Goooood morning! It doesn’t feel the same since we won’t be heading to the track today, but it still feels like Christmas day to me. The greatest race track in the world is back and I am ready to destroy this year’s meet. We have 10 beautiful opportunities to make some cash today and get our bankroll up for the big weekend. Let’s have at it, shall we?
NOTE: If you’re interested in a season long horse racing pool, we are hosting one! It will be played on each Saturday of the Saratoga season and is $100. All the info can be found here.
Race 1 (1:10pm): $14,000 Claiming, 9 furlongs on the dirt, 3 yr olds and up
Not a bad first race to kick off the Saratoga meet! #2 Grit and Glory is Linda Rice’s first of two here and offers some great value at 6-1 ML. Last time out was a few weeks ago on a muddy Belmont track off of a layoff, where he didn’t do much however he should do better this time out. One thing to note is that Linda put jockey Jose Ortiz on her other horse in this race, while Luis Cardenas rides the 2. Impossible not to take Irad Ortiz on the favorite #6 Guy Caballero. The 6 has finished in the money in 8 out of his previous 10 races and takes a drop down in class here for what could be an easy victory. A horse similar to Guy Caballero is #7 Jerome Avenue, who sits at 5-2 and starts his first race under trainer Rob Atras. He has the pace and speed to keep up with the favorite, but his inconsistency is concerning. Last choice here will be #8 Rucksack; sitting at 12-1 ML with Tyler Gaffalione, the winning jockey of Keeneland’s 5 day meet, taking the irons. #8 has the early pace that will have him out front early, and he wire-to-wired a field at this distance here in September…but that was under sloppy conditions. Certainly a gamble, but not adding this one to the early Pick 5 card makes me nervous.
Race 2 (1:44pm): $75,000 Maiden Claiming, 8½ furlongs on the inner turf, 3 yr olds and up
#10 Scanno and Javier Castellano are looking for revenge in this one. Last time out at Belmont, the duo looked to have the race but was beaten in the final stretch. Scanno has some great experience on the turf at this distance and has recorded consistent Beyers, but he hasn’t been a finisher yet. I like him here at 7-2. One horse that intrigues me in #3 Price Talk – a first time starter out of Klaravich Stables, however this one is not under trainer Chad Brown. The 3 has Jorge Abreu as his trainer, who boasts an insane ROI for first time starters. Have a feeling this one won’t be going off near 10-1…just not exactly sure which way the pendulum will be swinging. Did you think I’d leave Irad off the list? Nope! #1 Leading West has run two great second place races since switching to trainer Michael Maker, and the added sixteenth of a mile here could be the difference maker. Gets blinkers on today and is dropping to the claiming level. This one should absolutely be in your exotics. If you’re playing a larger ticket, watch out for first time turfer #8 Mutakaamil, who is a Chad Brown horse who has put up some speedy figures on the dirt.
Race 3 (2:20pm): Allowance, 6 furlongs on the dirt, fillies & mares 3 yrs old and up
This race sure is a bitch, huh…Only five horses in the field, two of which being Chad Brown’s. Really tough to pick a winner in this one as there’s lots of talent across the group and many ways I see the race playing out. With the exception of her previous race, #4 Glass Ceiling has run exceptionally well. She’s won 3 out of 5 under Gargan and takes on another tough field after the G1 Acorn back in June. Now, the 4 is not the fastest horse of the pack, but she’s improved nearly every time out and gets Irad Ortiz on the saddle. If the two of them run like they did at Gulfstream in May, they could have this one in the bag…liking the value here at 4-1 compared to the rest of the pack. Hard to overlook the favorite #5 Palomita here, who is 9-5 and has the best early pace and gets the outside draw – which should favor her here as well. #3 Palace Avenger is another one with crazy early speed that will likely break early, but will she break better than the 5? Her Beyers have been improving each time out and last time she received an 85 in her 2nd place finish at Churchill. That race was at 6½ furlongs, and I think the slight drop to 6 will be fitting for this fillie.
Race 4 (2:54pm): Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs on the dirt, fillies & mares 3 yrs old and up
Quite the interesting field we’ve got here – only one horse with true experience, a couple first time starters, and many second timers. Not sure I’m really loving the experience in this race, as the favorite #5 Valletta starts in her first race under a new trainer after being dropped by Bill Mott’s barn. That being said, she’s put up some solid Beyers and gets Javier, so don’t leave her out of the Pick 5. #2 Yes to Mischief is a $400,000 filly out of Into Mischief and makes her debut here. Should offer up some great value against a not-so-great field with Jose on top. In a short dirt sprint like this one, I absolutely cannot pass up on #3 Dial Me Up, who recorded an impressive 121 early pace TimeformUS figure in her debut back in November. Could see this one coming back strong off of the layoff.
