There are several Hall of Famers (Shug McGaughey, Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, John Velazquez) and future Hall of Famers (Chad Brown) in the Hall of Fame Stakes today at Saratoga (Race 9), and one rider who is not a Hall of Famer as we type this but will be by race time – Javier Castellano will be inducted this morning.
Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) – 3/yo, 8.5 furlongs, turf – Castellano rides maybe the horse to beat in #2 Big Handsome (3-1). Big Handsome stretches out to 8.5 furlongs today and may be the speed of the speed, though #9 Secretary At War (8-1) likely gets sent towards the front as well. Big Handsome was totally blocked and stymied in the stretch of the Manila last time out and his first two turf races, albeit sprints are very good. He has to answer the two-turns question. The horse that beat Big Handsome last time is #1 Bricks and Mortar (5-2). Bricks and Mortar, trained by Chad Brown, made up five lengths into a last quarter mile run in 22.13 seconds, a sparkling performance. He’s obviously very talented but may be a short price.
While we respect #4 Yoshida (7-2), #10 Arklow (10-1), the horse we want to key on is #5 Snap Decision (5-1) for McGaughey. He’s been caught in some slower-paced races (albeit against weaker) in his last two starts, and just missed to Bricks and Mortar two back at Belmont when Snap Decision had a little trouble finding room in the lane. In his three races since returning from Gulfstream, he has had to close into final fractions of: 28.13, 22.10, and 29.27 (and the 29.27 was on slower ‘good’ turf in a race won wire to wire by a solid older runner, Conquest Sandman).
We’ll toss in #6 Makarios (20-1) underneath in exactas and trifectas. He showed some ability over the winter and was compromised by very slow paces set by Oscar Performance in his last two races, plus will be a huge price.
5 / 1, 3, 6, 8, 10 / 1, 3, 6, 8, 10
1, 3, 6, 8, 10 / 5 / 1, 3, 6, 8, 10