taking, but I love AMERICA (#5) in this spot. This is a filly who wants to run all day and the taxing mile and an eighth at Saratoga should really suit her. I also think there’s the possibility that she could be the main speed today, especially after being put to a hard chase last time through some very quick fractions. In that Mother Goose, sprinting type Princess Violet opened up on the turn, but America never gave up and continued to run on through the wire, nearly nailing that one for second. Going back to the Black-Eyed Susan, while Stopchargingmaria soundly defeated her that day, America did not get the right trip after being squeezed back at the start and having to race in traffic in a bunched field.
I agree that America has, as of yet, not delivered on her early promise, but this is not the strongest Grade 1 and I don’t think there’s much difference in quality between she and the two favorites. At what should be an enticing price, I believe that today could be the day that she breaks through.
$20 Win 5
Race 11: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-breds
5 – Born in Brooklyn
Hushhushmushmush (#11) is the horse to beat as he drops out of maiden special weight company, but I see another horse who is also essentially dropping in class out of a maiden special weight race.
BORN IN BROOKLYN (#5) put in a decent effort in his maiden special weight turf debut at Aqueduct, beating half the field when not able to make a late impact in a slowly paced race. He did drop in class last time, but he did not have a fair chance that day. The chart callers totally missed it, but coming to the quarter pole that day, Born in Brooklyn was squeezed back and checked hard, losing all his momentum. It took him a while to regather himself, but he did gallop out well after the wire. He’s probably going to be ignored on the board, but this horse has plenty of turf pedigree and I believe that we’ve yet to see the best of him.
$10 Win 5
$5 Exacta Box 5,11