Sunday at the Spa

We got blanked on Saturday, though a few of our runners (Browse and Free Drop Billy) ran well, though at shorter prices than we expected.

Let’s take a look at a few spots on Sunday’s card.

Race 1 – This 2-year old turf route for juvenile fillies is the counterpart to Saturday’s race for colts, where Bill Mott just missed with a Harvey Clarke homebred at 10-1. He has another for the same connections here #3 You People (6-1). You People is by Lonhro, a good turf sire, and out of a dam that won two Grade 3s on turf. Mott did win with a few first time starting turf routers two years ago here and after the race on Saturday, be sure to pay attention to this one in the opener.

Race 5 – This is a two-other-than for older males that features a few droppers and the up-and-coming #1 The Big Fundamental (2-1), winner of the Belmont Day opener and the logical favorite. He has to go two-turns for the first time, however and this is a tougher field than he faced last time. Plus he’ll be a short price. #2 Royal Posse (5-2) loves Saratoga, where he is 5-7, but just seems way off form this year. #3 Securitiz (9-2) has some races from last year against tougher but his comeback race wasn’t that good, and he has five second against just two wins (and one of his wins was at 1-2 in a four-horse off-the-turf race). We’ll try #7 Doyouknowsomething (6-1). He didn’t like the slop last time and two-back, he was out-classed in the 12-furlong Brooklyn. His two-turn races at Aqueduct are pretty good and he might be the speed in this race (at least, he is if he’s ridden like he was over the winter). It’s possible he’s off form, but we’ll give him a pass for his last two starts and that gives him a shot to upset the field.

Race 8 – This NY-bred turf allowance is being run over the inner turf course and #5 Alabama Bound (12-1) has a good chance to outrun her odds on the lead under Luis Saez. Tom Bush, an excellent turf trainer, sends her out and while she’s been beaten by a few of today’s rivals, Alabama Bound has been in some tough, fast-paced races that have collapsed. Plus, she did win over this turf course last year. The biggest concern is stretchout sprinter #8 Puparee (20-1) under Kendrick Carmouche, who could make life tough for our selection, but Alabama Bound should be a big enough price to take a shot.

Race 9 – This turf sprint for fillies & mares changes a bit if #3 Animal Appeal (9-2) scratches to run in the stakes race on Monday, but there still are a few speed horses either way to help our pick, #5 Width (15-1). She’s turning back out of a 7-furlong race (to 5 1/2 furlongs today) from April where she didn’t run well, but has been freshened. She was always cut out to be pretty good, and won her debut on dirt at Saratoga going 5 1/2 furlongs two years ago. She has shown the ability to pass horses and is better on turf than dirt – she ran two good races behind Elysea’s World and Squeeze last year at Belmont. At this distance, she’ll have to stalk the pace, but should be able to do that and will be a big price. Trainer Christophe Clement is 12-50 with a $2.24 ROI off 61-180 day layoffs in turf sprints (6 furlongs or less) per DRF Formulator.

Race 10 – Just wanted to mention this race because it’s the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. #2 Abel Tasmen (8-5) was super in the Acorn and beat #7 Salty (5-2) going one-turn – Salty is better going one-turn and Abel Tasmen is better going the two-turns she sees today. If #1 Elate (5-1), who has been disappointing since her spectacular debut in November, can find her best, perhaps she can wire the field, but Abel Tasmen is going to be awfully tough to beat.

Good luck.

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Saturday at the Spa

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.

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Opening Day at Saratoga – The Lake George (G2)

As the legendary Red Smith once said about Saratoga, “From New York City, you drive north on the Thruway for about 175 miles, turn off at Exit 14, take Union Avenue heading west – and go back about 100 years.”

Friday is Opening Day at Saratoga, a horseplayer’s holiday, and the racing gods have dropped in a doozy of a stakes race, the Lake George, for all of us to dissect. The first thing that jumps out is that several runners come out of the Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill. That race featured a very fast pace that collapsed, and while the winner, Sweeping Paddy, ran well, she did have a good trip and beat a group of horses that are longer prices in here.

Let’s go through the field.

Lake George (G2) – 3/yo fillies, 8.5 furlongs, turf
#1 Fifty Five 
(7-2) – Chad Brown scratched this one out of the Belmont Oaks to point to this race. We’ve always been a fan of this one, who has been compromised by pace and wide trips in her last few starts, save the time she beat the impressive La Coronel in the Florida Oaks at Tampa. The knock here is two-fold a) she’ll be a short price in a deep field, and b) how much pace exists here remains to be seen and Fifty Five is at her best when dropping back to make one run.

#2 Fizzy Friday (20-1) – She was sixth without threatening in the Regret despite getting a fast pace to attack and appears overmatched.

