It's Opening Day at Saratoga.
This is a tremendous day, a day when we can forget the troubles in the world, and escape to a place where everyone lives and breathes horses. Every card at the Spa is a treat, and this is no different. We will note that despite an iffy weather forecast this afternoon, we are handicapping for fast and firm. Let's go . . .
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Saratoga Race Course Race 5 (3:28 p.m. ET)
Maiden Special Weight, 5 1/2 furlongs, dirt, 2-year-old New York-bred fillies
Saratoga is famed for its juvenile races, as this is the time of year when many well-bred horses horses make their debut. The list of all-time greats who have made their first start at the Spa is a very long one, and while there probably isn't a Hall of Famer in this race, it's a good group, and a good betting race.
Wesley Ward has been on a terrible cold streak, but we like his runner here. In a field where eight of the 10 runners are making their first career start, 2-Love Me Tomorrow has experience, with a speed-and-fade debut at Belmont Park on May 30. She comes back here off some fast morning workouts, including a four-furlong bullet (fastest of 17 on the day) at Saratoga on July 5, and we expect her to improve in her second start. The rail is good at Saratoga, and we see her running on the fence with the lead, and we think she will stay there through the finish line. We will bet Love Me Tomorrow to win at 4-1.
Saratoga Race 5
$25 W on 2-Love Me Tomorrow
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Saratoga Race Course Race 6 (4:03 p.m. ET)
Allowance, 5 1/2 furlongs, turf, New York-breds 3 & Up
This turf dash is loaded with early speed, and since the probable pace-setters seem evenly matched, we have a hard time seeing any of them being able to establish a clear early lead. That means a fight for the front, and those contentious pace duels tire horses, even in races this short. We want a runner who can sit just off the pace and close strongly, and we think we've found one in 9-Pipes. This 3-year-old Graham Motion trainee has been running well in longer races on dirt, but has has run well on turf before, including a race at this distance, and we think his running style fits the way we expect the race to be run. He should be rolling late, and based on that, we will bet him to win at 9-2.
Saratoga Race 6
$20 W on 9-Pipes
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Saratoga Race Course Race 7 (4:39 p.m. ET)
Allowance/Optional claiming, 1 1/4 miles, turf, New York-bred fillies & mares 3 & up
We're taking a swing against the favorites in this one, as 4-Giant Zinger (705) and 9-Maiden Beauty (5-2) have similar front-running styles, and that makes it unlikely either of them will be able to win this race on the front end. We are looking at a closer, and we think we've found a good one in 10-Wegetsdamunnys, who has a strong late-running style. She will be rolling late, and she is a gray − and even casual racing fans are suckers for gray horses making late moves. We will bet her to win and to place. We generally dislike place bets, but we'll make one here, because these late closers so often come up just short. At 6-1, we think she offers value in both the win and place pools.
Saratoga Race 7
$20 to W/P on 10-Wegetsdamunnys
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Saratoga Race Course Race 8 (5:15 p.m. ET)
The Schuylerville Stakes (G3), 6 furlongs, dirt, 2-year-old fillies
Saratoga Race Course Race 9 (5:51 p.m. ET)
The Quick Call Stakes (G3), 5 1/2 furlongs, turf, 3-year-olds
There are two stakes at Saratoga: The Schuylerville, the traditional opening-day feature at the Spa, and the Quick Call, a turf dash. We've listed them together because we have strong picks in each of them, and we want to leverage odds by playing a double. In the Schuylerville, the pick is 1-Shippy, a Doug O'Neill trainee who has loads of early speed, and who gets the golden rail at Saratoga. We We think she goes right to the front, and stays there all the way. She's 2-1 on the morning line.
In the Quick Call, we see a much different scenario. This is another turf sprint with loads of early speed, which should set up the race for a stalker. The pick is 4-Listing, a Southern California shipper from the Ben Cecil barn, who has done his best running sitting just off hot paces, which is the scenario we envision him facing here. He's proven on turf, proven at the distance, and we see the race shape favoring his running style. We will bet him in the double with Shippy in the Schuylerville.
Saratoga, Races 8-9
$40 Double 1-4
That's all for today. Enjoy the day: opening day at Saratoga is always special. And good luck at the windows.
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