Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Today’s card at Saratoga features nine races, all of them on the flats. We’ve got FREE picks & analysis for today’s card from Jason Perry (@jmanmetsfan1)! Jason was a contributor to Scott Shapiro’s site, shapperdacapper.com, in the past, and has also written for Danonymous Racing before. He’ll be covering every Thursday of the Saratoga season.
Take it away, Jason!
I had a very forgettable Thursday last week, so let’s right the ship this week.
Small Fortune (5) has had great success turf sprinting, winning four of seven tries. His current form is suspect, but the turn back in distance should help. There is really no other speed to challenge him early, and if this Munnings gelding blows this one, put him in your stable mail to oppose in every race moving forward. Barn mate Uno Emayo (4) is a must use. Two back he faced much better, and most recently he was close up to a fast early pace going two turns. He won his only turf sprint try, and you should always pay attention to the longer of an uncoupled trainer entry. I think we see good late foot on Thursday. Scout’s Honor (2) gets back to sprinting on the lawn. That’s the thing he seemingly does best. He’s an eight year old son of Tapit with just sixteen races, so clearly there’s problems. With Jose Ortiz seeing fit to ride, I expect an honest effort against a lackluster group. I also think it a positive that he was protected against starter allowance company in both races off the long layoff. Natural Order (1) wins far too infrequently to inspire confidence, and his trainer is 0-32 in 2017. He has little experience sprinting, and would be an absurd option at anything near the 9-2 morning line. Francis Freud (7) is a much more viable option underneath. He has plenty of sprint experience, and has seven life time third place finishes. He hails for a low percentage barn, but I really like his chances of rounding out the trifecta or superfecta. The over raced Street Shark (3) has not hit the board since 2015. He is hard to take seriously for a trainer that always seems to be all over the place.
If you get anything out of this write up, make sure that you always oppose Todd Pletcher three year old first time starters. They are a historically horrible ROI option. Hy Brazil (1) is a perfect example. He’s a $400,000 son of Malibu Moon that has torched money in four underwhelming efforts. Pletcher looks to win early and often, so when they don’t make it to the races until three, clearly there are big-time problems. That’s not to say he can’t win in this spot against $30K claimers, after all TAP is lethal dropping from straight maidens to maiden claimers, but I have no interest in this horse as the second choice in the program. Pletcher also saddles another stiff, Battle Ready (5). I’ll give this one a little more of a pass, since he wasn’t a big purchase at auction. That said, the future doesn’t look bright either. So while either of these two could win, you are not going to get paid well. I rarely find myself endorsing a Nick Zito runner, but Kid From New York (6) has faced MUCH better than these. In his last pair he forced the pace against some really fast horses. Manny Franco should take him straight to the lead, and never look back, assuming he can stay the nine furlongs. Moon Over Montana (3) races for the high percentage Larry Rivelli barn. He’s yet to race on conventional dirt, but if he can demonstrate similar form he can be real tough. The return off the bench in for a tag is a bit concerning since her 2016 campaign seemed one to build off of. Spring Emperor (2) will likely run her race and hit the board. She’s racing where she belongs, and a similar plodding third or fourth seems quite possible. Perhaps with the addition of blinkers she will be more forwardly placed.
Blue Atlas (8) finished a good second in her sprint debut for Todd Pletcher. Now she stretches out, and her breeding suggests that shouldn’t be a problem. She’s kin to a few solid runners, most notably Iron Power, a winner of over $400,000 that did well at longer distances on the turf. As good as he is with first time starters, Pletcher is even better with second timers winning at a 32% clip from a large sample. He also boasts a strong 27% win rate with sprint-to-route horses. She is clearly a major player, and likely to be first or second. Chad Brown saddles the logical contender Dooder (4), yet another Flatter progeny he trains. Brown is effective enough debuting over a route of ground. There seems many runners in this event without much hope, and I’d venture it safe to include only these aforementioned two in your early pick four or pick five wagers. Single Mission (7) could be added on a larger ticket, as the only other horse I can see winning. She’s the first foal out of a mare that won a GIII on turf and placed in a couple more. Trainer Michael Stidham is capable in spots like this. Codrington (6) could logically improve off the first try on grass. She is bred well enough to handle the added distance. A win would be a surprise, but another minor award would not be. I’m suspect about the chances of Northernstreetgal (3) going this far. Her turf breeding leaves a lot to be desired as well. Molly’s Nighthawk (5) also seems up against it. She’s the first foal out of a 3-23 mare, and John Kimmel has had no success with debuting in route races, nor was he able to attract a significant jock.
