The first of seven Saratoga Saturdays is this week and as usual, a great card awaits. Let’s take a look at a few spots.
Race 7 (3/up, OC $62k/n2x, 5.5 furlongs, turf) – For a turf sprint, there doesn’t appear to be a ton of pace in this race, and that could favor #5 Canadian Flyer (6-1). He had to chase the very fast pace in the Jaipur (the pace-setter, Pure Sensation, came back to win the Parx Dash and the winner, Disco Partner, won the Forbidden Apple last week at Belmont). Canadian Flyer has run some strong turf sprints and can track from just off if he has to. He also has some snappy workouts over the training track coming into this race.
Race 8 (3/up F&M, OC $62k/n2x, 8 furlongs, turf) – This is a tough race and the one to beat is likely #1 Volatility Index (5-2) who is drawn well inside on the inner turf course and could be the speed. But our play is #7 Browse (8-1), a half to Grade 1 winner Imagining for Shug McGaughey. She made her turf debut going seven furlongs at Belmont on June 22nd and had an atrocious trip. First, she was taken way back when she should have been up front, and then got bottled up inside and never got clear. She had no chance with that trip. With the switch to John Velazquez, we’d expect her to be closer to the pace and get the jump on the logical off the pace runners like layoff horses #5 Pricedtoperfection (3-1) and #10 Stella Rose (8-1).
Race 9, Sanford Stakes (G2) (2 yo, 6 furlongs, dirt) – If the pace heats up, which is possible, #4 Free Drop Billy (15-1) could benefit. He broke slowly in his Churchill Downs debut, but moved up nicely between runners, made the lead at the quarter pole, and won easily for Dale Romans, whose runners typically need a race before they show their best. He might want more ground than this but is worth a look. The other logical closer is #5 Admiral Jimmy (4-1) for Todd Pletcher, who picked up some pieces in the Tremont, but that race fell apart and he was aided by the race shape. Plus, Free Drop Billy will be a much bigger price.
Race 10, Diana (G1) (3/up, F&M, 9 furlongs, turf) – #2 Antonoe (3-1) was super impressive in the Just a Game on the Belmont undercard. The pace was slow to develop, she was stuck at the back, and flew home, making up six lengths in the last quarter mile, which happened to be run in 22.37 seconds. She’ll have to outkick the brilliant #3 Lady Eli (4-5), but Antonoe might be up to the task.