The big day has finally arrived! Feels different with the Travers being in the beginning of August this year, but I am more than excited for a great day of racing. There’s 12 opportunities to make money today at the Spa, but I wanted to focus on the Mandatory Pick 5, which begins in Race 7 and is made up of all Stakes races. Shaping up to be a beautiful day here in Saratoga, so enjoy it and let’s cash some tickets!
Race 7 (3:42pm): Balrina Stakes (G1), 7 furlongs on the dirt, 3 yr old fillies & mares and up
Some great horses with great experience in this one. To start, I’m liking #5 Letruska, who has won 9 of her 11 starts but takes a step up in class here against a tougher field. She’s been racing in Mexico most of her life, but has still found form in the US and gets Ricardo Santana in the irons – the combination is 1/1 this year. She should look to break early for the lead and maintain it at an eighth of a mile shorter than recent previous runs. Tough to hate the ML favorite here in #4 Bellafina, who is consistently putting up great figures and has some of the best speed of the group. That being said, she was favored in her last 4 races and only came out victorious in 1…tough to trust this one. #3 Victim of Love offers up some of the best value here at 15-1. After a short layoff, this 4 year old was the winner of the G3 Vagrancy at 27-1, while putting up an 86 Beyer (which may not be impressive compared to the rest of the field, but she’s been improving). Without a doubt this is a race to spread in your P5’s though.
Race 8 (4:22pm): Troy Stakes (G3), 5½ furlongs on the outer turf, 4 yr olds and up
Christophe Clement has two horses in this turf sprint, and for some reason Joel Rosario is not on either of them. Instead, Irad takes the saddle of #4 Shekky Shebaz, who went wire-to-wire a year ago at the Spa under the same conditions. He’s been shaky in his 3 runs this year but should be looking to return to form in his second time out under Clement. Love #2 American Sailor at 15-1, who has been a specialist at this distance on the turf but has had some shaky runs in the past. If he can get out hot and lead the pack, there may be no looking back for him and Tyler Gaffalione, but that’s the only way I see him winning this one. Not sure if there will be a single turf race that I don’t take Joel in, which is why #7 Chewing Gum needs to be considered. I actually don’t love him at this distance, however this is one I could not leave out as he’s improved each time out on the grass in 2020. And lastly, the favorite #1 Imprimis is coming off a layoff but has the best figures of the pack…not loving him, but can’t discount him either.
Race 9 (5:02pm): Waya Stakes (G3), 1½ miles on the inner turf, 4 yr old fillies & mares and up
Long race here. #5 Olympic Games is 4-1 ML and gets Irad Ortiz; the duo fell just short a few weeks ago at Belmont but showed she can handle this distance no problem. Aside from the favorite, she has the best late pace of the bunch plus Clement has been on fire this summer. Speaking of the favorite, I wouldn’t be surprised if #1 Mrs. Sippy takes this one. The mare has won at this distance and won here 12 months ago with Joel, boasting a 93 Beyer. However, she is coming off of a long 9 month layoff, so the value may not be worth it if she goes off below even money. #7 Fools Gold makes her second run out off the layoff and is looking to improve again with Javier back on top.
Race 10 (5:39pm): Test Stakes (G1), 7 furlongs on the dirt, 3 yr old fillies
Aside from the Traver’s this is one of the races everyone’s been talking about…If you follow the ponies, you’d know about the 3-5 ML favorite #5 Gamine here, who is a Baffert horse that tested positive for lidocaine and was suspended for 15 days. Gamine’s last time out was in the G1 Acorn at Belmont, where she recorded an insane 110 Beyer and destroyed the field by NINETEEN lengths in a mile race…Bonkers. She’s quite literally improved each time out, and 110 is insanely tough to beat, especially when you consider not a single other horse in this race has recorded triple digit figures. I’m going to be singling Gamine here – not because I want to, but because I just can’t get myself to take #6 Venetian Harbor at 8-5…awful value.
Race 11 (6:15pm): The Travers Stakes (G1), 1¼ miles on the dirt, 3 yr olds
Here. We. Go! The Travers is BACK and what an interesting one we have here…Belmont Stakes winner #6 Tiz The Law is the favorite here at 1-1 and rightfully so. Tiz is 5 for 6 in his lifetime and has truly run some beautiful races. One thing that worries me slightly about Tiz is that Manny Franco hasn’t been on his game at all this Saratoga meet, however he’s also not often riding the heavy favorites. Tiz comes out of Sackatoga Stables, a local Saratoga ownership group, who will not be looking at this as a “prep” race…they’re here to win, and they’re here to set records. Historically, no Triple Crown winner has gone on to win the Travers. Now, I’m not saying that Tiz already has the Triple Crown won – but if he beats this field I already know he’ll go on to win the Derby and Preakness…it’d only be right to let horse racing fans argue non-stop about the major asterisk it brings. Look, I’m a really big fan of Tiz and while I don’t love rooting on favorites I’ll certainly be rooting for a win here today.
Similar to the Belmont Stakes, I’ll be keying Tiz on top of my exotics. Here are some bets I’ll be playing:
$30 EX – 6 with 2 ($30 bet)
$10 TRI – 6 with 2/3, 2/3 ($20 bet)
$5 Super – 6 with 2/3/7 ($30 bet)
And finally, here’s my Mandatory Payout Pick 5 Ticket:
Total cost: $24 for a $.50 ticket.
Looking to spread more? No problem.
Total cost: $90 for a $.50 ticket.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @SpaSaturdays! I’ll be posting live updates throughout the day as well as other tickets I may choose to play.