Consumerconfidence (1) comes in off a near miss second in this very same spot. He is obviously a contender for Chad Brown off that effort. However, he really didn’t have any excuse rallying off quick fractions when unable to get the job done. He’s now 0-8 with three defeats against maiden claimers. You know he’s not going to get any better at this point racing for a powerful stable, so if any of his rivals can step up, he could easily suffer defeat number nine. I definitely recommend being wide in your horizontals in this race. I prefer Big Exchange (5) since he has yet to get a shot at this lower level. Brad Cox wins more than a third of the time in grass sprints so the cutback in distance could be a good thing. There’s also sufficient early speed on paper that would facilitate his late kick. That is assuming Valdocco (6) runs. He’s by far the quickest early, and takes a significant class drop while trying the turf for the first time. He’s also racing for a new trainer, Jorge Abreu, a former Chad Brown assistant. So hopefully he’s learned a thing or two about turf racing. If he takes to the surface, we could be looking at a wire-to-wire upset winner. I like his value. Love Your Buttons (9) suffered from a bad start, and passed tired horses going seven furlongs in ridiculously fast time for the level. With a better start, he’s a viable option with only three career starts. Stun (4) has had sixteen tries and managed only one second and five thirds. Anything more than a small share would be a big surprise, he never finishes well. Chief Admiral (3) is not out of the question. The drop in class cannot be seen as suspicious since he’s been sidelined since January of 2016. His debut was encouraging, and the poor stakes effort can be forgiven since something clearly went wrong.
Pawley’s Express (2) ripped through non winners of one and two other than conditions putting a pair of easy wins together before stubbing her toe last out in a wash off. That’s a bit concerning since she faced only three rivals, and takes on better today at the same condition. I’m looking elsewhere with the low 2-1 ML unappealing. David Jacobson saddles a pair, but I have a hunch one of them will scratch. Regardless both halves of the entry look formidable enough. Discreet Senorita (1A) was claimed by Jacobson off of a winning effort, and would take a step up in class on Thursday. Boy this mare loves to win, and she posts a great record going six panels with five wins, a second, and a third in seven tries. She was a way from the races for a really long time, but seems to be back in top form Summer House (1) fits this condition because he’s offered up for the $80,000. That doesn’t concern me since DJ claimed this mare for only $25,000 earlier this year and has earned about $100,000 with her in the interim. She would likely sit a nice stalking trip behind True Romance (4), a Monmouth shipper that looks up against it to me. She settles for runner-up finishes far too frequently, but that shouldn’t stop you from using her underneath at a square price. Fusaichi Red (5) similarly doesn’t usually find enough late. Admittedly many of the races were against slightly better, but the fact remains she has just one victory since 2015, and if the program odds are true, she won’t offer much value. Swing and Sway (3) turns back in distance and attracts Joel Rosario. This filly may have improvement left, and I see some value here as an X-factor. The quick Churchill workout hints at fitness.
