Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Today’s card at Saratoga features ten races, including the New York Turf Writers’ Cup and the Riskaverse Stakes. 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!
La Contessa (5) drops from maiden specials to maiden claimers, a move Todd Pletcher is lethal at. She debuted earlier in the meet on grass running an even fifth at a relatively lukewarm 5-1 odds. The immediate drop in for a tag is a bit concerning given her $200,000 purchase price. But don’t forget, TAP is competing with Chad Brown for the Saratoga training title, and probably isn’t afraid to be a little aggressive. She should certainly be used, but I’d be afraid to single her at a short price. Tied Up (3) makes a similar drop after just one race for Steve Asmussen. This daughter of Even the Score is more modestly bred, so the drop is less concerning. This barn excels with maiden claimers, and I definitely expect her to improve. Little Lu (2) is the last of the class droppers, but this Pioneerof the Nile filly brought only $33,000 at auction. That’s troublesome given the $110,000 stud fee of her sire. She showed nothing in her debut, and would be a big surprise to me. Debut runner Yes I Dance (1) was a $30,000 purchase earlier this year so the debut at this price doesn’t bother me. Rice has powerful numbers with all maiden claimers, and wins about a quarter of the time with debuting ones. I’m curious to know why she was training at Penn National. It leads me to believe she may be light on talent, but I don’t want to overthink this. All of the entrants have concerns. Strategic Dreams (7) makes sense. She’s modestly bred and will be debut for a price twice that of her cost. Rudy Rod is mediocre with debuting maiden claimers. He had one finish up the track on Sunday at a short price. The works are slow, but that doesn’t mean much to me at this level.
Caribbean (10) ships from Monmouth where he earned a victory against a small field of restricted claimers. He could certainly repeat, but he offers zero value, won’t get any better at this point, and lands an outside post. Overall he’s been a disappointment for these strong connections. Strike Midnight (8) makes a concerning drop to this level. He’s the most accomplished of this group, and will win if able to tap into his old form. His running style has increasingly become more of a deep closer, and his best races have come when he was allowed to stalk the pace. I’m not sure if that’s by choice, but either way it would bode well for him to be more forwardly placed. Djulpan (6) rebounded from a neck defeat to earn a hard fought win against N2L rivals. I don’t think he wants nine furlongs, and the competition on Thursday is deeper than he’s been facing. Twenty Four Seven (5) looks well spotted off the long break for Danny Gargan. Whenever Gargan uses Kendrick Carmouche you had better take notice. They have 51 wins from 153 starts showing a $2.51 ROI. Strong numbers for sure. There should be enough early speed to give him a fair shake. Baratti (3) only shows one good stateside race. He’s never raced for this low level. He plodded in his last effort in a wash-off, and doesn’t interest me on Thursday. The long-shots look up against it, but Gotham News (7) has some back class, and will race for an unprotected tag for the first time. Perhaps he could round out the back end.
Jewel Can Disco (7) made his 2017 debut off an eight month break and proceeded to run a hole in the wind crushing fellow state bred foes. A repeat of that monster effort would likely put him in the winners circle again. There seems to be only one other challenger that could oppose him on the front end. That would be Heavy Meddle (1). He tired at this level finishing a distant second at 20-1 over this course a month ago. With a speedier rival to his outside I don’t see him staying the course. I prefer barn mate The Caretaker (1A) going route-to-sprint off the layoff for KPM Racing. Irad Ortiz bails on another logical contender to ride here. Speightstown progeny tend to love this seven furlong distance, and his stable mate could conceivably facilitate his late run by challenging the favorite early. Chad Brown trained Born for a Storm (4) exits the same race, turning a really poor effort off the eight month break. He raced a bit wide that day, but I can’t excuse the poor showing, particularly since he will likely be well supported as always. The move back to the main track should help Bourbon Empire (5). I like when horses return to the surface they began their career. These connections are running cold right now though. The one that could step up might be Remstin (2). He’s never run a bad race in four lifetime starts. Contessa has poor numbers with horses racing off 180+ day layoffs, however this colt won his debut so I see reason he won’t be fit enough. Furthermore Contessa’s win percentage with all starters is virtually the same as his layoff starters. It’s nice to see Carmouche replace the defecting Irad, he has had success riding for Contessa from limited opportunities. Terry O Geri (2B) shows late interest at times, and could grind out a piece. Fleet Irish (6) has done nothing but grind out minor awards since his win in November of 2016. I expect nothing more again on Thursday.
Merilore (12) just missed first off the claim at this level less than a month ago. The return to the turf seemed to wake her up a bit, and a similar effort seems likely for trainer Joe Sharp. That said, the post is a bit dubious, this mare almost always draws well showing seven straight races from post position five or less. My Good Venezuela (10) disappointed in the same common race. She prompted a slow pace before folding without excuse. Miss Aja Brown (7) fits, but new trainer Chris Engelhart has horrible turf racing figures, and is definitely a down grade from the recently retired Michael Hushion. I keep wanting to make an excuse for Zeven (8). Trainer Bruce Levine is heating up, and he has killer numbers across the board with relevant stats. I really like her as a long shot option stretching out to a distance her tactical speed could serve her well. Industrial Policy (5) continues to plunge down the ladder. She’s just three for thirty-two lifetime, and win or lose will be over-bet on Thursday.
