Saturday, October 18
Race 2: The Sleepy Hollow at one mile for NY-bred two year-olds
7 – Good Luck Gus
If Ostrolenka runs back to his maiden score, he’ll be very tough to beat, but I’m dubious that he’ll be able to match that effort in this spot. That day he was allowed to walk on the lead while riding a good rail and today he is going to have to contend with the quick Breakin the Fever up front. He may very well be able to rate and win, but at what should be a fairly short price, he’s not the kind of horse I want to bet.
I’m taking GOOD LUCK GUS (#7) on top. This horse really seemed to wake up with the blinkers added last time, showing much-improved early speed before still putting in his typical strong stretch run. I love the way he’s improved with every start and think he’s drawn well today outside of the other speed types. He’s bred to get this distance and would be a fair price at 3/1 or higher.
$15 Win 7
Race 3: The Maid of the Mist at one mile for NY-bred two year-old fillies
5 – Sweetpollypurebrd
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Quezon and Temper Mint Patty have run the two fastest races, but I think it would be a mistake to hone in too much on these two runners based solely on their fast wet track wins. Temper Mint Patty (#9) benefited from a perfect trip in her debut and was able to just get up over My Super Nova, who she faced again in the Joseph A. Gimma. Perhaps Temper Mint Patty actually did improve significantly out of her debut effort, but she also got another dream setup, sneaking through on a very good rail before pulling away from her distance-challenged rivals late. She’s going to be a very short price today, but I want to see her do it again before hailing her a rising New York-bred star. Quezon (#6) has only started once, but it was a very good effort. My concern with her is the stretch-out in distance, since her dam was primarily a sprinter.
Perhaps I’m reaching a bit, but I want to take a small shot with SWEETPOLLYPUREBRD (#5). I know that she looks slower on paper, but what intrigues me is her pedigree for this stretch-out in distance. Being by Parading out of a Personal Flag mare, she has solid Phipps-family stamina breeding on both sides of her pedigree. (As her name would suggest, Sweetpollypurebrd is actually inbred through full-siblings Personal Ensign, the 3rd dam of Parading, and Personal Flag.) Her dam, Personal Girl, has produced a number of solid racehorses in her career as a broodmare, and the vast majority of them have preferred going long on the dirt. That list is topped by 11-time dirt route winner Girard and Longley, a minor stakes winning router. Additionally, Sweetpollypurebrd’s sire, Parading, was best at a mile and an eighth, so there’s overwhelming evidence that she should improve as the distances get longer.
Sweetpollypurebrd was forced to show speed from an inside post last time, but she should have more options today being drawn towards the middle of the pack, especially with other speed types breaking on both sides of her. I suspect that some of her main rivals may have trouble getting this mile distance today, so I’ll rely on her to see out the trip at at decent price.
$10 Win 5
$5 Exacta 6,9 with 5
Race 4: The Mohawk at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-breds
(3 – King Kreesa)
(9 – Lubash)
I won’t be placing a wager on this race, but as always, I’m looking forward to seeing these two New York-bred stars battle it out. Lubash has been in career form this year, but King Kreesa appears to have a significant pace advantage today as he shortens back up to a more appropriate distance. I’d have to give him the slight edge.
Race 5: The Iroquois at 6 1/2 furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
8 – La Verdad
4 – Willet
2 – Make the Moment
Prior to handicapping this race, I thought there was a good chance that I’d be against La Verdad, but after watching back the Gallant Bloom and taking a closer look at the other races run that day, I’ve changed my tune. The surface was just not as speed-favoring or rail-biased as I had originally thought, and the more I analyze that race, the more impressed I am by what La Verdad was able to accomplish. The track was playing on the quick side, but you just don’t see horses run sub-44 fractions at Belmont very often. Whether you believe she was with the racetrack or not that day, she did all the hard work and totally gutted the other speed types in that race. Artemis Agrotera did finish well after going wide the entire way while Willet sat an absolutely perfect trip, riding the rail around the turn before angling out in the stretch. My feeling is that if there was a day that Willet was supposed to beat La Verdad, that was it.