Race 5 (3:28pm): $40,000 Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs on the dirt, New York bred 3 yr olds and up
Liking the morning line favorite #5 Dark Money in this one. Manny Franco in the irons and the duo ran a hell of a race last time out, finishing first out of a difficult 12 horse field and recording a 92 Beyer while doing so. If he breaks well again, I don’t expect anyone to catch him. However, I’m a fan of value and #6 Leaky Cup offers up some decent value here at 6-1. He has early pace even better than the favorite and loves breaking for the lead – he did so last August here at Saratoga and destroyed the pack going wire-to-wire…would love to see it again. I’d kick myself if I didn’t list #8 The Caretaker here and he went on to win it, cause this is a damn good horse, but I’m afraid with Irad on top he’ll take a ton of money, dropping the value of the selection. That being said, he’s been putting up great speed figures consistently (averaging an 88 in his last 5 starts) and won last time out off of a 4 month layoff.
Race 6 (4:04pm): $40,000 Maiden Claiming, 5½ furlongs on the outer turf, 3 yr olds and up
This race looks like a trap and a half, but it’s a trap we’re going to have to nail. I’ve tailed #5 Point of Humor too many times in the past, and recently he’s quite literally only disappointed, however based on previous runs, I know he’s got it in him. He has plenty of experience in turf sprints and has recorded the highest speed figures of the group. I’m not saying he’ll win it, but at 15-1 this one is a must have in your exotics – if you were to put one of the Ortiz brothers on him, his odds would be 7-1 instead. #8 Spitball had a solid second race for Linda Rice, but fell short towards the end. Slightly shorter race here, he has early pace and returns to the dirt with Jose Ortiz, loving this one at 4-1. Lastly, the favorite #9 Propensity has done well on the turf recently and recorded great Beyers, but is yet to snag a win. That being said, the drop to just 5½ furlongs treats this one beautifully.
Race 7 (4:40pm): Allowance, 8½ furlongs on the inner turf, New York bred fillies & mares 3 yrs old and up
My “easy” pick here is #9 Summers At The Spa; and no, it’s not because of the name (although that is an incredible bonus). Look, this is a pretty long race and it is full of early pace with the exception of one horse…the 9. In her two times out, she’s come from way behind to win and place, respectively. Last time out she recorded a 74 Beyer and will appreciate the additional half a furlong here. Surprisingly, she’s not the morning line favorite though…that title can be given to #1 Astoria Kitten, who was narrowly beaten by #9 last time out. To me it should easily be the 9 over the 1 in this one, but for some value look at #7 Giacosa, who is 15-1 and has some late speed similar to the 9 and gets Manny Frano again. The duo won last time out but face a tougher field here. #4 Minit Maus also offers value at 20-1, as she gets Gaffalione on the saddle this time. She loves being the underdog in races, and it’s worked out in the past for her before. Not expecting this one to win, but wouldn’t be surprised if I saw her in the top 3.
Race 8 (5:14pm): The Schuylerville Stakes (G3), 6 furlongs on the dirt, 2 yr old fillies
Initial thoughts have me believing that #3 Beautiful Memories is going to destroy this race. Speed should play here, and the 3 certainly has it – as she won in her debut with Jose on top by 10 lengths. If not the 3, then it should be #8 Hopeful Princess. The 8 is running for the first time under Steve Asmussen after being purchased by Stonestreet after her debut win. This is a two horse race, but I’m leaning towards Jose and Beautiful Memories in this Stakes race.
Race 9 (5:46pm): The Peter Pan Stakes (G3), 9 furlongs on the dirt, 3 yr olds
This should be one incredible race, and likely the toughest to handicap on the card. #8 Chestertown is the most expensive horse of the bunch as he was purchased for $2 million in 2019 but hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations yet. This distance suits him perfectly and he gets blinkers on today which should allow him to focus in the final stretch. Richardo finished 3rd and then 2nd while riding him before…could it be time for 1st? At 10-1, he’s a steal. #2 Country Grammar would actually be my choice for the winner here due to a variety of reasons. Irad on top…Chad Brown loves him…He’s won at this distance…Late pace in a long race…This one should do better in his second run off the layoff. #5 Candy Tycoon is a Pletcher horse and gets Johnny V in the irons. She’s been running very well recently with the exception of a rough Florida Derby which she was a longshot in. He did happen to beat the 2 in the Fountain of Youth though. If the 5 can get up front relatively early, I’d expect him to stay up there. #7 Caracaro recorded an impressive 92 Beyer last time out and won swiftly at the mile distance. Looks to be training well and gets Javier this time around. If you’re placing a deep ticket, don’t leave #3 Modernist out. Excited for this race.
Race 10 (6:18pm): $40,000 Claiming, 5½ furlongs on the outer turf, fillies & mares 3 yrs old and up
First pick here is Irad on #8 Summer’s Fortune, who has great early speed that should play in this one. She’s a first time turfer, and horses out of Summer Dream have done well on the turf. Can’t go against experience here with #1 Secure Connection – she’s been putting up great numbers in her recent trips but hasn’t reached the winner’s circle since September. Liking her here especially if speed falls in the final furlong. #2 Doll just recorded a 71 Beyer on the turf last time out a few weeks ago. Liking the early pace on her and the Franco/Cox combo has been very profitable this year. Watch out for #11 Aunt Nadine for value at 15-1, who makes her first start under a new trainer (Steve Asmussen) here.
I’ll likely be playing the late Pick 5 or 6 today – just want to get a feel for how the track is running. Be sure to keep up to date with all the action by following me on Twitter @SpaSaturdays. It’s Christmas Day ladies and gents! Let’s make some god damn money!