Back at the Spa for the third week of its meet! Boy do those dark days get tough…however they’re a necessary break from the action and they give us extra time to prepare for the weekend’s races. Let’s dive into Wednesday’s beautiful card, where we have 10 opportunities to make some money – including a steeplechase race to start us off and the Dayatthespa Stake Race in the 5th. Let’s find some value, cash some tickets, and start week 3 at Saratoga right!
Race 2 (1:21pm): $25,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs on the dirt, New York bred fillies & mares 3 yrs old and up
I think there’s really two ways to approach this race – the first being to single the ML favorite #4 Belleza, who sits at 7-5 and gets Irad in the irons, who has finished second in his two efforts on top but faces an easier field here today. Belleza’s numbers are significantly better than the rest of the pack, and shortening up to 6 furlongs could suit this filly best. If you’re looking to save cash early on a big Pick 5 ticket, then I wouldn’t hate that single, however if you want to play it more safe, you’ll have to include the next favorite #7 Cross Keys. The 7 ran okay in her debut a couple weeks back at Belmont, but came up short in the end. I think the change in distance here could help big time, and she’ll certainly be competing with the 4. If you want to look for a price this race, then look at #5 Queentigua, who is 20-1, has some great early pace and has run some decent races as a longshot on the dirt recently.
Race 3 (1:54pm): $40,000 Claiming, 8½ furlongs on the outer turf, fillies & mares 3 yrs old and up
#9 Positive Skew is coming off of a great race at Belmont where she finished 2nd by a half a length as a 25-1 shot and recorded a solid 74 Beyer. She’s back with Joel Rosario on top and should absolutely be a contender considering her great late speed that she’s shown at times and experience on the turf at this distance. Loving this one at 5-1, but wouldn’t expect her to go off with that value. #6 Stormy Derby Day gets a jockey upgrade here with Jose Ortiz and has blinkers on this time around – trainer Thomas Bush gives bettors an impressive ROI with 1st time blinkers, and Jose is ⅓ on Bush horses this Saratoga meet. #7 Quasar should be considered here. This is her first time running at this long distance and I expect Junior to ride her differently, perhaps playing a more stalking role in the middle of the pack. At 10-1, this daughter of Orb should be added to your ticket.
Race 4 (2:29pm): Maiden Special Weight, 9 furlongs on the dirt, 3 yr olds and up
Don’t really like this race because I don’t really see any value in the selections. It’s a pretty open field with some quality horses mixed in, however there are no standouts nor any favorites that I love for their price. I’ll likely use this as a spread race in my early pick 5, and hope to get a price. For example, the 20-1 ML #5 Zuzudini has run two not-so-great races after switching to the turf, however he’s back on the dirt here at the same distance…can’t leave this one out for the value with Manny Franco on top. Since the race is pretty open, #1 Ajhar coupled with #1A Ashiham is a must use, since you get two horses for the price of 1. Not only that – but they’re the favorite of the race. Both Pletcher trained Shadwell Stables horses out of Tapit, these $800,000 horses have experience in races like this one but are yet to come up with a victory. That could very well change here. Potentially my favorite in the race is #6 Vicarage, who is 7-2 and is the good ole Rosario/Clement combo…a duo that have won 34% of their races so far this summer at the Spa. In a race at this distance, it can be extremely beneficial to find the horses with late pace, and the 6 has it here better than anyone in the group. Like I said, I’ll probably spread this race but I hope those favorites don’t come in.
Race 5 (3:02pm): Dayatthespa Stakes Race, 8½ furlongs on the inner turf, New York bred fillies & mares 3 yrs old and up
There’s two horses in this race that you and I both know you can’t keep out of your selections…#1 War Canoe and #4 Classic Lady. The two favorites are without a doubt the best two in the field, and it’s arguable which is the better one. If I’m being honest, I prefer the 7-5 horse #4 Classic Lady who beat the #1 horse just slightly last time out..but the added half a furlong definitely plays into the 4’s advantage. If Joel or Irad don’t snag this one, I’d love to see Luis Saez get it. I feel like Saez has constantly been underrated during this Saratoga meet and he’s continuously proven the people wrong, which is why I’m taking a shot at #5 Wish Upon at 10-1 ML. She doesn’t have as good of Beyers as the favorites, but she has put up some strong performances in the past and recorded her highest ever Beyer of 89 with Saez on the saddle. She won after a brief layoff back in February and is looking to do the same here off another short one.
