Saratoga and Del Mar team up today on a special Cross Country Pick-4 that features four graded stakes races, including the Alabama at Saratoga and the Pacific Classic (with Arrogate) at Del Mar.
Leg 1 – Lake Placid Stakes (Saratoga Race 8) – There is no speed signed on for this nine-furlong race for three-year old fillies. The horse to beat is #3 La Coronel (8-5), who was very good in the spring and then ran in the exceedingly difficult Coronation Stakes at Ascot. This is her first race back, but she will be a short price. Perfect trip or not, it was hard not to be impressed with #4 Proctor’s Ledge (5-2) in winning the Lake George here on July 21st. She showed improved speed and buried the field, winning very easily. They are our top two. We’ll throw in #1 Coasted (8-1), who seems like the horse that could benefit most from just being sent to the lead, and she does have some ability. #6 Uni (3-1) looms a short price and figures to be against the flow of the race. She did have a good trip last time in the Belmont Oaks and feels like a bad bet at her likely odds, but it would feel pretty foolish to get knocked out of this by Chad Brown in a filly-turf stakes.
A – 3, 4
B – none
C – 1, 6
Leg 2 – Alabama Stakes (Saratoga Race 9) – This is a tremendous race. New Money Honey, who has run exclusively on turf, and Holy Helena, who really improved on synthetic, have to answer the dirt question in here. Our top pick is #7 Elate (6-1) for Bill Mott, who ran very well last time, albeit with a good trip, in just missing to Abel Tasmen in the CCA Oaks and seems ready to break through here. #5 Unchained Melody (3-1) won the Mother Goose last time, should get the 10 furlongs and is loose on the lead. They are the top two. We’re huge #6 Salty (9-2) fans, but think she is better shorter (we would have run her in the Ballerina against older horses next weekend). We’ll toss in #9 Actress (15-1), who might not get enough pace, but should get the distance and improved last time in the slow-paced Delaware Oaks, and goes out for a red-hot trainer in Jason Servis.
A – 5, 7
B – 9
C – none
Leg 3 – Pacific Classic (Del Mar Race 8) – We have to approach this thinking that if anything were slightly amiss with #8 Arrogate (1-1) that he would not be running here after his dud in the San Diego four weeks ago. He never ran a step in that race, but his previous four races would obviously drown this field. We’ll just put our trust in Baffert here, assuming that the real Arrogate will show up. Now, there is a chance that he doesn’t, based on his last race, or that he doesn’t like Del Mar, so we will back up with #2 Collected (5-2), also for Baffert. He does have to go 10 furlongs (and he is by City Zip), but he is in great form and has reportedly been working very well. He’ll be our lone backup.
A – 8
B – none
C – 2
Leg 4 – Del Mar Oaks (Del Mar Race 10) – The payoff leg is a skullbuster, and we’ll have to spread a bit. Our top pick is #11 Pacific Wind (12-1). She should have won the Honeymoon two-back but got into all kinds of trouble in the stretch. Last time, she made the early wide move into a moderate pace and maybe should have gotten by Meadowsweet, who returns here. Still, that one faces more pace pressure today and that should help Pacific Wind. We’ll give #12 Beau Recall (6-1) a pass for the 10-furlong Belmont Oaks in which she shipped across the country and actually ran decently after getting shuffled back a bit on the turn. This is an easier spot, though she didn’t draw especially well. We also want to use #7 Vexatious (8-1), who is by Giant’s Causeway and there is some turf/synthetic on the dam-side (full to Creative Cause).
A – 7, 11, 12
B – 13
C – 10
The All-A ticket will be played for $1.50 and then 3A/1B, 2A/2B, and 3A/1C for $1. The total play is $58. Good luck.