#3 Defiant Honor (10-1) – She was always cut out to be a good one, being a full sister to the late Recepta for the same Phillips Partnership / Jimmy Toner connections. After three starts last year, she won her return race at Belmont on June 21st and ran very well in the process, pressing a very fast pace which fell apart and holding off Danceland. She has enough speed to be on the lead or close to the pace and should move forward second start off the layoff, following than the better-than-it-looks return. She’s our top pick.

#4 Chubby Star (15-1) – She was a speed horse earlier this year and ran well in fast-paced races behind two of her rivals today – Fifty Five and Dream Dancing. But lately she’s been taken back, perhaps because of expected pace scenarios, which did materialize, and perhaps also because of drawing the far outside (post 12 of 12 in back to back starts). I would send her to the lead in here, and she’s not without a chance if she is able to clear early.

#5 Corportate Queen (6-1) – She is entered as a Main Track Only runner.

#6 Super Marina (15-1) – One of the more experienced runners in the field, Super Marina has 12 career starts, nine of turf, though none have been good enough to win this race. She won the prep for this, which was rained off the grass on June 24th. She will have to really improve.

#7 Party Boat (6-1) – Graham Motion ships this one up from Fair Hill off a runner-up to Dynatail, who wired the field, going a mile in the Penn Oaks. The third place finisher from that race did come back to win for Todd Pletcher, but won a weaker stakes at Gulfstream and saw her figure fall three points (for what that’s worth). Her last two races are pretty good, though Dream Dancing was far superior to her in the Herecomesthebride when that one had trouble and this one had a clean outside run. She can win, but we prefer others.

#8 Proctor’s Ledge (6-1) – She ran fine to La Coronel in the Edgewood on Oaks Day while running on the best part of the turf course and then passed a bunch behind the fast pace in the Regret. She’s fine, but might need more pace and she’ll have to improve.

#9 Sweeping Paddy (3-1) – She’s run very well in each of her last two starts, a third to La Coronel and Dream Dancing in the Edgewood and a win last time in the Regret, while beating lesser rivals with a good trip (though she crushed the field) earning the best Beyer in the field (91). She should be up close pressing a moderate pace and figures to run a good race, though she might not be too great of a price.

#10 Victory to Victory (8-1) – The first of the two Casse runners was impressive winning the Natalma last year and has excuses in her last two races. She was up on the fast pace in the Hilltop, battling with subsequent stakes winner Dynatail. Then last time, she was going 6.5 furlongs at Woodbine, which is probably too short. They’re taking the blinkers off, which could mean they want to take her back, and she had some tougher trips last year too before winning the Natalma. The feeling here is there is another forward move for this one.

#11 Dream Dancing (9-2) – She’s been caught behind probably the two best 3-year old turf fillies in her last two starts – stablemate La Coronel and New Money Honey, who wired the field in the Wonder Again besting Dream Dancing (who had to be much closer to the pace than she prefers). New Money Honey, of course, came back to win the Belmont Oaks in her next start. Dream Dancing ran huge two-back in the Edgewood, when having to pick her way through runners while La Coronel had the free run on the outside. Her problem, like Fifty Five, is that she has no early speed, and she, unlike Fifty Five, also has a terrible post.

Pace Scenario – Sweeping Paddy should be up close with Defiant Honor and the key will be whether Chubby Star is sent to the front. If she is, she’s a threat to wire the field at a big price.

Analysis Defiant Honor is our top selection as we think she’s drawn well to get a good trip behind the speed and should move forward off an excellent return race last month downstate. Dream Dancing is probably the most talented runner in the field but is drawn poorly. Victory to Victory has been a bit out of her game in her last two starts but is talented and should be a big price.

The Play – We’ll play Defiant Honor to win and play her in the exacta with Dream Dancing, Victory to Victory, and a little Fifty Five. We’ll also key her in the top two slots in trifectas while throwing in Chubby Star and Sweeping Paddy.

Trifecta Play
50c – 3 / 1, 4, 10, 11 / 1, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11 ($10)
50c – 1, 4, 10, 11 / 3 / 1, 4, 7, 9, 10 11 ($10)

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A Saturday Belmont Pick-4

Let’s look at the late Pick-4 today at Belmont, a sequence that we will start by leaning on a Chad Brown runner in the Forbidden Apple Stakes.

Race 8 – Forbidden Apple Stakes (3/up, 8 furlongs, turf) – #6 Offering Plan (4-1) will be the key to our play. He comes out of a win in the NY-bred Kingston on Memorial Day and loves Belmont Park (3 wins in 6 starts). With King Kressa and Cerise’s Prince on the outside, there should be at least a decent pace, and the Widener turf plays better for his late-running style. We’ll back up with #1 Get Jets (7-2), who has run very well in two turf starts this year. We’ll let #9 Disco Partner (5-2) beat us at a short price. He’s coming out of a perfect trip win in the 6-furlong Jaipur, has to stretch out to a mile, and deal with less than firm turf.

