NOTE: $111,630 pick 6 carryover begins in Race 5.
Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Saratoga Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, and Workout Commentary identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.
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Grade A=Highest degree of confidence
Grade B=Solid Play.
Grade C=Least preferred or pass
Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play
RACE 1: Post: 1:10 ET Grade: B-
Main ticket: (in order of preference): Vesture; 2-Irish Gent
Backups/Savers/Underneath: 6-Reverend Moon; 5-Hard Par.
Forecast: Let’s go with a small gamble in the Friday opener, a turf sprint for maiden juveniles. Vesture is a homebred first timer bred for grass who has done some pretty good work in the a.m. on the main track for trainer Al Stall, Jr. The son of Hard Spun hasn’t been asked to show anywhere near his best speed but has turned in some fancy clocking’s and looks fit and ready to outrun his 6-1 morning line, at the very least. The race is loaded with question marks – nothing would surprise us – but this colt can run some and is certain to offer good wagering value. Irish Gent is another newcomer worth a look. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt is a quick-actioned type with some zip, and while we doubt he’s one of the better ones in the barn he may show his best stuff on grass.
RACE 2: Post: 1:44 ET Grade: B-
Main ticket: (in order of preference): Poseidon’s Mist; 8-My Mane Squeeze
Forecast: State bred juvenile fillies sprint six furlongs on the main track in the Spa’s second race. Poseidon’s Mist failed to run to anywhere near expectations when well-backed but far back in her debut, but we’ll give her another chance in this open fray. She adds blinkers and picks up Irad Ortiz, Jr., so if the Monmouth Park-based filly can run, this would be the time and place to show it. My Mane Squeeze closed a gap to be a distant third in her debut and with that race behind her and the addition of the blinkers the Michael Maker-trained daughter of Audible is another that should step forward.
RACE 3: Post: 2:20 ET Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 3-Khali Magic; 5-Fancy Joke
Forecast: Khali Magic has won two of his last three but hasn’t been out since mid-June and is dropping into a claimer, not normally what you’d call a healthy pattern. However, the five year old mare always has been thoroughly genuine and consistent (first or second in 14 of 27 career starts) and has a prior win over the Saratoga main track, so based on the massive purse of this allowance optional claimer ($100,000) the class drop can be justified. Fancy Joke flopped at 4/5 in a similar state-bred affair at Belmont Park in early July but a repeat of her race before last makes her dangerous. She’s probably a need-the-lead type and if she can clear early without undue pressure she could take this field a long way.
RACE 4: Post: 2:52 ET Grade: X
Main ticket (in order of preference): 2-Carl Spackler
Forecast: It’s pretty hard to get past Carl Spackler in this year’s renewal of the Saranac Stakes for 3-year-olds two turning over the inner turf course. An authoritative winner of the Hall of Fame Stakes-G2 over the local lawn three weeks ago, the Chad Brown-trained sophomore earned a giant speed figure in doing so and will crush this group with anything close to that performance today, but at a very short price. The only concern is whether he’ll regress off a hard, fast race with a relatively quick turnaround.
RACE 5: Post: 3:26 ET Grade: X
Main ticket (in order of preference): Locked
Forecast: Locked is listed as the 6/5 morning line favorite in this main track maiden miler for juveniles following a highly promising third (off slowly, lagged, stormed home, too late) in a fast, highly rated sprint here last month. The son of Gun Runner almost certainly will improve with distance and experience for trainer Todd Pletcher (24% with second timers) and in a field that appears to be average at best for the level his certain-to-be odds-on price seems justified as a no value rolling exotic single.
RACE 6: Post: 4:00 ET Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 8-Unicorn Cake; 5-Miss Maximus; 4-Midnight Concerto.
Forecast: This race is a split of the second race, a main track sprint for New York-bred juvenile fillies. It’s a wide open affair with several possibilities. The first timer Unicorn Cake looks intriguing at 6-1 on the morning line. The daughter of Cloud Computing is a good moving filly with some ability and hasn’t really been asked to display her best speed in morning trials, so we suspect the Jeremiah Englehart-trained 2-year-old will come out running under the barn’s “go-to” rider Kendrick Carmouche. Miss Maximus is a debut daughter of the promising freshman stallion Maximus Mischief from the Brad Cox barn that has been prepared at Belmont Park out of range of our video cameras. Maybe she can run some. We also haven’t seen Midnight Concerto, the first timer from the Ken McPeek barn that brought $185,000 as a yearling. The relatively brief work tab shows a hint of talent, so at 8-1 on the morning line she’s worth including as well.
RACE 7: Post: 4:34 ET Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 8-Expand the Map; 4-Root Cause.
Forecast: Expand the Map has been freshened for nearly three months and can be expected to return to good form in this first level allowance turf affair for fillies and mares. She prefers to settle early and produce a late kick, and with her best effort the Irish-bred filly can be along in time. Trainer Chad Brown’s other entrant, Root Cause, has burned money in her last pair and isn’t one to trust, but she’s lightly raced with room for improvement and ran well over the local lawn when second in her debut last year. She needs cover early before being produced late and should get that type of ride from Flavian Prat.
RACE 8: Post: 5:10 ET Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 1-Morning Cup; 2-American Law.
Backups/Savers/Underneath: 5-Gun Maestro, 8-Forced Ranking.
Forecast: Morning Cup, freshened for two months and dropping to a realistic level after a dull try when routing on grass in a tougher starter’s allowance ($50,000) event, lands the good rail and projects to be part of the pace throughout in this seven furlong $25,000 seller. The Linda Rice-trained gelding catches what projects to be a favorable race flow and if he can establish the running the son of Hard Spun could get brave. American Law is strong in the speed figure department and is a “must use” on that basis alone, but he’s never been one to count on (one win, 11 seconds, or thirds in 15 starts) and most recently was a beaten favorite when a moderate third at Monmouth Park in late July. This will be his first start in a claimer and the class drop is warranted, so if he’s on his game he’ll be running on late from a second flight, stalking position.
RACE 9: Post: 5:44 ET Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 8-Disarmed; 10-Saint Selby
Backups/Savers/Underneath: 3-King Moonracer.
Forecast: Disarmed has won three of his last four starts with gradually rising speed figures and has developed into turf sprinting specialist since being transferred to the sod last spring. The state-bred son of Maclean’s Music moves up a level on the allowance ladder and probably will need to produce another forward move, but in his present from he could be capable of doing just that. His morning line of 7/2 seems reasonable. Saint Selby is fast on speed figures but unproven on grass. He’s raised from the $25,000 level but is good enough to act in this league if he can duplicate his dirt form on turf. At 6-1 on the morning line, you have to use him.
RACE 10: Post: 6:18 ET Grade: C
Main ticket (in order of preference): 9-Deputy Connect; 10-Justice Department
Backups/Savers/Underneath: 8-Proven Hope.
Forecast: Deputy Connect plummets from starters allowance ($50,000) to restricted (nw-2) $16,000 and the big drop is warranted as the Brad Cox-trained colt finished sixth beaten double digits as the even money favorite over this track and distance three weeks ago. It’s hard to gauge in his present form whether he’ll snap to life against this group but he’s certainly capable of handling this assignment with anything close to his best effort. Justice Department is another being tossed into the scrap heap, as this barn will often do with expensive yearlings that fail to live up to expectations. The son of Gun Runner, in just his fifth career start and a maiden special weight winner three runs back, will add blinkers for the first time and return to dirt, so a form reversal at this level certainly is possible. Tread lightly here.