SARATOGA – 7/16/22
RACE 1: 4-5-1-6
#4 KNOT THE ONE debuted against MSW company in New Jersey and wound up showing little while chasing a slow pace. The rail was not the place to be that day, or roughly every day, at Monmouth Park and he understandably tired late. Trainer Todd Pletcher sports a strong record with 2nd time starting maidens dropping in for tags on the dirt and this colt looms the most appealing alternative to his stablemate, #1 NEVER CHANGE. #5 NORTH POLE hails from the barn of Mike Maker, who has a couple of wins through the first two cards. This son of Pioneerof the Nile is dropping in class off a solid effort last time out when he chased the pace and weakened late. He should be forwardly placed, which is a bonus going this new one mile trip out of the Wilson chute. The aforementioned Never Change drops in for a tag today after two poor efforts on the turf. He was well fancied in his first two starts and wound up showing little, but this is a far more realistic spot class-wise.
RACE 2: 7-4-5-1
One more chance for #7 CHLOE ROSE, who has performed well at the Spa in the past and comes in with improving form. She has a good outside post and the addition of blinkers should put her in the mix early this afternoon. 2021 Spa top jockey Luis Saez is in the irons once again and he will put her in the game in the opening furlongs. #4 QUICK MUNNY ran a bang-up race last time out at Churchill Downs and now returns after a couple of months off. She is quick enough to get command early and has an aggressive pilot in the irons. Should she get loose in here she’ll be tough to catch. #5 CUPIDS GIRL is a late runner who scored last time out from just off a hot pace. She improved upon being dropped in for a tag and should fit well here class-wise. The price will be fair as well at her morning line of 5-1.
RACE 3: 6-8-4-1
The debut effort from #6 SARAH’S SPLENDOR was actually quite solid given the slow gate break and lack of any pace to run at in the late stages. She should improve with some experience and will be more of a factor early today on the stretchout in distance. All signs point to her being strong on the lawn given the pedigree and her trainer already has a win at the young meet. #8 SARATOGA CHROME received an embarrassing ride last time out as she was steadied early before losing position in the opening quarter mile. She wound up making a prolonged wide move and showed late interest. This is a big rider switch and she’ll be a price. #4 ROBYN AND ELI narrowly missed last time out against stakes company after rallying into a white hot pace. She gets Lasix here second off the bench and should be more of an early threat going to the route trip. Whether she has any will to win is the concern given the three narrow misses.
RACE 4: 2-1-8-4
In all likelihood #2 HIGHER QUALITY is going to win here on the big class drop for Chad Brown. He was compromised by a strong rail last time out early on Belmont day and lost all chance going 4-5 wide. He is quick enough to get command early but needs to avoid a pace battle with other speed signed on in here. #1 RED REVOLUTION is a late runner who’ll be in line to capitalize if the pace develops in a big way. He fits at this class level given his last start, and his pattern in terms of Thoro-graph figures makes him a major threat. #8 CRYO is a potential thorn in the side of the top pick given that he has speed and is stretching out in distance. He can stalk the pace and pounce when ready today and that makes him a threat for a trainer who has generally been very good in NY.
RACE 5: 3-9-8-5
#3 FRONT LINE DANCER was attempting to rally from deep in the pack last time out when he was moved inside in the final quarter-mile. That’s a tough spot from which to rally and he still picked off a few runners with no pace setup. Things should set up much better for him this time around and he will be a square price in this competitive field. #9 RALLY SQUIRREL is dangerous because he has tactical speed and is in top form. He has improved by leaps and bounds since being claimed and was a good 3rd in the same race the top pick exits. In truth this son of Mshawish had the run of the race pace-wise. #8 SHUTTERS returns off a long layoff as a new gelding and showed big improvement in his second career start. He was badly compromised on debut and is capable of being closer to the pace. That would give him the jump on some of the deep closers.
RACE 6: 2-8-1-5
Trainer Mike Maker has modest numbers with runners going first off of claims over the last five years, but #2 IN SKY WE TRUST exits an effort where the running line belies his performance. He was out of the gate slowly breaking from the rail and wound up rallying gamely into a sluggish pace. Things should set up a bit better on the front end for him here and the 7 furlong trip is ideal. #8 ALCOOLS is a winner of two straight in game fashion and looks like a major pace player here. There’s hardly an abundance of speed signed up in here and he is in line to take advantage of that scenario. A duplicate of either of his last two would make him very tough to handle. #1 FLAMINGO HAWK is a late runner who drops in class coming out of a starter allowance tilt at Churchill Downs. The inside post is less than ideal, but he wants to do his running from just off the pace and should be in line behind the frontrunners.
