Archive for July, 2011

Diana, Dandy dot day filled with big pools

July 30, 2011

With a Pick 6 carryover of better than 40k and a Pick 4 guarantee of 500k bettors will have a multitude of options on a terrific eleven race card.  Note that the 11th race is off the turf but that is hardly a big deal given that the field will stay relatively large.  Horses that you now need to keep an eye on include #15 HERO FIGURE, who was on the MTO list along with his stablemate, #4 IN JUST WE TRUST, who is a consistent horse that will be just off the pace early.  Click here for my analysis on the Saturday card.  Here are my thoughts on the two graded stakes races this afternoon:

Race 9, The GI Diana Handicap:

It’s a “what have you done for me lately” world and that’s a big part of the reason why #7 AVIATE is likely to be the 2nd or 3rd choice in this field. She was a solid favorite in the Just a Game back in June at Belmont but did not handle the boggy turf course that enabled C.S. Silk to go wire-to-wire. Trainer Bill Mott has given her some time as she appears to be a filly who’s at her best with time between starts. Mott has won 2 of the last 4 runnings of the Diana and both of those winners were returning off the bench after starting in the Just a Game. #6 ARUNA is 4-5 in America with her only defeat coming at the hands of Aviate at Churchill on Kentucky Derby day. That was this filly’s first start of 2011 and this will now be the third start of her form cycle. The pace scenario in here is a bit unclear given the status of #10 ROMACACA and she seems to need a bit of pace to set up her late bid. #4 ZAGORA has been favored in two of her last three starts and is winless since coming to America. She is a big late runner who will get more pace to run at this afternoon. Trainer Chad Brown receives a great deal of support from the public and this filly will likely be well bet again today.  SELECTIONS: 7-6-4

Race 10, The G2 Jim Dandy:

#2 DOMINUS broke through for his 2nd career win when he wired the Dwyer four weeks ago and he now tries to notch the 2nd graded stakes victory of his career. He was on the lead in the Dwyer but hardly seems like a “need the lead” type given the rally he put forth on debut last fall at Belmont. If #5 WILL’S WILDCAT shows speed today then this son of Smart Strike will be in a stalking position that will give him a huge tactical edge on the closers in this field. #7 ALTERNATION is one of those closers as he returns from a freshening that followed an off the pace win in the Peter Pan. He has been working sharply and was just coming into his own when he scored at Belmont in May. The lack of a great amount of pace in here would seem to work against this impeccably bred colt but he didn’t exactly get a huge setup in the Peter Pan. #3 BRILLIANT SPEED is back off a layoff for trainer Tom Albertrani and will look to improve on his 0-3 record on fast dirt. He ran a very good race in the Belmont but it stands to reason that the wet surface made him so effective. Look for him in the waning stages today.  SELECTIONS: 2-7-3

Best of luck on this outstanding card!


Day 3 headlined by turf, babies

July 24, 2011

Five of the ten races on Sunday’s card are slated for the turf courses with four routes and one turf sprint.  Two of the other five races are for 2YOs, with the 2nd bringing together NY bred juveniles and the 9th is the 97th running of the Sanford (G2).

Before looking at Sunday’s card let’s take a look back at Saturday’s 10 race card.  The day started with an unfortunate incident in the first as Rockettes Escapade broke down at the top of the stretch.  That severely compromised War Clan, who was in the midst of a move on the outside and wound up getting carried out about 4 paths.  Bob Baffert’s Saddleranch was an impressive winner of the 3rd as he hit a new gear turning for home under Martin Garcia.  Whether he was aided by the track profile or not remains to be seen but he is clearly a fast horse with some ability.  Trainer David Jacobson has only had one winner at each of the last four Saratoga meets, so should he just retire after Wishingonastar won the 4th yesterday?  No, I think he’ll continue on and pick up a few more.

It won’t be long before Deposit Slip breaks his maiden as he rocketed home from the back of the pack to miss narrowly in the 5th race.  Tahoe Lake was the beneficiary of a perfect trip and tremendous ride by John Velazquez, but he came from well off the pace and those moves just have not been winning on the Mellon turf course.  Expect him to clear the N1X condition very soon.  I’m still not sure what to make of the 7th other than that sometimes you just have to tip your cap to Todd Pletcher and move on.  Jimmy Simms would have lost if Dominant Jeannes was not scratched.  He made a ridiculously easy lead, set a soft pace and was still all out to hold on for the win.  He is a huge bet against if he moves up a condition and lands in a race with a bit more speed.