Munchkin Money (2) surprised me a bit winning off the layoff for Bryan Lynch. It was his first race for Lynch, and it’s awfully hard to improve off her former trainer Chad Brown. She could turn in another strong performance since there appears to be a good deal of early speed. However, I’m circumspect about the group she faced in that victory off the bench. Second place finisher City Sanction typically doesn’t finish well, and third place finisher Desert Duchess is flat right now. Driven By Speed (10) woke up for TAP with the drop in class and switch to grass. A repeat win is well within the cards, but you won’t be rewarded much. Especially considering the fact that there appears to be many front end type in this race. I’m interested in a couple of long shots. Discreet Image (8) might be the speed of the speed. She chased fast fractions going 5.5 furlongs before fading most recently, but two back she took them a long way before yielding to finish second going seven furlongs. Now she tries two turns, but that wasn’t a problem for her rounding out her two year old campaign. Indeed her lone win came routing. Five Each Way (9) has long shot appeal. Her only win came in a turf route, and I can forgive her recent defeats. Two back she forced fast fractions sprinting, and in her return from a short break she was pinched at the start. I look for an improved effort second off the layoff. Pinchbeck (7) is the logical inclusion in exotics. I expect many in front of her to tire as she picks up the pieces late. Amazing Anne (3) isn’t going to get any better than we have seen for the Sharp Danny Gargan. She’s not quick enough to get the lead, nor does she have necessary staying power.
I have zero confidence in any of the race seven 25K claimers. Almost every runner does their best running on or near the lead, and nobody shows me an affinity for closing. I’m not sold on the favorites and will look for a better price. Bluegrass Prevails (5) changes barns and drops in class. Raymond Handel has had good success using Manny Franco, and if he can relax a bit early it’s conceivable he could run big at a price as one of the few horses that show some late interest in this group. We Did (1A) also fits that mold, but he exits a race versus weaker, and I’m against his barn mate that will hurt his price. Similarly, I like Manipulated (2), but the fact he’s coupled with Marriedtothemusic (2B) will kill his price. The two entry makes a lot of sense as the best speed and the closer, but the value is poor. Look, I hate the barn change for Saratoga Heater (4), but he likes this course and has shown an ability to close at times. He comes off a win at this level so if Contessa can retain any of the Diodoro form he’s a player at a fair price. Love that Jazz (7) just wired out similar, but he should face much more early pressure than his last start when he was allowed to free run through mediocre fractions. He could repeat if expected competition scratches though.
I think She’s Dreamin (2) could stage a small upset in the feature. She trained well leading up to her debut, and finished second showing good late foot. Her second start was a bit of an enigma, but she really put things together third time out winning easily covering seven furlongs. There is not much speed on paper so look for her to sit a perfect stalking trip under Manny Franco. She’s visually impressed me demonstrating a strong turn of foot. Once again Lover’s Key (6) holds a decisive pace advantage as the best speed in a race without much of it. She’s won four of eight turf tries, and will be tough if allowed to strut her stuff unchallenged. Lady Joan (4) defeated her sprinting two back, but I’m suspect about her ability going two turns. She brought the race to Lady’s Key that day, and hopefully will once again on Thursday. Our top choice is going to need a little help. Paz the Bourbon (1) was victorious in her lone turf route. She too would need some kind of favorable pace scenario. I’ve seen enough of this filly to know that she should factor with or without a quick pace up front.
The big question for me in the finale will be if Objective Complete (13) can draw in. If so, she’s my top choice, and a late pick four single. She tackled open company in her lone start this winter at Gulfstream and had the unfortunate pleasure of chasing the turf sprint phenom Morticia. The Wesley Ward trained second place finisher Spellker is no slouch either. This daughter of Mission Impazzible brought a whopping $285,000 as a two year old in training, so clearly she looks the part. The post stinks, but I suspect her to be quick early and secure a good spot going into the turn. New Canaan (8) races for Linda Rice first out, and it’s becoming impossible to leave Linda out of any race. I still think Rice is better second out than first, but I’ll be damned if I exclude her. This filly has Storm Cat and Smart Strike in her lineage, and that is really powerful on grass. Lulu’s Pom Pom (9) is starting to figure it out. However, I don’t expect much improvement from a sharp trainer that brings them fit and ready. Andretta (2) ran on with gusto in her only start. She’s the first foal out of a solid race mare. I get the feeling we will see one better than her on Thursday, but she’s likely to run a similar try.
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