A – 6
B – 1
C- none

Race 9 – Maiden Special Weight (2yo, NY-breds, 6 furlongs, dirt) – Our top pick is #2 Mr. Pete (7-2), who broke very poorly in his debut and was very green in the lane while being bet to 7-2 behind a 7-5 Pletcher firster. #4 Collective Effort (2-1) is the other main use, pressing the pace and beating all but the well-bet Carlos Martin firster (who was 4-1 off a 15-1 morning line). We’ll toss in #5 Panama Ed (6-1), who didn’t show any speed but had a little late life last time out of the Mr. Pete race. He wasn’t bet at all in there but Javier Castellano takes the mount today for Chris Englehart.

A – 2, 4
B – none
C – 5

Race 10 – Allowance (F&M, 3/up, 7 furlongs, turf) – We’ll spread out a little more in the last two legs of the sequence. #6 Lover’s Key (7-2) comes out of a second place finish in the restricted Stallion Series race on June 25th, but was aided by a very slow pace in that race. #9 Spring Folly (5-2) exploded home to win a maiden race on June 23rd for Michael Dickinson. But we also want to us #8 Addictive (5-1) for Bill Mott, who is 11-50 with a $2.56 ROI (per DRF Formulator) going route to sprint on turf at NYRA. Our price use is #1 Electrified (12-1), who was rained off the grass last time and her three-back race in October was pretty good with traffic problems. Presumably something went wrong in the October 27th race where she was eased.

A – 8, 9
B – 1, 6
C – none

Race 11 – Maiden Special Weight (3/up, NY-breds, 8.5 furlongs, turf) – #8 Red Knight (5-2) just missed in an off-the-turf race on debut for Bill Mott and if he moves up on turf (and he should being half to Macagone), he’ll be tough. He will also benefit from what should be a pretty slow early pace. That slow pace will hurt #4 Appealing Briefs (3-1) who faced much tougher in Florida (like Snap Decision), but he doesn’t have any early speed. #9 Ides of Arch (8-1) kept trying between horses in a race won wire to wire last time. He was beaten by #6 Hoboe (6-1), who rallied well in that race for second and gets Castellano today. They’ve been trying to get #11 Zonic (6-1) on the turf and while he doesn’t have a ton of turf in the first family, the unraced dam is by Storm Cat and he has improved significantly of late. We won’t let him knock us out.

A – 8
B – 6, 9, 11
C – 4

BelmontP4 071517

The total play is $60. Good luck!

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Taking a Small Shot Against Frostmourne In Kent Stakes

After Frostmourne won the G2 Penn Mile on June 3rd, some thought that a try in the G1 Belmont Derby was in the cards. Trainer Christophe Clement, on the other hand, is taking the more conservative route, sending Frostmourne to Delaware Park on Saturday, where he is the 8-5 favorite in the G3 Kent Stakes.

We’re going to take a small shot against him.

Kent Stakes (G3) – 3/yo, 9 furlongs, turf – #6 Frostmourne (8-5) is the well-deserving favorite, but stretches out to a mile and an eighth for the first time off the flat-mile of the Penn Mile, not an insignificant difference. Aside from his 8.5 furlong debut, when he beat a very weak field, his two best races were going a flat mile. There’s nothing wrong with Frostmourne, who is obviously the horse to beat, but it’s possible he might not have the same punch finishing at this distance, and there is a horse that very well might be improving as he stretches out.

That horse, our pick, is #2 Lunaire (9-2) for trainer Tom Albetrani. Lunaire won his turf debut at Tampa on February 17th, beating two next-out winners, and then was third in a Gulfstream stakes race on May 6th. But it was his Belmont race on June 9th that caught our eye.

The pace that day was incredibly slow – the first half mile was run in 49.43 seconds and the last half mile was run in 45.21 seconds. Lunaire, meanwhile, managed to make up five lengths into the last quarter mile (run in 22.10 seconds). Additionally, the winner of that race, Bricks and Morter, came back to impressively win the Manila Stakes last week and the runner-up, Snap Decision, is stakes placed and came back to win an allowance race.

Further, Lunaire is by Malibu Moon and half to Sadler’s Joy, a marathon type runner that is a G3 winner going a mile and a half and also trained by Albetrani.

The 2-1 second choice is #5 Master Plan, who won the local prep for this race, but even though that was a stakes race, the race Lunaire came out of was stronger.

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Answering Some Weekend Questions

Let’s look back at some of the big races from last weekend, and some of the races we looked at here.

This weekend looks a little quiet (though Songbird runs, against an incredibly weak field, in the Delaware Handicap on Saturday) before Saratoga opens on July 21st, and then Monmouth will run the Haskell on July 30th.

We’ll have a post later today on Saturday’s Kent Stakes at Delaware, where we like a horse to upset Frostmourne, the Penn Mile winner.

