Saturday, August 22
Race 3: Allowance N1X at 6 furlongs for NY-breds
5 – Sidearm
There is an abundance of early speed in this race, which could make things difficult for morning line favorite Giantinthemoonlite (#8). He’s obviously a win candidate, and it’s not as if he needs the lead, but I think he will be softened up enough to be susceptible to the late threat posed by SIDEARM (#5).
Sidearm has struggled with consistency during his career, but he has, on a few occasions, run well enough to beat a field like this. Today, he gets plenty of pace to run into, and he also runs first off the claim by Gary Gullo, who confidently moves him back up in class.
I’ll key on Sidearm, and use him in exactas and trifectas with Giantinthemoonlite, as well as long shot Jai Alai (#7), who should appreciate getting more pace to close into this time.
$20 Win 5 (Payout: $57.00)
$5 Exacta Key Box 5 with 7,8
Race 4: Maiden Special Weight at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
5 – Blame Dixie
3 – Scamper
After having watched back the tenth race on July 31st a few times, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really want any of the fillies running back out of that race. Sudestada got a great trip that day, but didn’t have much of a late kick when she got clear sailing in the stretch. May Flowers was compromised by a slow start, but she got a good trip thereafter and it’s not as if her prior races really excite me.
If I was going to bet one horse out of that race it would be pacesetter Hardcore (#8), who may have more to offer coming back second off the layoff and did run very well first time out behind stakes-winner Celestine.
However, I’m most interested in horses coming out of other races. My top pick is BLAME DIXIE (#5), who gets on turf for the first time. I know she’s been a bit of a disappointment, but I think she’s really going to appreciate this surface switch. She’s obviously very fast, so the distance isn’t a concern, and she has more than enough turf pedigree. Blame is turning out to be a prolific turf sire, winning with 21% of his turf runners in a 61-horse sample, and 35% of his turf sprinters in a 20-horse sample. Blame Dixie’s dam never won, but she is a half-sister to multiple turf stakes winner Love Cove, and mutliple synthetic stakes winner Half Heaven. Pletcher has prepped her on turf enough times to know that she handles it and I think we’re going to see a different horse today.
At a bigger price, I also want to use SCAMPER (#3), whose showed some ability in her debut before speeding off and stopping going seven furlongs over a demanding, rain-softened course on June 17th. I think she’s going to appreciate the cutback to 5 1/2 furlongs and could benefit from a return to stalking tactics.
$20 Win 5
$10 Win/Place 3
$2 Exacta Key Box 3,5,8
Race 5: Allowance N1X at 6 furlongs
6 – Royal Saint
How’s this for a relevant stat?
Steve Asmussen bringing 3-year-olds back off 180+ day layoffs in Saratoga dirt sprints over the past 5 years:
Included in that sample are stakes horses Dust and Diamonds and My Miss Aurelia, who both got successful campaigns rolling in Saratoga sprints. ROYAL SAINT (#6) hinted at very good things in his debut at Ellis Park almost a year ago today, and he finds himself facing a subpar N1X allowance field in this return. The fast work 12 days ago suggests that Asmussen has him sharpened and I don’t see a good reason to play against this one.
$20 Win 6
$5 Exacta Key Box 6 with 3,4
Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for 2 year-olds
9 – Isotherm
3 – Conscious Decision
Life Imitates Art (#5) is clearly the horse to beat after a solid effort against the very promising Site Read in his debut. However, Irad Ortiz had to really get to work on him around the turn and he was still all out to get by Swagger Jagger, who had been part of a very fast pace. Perhaps he’s the most likely winner, but he’s going to be a very short price, and he may have to run better to win this race.
My top pick is ISOTHERM (#9), who showed good speed in his debut on dirt, but is supposed to move forward with this switch to turf being by Australian turf sensation Lonhro. The distance is of slight concern, but without any other speed on paper (who knows what the first time starters will do?) he may be able to control the pace up front. At a price around 5/1 or higher, I think he’s an excellent bet in this spot.
I also want to use CONSCIOUS DECISION (#3), whose debut was okay in a race that is proving to be quite strong. He also may appreciate this stretch out in distance as a son of Cape Blanco.
