First race – jumpers – is 12:45 pm EDT.
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It's a great summer Thursday in the simulcasting world. There are good cards across the country, but we are focusing our attention on Saratoga Race Course, which puts on a card that is exceptional even by its own high standards. There's a bit of everything at the Spa today: it's as good as it gets for summer racing, at least for a midweek card. We expect it to be fast and firm in upstate New York today; let's go.
Saratoga Race 1, 12:45 PM ET
Grade I A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase, 2 1/16 miles, turf, 4 & up
They have another jump race at the Spa today, and it's a good one: the Smithwick has a dozen entrants, so it should be a fun race to watch. We like a Euro invader here: 9-Bedrock was a very competitive jumper in Great Britain and Ireland, where he won his last two starts. He seems to outclass this field; we will bet him to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 1, $10 to win on 9-Bedrock.
Saratoga Race 4, 2:24 PM ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/4 miles, turf, 3 & up
This is a classy group of maidens going long on the grass. The 10-furlong distance is worth noting, because it's one of the reasons why 1-Tide of the Sea is a strong play here. This 3-year-old Juddmonte homebred was born to go long: he's by top turf sire English Channel, out of an Empire Maker mare, and in his two career starts, he has been better as the races have gone longer. He just missed in a similar spot, a mile and a quarter maiden race, at Belmont Park in May; that race was sensational, trainer Bill Mott seems to have him ready, and he won't miss today. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 4, $30 to win on 1-Tide of the Sea.
Saratoga Race 8, 4:42 PM ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, turf, fillies & mares 3 & up
If there's a turf race in New York, Chad Brown is probably in it, and that's the case in this first-level allowance, as Brown has three of the eleven runners. We like one of them, and we like her quite a bit: it's 7-Mascha, a French-bred 4-year-old making her first U.S. start after a four-race career in France. Her last two were in stakes races at Deauville, where she ran well without winning. She will have to overcome a long layoff -- those Deauville stakes were in the summer of 2018 -- but she seems to outclass the rest of the field. Here's an indication of her ability: in the Group 3 Prix de Psyche at Deauville last July, she finished less than a length behind Homerique, who has won multiple graded stakes in the U.S. this year. Mascha looks like the real deal; we will bet her to win at 9/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-Mascha.
Saratoga Race 9, 5:15 PM ET
$100,000 John Morrissey Stakes, 6 1/2 furlongs, dirt, New York-breds 3 & up
A field of six goes here. We see a pace meltdown in this, as three of the runners are need-the-lead types, and they seem to have about the same amount of early speed. That means a contentious battle up front, too-fast fractions early, and tiring horses at the top of the stretch. That will set up the race for 2-Celtic Chaos, who is the epitome of a closing sprinter. We see him moving late, and passing the pacesetters in very deep stretch. This should be a nail-biter, but we like Celtic Cross to take the Morrissey. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $25 to win on 3-Celtic Chaos.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.