There’s little doubt in my mind that LA VERDAD (#8) ran the superior race to Willet last time and I’m beginning to think it’s possible that she just didn’t care for Saratoga, because she’s been awesome before and since those two subpar efforts upstate. I’m obviously not expecting a very big price on this winner, but a winner I think she will be. I’ll use Willet directly underneath her and will try to get Make the Moment to clunk up for third and complete a logical trifecta.
$15 Exacta 8-4 (Payout: $43.50)
$10 Trifecta 8-4-2
Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at one mile on the turf for NY-bred two year-olds
13 – Foxhall Drive
1 – Scooby Dude
I may have to alter my selections slightly after scratches, but if FOXHALL DRIVE (#13) draws into this race, I want him on top. He put in a huge effort in his debut, battling through quick fractions with one other speed horse that he easily put away and was ultimately eased across the line. That maiden race was dominated by horses that rallied from the back of the pack, and Foxhall Drive was the only one to survive the pace and still be around at the finish. Furthermore, that was probably a tougher field than the races that some others are coming out of. If Foxhall Drive merely repeats that effort, I think he’ll find himself in the winner’s circle today.
The other horse that I want to use is SCOOBY DUDE (#1). He got a ridiculous ride in his debut, making an insane premature move exiting the backstretch and being ridden in a full drive from the three-eighths pole home. He actually ran a spectacular race to finish fifth, beaten just over three lengths. He was mildly disappointing last time, but in fairness, that was likely due to his poor post position. The race just never set up for him after he found himself at the back of the pack behind slow fractions. He drew a much better post today, and if his rider can keep his cool and ride him more patiently, I think he’ll have an excellent chance at a price.
I also wouldn’t totally dismiss Gear Jammer (#12), who was forced to show speed from the rail last time, but may not actually want to run that way. Scooby Dude forced him to make his move earlier than he would have preferred, and he, too, would benefit from a more patient ride. He’ll be in my play somewhere.
$20 Win 13
$15 Win 1
$2 Exacta Box 1,12,13
Race 7: The Empire Distaff at 1 1/16 miles for NY-bred fillies and mares
1 – Carameaway/Dreaming of Cara
The first horse that needs to be discussed is Princess Violet. There’s little doubt that she’s the most talented horse in this race, but the distance is a major question mark. I know that she was second in the Mother Goose, but she was really staggering home that day and was barely able to hang on for second in a race where there wasn’t much behind her. Perhaps she’s matured since then and will be able to better ration out her speed this afternoon, but I can’t trust her at a short price.
I strongly believe that the entry of Carameaway and Dreaming of Cara is the betting interest to key on in this race. CARAMEAWAY (#1A) in particular has quite simply been a new filly since returning from a brief freshening this summer. Not only has she improved in her races, but even her morning workouts are completely out of character with anything she had done previously. Carameaway has never been a very strong work horse, but ever since her breakout performance in August, she has been rattling off one bullet work after another. I realize that she was with the racetrack last time, but that was still a dominant performance, and I believe it’s indicative of her current good form. Outside of Princess Violet, there isn’t much speed in this race, and I won’t be surprised if Carameaway finds herself on the lead once again.
DREAMING OF CARA (#1) isn’t quite as flashy as her stablemate, but even she has a chance in this race. There’s nothing wrong with her dirt form and I think her last race was a deceptively good effort. I know that she rarely wins, but I see some signs that she’s moving in the right direction heading into this race.
I’ll use the entry in exactas with the logical Princess Violet (#5) as well as Lady Gracenote (#6), who was in decent form this spring, and could get lost in the wagering here. As for the others, I just don’t think the three year-olds coming out of the Fleet Indian at Saratoga are quite good enough, and I find it hard to recommend Sunny Desert based on her 2014 form.