Will Oscar Performance face more pace pressure in the Belmont Derby? 

Well, we thought the answer would be yes. It was an emphatic no, and he wired the field. We were also a little skeptical of him getting 10 furlongs, which he did here, but obviously was aided by circumstances. Good Samaritan, our pick, ran well in a race that featured a final half mile in 45.87 seconds. If Oscar Performance goes to the Del Mar Derby instead of the Secretariat (as is possible), Good Samaritan might be the one to beat in that race. 3-1 Yoshida was a little disappointing, pressing the moderate pace and fading late, but he might be better going a little shorter.

Continue reading

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Sunday Highlight Horse – Cheddar Chub Can Spring Upset Against J-Breds

Monmouth Park has always run a series of Jersey-bred stakes races on dirt, but only one on turf – the Dan Horn. That was was scrapped this year. However, Jersey-breds get on the grass in today’s 8th race, an allowance race with a $50,000 purse.

Monmouth Race 8 – Our play is #3 Cheddar Chub (4-1). After running a decent third at the Meadowlands on grass last year, he returned in an open-company, first-level allowance race on May 20th. Breaking from post 10, Cheddar Chub was the first to attack a pace that completely collapsed – the top four finishers were 6-9-8-10 at the half-mile call. Cheddar Club held on pretty well to be fifth in what was a much tougher field than he meets today.

Monmouth Race 6 – #3 Abundant Faith (8-1) is another with an upset chance on the Shore today. This gelding runs in a $25k claimer, dropping out of several allowance races. He ran very well at the Meadowlands in October, pressing a fast pace that fell apart. In his first start of this year, he didn’t do much running but the race was dominated up front and he probably needed one off the bench. If he can run back to his October race, and he should get some more pace to attack today, then he is an upset threat for trainer Holly Harris.

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Robert Dick Memorial – Can Tricky Escape Get the Distance?


The Grade 3 Robert Dick Memorial is an interesting 11 furlong race today at Delaware Park and the longshot we’re most interested in comes out of two 8.5 furlong races.

Here is the Eatontown, run last month at Monmouth going 1 1/16 miles.

The fourth place finisher in that race was Tricky Escape (#14 in that race). Pick it up at the 1 minute mark when she makes a few quick bursts through inside around the far turn, only to get shut off and shuffled back at the top of the lane when it appeared she had some horse. Tricky Escape then came on again, and was moving very well late behind an impressive Chad Brown winner, Grand Jete.

Obviously, we don’t know if #2 Tricky Escape (10-1) can go the 11 furlongs she’ll need to today, but there aren’t any world-beaters in this race and she’s worth a shot at a big price to upset the Robert Dick Memorial.

We’ll use with #9 Paige, #6 Guilty Twelve, and #4 Zipessa (who I don’t think is best at the distance but may be the best horse).

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Belmont Derby Pick-4

Let’s look at the Pick-4 that ends in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby.

Previously – looking at the Derby and Oaks.

Race 7 – Belmont Sprint Championship – #2 Mind Your Biscuits (9-5) squares off with #7 Unified (5-2) in this seven-furlong race. Of the two, we prefer Mind Your Biscuits, who won the Dubai Golden Shaheen in his last start. Unified couldn’t get to Green Gratto last time in the Carter and hasn’t changed leads in his starts this year. We’ll back up with #1 Stallwalkin Dude (5-1) who always fires his best shot, though he was aided by an outside track last time when second to Roy H in the True North.

A – 2
B – none
C – 1, 7

Race 8 – Belmont Oaks – As noted in the preview, #12 Sistercharlie looms a very likely winner if she runs back to her race in the French Oaks 20 days ago. Still, there are two that we want to use as back-ups – #1 Coasted (15-1) and #2 Beau Recall (15-10. We also mentioned #10 Fifty Five, but she has been scratched and will run on Opening Day at Saratoga. We’ll use a little of #8 New Money Honey as a deep backup.

A – 12
B – 1, 2
C – 8

Race 9 – Suburban – It seems unnecessary to try to spend a lot of money beating #6 Shaman Ghost (4-5), who will, and should, be an overwhelming favorite in here. If he gets beat, it’s probably wire to wire from #2 Matt King Coal (7-2), who has to prove he can get a mile and a quarter and will be facing much tougher foes here.

A – 6
B – none
C – 2

Race 10 – Belmont Derby – We have single-A horses in each of the first three legs of this sequence, but here we will spread. #1 Good Samaritan (12-1) and #2 Ticonderoga (15-1) are our top picks and we will toss #4 Oscar Performance (3-1). We’ll also use #6 Arklow (8-1) as an A. #9 Big Score (20-1) and #7 Yoshida (7-2) are Bs.

A – 1, 2, 6
B – 7, 9
C – none

The whole play is $49.

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