Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Today’s card at Saratoga features ten races, including two stakes. The headliner is the Birdstone Stakes, which drew a field of eight, and will go as race 8. The race is unique in that it is run at the “marathon” distance of 1 3/4 miles on the dirt.
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!
State bred 25K maiden claimers are the bottom of the barrel. This has to be as weak of a race as any that will be run here at the Spa. It’s hard to get behind anyone with any conviction. Sometimes in races like these I look to key a horse for second or third. That horse would seem to be Irishiwish (1). She just finished third at this level when WELL clear of the fourth place finisher. Three losses prior at Remington means that I could never get excited about her win chances, but she should finish ahead of many opponents. There are plenty in here you could take a stab with at big odds. Hansen’s Help (4) did not show much returning from the long layoff, but this barn excels second off the bench, and does well with Dylan Davis riding. I expect an improved effort. Frost Delay (10) should be a huge price, and could outrun her odds. Her lone start came on grass against better, and she gets a positive jock change to Jose Lezcano for a capable trainer. Often horses show dramatic improvement in their second start. Tapceptional (2) was 20-1 on the ML in her debut, and ran second after taking pretty big support. Then she ran really poorly when faltering second time out. A better performance is not unlikely. I really don’t get Thin Dress (8). She has no experience sprinting and her lone dirt race was scheduled for the grass. No thanks at 5-1.
With plenty of early speed in front of him Hogy (4) should be rolling late. He’s the only closer in a race where all the other entrants do their best running on or near the lead. He’s by far the class of the field, and the drop in for a tag can’t be seen as a red flag, considering this son of Offlee Wild is now eight years old. He’s bankrolled nearly $900,000 and should he win and get claimed the connections pocket over another $130,000. He has to race for a tag to fit this condition. He’s certainly been flattered by return races from common opponents in the Jaipur, and he won his lone try over this course. Big Rock (3) will likely offer his typical strong effort. He turned in his two career best races on this course last summer. I don’t think he can improve further at this point, but on paper he should work out a nice trip. Platinum Prince (6) is probably not quick enough to get the lead, and that would compromise his chances since he’s never shown the ability to rate. Anytime Anyplace (1) races for a new barn now but is not likely to improve after racing for Jacobson and Diodoro respectively. Angry Moon (2) will be part of a likely quick early pace. This barn is really struggling right now, and it isn’t a strong one with turf racing. Main track only entrant Hey Jabber Jaw (5) is not fast enough to make the lead and would be a big surprise after a pair of dull efforts at this level even if this event was washed off.
Rudy Rodriguez saddles a pair of veteran geldings dropping in for a tag after some dull efforts. Millionaire Royal Posse (1) comes in off four poor tries. Prior to that he had raddled off four straight victories. He loves this course and distance, but you have to be concerned he doesn’t have much left in the tank. Rudy adds blinkers, but at a point this late in the game I’m not sure how that we’ll help turn his form around. On a positive note, he’s the only runner proven at nine furlongs, and that distance could be beyond the scope of most of today’s rivals. Good Luck Gus (1A) has not raced in eight months, and returns as a first time gelding. Clearly there are concerns here as well. I can’t make a case for him, so if Royal Posse scratches, definitely look elsewhere. Becker’s Galaxy (2) was claimed two back at this level when finishing a distant second to stakes type Papa Shot. After a short break he returned to run another well beaten second against better. He could win, but I’m not willing to back him as the program pick. The form of Beyond the Green (3) seems headed in the right direction. I like the fact that the barn is protecting him once again in an optional claimer. However, the 2-20 record lifetime indicates he is happy plodding for small awards. Indeed he has really struggled to get through this condition. He’s probably the most likely to hit the board, but as far as crossing under the wire first…eh, so let’s take a shot with better prices. John’s Island (7) is in good current form racing off a pair of wins. He’s suspect running this far, but most recently he came out on top against legitimate 25K claimers. Perhaps the old timer likes stretching his legs out. I’ve always liked Jet Black (6) who gets a massive barn change off the claim. He’s now gelded, has good early speed, and offers value. Robertino Diodoro is going to win here sooner rather than later. What’s not to like?