Race 6 (3:37pm): $40,000 Claiming, 6½ furlongs on the dirt, 3 yr olds and up
Most important race of the card here as it’s the last of the early pick 5 and first of the late pick 5…a must hit, and thank god it’s a good one too. The one I’m liking the most here is Pletcher’s very own #6 Thebigfundamental, who comes off of a long layoff of about 16 months but has previously put up some amazing runs especially with Johnny V on top. The 6 has had some solid works recently in preparation for his return and at 6-1 I’d love to see him come in. Trainer Michael Maker has been hot this meet and so has Irad Ortiz, putting them together on #3 Pete’s Play Call is a deadly duo in this dirt sprint. The 3 has put up great runs in the past but has also been somewhat inconsistent, however with Irad on top I expect him to be at a significant advantage. Another two-for-one opportunity here that is a must take with the #1 Reed Kan and #1A Topper T, who are 72 and are both horses that should break for the lead early on, setting the pace of the race. If the speed can hold, one of them very well could take this thing gate to wire. Lastly, I like the value of #4 Clench at 10-1 who makes his second start under Brad Cox.
Race 7 (4:12pm): $62,500 Optional Claiming, 5½ furlongs on the outer turf, 3 yr olds and up
#4 Sayyaaf makes his second start off his layoff after finishing a close 2nd place at Belmont a few weeks back. The Chad Brown / Javier Castellano combination is looking to return to their winning form here while shortening up a bit to take advantage of this one’s early speed. The rightful favorite, and if you’re looking to cut costs in multi race wagers this may be the one to single. That being said, there are other horses I like here too. #7 Mad Munnys put up his best race yet last time out, returning to the Belmont turf and winning at 23-1 odds. Gutierrez may be outclassed by other jockeys here and this horse hasn’t performed just like the others in this race, but if he improves again and gets out front, I could see a bomb coming in. Irad, Irad, Irad…I’m going to keep saying it because every time I didn’t last weekend, he’d end up cucking me. Irad is on top of the #3 Readyforprimetime, who makes his first start for Linda Rice since October and won here with Irad last August.
Race 8 (4:46pm): Allowance, 9 furlongs on the dirt, New York bred 3 yr olds and up
I don’t see this race as anything too open, but since I say that it probably means that some longshot wins. #8 Danny California has won at this distance twice before, coming from behind in both wins. I expect him to stalk the pace from the start and ease up slowly with the favorite, but he’ll need to put up a performance similar to the one’s he did earlier in the year if he wants to win it. Speaking of the favorite, I’m actually liking #6 Blackjack Davey here, who is coming off of a great maiden win, recording a 78 Beyer, and he gets today Irad again. The late speed here impresses me, but I question whether or not the value is worth it at 2-1. The last horse I like here that does offer up value is #9 Too Early, who broke his maiden during opening weekend at the Spa at this same distance. He faces much better competition this time out, but if he can put on a great run with Jose Lezcano, I wouldn’t be crazy surprised. Taking this one at 12-1.
Race 9 (5:17pm): $150,000 Optional Claiming, 8½ furlongs on the inner turf, 4 yr olds and up
#8 Devamani has been recording some of the best figures as of recently, and has averaged over a 99 Beyer in his last 3 turf starts under new trainer Chad Brown. He’s yet to enter the winners circle for Chad, so today will be a test to see if he can against easier competition. #2 Therapist gets Irad again and is coming off a hot win in the First Defense Stakes race after a layoff. Going a little bit longer today, but like I’ve been saying…can’t keep Irad out of these. The value play here is #5 Made You Look, who should be your go-to pick if you back class. He hasn’t ran great as of recently, however if he can run like he did here last summer when he put up a 102 Beyer on the turf…it could be a different story especially at 15-1.
Race 10 (5:48pm): Maiden Special Weight, 5½ furlongs on the outer turf, fillies & mares 3 yrs old and up
Interesting last race here but I like it! #2 Let Them Eat Cake has run her best races on the turf and makes her return to the grass with a jockey upgrade in Joel Rosario, and the shortened race should benefit her as well. #8 American Goddess has the most experience on the turf and has been improving speed-wise, but is yet to be a finisher. Liking this filly out of American Pharoah to get out early and hopefully never look back. Lastly, can’t overlook the favorite #4 Sequin, who ran an incredible race last time out recording a 79 Beyer and finishing second. Decent layoff here, but Wesley Ward looks to have this one primed for today’s start.
PICK 5 TICKETS:
Total cost: $162 for a $.50 ticket.
Looking to keep it cheap? No problem, just gonna need to get through the first leg as a single…
Total cost: $54 for a $.50 ticket.
Be sure to follow along with our action in real time on Twitter @SpaSaturdays. Best of luck today everyone, let’s have a Wednesday!