Bottom level state bred maiden claimers square off in race 6. Iwishirish (6) is the logical program pick after a near miss second last out at this level. You know Irad Ortiz will once again give her every opportunity to win. She’s highly likely to hit the board, and should be no worse than second with a repeat effort. I suggest using others though. Indian Gem (7) has a bit more upside. She’s only had a pair of chances, one against special weights and the other on grass. She probably needed the last race, and trainer George Weaver has big figures second off layoffs of this nature. He’s posting a $3.04 ROI racing second off the layoff of six months or longer, and wins at a 19% rate going turf-to-dirt. Scarlett Jo Hansen (5) returns to the main track while cutting back in distance. Once again Michelle Nevin employs the bug boy to get the weight off. He’s performed well for Nevin, but the question will be if this filly has the necessary turn of foot sprinting. Tough Old Bird (4) could improve returning to an appropriate level. Her affinity for having sluggish starts has perpetually compromised her. All of her better tries have come over an off track as well. Desert Affair (10) has had more than enough chances. She could earn another pay check, but I’ve seen enough of her blowing leads late to pass on top.
Program selection Table For Six (8) is a tired act. She’s a notorious hanger with one win and six seconds in eleven races. She’s finished second in four of her last five starts, with a close beaten third sandwiched in the middle. Stretching out in distance likely won’t be the answer either. There is a glaring lack of speed on paper, so give me Pinchbeck (6). This filly has had a hard time stringing consecutive races together. That’s definitely concerning, but this looks like a soft spot. She also possesses plenty of route pedigree, and tactical speed is a big advantage over deep closers at long distances like this in a race without much early speed. Hopefully the added distance will be the answer. Bareeqa (10) might be the only other one with a pulse. She drops in class for powerful connections. Her deep closing running style won’t help matters though. Maybe Mo Promise (12) can show more at a big price stretching out as one of the few runners with early speed.
A boatload of talented speed turned up for this allowance event. It’s hard to imagine a scenario a closer doesn’t win this race with all the early speed signed on. Surely Celtic Chaos (8) will fire a big try. He’s won three straight against similar, and has been first or second in every start this year. He will be well supported though, and putting four straight wins together is not easy. Bustin It (6) is razor sharp, but I think his run stops here. He’s been tackling lesser, and faces much early pressure. I don’t see Rectify (1) conceding the lead with a rail draw, so expect fireworks early. You have to respect Ostralenka (1). He’s in top form for David Jacobson. He seems to have a little trouble closing the deal of late, and is 0-6 at Saratoga as well. His last effort was impressive though, since he had a weak resume coming in when racing over an off track. He ran a huge race making a big move into a fast pace before succumbing to a fresh challenger. I like his versatility. Weekend Hideaway (3) will be outrun early and he will have to rate to win. That’s something he’s had spotty success with. Gypsum Johnny (7) intrigues me at a price. He’s versatile, and gets reunited with Jose Ortiz. I think he will offer value after underwhelming last out against many of today’s common rivals. He helped force fast fractions in his last start, but I believe he can be rated. I keep waiting for Fish Trappe Road (9) to wake up. He will finally get back on a fast main track sprinting. He will also race as a first time gelding. Unfortunately he’s probably best stalking in a race without much early speed, and this doesn’t seem like such an event.
I don’t believe in Cherry Lodge (12). She exits a race where the prohibitive favorite encountered trouble, and she was allowed to cruise unchallenged up front. I don’t think she wants to go this far, and she drew a difficult post. No thanks at a short price. I much prefer true miler Defiant Honor (11) dropping from GIII company to this overnight stakes race. I’m willing to excuse her last effort in the Lake George against better when she may have just bounced. Trainer James Toner does very well with his small stable. She has already shown she is versatile enough to win from an outside post before. If Rubilinda (13) draws in obviously beware. Her debut run was visually impressive, and I definitely think she has more talent than the TAP filly just to her inside that previously beat her because of circumstance. Chubby Star (10) inexplicably went to the lead last out, and will be more conservatively ridden, but I still don’t see her good enough. Danceland (8) benefitted from a perfect scenario. I don’t see much improvement left either. She’s consistent though, so look for her to run on late. Fizzy Friday (7) could land a minor share, but the 6-1 ML odds are comical. Berned (5) will be the “wise guy” horse after facing better, and trying the grass for the first time for an astute turf conditioner. There’s some upside here.
Fun Prospect (8) stretches out while adding blinkers. That’s a high percentage move for trainer Graham Motion. I love this barn going sprint-to-route. Leave him out at your own risk, the added distance should help. I get the feeling News Anchor (6) has some skills. $100,000 at auction for a Data Link colt seems like he must look the part. This barn usually gives them a race though, and the presence of Franco leads me to believe this is not going to be the day. Phone Funky Monkey (5) had a useful debut, and should step forward further for Donk. The jock change to Irad Ortiz is certainly appealing. Mike Maker is better than his record suggests, and Now A Factor (4) could surprise a bit. Bourbonfuhrme (3) got washed off in his lone start. Toss that effort, and consider him in exotics on the surface the connections aspired to race on last out.
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