RACE 7: 5-7-9-4
After the skull-buster that starts the Pick 6, this event looks primed for a single for many players in #5 REINVESTMENT RISK. That son of Upstart broke his maiden at Saratoga and starts for the first time since he checked in second to Jackie’s Warrior in the 2020 Hopeful. He has tested deeper waters in his last two and is in line ot benefit from the class relief today. Look for him to stalk the pace and pounce when ready. #7 RIVER DOG is the main speed on paper and exits a race run at a breakneck early pace. He tired late in that affair after also chasing along the slower inside paths. If somehow able to get clear here, he has back form to draw on that would make him competitive. #9 BABY YODA ran the race of his life over this oval last year and is looking to rekindle some of that magic in his return to the Spa. He just might be the quintessential Saratoga horse for course and he drew well on the outside. Whether he will ever be the horse we saw last September is the real question.
RACE 8: 3-1-4-6
#3 BLEECKER STREET has gone from the hunter to the hunted after winning the New York last time out. She came from last in a race run at a glacial early pace where the frontrunners held up to the finish. Her improvement has been nothing short of amazing, as she seems to win regardless of the pace, turf condition or any other circumstance. There should be a real pace for her to run at today and that only helps her chances. #1 TECHNICAL ANALYSIS went 2-2 at the Spa last year and looks to be in position to stalk #6 IN ITALIAN early before pouncing in upper stretch. She was impressive in victory last time out but also took advantage of a very moderate early pace at Pimlico to win the Gallorette. Whether she can step up against Grade I company is the real question. Even after a shockingly poor effort in the New York last time out, trainer Chad Brown said #4 ROUGIR would go on to contest this Spa opening weekend staple. She was beyond bad in her last start, almost to the point where it’s hard to believe. Whether she can bounce back is a question worth asking given that you’ll get 5x the price that she was in early June.
RACE 9: 5-9-8-6
#5 SUMMER ANTHEM is a speedy son of Temple City who figures to be forwardly placed in this heat. He was a game winner two back stalking a runaway early leader, then tested deeper waters in last month’s Audubon at Churchill Downs. Being mired on the inside paths was not ideal for him last time and the pace was fast. He should get a cleaner run of it early and that helps his chances. #9 FORT TICONDEROGA was a visually impressive maiden winner last time out against the heavily favored Growth Capital. This son of War Front was never that far off the pace and pounced late, drawing off impressively in his first start off a lengthy break. He should only improve with distance and experience and the pace in here should set up his big late run. #8 PARQUETRY was stuck inside during a period of time where the outside paths were better on the inner turf course. He can be a late threat today given the pace scenario and he has real excuses for his last two. Look for him to snag a share at a price.
RACE 10: 3-12-4-6
In a particularly tough edition of the Sanford, #3 GREAT NAVIGATOR is a player at a price. He was a very solid winner of his debut at Monmouth last month, rating comfortably before exploding late to win going away. He will have no issue with the added ground and should be just off the pace ready to pounce. The best thing will be his likely price given the unheralded connections. #12 VALENZAN DAY is a late threat after a troubled trip in last month’s Tremont. He was dragged back off the pace that day and wound up getting into some traffic trouble around the far turn. The added ground will be to his benefit and having the ability to settle and make one run is a major asset at this stage of the game. Both #4 FORTE and #6 MO STRIKE look like definite players for the Pick 6. The former broke his maiden impressively when expected to do so at odds of 1-5. ‘Mo beat a solid field on debut at Churchill Downs and hails from the high percentage stable of Brad Cox. Over the last five years, Cos is 31% with 2YOs who broke their maidens on debut racing for a second time ($2.97 ROI).
RACE 11: 6-4-5-9
#6 BELLA CONCHITA is a late runner who is dropping in for a tag for trainer Cherie DeVaux. She ran a number of competitive races as a 3YO last year and should be a strong late player this afternoon. DeVaux, who won Thursday’s Wilton, is 4 for 9 with turfers racing for tags for the first time over the last five years ($13.46 ROI). #4 DIVA READY is a speedy daughter of More Than Ready who should be involved in the pace this afternoon. Trainer Jonathan Thomas is 29% with turf routers racing for tags for the first time ($2.23 ROI) and this filly ran well against much better last time out. #5 CLARA BELLE goes 3rd off a layoff and raced on the slower inside path last time out at Belmont. She should be more involved early with an aggressive pilot signed up and that helps her chances.