$20 Win 1
$5 Exacta Box 1,5
$2 Exacta Box 1,6
Race 8: The Empire Classic at 1 1/8 miles for NY-breds
2 – Sinistra
This is a fantastic, wide-open edition of this race. Off the bat, there are a few key races that need to be discussed:
I’m of the opinion that the Conditioned Allowance race run here on September 20th was disappointing for all involved, save perhaps Beautyinthepulpit, who got a perfect pace scenario and trip and was able to get up for the win despite running only the fourth or fifth best race.
Saratoga Snacks did have trouble in the stretch, but he was under a hard drive a long way out and never looked like he was getting anything that day. I know that this horse brings a reputation into this race, but I’m beginning to think my suspicion that this trainer change to Bill Mott was more of a negative than a positive are proving true. Saratoga Snacks has lost a step, and a mile and an eighth was always a stretch for him anyway. I respect what he’s accomplished in his career, but I’ll be a little surprised if he even hits the board today.
I slightly prefer the horses coming out of the Albany, particularly So Lonesome, who set a strong pace and never stopped that day. The main concern with him is the presence of Sioux to his outside. Both of these sons of Awesome Again are very fast and want to be forwardly placed, so I have to think that there’s going to be an honest pace up front. So Lonesome appears to need the lead, so I have to think he’s going to the front at all costs.
Effinex came up short against both So Lonesome and Sioux, but the dynamics of this race might suit him and he figures to handle the distance. The same can be said about Awesome Vision. At what should be double-digit odds, I could put them in my play.
All of that said, I’m picking a horse that isn’t coming out of either of those races:
SINISTRA (#2) is in the best form of his career, loves this distance, has run competitive speed figures, and should sit a great trip from midpack. Oh, and he’s probably going to be around 8-1 or higher. What’s not to like?
I admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for a runner that I’ve watched consistently show up time and time again since last fall—this will actually be his 17th start since returning from a layoff on this exact day last year—but there’s no denying that his recent form makes him very competitive in this race. Some may say that it was the mud that moved him up at Saratoga, but I’m of the opinion that rather it was the distance that he so appreciated. He was ridden a bit too aggressively two back when sent to the front by Joel Rosario, and then last time he was never beating Transparent’s record-setting performance, but he put in a solid effort nonetheless.
At what should be a fair price, I’ll bet Sinistra to win and will use him underneath the aforementioned runners in exactas.
$15 Win 2
$5 Exacta 1,5,6,8 with 2
Race 9: The Ticonderoga at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-bred fillies and mares
(10 – Discreet Marq)
(5 – Invading Humor)
Especially now that main speed Palace Dreams has been scratched out of this race, Discreet Marq should be awfully tough for these other NY-bred fillies and mares to handle. Invading Humor is in great form and ran shockingly well last time, but it’s hard to envision anyone taking down the favorite.
Race 10: The Hudson at 6 1/2 furlongs for NY-breds
3 – Noble Cornerstone
I alluded to this when discussing Saratoga Snacks’s recent form, but I did not love that conditioned allowance race run on September 20th. Big Business did have to go a little wide, but once Saratoga Snacks didn’t show up, he was supposed to win that race. I know he ran well in the Forego, but six and a half furlongs is on the short side for this runner. At a relatively short price, I’m going against him today.
I have respect for the other older runners West Hills Giant, Weekend Hideaway, and Moonlight Song, but I’m going in a different direction. NOBLE CORNERSTONE (#3) has really stepped up his game during the last few months, and he’s the horse I want to bet in this race. I was skeptical of his 100 Beyer victory at Saratoga at the time, but he has since validated that effort. He actually ran much better than it looks on paper in the King’s Bishop, when he was extremely wide while rating off a very slow pace that held together. Then last time, though he was facing weaker horses, he won as much the best. A strong blowout earlier this week indicates that he’s maintaining his good form and I’ll take my chances with him at odds of around 7/2 or higher.
$15 Win 3