Back on April 1 I went on At the Races with Steve Byk and said that It’s Tricky was the best 3YO filly in the country.  I was not joking and now I’m tooting my own horn.  She toiled in obscurity prior to the Gulfstream Park Oaks then many wrote her off after a poor effort in Hallandale, FL.  Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin gave her some time and she’s now rattled off consecutive GI victories.  Mud freak?  Miler?  No, just call her the best 3YO filly in the country.

Binks Forest pulled off the fourth wire job on the Mellon turf in the Saturday nightcap.  Note to the Saratoga jockey colony: speed is really good on the turf right now.

Click here for my analysis of Sunday’s card as we’ll try to snag the late Pick 4 again after taking it down on Saturday.  Here are my thoughts on the Sanford, where I think heavy favorite Overdriven is moderately vulnerable:

#7 POWER WORLD was an impressive winner at first asking as he flew home late to win at 4.5fs after falling 11 lengths back after a quarter-mile. He was then tried in the Bashford Manor and jockey Corey Lanerie tried to keep him closer to the early pace. That dulled his late kick and he wound up plugging along for 2nd as the eventual winner came from absolutely last down the backstretch. In a race that’s loaded with speed this colt figures to be dangerous as he has been this trip and can rate and finish from off the pace. #6 OVERDRIVEN ran the most impressive race by a 2YO anywhere in the country last time out as he took his debut by just over 3 lengths. Trainer Todd Pletcher is bringing him back on short rest and prior to Georgie’s Angel winning the Schuylerville this barn was 0-25 with graded stakes starters coming off maiden wins and returning in less than 30 days. Whether this colt will be ready for another effort is a serious question. #3 MAAN was an impressive debut winner as well as he rated comfortably off the pace and gathered in his rivals late. You have to look for horses who can move from off the pace in this group and this son of Malibu Moon is most likely one of them.  SELECTIONS: 7-6-3

I’ll be back to recap the Sunday card tonight and to take a look at Monday’s card!  Good luck today!

Day 2 by the numbers

July 24, 2011

$249,839.75 – Increase in per race handle on the opening Saturday program in 2011 vs. 2010

0 – Winners ridden by Eclipse Award winner Ramon Dominguez through the first two days of the meet

4 – Number of wire-to-wire winners on the Mellon turf course through six races on it in the first two days of the meet

100 – Beyer figure for It’s Tricky, her 2nd figure of 100+ in a row

$698,000 – Total purse money paid out on Saturday afternoon

2 – Number of wins by leading trainer Todd Pletcher

35 – Days until the King’s Bishop, which will likely be the next start for 3rd race winner Saddleranch

$1,569,406 – Total handle for both Pick 4s today and the Pick 6

9 – Win percentage for David Jacobson in Saratoga dirt races, including today’s win by Wishingonastar

1419 – Days since Bill Mott won a graded stakes race on the Saratoga main track after Royal Delta’s failure in the CCA Oaks

1 – Number of winners Todd Pletcher has with horses coming off maidens facing graded stakes company returning in less than 30 days

3 – Number of mounts Corey Nakatani took off of citing struggles with the heat.

28 – Days until a potential rematch between It’s Tricky, Plum Pretty, and Royal Delta in the Alabama

14 – Hours until Day 3 gets underway

Best of luck tomorrow!

Five-pack in CCA Oaks offers nation’s best 3YO fillies

July 23, 2011

If you were to add Zazu and Inglorious to this afternoon’s TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, you’d have all of the fillies that are considered the top players in the division.  Here’s to hoping they are added to this group of five in the Alabama.  Without them, we will still be treated to an incredible race this afternoon with Royal Delta scheduled to go off a slight favorite.  The CCA Oaks is the only graded stakes race on the card but the entire program is full of large fields with numerous great wagering opportunities.  Click here for my analysis on the card.  Here are my thoughts on the featured race:

Race 10, The TVG Coaching Club American Oaks:

#5 IT’S TRICKY broke through for her first graded stakes win last time out in the Acorn as she stalked a hot pace, took over and pulled clear late. She will be even better at nine panels today and brings in a record of 2-3 in two-turn races so far in her career. The outside draw will enable jockey Eddie Castro to stalk the pace from the start and if #2 PLUM PRETTY shows no interest in the lead then this daughter of Mineshaft just might be on the pace. #4 ROYAL DELTA missed the Mother Goose in late June after running into a few health problems. There’s no doubt that this filly is one of the best in the country when on her game and she should get a decent pace to run at this afternoon. Trainer Bill Mott can certainly be trusted and this daughter of Empire Maker would not be lining up if she wasn’t 100%. #1 BUSTER’S READY is another coming off a breakthrough performance as she crushed the field in the Mother Goose last time out. She’s been beaten by both It’s Tricky and Royal Delta and is in a tough post given her preferred running style. If John Velazquez lets Plum Pretty and It’s Tricky go then this filly should be able to stalk and pounce once again. SELECTIONS: 5-4-1