Don’t expect a major upset in the maiden claimer race five. Most of the trainers have putrid records with debuting maiden claimers, so I recommend focusing on the barns that do well in races of this nature. Todd Pletcher has an awesome maiden special weight to maiden claiming percentage so obviously Dreams Are Pazible (9) is a major player dropping in class. Her 5-1 odds in the debut should concern you though given the fact she races for high percentage connections that always take big money. I’m a little more intrigued by the Larry Rivelli home bred Jean Elizabeth (6), a modestly bred daughter of Adios Charlie that probably belongs at this level. Rivelli boasts huge numbers first time out, and wins at a 23% clip in maiden claimers. She’s going to be fast early, the question will be if she can last. Wesley Ward is fantastic with debuting maiden claimers, and he’s winning at a 40% clip with Jimenez up. Therefore it’s hard to leave out Senza Te (5). Barn mate In the Mood (10) wilted at odds on against similar. I can’t see her getting better for win early Wesley Ward. I’m saying no chance on top. Lady Blessings (1) is the long shot that inspires me most. She was bought as a two-year old in training, and Castellano sees fit to ride. Trainer Thomas Morley can pop on occasion. Should Card Club (11) draw in be aware. She would find this group much more to her liking than the straight maidens she faced at Churchill for Lukas.
In turf sprints you should be looking for horses that have experience sprinting on grass. Virtually all race six entrants fit the bill, so focus should be given to horses that actually excel sprinting. I think that grass sprints are dominated by “specialists.” Therefore you can probably expect a good race from Avery Maeve (7). She was victorious in her first two turf sprints in New York last summer, and then returned from a lengthy layoff to run a good third in a race she likely needed. The defection of Joel Rosario on Thursday is really surprising. He has a solid record with David Cannizzo. Regardless, she should be included in all exotics. Rosario opted for Laniakea (2) an easy winner second out for Clement. She was claimed out of that race though, and I wouldn’t expect her to improve for Avila. It is infrequent that horses improve claimed away from Clement. There are others who appear quicker, and she would likely have to rate to win. The quickest early, and the horse to beat, is Our Lucky Charm (1). She has progressed, as one would expect, since the Servis claim three back. Jason is lethal in turf sprints, and anything short of a big try would surprise me. I know Manny Franco has had a dreadful start to this meet, but he wins at a very high rate for this barn. First Appeal (5) has turned in consecutive races where she furiously rallied from far back. These were eye-catching moves, but be careful. They came against much lesser, and she’s sure to get bet under than the morning line after demonstrating such good late energy. I think she’s a fringe player racing for a small share. May Flowers (3) just exited the same condition and will offer considerable more value in exotics. She probably won’t be good enough, but I like her value underneath racing for a hot conditioner over the aforementioned First Appeal (5). She does her best running over this course. Hexameter (9) has a seemingly unrealistic morning line. This barn does well with grass sprinters, and very well with Ricardo Santana riding. She should be used despite her lack of a turf sprint resume. I’m not sure what happened to Hoponthebusgus (8) last out. A better effort is likely in the cards, but something about this horse has never seemed right to me. Michael Dubb shelled out $150,000 for this filly, but she debuted against $50K claimers. The switch to the hot riding Irad is certainly appealing. Hannah’s Smile (11) will not be 20-1, but she will be long odds, and with improvement could round out the trifecta or superfecta.
Pick 4 Play .50 1+12/4+5/2+3+4+5+7+11/7+8+9+10= $48
It rarely materializes in NY, but there seems to be plenty of speed signed on in the race seven allowance event on the grass. I’m really only interested in a couple of horses. Although I hate the post position, the race could set up for Tamit (12). This daughter of Fastnet Rock has rallied from off the pace in all four career starts despite slow early fractions. This is her second race off the layoff, and this barn does well in similar circumstances. Jose Ortiz is having a fabulous meet so look for her to come running late. My instincts say she runs big, and anything close to the 8-1 ML screams use me. Danceland (11) is going to be part of the picture. Like most McGaughey runners you don’t see much improve or decline once they have been established, but after a really bad start most recently, I expect her to run on late for a share. Shug is very good second off the bench. That said, any time you see “stumbled badly at start” in race notes be prepared to get behind an underlay. Enchanting Kitten (8) has had a hard time staying healthy, and I’m circumspect about any Chad Brown trainee with three layoff lines in as many races. Nevertheless, she could benefit from a nice pace set up aiding her good late foot. Stable mate Kahraumna (1) is a bit more logical, but offers less value. She draws well to the inside where she should work out a really nice stalking trip. You can’t knock any of her three career starts where she’s battled full fields of twelve or more. She defeated a next out winner when graduating, and can hopefully avoid trouble with the rail draw. Overnegotiate (7) is not for me despite her perfect record on grass. Those two consecutive wins came versus state bred rivals, and the water is considerably deeper here. Into Summer (6) should be on or near the lead. I don’t think she can stay the distance, but would recommend using her underneath at a nice price. Joe Sharp is an underrated conditioner, and he does well enough sprint-to-route.
