With Del Mar and Saratoga both running, it feels like we are into the heart of summer, and that is a wonderful thing. The richness of these summertime racing programs is delicious, a karmic reward for having made it through another winter. So enjoy it. We will note that we are handicapping for fast dirt and firm turf everywhere, except as noted. Let's get right to it.
Saratoga Race 3 (2:12 pm ET)
$100,000 Stillwater Stakes, 6 furlongs, dirt, New York-bred 2-year-old fillies
The hot 1/2 favorite in here is 3-Fierce Lady, who ran the field off their feet in a state-bred maiden race at Belmont Park last month. She earned an 87 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort, and if she repeats that, she will win this one, probably very easily.
But at a very short price, Fierce Lady looks like an underlay to us, and we are going to take a shot against her. She won her debut the way that many 2-year-olds win maiden races, by going right to the front and dominating the race by virtue of her superior sheer early speed. But racing in stakes company is much deeper water than racing against maidens: there are usually other horses who possess early speed as well, and that looks to be the case here: we think there are others who will keep Fierce Lady company during the race's early stages. That leads us to our pick, 4-Classy Sadie: this girl has run twice, finishing third and then breaking her maiden at Belmont a month ago, and she seems likely to improve off those two efforts. Moreover, she should get a nice stalking trip behind what looks to be a hot pace. We will bet Classy Sadie to win at 6-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 3, $20 to win on 4-Classy Sadie.
Saratoga Race 4 (2:48 pm ET)
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 3/8 miles, turf, 3 & up
It rained at the Spa yesterday, and that led to the cancellation of turf racing; all the grass races were moved to dirt. It's supposed to be dry today, but the forecast is iffy, and while we are guessing that the races will stay on turf, the sod will certainly be something less than firm.
That leads us to our pick here, 4-Trinity: this French-bred 4-year-old won last out, on a Monmouth Park turf course labeled good. This, combined with his breeding, suggests to us that he likes turf with a little bit of give in it, and he should get that today. He also appears to have the best late kick in a race with plenty of speed; there should be a good pace for him to run at. He's a good bet at a good price: we will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 4, $25 to win on 4-Trinity.
Saratoga Race 6 (4:03 pm ET)
Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/8 miles, dirt, fillies & mares 3 & up
A field of seven is entered here. We like the favorite, 4-Smooth With a Kick, who's trained by Chad Brown. She's by Candy Ride, who is emerging as a superstar stallion, and while her last two races have been decent, they were both shorter, and both on wet tracks. We think that she will thrive on fast dirt, if she gets it today, and we also think she will love the longer distance. We see a possible star here, and we think today is the day she takes the first step towards that. We will bet her to win at 8/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 6, $40 to win on 4-Smooth With a Kick.
Arlington Park race 7 (5:42 pm ET)
Allowance, 1 1/8 miles, turf, 3 & up
This first-level allowance in suburban Chicago drew a field of only seven, but it's a deep field, and an interesting race to handicap. We have settled on a first-time North American starter, 1-Days of Glory: this 3-year-old colt has been running in England, where he displayed a stalking running style that should fit very well with the way turf races are typically run in this country. Moreover, he's trained by Brendan Walsh, who is good with North American firsters: he's hitting at a 33% win clip (4 for 12) with this angle in 2019. We think he's a very square price at 9/2, and we will bet him to win. The bet: Arlington Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 1-Days of Glory.
Del Mar Race 6 (7:30 pm ET)
$150,000 Fleet Treat Stakes, 7 furlongs, dirt, California-bred 3-year-old fillies
This Cal-bred stakes race for juvenile fillies drew a field of seven. It's headlined by 6/5 morning line favorite 1-Sneaking Out, who has been very good in her six career starts, winning three, including a couple of minor stakes, and finishing second last out in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita back in May.
But Sneaking Out is a casualty of the current mess that is California racing: she has been trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who has been banned from Del Mar, and today she starts for Keith Desormeaux while Hollendorfer engages in a court battle with Del Mar and Santa Anita management. She may be good enough to win in spite of this, but at a short price, this is enough for us to play against her.
We like a first-time starter, 3-Takethediamondlane. This daughter of Bodemeister has been absolutely sizzling in the morning, posting a series of blistering workouts that suggest she possesses quite a bit of ability. This is a very ambitious spot for a firster, but trainer Brian Koriner is good at getting horses to fire at first asking: he has a 21% win rate on the year with horses making their first start. Watch the tote board on this one: Takethediamondlane is 4-1 on the morning line, and if her odds drop -- that is, if she gets bet -- then she is probably very live. We do not have the luxury of watching the odds move, but will bet her to win anyway. The bet: Del Mar, Race 6, $35 to win on 3-Takethediamondlane.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.