Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Thursday, August 17, 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!
Program favorite Easy Way Out (6) comes in off a win against state bred 40K maiden claimers. That was in slow time, and she beat nothing. Sure she could win right back, but I have no interest in her at short odds off a single win versus bottom feeders. I know David Jacobson is really good off the claim, but you have to be circumspect about any horse claimed away from Todd Pletcher. Therefore, Honor Way (5) should be supported with caution. That said, this is a lousy group, and she overcame a rough start when earning a near miss second last out. With a clean break she will be more forwardly placed, and I believe a better option than the ML favorite. Tainted Angel (3) exits the same race, where she rallied from far back and won by a nose. You have to respect the fact she has five wins to her credit in just thirteen tries. It’s pretty remarkable that she’s bankrolled over $250,000 without being relatively fast. Indeed the 70 Beyer speed figure from her last race was a career high. I’m most interested in Friend of Liberty (1) a daughter of Dominus that has four wins and three seconds in thirteen races when essentially facing better. She goes first off the claim for the suddenly razor sharp Robert Falone. He’s winning at a 33% clip from a sufficient enough sample with first time claimers. The fact that the Drawing Away Stable is using this conditioner now suggests he will be one to watch moving forward. In her last she just missed against similar rivals off a short layoff. Be sure to include her in exotics with a favorable pace scenario. I can also make a case for Clairvoyant Lady (2) at a decent price. She lunged at the start in her last race as the 3-5 favorite. Jose Ortiz sticks around, and she should work out a really nice stalking trip. She’s Stunning (7) is a viable option as the best speed. I think she’s best on grass, but she will present plenty of value. Her presence should help our top choice get involved late.
The race two state bred maiden claimer is as bad as it gets. Saratoga Colonel (8) is the horse to beat, but he’s never routed, failed recently against cheaper, and offers zero value. I really cannot make a case for most of his rivals though. Brooklyn Speights (10) has five seconds from ten starts. He won’t show improvement at this point for Wesley Ward, but at least you can probably expect another decent effort. He has legitimate excuses in his two recent races, and as bad as he is, he’s the only horse that brings any kind of resume to the table. Look for him to go to the top stretching back out. He should definitely be part of the picture. Heat Check (5) could wake up against a group of this caliber. He stretches back out to a route of ground like he started his career, and has less failed efforts than most of his opponents. Fleet Admiral (2) could pick off some tired horses for a small share, but I have zero interest. He was 80-1 at this level last out, and the faced that day was particularly terrible in my opinion. The eight year old gelding Oh So Sinister (3) is 0-34 lifetime, and comical at 10-1 on the morning line. Looking At U Kid (7) could very well grind out a small award. He’s had plenty of chances, and looks too slow to win, but has at least shown minimal signs of life running on late at times.
Thebigfundemental (3) lost without much excuse halting a would be three race win streak. At first I wanted to beat him, but man this race is exceedingly light on speed, and he should be able to carve out really easy fractions. If he doesn’t win on Thursday he goes into the never ever again stable mail. Even if he does, I will always view him with caution. Securitiz (5) is the horse you can count on. That is if running second is what you are counting on. He typically runs his race, but doesn’t usually show enough late when finding ways to lose races. Likewise, it’s now or never for this horse. I think he runs another good race in his third race of a current form cycle. The distance is not a problem. Raahgeb (1) was more forwardly placed last out in his win versus lesser. Prior to that he dropped far back and attempted one late run. He’s going to need to find a way to stay relatively close to have a legitimate shot versus these. The well bred Sail Ahoy (5) never lived up to his pedigree. He has the look of a plodder that doesn’t care to run this far. Doyouknowsomething (6) is the X-factor. He has more speed than he has shown lately, and doesn’t have distance limitations. He could also be the thorn in the side of the favorite should Manny Franco decide to use his speed. I hope he does. He would be a tournament play or long-shot option for me.
Dreamy Margarita (9) returns to an appropriate level after tackling tougher, albeit state bred rivals. I’m not sold on her though. Her only win came against 40K New York bred maiden claimers. Regular rider Irad Ortiz lands elsewhere on Mojo’s Queen (2). That filly is hard to take seriously on the surface, but this race should set up well for her stalking running style. There is little in the way of upside for these fillies, but she possesses a little bit in my opinion. The early speed of Queen of Spades (1) looks cheap, and her trainer is clueless. No thanks…. This distance is probably less than Veil Dance (5) wants to fire her best shot. Trainer David Donk is doing well right now, but she is a minor player most likely. Laura’s Patriot (10) will probably make it 1-30 on Thursday, but she could pick up a paycheck with another non threatening late close. I like Crazy About Jazz (6). She’s quick early, and faces a group that doesn’t like to win races. Christophe Clement is struggling a bit right now, but he excels in grass sprints, and Javier Castellano sees fit to ride. I think she rebounds off the last race debacle when she was dueled into defeat.
Bart Hone doesn’t run many horses in New York so when the pricey Smokin Platinum (7) debuted with Joel Rosario up it should have gotten attention. It didn’t though, and this son of Mission Impazible went off 7-1 as he won a race good enough to win. He ran a great second well clear of the third place finisher, and should be taken very seriously for a barn that does well second out. Lookin Ready (1) finished third out if that same common race, and I don’t know why he would be able to turn the tables. Bruce Levine is decent second out, but she should have been fit enough. Dark Ops (10) looks real dangerous. His half sibling Summer Revolution made a splash here in New York for the same connections about a year ago. This son of Bernadini has plenty of credentials, and the works look well. It’s certainly encouraging Irad Ortiz is aboard. The most talented colt down the road may be Sea Foam (6), with some really flashy pedigree for a New York bred. Her half sib Cahirciveen showed some real promise last summer in New York. I have a hunch he will be better going longer, but his pedigree appeal is strong. Charlie Baker is solid first out, and posts absurd numbers using Jose Ortiz. 15-1 seems completely unrealistic on first time starter Paynter’s Prize (3). This is a deep group, but I’m still including him underneath.