It’s uncertain what happened to Tu Brutus (4) most recently when he established a slow pace, but offered no resistance at .55 cents on the dollar. This came after a pair of impressive races when debuting in North American. Prior to that he put together four straight victories in his native Chile. Without any other early speed he could very likely return to his winning ways, but he will be odds on. For that reason I’m a bit more interested in Scuba (5). This Tapit gelding was victorious on Breeder’s Cup Day at this distance for a very undervalued trainer Brendan Walsh. He runs all day, and is the only horse in here with experience going this far. He has encountered trouble in all three recent starts at shorter distances, and should sit a perfect trip with a little better early speed than his remaining rivals. I think we have seen the best Hard Study (1) has to offer. You can’t look for a Pletcher trainee to improve further with nine races under his belt. He’s inexperienced at any distance further than nine furlongs, and his breeding doesn’t indicate further ground will be to his liking. I’ll pass expecting no more than a small share at best. Munhaz (6) would be a huge surprise. He’s raced only once on the main track finishing a distant third in an off the turf affair. 6-1 seems absurdly low morning line odds. Turco Brave (2) is much more experienced at longer distances than the remaining horses. He seems to be the value in the back end of exotics adding blinkers second off the layoff.
There doesn’t seem to be any 5 1/2f grass “specialists” I alluded to earlier in the race nine grass sprint. However, I do see what appears to be a plethora of early speed in this affair. I’ll look for an off the pace runner. Seize (5) is the logical lukewarm morning line favorite. He missed by a neck at this distance last year in relatively quick time. However, he looks like a horse that needs the lead, and I don’t think he’s going to get it with seemingly quicker opponents to his outside. The quickest is likely Curious Cal (9). You throw out Danny Gargan at your own risk, but I have a hard time playing this guy with confidence given his lack of a turf resume. He has raced on grass just once in twenty-six lifetime starts, and didn’t run a step that day. I rarely see horses with records like that win in starts like this. Gargan’s huge numbers second off the layoff are imposing though, and he’s good in turf sprints, so it’s conceivable he hangs around. More early speed should come from long shots Iron Mane (1), Polar Axis (8), and Skylar’s Scramjet (10) further enabling a late running horse. Whiskey Seven (3) started his career with three wins in four starts. In three subsequent tries he’s underwhelmed. He certainly could run on late, but at 4-1 doesn’t provide much value relative to his win chances. European import Dream Mover (4) might not be a serious late runner, and I’m inclined to see one first. The horse I could see running well at a big price is Runaway Posse (7). He’s the longer of the Gargan entrants, and that’s always been an angle I have used. This gelding should be well off the pace, and come running with a late rush. In his most recent start he uncorked a huge middle move in a seven furlong race, but weakened in the stretch. A similar move at a shorter distance could put him there at the wire. He has a poor win percentage, so be sure to include him in your exotics underneath. He should provide plenty of value. Lord of Love (2) wins far too infrequently to get behind. However, he’s closed well at this distance before, and is logical to include on the back end.
The finale is a weak state bred maiden claimer on grass. Chad Brown wins at a 36% rate dropping from straight maidens to maiden claimers so I will make Got the Gist (8) my top choice over a number of rivals that have had their chances. She will race with first Lasix and picks up the services of Javier Castellano. Wish Upon (10) seems to be heading in the right direction. She’s improved a bit in each of her three grass races, most recently finishing second against similar. I like her chances to fire a big shot second off the layoff. She forced the pace last out in race she can build off of. Paz the Wine (7) stretches back out in distance after showing late foot sprinting. She ran well enough routing prior to make her a viable option on Thursday. Zenbennie (9) ran second at Delaware last out in a race both the winner and the third place finisher returned to win. That was in a 20K claimer, but I don’t think these 40K New York State bred’s are any better. She may find herself on or near the lead amongst a jockey colony that tends to be really friendly in New York. She’s the one that could spice up exotics. I can’t make a case for anyone else winning, but Scarlett Jo Hansen (5) and My First Gal (6) could get a minor piece.
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