$15 Win 9 (Payout: $75.00)
$10 Win 3
$4 Exacta Box 3,5,9 (Payout: $46.00)
Race 9: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at 1 3/16 miles on the turf
1 – Market Outlook
On one hand, I feel like MARKET OUTLOOK (#1) has the look of a trap. He really hasn’t yet run a race that can beat this field and everyone saw his trip last time so he’s not going to be any kind of overlay in here. That said, there are still a lot of things in his favor today. Chad Brown is lethal in these longer turf races at Saratoga, winning with 17 of 49 starters in races going 9 furlongs or farther over the past 5 years. (Compare that to Pletcher’s 3-for-42 record over the same period.) Market Outlook is supposed to appreciate this stretchout in distance since he has a ton of stamina on the dam’s side of his pedigree and is a half-brother to recent 1 3/4-mile Birdstone winner Tacticus.
I also feel that Market Outlook projects to sit the best trip. Unlike some of the other plodders in here, he’s not slow and possesses the tactical speed to be stalking Smooth Daddy, who may have trouble negotiating this 1 3/16-mile distance.
Additionally, I just don’t see a good reason to want anyone else in this race. Zambian Dream ran very well last time and may appreciate more distance, but he doesn’t have any early speed and is likely to be pace compromised. The same goes for Taghleeb, who has distance questions to answer, and Top Billing, who has no speed whatsoever and has a tough task ahead of him even if he does take to the turf.
$25 Win 1
$10 Exacta Box 1,3
$5 Exacta 1 with 2,5,9
Race 10: The Alabama (G1) at 1 1/4 miles for 3 year-old fillies
1 – Danette
I believe that the mile and a quarter distance is going to play an important role in the outcome of this race. For that reason, I’m picking DANETTE (#1) to win the Alabama.
I realize that this is a top-class field, and I respect what Lovely Maria and I’m a Chatterbox have accomplished in their careers, but I just don’t really want daughters of Majesticperfection and Munnings stretching out to 10 furlongs at Saratoga.
Curalina (#2) is the logical alternative and perhaps the most likely winner of this race. She gives the impression that she can just keep coming and finding more when John Velazquez asks, so the distance shouldn’t pose a problem. However, she’s going to be a very short price and I’m not convinced that she has such a great edge over this field to warrant it.
In my opinion, the Coaching Club American Oaks proved that Danette is in the best form of her career and, more importantly, that she isn’t that far off the top runners in this division. She clearly took a step forward at a mile and an eighth and her pedigree gives every indication that there could be another forward move coming as she gets another furlong to work with today. I know she was 38/1 last time, but it’s not as if that effort came out of thin air. This filly hinted at having Grade 1 ability last fall before going through a rough patch over the winter. At this point, she’s clearly over any issues that may have been nagging her and I think she’s a major player in this race at a very generous price.
$15 Win/Place 1
$10 Exacta Box 1,2
$4 Trifecta 1,2 with 1,2 with 3,4,6
$4 Trifecta 1,2 with 3,4,6 with 1,2
Race 11: Maiden Special Weight at one mile on the turf for fillies and mares
9 – Showersofsweetness
This is one confusing race to end the card. I supposed that Il Mulino is the horse to beat, but she got to set a very slow pace in her lone turf start and, in retrospect, I’m not sure how good that field really was. Forensic has turf ability, but she’s had plenty of chances at this point.
I’m most interested in first time starters and horses that have never been on the turf. Early Snow showed nothing in her debut, but is a full-sister to North Slope. Crocus Hill is out of superb racemare Vacare, winner of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland.
And then there’s my top pick, SHOWERSOFSWEETNESS (#9), who hails from an awesome family of turf runners. Her unraced dam is a half-sister to the ill-fated turf stakes winner Innovation Economy, and a full-sister to Seaspeak, a Grade 3 winner on turf. Showersofsweetness’s sire First Defence wins with a strong 14% of his turf runners.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that Rudy Rodriguez sent out first time starter Elementsofharmony for these same owners during the last week at Belmont, and she absolutely crushed a field of turf maidens despite getting no action on the toteboard. Interesting, that filly was also bred by Dr. John Chandler. This is a bit of a guess, but I think there could be intention here and this one may get lost in the wagering.
$10 Win/Place 9 (Payout: $94.00)
$2 Exacta Key Box 9 with 1,2,3,4,10