His earliest post is 2:40 pm EDT at Monmouth.
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The summer is in full flower, and so is the horse racing world: the deck today is stacked with top-class stakes action. We'll note that we are handicapping for fast and firm everywhere; with that out of the way, let's get right to it.
Saratoga Race 11, 6:18 pm ET
Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, dirt, 3-year-olds
The Jim Dandy is the feature race of the day, and we will go out of order and look at it first. And the 2019 running of this stakes is a good one: Entered are Preakness winner 6-War of Will and Belmont runner-up 5-Tacitus, who has been installed as the 7/5 morning-line favorite.
We prefer another runner in here, however, 4-Global Campaign. This Stanley Hough trainee has had foot problems, which prevented him from running as a 2-year-old and have allowed him to make only four starts this year, but when he's been sound enough to race, he's been very, very good. He won the Peter Pan at Belmont Park on May 11, and that's a race that came up strong this year; Sir Winston, who Global Campaign beat by a length and a quarter that day, came back to win the Belmont Stakes. We think that Global Campaign looks to be a cut better than either War of Will or Tacitus, and in a short field -- there six entered here -- his pace-pressing running style is a distinct advantage. We love Global Campaign in this spot, and we will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 11, $40 to win on 4-Global Campaign.
Saratoga Race 9, 5:44 pm ET
Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, 1 1/8 miles, dirt, 3 & up
This is one of the most highly esteemed main-track sprints in the East all year, so it's no surprise to see a good field in this one. It's also no surprise to see 1-Mitole, who's probably the top sprinter in the country right now, entered as the even-money favorite. This horse's record is off-the-charts good; he's won 8 of 11 career starts, including his last seven in a row, and his last race, an eye-popping win in the Met Mile, was one of the best performances of the year by any horse at any distance on any surface. We will be blunt here: If Mitole runs his race, the rest of the field is running strictly for second money. But despite his recent brilliance, we think Mitole is a bet-against here. His effort in the Met Mile last out was so gargantuan that we think he may regress here, and he's also a speed horse breaking from the rail in a race loaded with other early speed. It's not that far-fetched to imagine a scenario where he gets pinned against the rail and is forced to run faster than he wants in the early part of the race. Taking him at odds-on is not an attractive wagering proposition to us.
We like 4-Firenze Fire here. While he is not without some speed of his own, he does, his best races have come when he's been able to stalk the pace. We think that running style fits the projected shape of the race very well. And we think at 9/2 he offers significantly more value than Mitole. We will bet Firenze Fire to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 4-Firenze Fire.
Saratoga Race 10, 6:18 pm ET
Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes, 1 3/8 miles, turf, 4 & up
Saratoga goes from sprinting on the dirt to going long on the turf. The field in this year's Bowling Green is deep and evenly matched, with a favorite (5-Channel Maker) a tepid 7/2. As is the course with these New York turf stakes, Chad Brown has several runners here, and we like one of them, 3-Ya Primo is a Chilean-bred 4-year-old who is making his first North American start. he was a beast in races in his native Chile, and Ivasor and Candy Ride have proved that horses bred in South America can be winners, and even champions, in North America. We like Ya Primo's chances, and we are going to jump on him at 8-1. If he wins this, it will be the last time every you see those kind of odds on him. We will bet him to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 10, $30 to win on 3-Ya Primo.
Monmouth Park Race 5, 2:40 pm ET
$75,000 Frisk Me Now Stakes, 1 mile, turf, 3-year-olds
Seven go in this overnight stakes at Monmouth, and we absolutely love one of them: it's 3-Critical Data. This Irish-bred is making his third career start in North America, and he's coming off a decent fourth in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park. He faces a lesser group here, and there's enough speed to set the table for his stretch-running style. We will bet him to win. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 5, $40 to win on 3-Critical Data.
Del Mar Race 8, 8:30 pm ET
Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes, 6 furlongs, dirt, 3 & up
This has long been one of the top dirt sprints on the West Coast. In California, racing in general, and sprinting in particular, is all about speed, and that is why we're picking 3-Cistron. This 5-year-old son of The Factor is the speed of the speed, as the old saying goes: he should be able to outrun the other speedsters, and once in front, we think he can stay there all the way. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 8, $25 to win on 3-Cistron.
That's all for today. Enjoy the racing, and good luck at the windows.