Day 1 Recap: The main track played kindly to horses on the inside and speed.  Even with the big pace setup, you can upgrade True Feelings in her next start as she rallied against the grain of the track in the Schuylerville.  Two of the three races on the Mellon turf course went to wire-to-wire winners, so take a close look at today’s races and see if that trend continues.  Pick 6 carryover into Saturday’s 11 race program!  Good luck!

Opening Day by the numbers

July 23, 2011

$15,871,448 – Total handle on the opening day program.

$2,522,398 – The increase in total handle from opening day 2010 to the same day in 2011

1– Total wins by Ramon Dominguez and John Velazquez on the opening day card.

3 – Winning favorites on the card.

96 – High temperature in Saratoga Springs Friday afternoon.

642 – Days since Jackson Bend’s last win, prior to the James Marvin on Friday afternoon.

704 – Days since Nick Zito’s last win in a stakes race at Saratoga (Thunders Dove in the Addison Mallory on 8/16/09)

$865 – Early Pick 4 payoff which was four winners selected on top by DRF’s Dave Litfin.

3 – Wins in a row for trainer Todd Pletcher in graded stakes races for 2YO fillies at Saratoga after Georgie’s Angel’s Schuylerville win (Position Limit in Adirondack, R Heat Lightning in Spinaway)

2 – Wins by Steve Asmussen with first time starting 2YO fillies at Saratoga going back to August 2007

64.89 – Seconds it took Pure Gossip to become the largest priced winner of the meet.

108 – Beyer figure for Jackson Bend, rail-skimming winner of the James Marvin

2 – Winners selected by me on

39 – Days of racing left at the greatest meet in America!

It’s Opening Day!

July 22, 2011

The excitement can’t be matched in thoroughbred racing, save maybe the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup.  The first of forty cards at Saratoga is on tap for this afternoon and if the first three cards give any indication, the racing this meet will be terrific.  Click here to read my analysis for Friday’s card.  Here are my thoughts on the two stakes races this afternoon, the James Marvin and the Schuylerville (G3).

Race 8, The James Marvin:

The return to a one-turn event should help #2 JACKSON BEND, as he’s now back in the care of trainer Nick Zito. He was in Zito’s barn in 2010 and went 0-8 but spent much of the year against graded stakes foes. Two turns seems to be a bit out of his range but he began his career quite nicely around one bend. His worktab is sharp and this barn is due for a breakthrough after a poor run at Belmont. #11 JERSEY TOWN was just getting good at the end of 2011 as he followed up a 2nd place finish in the Bold Ruler with a win in the Cigar Mile. He has run well off of lengthy layoffs in the past and this barn is capable of having one ready to go off the bench. He has the speed to stay close and that’s worth noting given that there’s little speed in here. #7 D’FUNNYBONE could end up being the one to catch as he has speed in this largely paceless group. A 5x Grade II winner, this son of D’Wildcat took the Saratoga Special over this oval two years ago. His effort in the Waldoboro two back was solid and you have to be willing to forgive his poor effort in the sloppy True North. If jockey Edgar Prado puts him on the lead he just may forget to quit.  SELECTIONS: 2-11-7

Race 9, The Schuylerville:

#2 FIVE STAR MOMMA was purchased for just 11k at auction but has already outrun her modest pedigree. She was a very strong 2nd in the Debutante last time out and was by far the best in that race. As the field neared the quarter-pole she made a big move just outside the leaders and took over at once. The final quarter-mile wore on her a bit and she wound up tiring to finish second. A better-timed ride under the jockey who rode Flat Out in the Suburban for this barn will help her cause. #1 FORCE DE LA NATURE was a sharp debut winner for trainer Eddie Kenneally as she rated comfortably off the pace and finished strongly to get the job done. When 2YOs can show the maturity at first asking that this filly did you have to be encouraged. The biggest negative today is the rail draw given her preferred style. #9 GEORGIE’S ANGEL wired a field of MSW rivals on debut at Churchill and escaped much of the public’s attention that day at 9/2. She’s back on short rest, especially for this barn, but looks to be a major pace player today in a cozy outside post position.  SELECTIONS: 2-1-9

Best of luck and see you right back here tomorrow!