Saturday, August 30
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at seven furlongs for two year-olds
5 – Frammento
I’m slightly against the horses that have run here. These seven furlong maiden races at the end of the Saratoga meet typically come up loaded with talent. Da Jenius, Two Weeks Off, and Evolution have all run well, but I wonder how much any of them will improve today, and I do think they all need to improve a bit to win what typically is a very tough race.
Obviously there’s some buzz about Gold Shield (#6), but I’m just as interested in FRAMMENTO (#5) at a more generous price. I loved the look of his sales workout in 10 flat, he’s bred to be precocious, and he has reportedly been working well for this race. I don’t usually bother betting on first time starters, but I get the feeling that these two can run.
$10 Win 5
$5 Exacta Box 5,6
Race 3: Optional Claiming $80,000/N3X at one mile on the turf
5 – Mshawish
3 – Set the Sail
I’ll be very surprised if MSHAWISH (#5) loses this race. His European and Dubai form is rock solid, and suggests that he can be a Grade 1-level performer in this country. His U.S. debut looks disappointing on the surface, but the truth is that he ran off with Joe Bravo when he failed to get cover early, and never really had a chance thereafter. He is supposed to win this race, but there won’t be much value in the win pool, so I’ll try to get my second choice, Set the Sail (#3) to complete the exacta.
Set the Sail has been a little disappointing this year, but I don’t think he was really comfortable trying to make a run down inside last time, so I wouldn’t hold that effort against him. He’s reportedly been training very well for this race, and he’s done some of his best running up here in the past.
$10 Exacta 5-3
Race 5: The Bernard Baruch (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
10 – Sky Blazer
Of course I have respect for Wise Dan (#4), but I do think you have to be at least a little skeptical that we’ll see the best of him today. His last race was one of his worst efforts in years, and things have not gone perfectly since then, to say the least. I also think he’s put into a difficult position here with the prospect of a very fast pace initiated by the run-off Five Iron (#8). Five Iron is a talented horse and a threat to win, and it’s not as if he needs any prompting to set a fast pace, but the presence of Sayaad certainly doesn’t help his cause.
Wise Dan has been known to be keen early, especially off layoffs, and if he ends up getting pulled forward into chasing a fast pace, he could be vulnerable late. I’m hoping that’s the case, and that SKY BLAZER (#10) can come running late. Sky Blazer has often been unlucky as he rarely gets a fair pace to run into, but that should not be the case today. I don’t know that he’s quite good enough, but I have to take a shot with him at what should be a big price.
$15 Win 10
$10 Exacta 4-10
$2 Exacta 8-10
Race 6: Starter Allowance $25,000 at seven furlongs
4 – Regulus
11 – Non Stop
REGULUS (#4) has run very well in each of his last two starts despite having to track hot paces. He figures to be sent to the front here from his inside post position, and as long as he is able to hold his position inside, I think he’s a very likely winner. I also want to use NON STOP (#11), who I’ve been a fan of, and has run many races that would make him formidable if he can recapture his best form.
I’ll be betting both to win, and will use them in an exacta with the very logical Prosecution (#10), who turns back in distance.
$15 Win 4
$10 Win 11
$2 Exacta Box 4,10,11
Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at one mile on the turf for fillies and mares
12 – Place Card
This is a very difficult race with a lot of things going on. There are many horses that you can make a case for, but I have to take a shot with PLACE CARD (#12), who I liked last time, when she found herself too far back early behind a slow pace. She actually finished up decently and should be able to do better here with a fast horse like Angel Choir to keep things honest early. The post position isn’t ideal, but she will be a price.
$10 Win 12
Race 8: The Prioress (G2) at six furlongs for three year-old fillies
2 – Stonetastic
This race is full of horses that want to be forwardly placed, though not many are confirmed frontrunners. I actually only see one true frontrunner: STONETASTIC (#2). I believe that she can fight her way to the front from her inside post position, and if she runs as well as she did in her return at Monmouth, she’ll be awfully tough to catch. Miss Behavior (#6) is the main threat, but I’m going to hope Stonetastic takes them all the way at a price.
$15 Win 2 (Payout: $97.50)
$5 Exacta Box 2,6 (Payout: $157.50)
Race 9: Allowance N1X at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
1 – Orient Harbor
ORIENT HARBOR (#1) has really stepped up her game at this meet, and should be tough to hold off if she runs as well as she did last time. She should get plenty of pace to run into here and the only thing that could possibly stop her from being a major factor is the trip, which is always key in these turf sprints, especially with a filly breaking from the rail.
$15 Win 1
Race 10: The Forego (G1) at seven furlongs
8 – Clearly Now
3 – Vyjack
5 – Sensational Slam
CLEARLY NOW (#8) put in one of the most impressive performances of the entire year in winning the Belmont Sprint Championship (G3) last time. If he can get away with a relatively clean break today, and runs back to that performance, he simply cannot be beaten. And in the event that he does come away from the start a step slowly, the outside post position should work to his advantage.
He won’t offer much value as the favorite, but I will use him over a couple of closers that should be picking up the pieces late, especially if the race falls apart late behind Clearly Now. Vyjack (#3) broke slowly in the Vanderbilt, but put in a decent effort thereafter, and should be able to do better as he gets back to his preferred distance of seven furlongs. I will also use Sensational Slam (#5), who is admittedly a cut below these Grade 1 performers, but always seems to run his race and will be coming late if he gets some pace to run into.
$25 Win 8
$5 Exacta 8 with 3,5
Race 11: The Woodward (G1) at 1 1/8 miles
2 – Itsmyluckyday
I don’t believe that the connections of ITSMYLUCKYDAY (#2) are going to let Moreno steal this one on the front end. They’re adding blinkers today and Eddie Plesa has suggested in his pre-race quotes that if no one else shows initiative, they are comfortable having Itsmyluckyday do the dirty work. Itsmyluckyday proved in the Whitney that he is every bit as good as Moreno, and I believe that he can turn the tables today with an aggressive ride.
I just don’t think Moreno is the sort of horse that you’re supposed to bet as the favorite. He was a good play at 10-1 in the Whitney given the projected pace scenario, but today things are supposed to go differently in the early stages.
I’m picking Itsmyluckyday on top, but I also want to use him with Zivo (#6), since I want to be covered in the event that Itsmyluckyday wins his battle with Moreno, but leaves himself vulnerable to a closer. Zivo has made giant strides since the winter, and I think he’s the most reliable late runner.
$20 Win 2 (Payout: $77.00)
$5 Exacta Box 2,6
Race 12: Allowance N1X at 1 3/16 miles on the turf
8 – Iron Power
I picked IRON POWER (#8) last time, but even I was a little surprised at how well he ran. I thought that the distance might be a stretch for him, but that did not prove to be the case, as he participated in a strong pace, and was still fighting it out to the wire with the promising Storm. Today, the other speed in the race, Mack Miller, drew inside of Iron Power, so Irad Ortiz should have some options leaving the gate.
European import Belisarius may be the best horse in here, but horses making their initials starts in the U.S. for Bill Mott often need a race. I’m taking Iron Power, who will be a bettable price at anything above 3-1.
$15 Win 8