SARATOGA – 7/30/22
RACE 1: 4-2-3-5
#4 TEAM LEADER worked quickly over the Oklahoma training track in preparation for this engagement for Brendan Walsh and looks formidable on debut. The dam is a half to stakes winner Tizaqueena, who was adept on turf and dirt. #2 SWISS GUARD is a firster from the barn of Steve Asmussen who is by 12% debut sire American Pharoah. The dam side pedigree is lacking, but these human connections have been tough as nails at the Spa over the years.
RACE 2: 7-6-5-2
The public’s strategy in these 2YO turf routes is to blindly take Chad Brown, but #7 MONTEPULCIANO offers some appeal here. He is training well for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher and is by 24% debut sire Not This Time. There’s modest turf pedigree on the dam side. #6 C’EST MAGNIFIQUE is by Kitten’s Joy, a 14% debut sire and is out of a dam who was a winner on the weeds. That’s enough for many to settle here, though Brown has just an $0.87 ROI with these types over the last 2 years. #5 OUR DREAM RYE’D is by More Than Ready, a 11% turf sire and has a dam side pedigree which includes Janney home breds Criminologist and Rescue Squad, both accomplished turfers.
RACE 3: 1-9-8-2
Why not try #1 KISSALOT for the upset? He was claimed for 30k and trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. is immediately protecting him. This barn is 29% with dirt starters going first off of claims and stretching out in distance ($2.76 ROI) and the worktab here looks very strong. #9 WOLFE COUNTY is another who has been training forwardly, as the clockers have marked him superior to Preakness 3rd place finisher Creative Minister on multiple occasions. He has improved since joining Ken McPeek’s care and has the tactical speed to lay close early. #8 ENDOWED was beaten as the favorite last time out with no real excuse and bids to rebound today for trainer Christophe Clement. He gets more ground, which should be a good thing and will be well backed at the windows.
RACE 4: 3-8-4-10
#3 JABBERWOCK moves to turf for trainer Jorge Abreu and is bred nicely for it. She is kin to 3 turf winners, and her 2nd dam was a stakes winner on the weeds here at Saratoga. She has shown little on dirt but has speed, which is a weapon sprinting on the lawn. #8 DEVILLY is clearly the one to beat, but 10 race maidens don’t inspire a great deal of confidence. She has speed and should be in the mix from the opening bell this afternoon. #4 TREVISE has been facing better for a trainer who scored an opening day win. This filly has good tactical speed and an aggressive pilot who can keep her close early.
RACE 5: 1-4-8-5
#1 BANK ON SHEA faced open company last time out at Monmouth and is now back against NY breds. He has run well against NY breds on multiple occasions and has the speed to be a major factor from the inside this afternoon. A stalk and pounce trip would really make him dangerous. #4 AMUNDSON has run a number of bang-up races against NY breds and should be in a good spot from just off the pace today. He was 3rd in a tough NY bred heat last time out when he chased a hot pace and now makes the third start of his form cycle. #8 MASKED MARAUDER gets a key jockey change for what he wants to do, which is lay back and make one run. There’s ample early speed in here to set up his late bid, but trainer Rudy Rodriguez’s 0-26 record is disconcerting.
RACE 6: 9-1-5-3
#9 ENSEMBLE ran into a tough customer in her North American debut, as Nevisian Sunrise is nearly stakes caliber for Chad Brown. This filly made a prolonged wide bid around the far turn before flattening out and now returns off a brief layoff with an active worktab for a strong barn. #1 MARVELOUS MAUDE moves into the open company ranks following a win against lesser. She fits very well here given her speed figures and strong recent form, but taking a short price on her seems inadvisable. #5 BLISSFUL made up big ground in her 2022 debut in the Curtis Sampson Oaks at Canterbury, a race in which she was the 5/2 favorite despite having the 12 post in a full gate. She has talent and likely needed her last, so give her a long look today.
RACE 7: 2-5-1-4
Let there be no doubt who was best in the nightcap on July 9 as it was clearly #2 HEYMACKIT’SJACK. That son of Laoban made a bold move off the turn to reach the front before getting collared and causing late interference. He is in an ideal spot today drawn right outside the other speed and should graduate. #5 MISTER CHAIRMAN faced weaker in his last start at Belmont, but made the only off the pace move in a race that has yielded subsequent wins from the 3rd place finisher, and a good runner-up effort from the winner last week. Look for this second timer to arrive on the scene late. #1 BUILT TO LAST squandered an easy lead on the strong part of the turf last time out. This rider and trainer have had success together and the lead is his for the taking once again.
RACE 8: 4-1-2-3
#4 JACKIE’S WARRIOR doesn’t need much said about him as he bids for a 5th graded stake win at Saratoga. He has been routinely brilliant in two starts as a 4YO and is now at the crux of his pre-Breeders’ Cup campaign with two Grade Is on tap at the Spa. He’s the king until dethroned. #1 KNEEDEEPINSNOW likely benefits from a rail draw as he can rate just off the pace today instead of being forced into an early battle. His best races make him a contender for an underneath spot. #2 WILLY BOI is a late runner who’ll benefit from the way this race should unfold on paper. He has been in very good form of late and everything this barn starts is dangerous.
RACE 9: 2-4-5
This is an opportunity for revenge for #2 EPICENTER, who was bested by #4 EARLY VOTING in the Preakness when the former had the tougher trip. He should have significantly more speed off the bench today and is poised to move forward with some time away. His works have reportedly been strong and he looms a likely favorite and winner. The aforementioned Early Voting won the Preakness with a nifty trip from just off the pace and should be in a similar position today. He is the quickest early if his connections opt to go to the lead, which is certainly the best approach. #5 ZANDON has to elevate his game to beat the top two, especially given how Epicenter outfinished him on the square in the Kentucky Derby. He benefits if there is somehow a pace battle.
RACE 10: 5-12-3-9
#5 SHAWDYSHAWDYSHAWDY might not be good enough to beat these, but his last few efforts are better than they look on paper. He was much too far back last time out because of early trouble and still put in a strong late bid to finish fifth. A key jockey switch to Javier Castellano will bring out his best. #12 CAPENSIS was tremendously impressive in a blowout debut win for Todd Pletcher and he now takes the logical jump in class. The outside post is a negative, and Pletcher has just average numbers with these types (2-12, $0.87 ROI 2nd timers off maiden wins in turf routes). #3 ORCHESTRATION had no chance in his last start at Keeneland when beaten as a heavy favorite. He now comes back off the bench for the meet’s top trainer and should be heard from late. His lack of speed is the only real concern.
RACE 11: 1-9-8-7
#1 THE LAST ZIP finished strongly last time out going 7 panels downstate and now figures to get a great inside trip at the mile trip. He has been effective at this trip and benefits if the pace is moderate in here. #9 HEALING is taking a big class drop for trainer Mike Maker. He was in against N2X optional sellers on Preakness weekend when last seen and should fit well here. Maker is 19% with claimers in turf routes at the Spa over the last 5 years ($2.00 ROI). #8 MAD MUNNYS is the one to catch as he returns to turf second off a layoff. He has been effective on the turf in the past and is a threat to go the distance.
SARATOGA STATS: 61-13-12-8 $84.60