SARATOGA – 7/21/22
RACE 1: 6-1-2-5
In a matchup of maidens behind the curve, #6 UP TO THE MARK looks particularly tough on paper. He is by 22% debut sire Not This Time and is the 2nd foal to race out of an unraced mare. His second dam was 1996 Test winner Capote Belle and this colt is reportedly training very well. #1 DRINK THE WIND goes 3rd off a layoff with two improved races since joining the care of Wayne Catalano. He is clearly the best of a small group of experienced runners and should have plenty of speed from the inside. #2 FRAT PACK is a firster by Upstart, a 17% debut sire and went for a pretty penny at auction in 2020. He is training well also and represents a top barn.
RACE 2: 6-5-1-2
The best races that #6 PALACE COUP has run over time make him a major player. Whether he is anything close to that horse is the question, but trainer Joe Sharp is 4 for his last 8 with dirt routers first off of claims and 32% overall in that category over the last 5 years ($2.41 ROI). He has the speed to get clear early, or can rate just off the pace as well. #5 PERCEIVED exploded last time out to win the first leg in this series. He had shown ability earlier in his career and finally put everything together in that handy win. His running style is a bit of an issue at this trip, but it’s hard to argue with the ‘hot hand.’ #1 GRUMPS LITTLE TOTS was victorious against weaker last time out and now steps up in competition. A prior Saratoga winner, he sports the grinding style that works well at the Spa going this trip. If he can hearken back to some of his best races he is a player.
RACE 3: 5-6-2-7
The stretch of time at the recently concluded Belmont meet when the inside portion of the inner turf was slow was exactly when #5 ICARUS made his last start. He went to the lead, somewhat surprisingly, but hung in there gamely late. The lead will probably not be up for grabs, but this gelding can rate and pounce when ready. #6 ST. JOE LOUIShas been a pretty big disappointment since he narrowly missed here in a N1X last summer. He goes 2nd off a layoff following a sluggish outing at Monmouth and will be in position late. The concern is he has gone backwards. #2 HATCH goes first off a claim by trainer Mike Maker and switches surfaces. The pedigree here is heavily geared towards turf, but Maker is just 1 for 22 first off the claim with runners moving dirt-to-turf in NY ($0.45 ROI).
RACE 4: 5-2-1-3
Why not guess with #5 V MART? He is named for his owner, former major leaguer Victor Martinez, and worked :10 and 1/5 at the OBS March sale earlier this year. His dam is a half to Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude, and trainer Juan Avila has a positive ROI with 2YO firsters in MSW races on dirt. #2 SMART PRIZE ran better than #1 RUN POPPY, as the former was away from the gate slowly before putting in a solid late move. He should improve with experience and a cleaner break, while Run Poppy showed more life early. He’ll be a threat from the start protecting that rail draw.
RACE 5: 4-7-2-5
#4 GREATEST LOVE is a favorite who’ll be hard to beat. Even though it’s never the best sign when a horse is claimed then comes back for less than that price, trainer Gustavo Rodriguez is 27% first off of claims on dirt ($3.17 ROI). She has the versatility to be positioned anywhere and is a deserving top choice. #7 GUNS BLAZING goes first off a claim as well and she is moving up in class. Trainer Pat Reynolds took her for 10k last time out and she was calimed for the third time in four starts that day. Reynolds is 4-17 first off a claim on dirt ($2.28 ROI). #2 AIDANIKE is yet another first off a claim as Bonnie Lucas took this one at Churchill for 10k last time out. She comes from the barn of Steve Asmussen and it is never easy to move up a horse off of that barn. She is, however, in very good form and has competitive speed figures.
RACE 6: 2-3-4-5
#2 EE YAH has the most relevant experience in here given he debuted in a live race at Monmouth Park last month. The winner of that race, Great Navigator, came back to run second in Saturday’s Sanford, and the third place finisher broke his maiden in his next start. This colt lures Irad Ortiz, Jr. and looms a solid favorite. #3 BARZINI is a firster by Outwork (12% debut sire) and is out of a dam who has dropped two winners from as many to race. The dam herself was a half to 2YO Canadian graded stake winner Conquest Daddyo so there’s real pedigree power. #4 A WESTERN YARN is a firster by Eastwood, who has had only one runner on the racetrack. The 45k purchase price is formidable given the non-descript sire and there’s enough pedigree on the bottom side to give him a long look.
RACE 7: 6-7-2-3
#6 BIG PACKAGE was also entered in Saturday’s Wolf Hill at Monmouth, but the purse in this affair is actually 25k higher. This late runner made the only meaningful off the pace move last time out in a race largely dominated on the front end. He’s arguably been at his best here at Saratoga and should get enough pace to run at in a field he lays over on paper. #7 NOTHING BETTER is a dangerous runner given his tactical speed. This is his third start off a layoff and he has been consistent in recent outings for Jorge Duarte, Jr. This barn is 14% on turf in NY over the last five years ($2.43 ROI) and the outside post is ideal. #2 PRINCIPLED STAND goes 3rd off a layoff for trainer Chad Brown after showing speed and fading late last time out at Belmont. The pace he was involved in was hardly robust, so you have to question whether he is quick enough to sprint on the lawn.
RACE 8: 3-2-1-6
#3 CARAGATE is the one to beat on paper given the two recent efforts at this level. You’ll get more value than you would on a horse with this kind of form given the low percentage trainer, and the distance is ideal for this daughter of Arrogate. #2 CAPTAINSDAUGHTER is another who should have no issue with the elongated trip. She faced tougher last time out in an open company stake race and fits well here as a pace stalker. #1 U GUYS ARE NO FUNhails from a barn that had two opening week wins. She is a tad light on speed figures and has not been competitive in two tries at NYRA facilities. However, she comes into this race the right way.
RACE 9: 3-4-7-5
Two-time stake winner #3 COINAGE is the one to beat given his open company exploits. He tracked the pace last time out before fading late and now figures to be more involved in the early tempo. His win in the Palm Beach came from just off the pace with today’s pilot. #4 DAKOTA GOLD is the morning line favorite, and the public is enamored with every runner piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr. This colt has the tactical speed to be a player from the start and should be in range early. #7 PRACTICE SQUAD has run three competitive races since being claimed in late February. He has good tactical speed and should be a factor early as well. His speed figures undoubtedly make him a fit.
RACE 10: 5-3-9-7
First time starter #5 MARGARET BURBIDGE is a Flaxman home bred who is a half to turf winner Landbiscuit. Her sire, Twirling Candy, is 20% with 2YO firsters and trainer Wesley Ward is 4-21 with juvenile firsters in turf sprints at the Spa over the last five years ($2.16 ROI). #3 FACTOR THAT is a second timer moving to turf for Mark Casse who debuted positively on the all-weather at Gulfstream Park. There’s little to no turf pedigree here, but Casse has a good record with sprinters moving synthetic to turf. #9 GEORGEES SPIRIT is a firster by 2017 Met Mile winner Mor Spirit and is out of a mare who won twice on turf. Trainer Jorge Abreu is 17% with firsters in turf sprints at the Spa over the last five years ($2.32 ROI).
SARATOGA STATS: 51-9-9-7 $56.30