Despite the presence of other front running horses, I like Grumplestiltskin (4) to run well off the layoff for his new conditioner Jeremiah Englehart. He broke his maiden last December in relatively quick time for former trainer Gary Sciacca, and has been away since. This is a noteworthy barn change. Englehart wins at a 27% rate with horses he saddles for the first time. He’s also had a great summer in New York and attracts Jose Ortiz to ride. That’s another notable switch as this gelding was formerly ridden by Dylan Davis. The works look sharp, and Jeremiah’s solid record with layoffs this long is further encouragement. The horse to beat is Beasley (1) dropping in class and turning back in distance. He should have plenty of pace to run at, and I expect a big performance. His pair of sprints last winter were solid, and his breeding suggests to me that six furlongs to a mile is probably in his best interest. He’s the only closer in a group packed with speed balls. Hard Scramble (3) exits a pair of races against really fast winners. This group looks considerably more friendly. I still think he’s getting a minor share as a horse that probably wants the lead, and will be hard pressed to get it comfortably. I like Strong Yen (6) to finish on the back end of exotics at a nice price. He exits route races and draws Irad Ortiz. Look for him to pick off tired rivals.
I don’t know who in this field wants to go this distance since most are inexperienced at nine furlongs or more. Summer Luck (4) ran a well enough third place finish going nine panels two back in the GIII Regret. She’s consistently kept better company, and finally drops to a reasonable spot. I like that she has a little early speed that could bode well since you can expect a typical pedestrian pace that’s become a given in turf routes in New York. She probably has more early speed than Initiate (10) who yielded late without excuse in two of her last three starts. Her lone win came at Tampa Bay, and she’s going to have to show more to win on this circuit. She retains Irad Ortiz, but it’s concerning she couldn’t hold on for him in the two aforementioned defeats. Taperge (1) is the horse to beat for Chad Brown. When last seen she was closing with a rush, and probably lost because of the wide trip. While she is untested going this far, I would expect Chad will have her fit enough off the freshening. Awesome Boss (2) gets back on the surface she began her career, an angle I’m fond of. However, she looks more like a miler to me, and her deep closing running style may not be suitable going this far. Ken McPeek is very good with runners returning from layoffs of this nature, so fitness should not be a concern. Warrior Hall (6) has been a disappointment. She hasn’t progressed since her win second out, but she is bred well for the added distance. She could show some improvement at a price.
This is one of my favorite races on the card. Quezon (1) stands to sit a perfect trip, and is a must use on every exotic ticket as the one true closer in a race packed with speed. She’s been facing better, and now faces state bred company. The last time she faced similar, she throttled a couple she squares off against today. Nevertheless, her last effort was not visually impressive when she ran on for second, but didn’t show me a big turn of foot. Her three races this year are not as good as what we have seen from her in the past. Hot City Girl (2) was a favorite of mine, but has really tailed off. She has just one win to her credit in nearly eighteen months. She’s never demonstrated an ability to rate, and faces a a great deal of early pressure. She’s probably up against it. I am going to leave out the quickest of all, Court Dancer (6). She likely won’t stay the distance with the presence of other speedy type. Her lone victory in the last calendar year came over a wet track. I believe Clipthecouponannie (5) will be the wise guy play. She has been handled with “Kid gloves” by Todd Pletcher, winning five of seven races, however finishing a distant third in her lone stakes try. I don’t believe in her simply because Todd seemingly doesn’t, and she will take plenty of heat. I can’t forgive the last poor try on a wet track, because two back she won easily over a sloppy track. Wonderment (7) may not be good enough to win, but she makes plenty of sense in exotics. I expect she fires, even if it’s just a minor share. I love the way this race sets ups for her. Her last win over a wet track was eye-catching, and it is possible she’s simply in career best form. Picco Uno (9) must be feared. She rattled off four straight wins before the route debacle, and has shown she can rate. Her latest two wins came against small fields with weaker opposition than she faces today though.
I’m going to against the grain a bit in the finale and side with Held Accountable (1). I know Philip Serpe brings no credentials to the table when it comes to winning first out, but this filly has some decent pedigree for long time New York owners Mary and Chester Broman. Serpe is capable in grass sprints, and he does well when Luis Saez rides. Her sire Exchange Rate is a successful stallion on the turf, and her unraced mother is a sibling to Tricky Creek (873K), Parade Ground (793K), Parade Leader (712K), Speed Dialer (383K), Swiss Asset (331K), Wavering Girl (314K), and Everhope (310K). Plenty to like about her lineage… I liked Scatback (2) in her debut, because she is from a pretty good family herself. But, she didn’t show much when the real running started, and I’m going to need to see more second out. Toquette (10) must be used simply because you cannot leave out the lethal combo of Danny Gargan and Kendrick Caramouche. Sure they are better with claimers and horses with races under their belt, but right now you can’t let that team beat you. Leah Gyramati does well with first time starters, and she lures Jose Ortiz to ride Straw Hat (9). There could be a little talent here. It wouldn’t take much talent to fire big here.
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