Today begins the last week of the meeting at both Saratoga and Del Mar. Summer is fleeting, of course, but rather than dwelling on what's coming, the bittersweet tang of the end of summer, we will enjoy what we still have, which is great racing at in both New York and California. Del Mar will be fast and firm, of course, and while the weather forecast calls for a chance of afternoon rain in upstate New York, we will say a novena and pray it's fast and firm at the Spa too. Let's go.
Saratoga, Race 1, 12:50 pm
Allowance, 2 3/8 miles (hurdles), turf, 4 & up
The Spa starts the final week of the meeting with a jump race that drew seven entrants. 3-Teodoro is the even-money favorite, coming off an eye-popping 14-length maiden victory over the fences at Fair Hill in Maryland. He has the style we like in the jumpers -- go right to the front and stay there -- but we think he's going to have some company on the front end, as 4-Zanzi Win likes to be in front as well, and that makes us look to a horse coming from off the pace. We like 5-Hepcat, who's trained by Jonathan Sheppard and who's also coming off a maiden win. We see Hepcat sitting just behind the leaders, and making a move in the final few furlongs of the race to take the prize. We will bet Hepcat to win at 4-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 1, $10 to win on 5-Hepcat.
Saratoga, Race 8, 4:34 pm
Starter Allowance, 6 furlongs, dirt, 3 & up
A field of seven drew into this one. 2-Dark Money is a strong play here. He's got superior speed figures in each of his last two races, and he starts first off a claim for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who hits at a very good 28% clip with horses in that spot. We will bet him to win at 8/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $35 to win on 2-Dark Money.
Saratoga, Race 9, 5:06 pm
Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, turf, 2-year-olds
Eight juveniles go long on the grass in this one. It looks to us like there's going to be a fast early pace, which will set up the race for a closer. The one we like is 2-Our Country. This George Weaver trainee played bumper cars in his debut, having traffic trouble and finishing fourth, but got a clean trip in his last, winning a maiden race by nearly 6 lengths on August 3. He looks to have a world of talent, and the projected fast pace should be a perfect fit for his stretch-running style. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Our Country.
Del Mar, Race 3, 6:00 pm
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 3/8 miles, turf, 3 & up
This turf route drew a full field of nine, and that makes it a good betting race. We like 5-Red King, who starts for Phil D'Amato. He ran in a couple of stakes recently, finishing third and fourth against some pretty tough horses, and just missed in a similar spot last out. We think he'll break through today, and will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 3, $25 to win on 5-Red King.
Del Mar, Race 7, 8:00 pm
$100,000 Generous Portion Stakes, 6 furlongs, dirt, California-bred 2-year-old fillies
Nine go in the Generous Portion. This race is a good example of California speed, as there are some fillies here with quite a bit of early zip. The one who looks the fastest is 4/5 morning line favorite 5-Bulletproof One, who has won all three of her starts by virtue of her superior early speed. But we are going to play against her, and we will do so for two reasons: the first is that the main track at Del Mar has been deep and tiring in recent weeks, presumably to make it safe; the second is that we think that Bulletproof One will have some company on the front end, and that means a fast pace that will sap the energy of all the front-runners. Bulletproof One has certainly been bulletproof so far, but we think that may not be the case today. We like 1-Wise Rachel. She came from off the pace in both of her starts, a maiden win in June at Pleasanton, and a good third to Bulletproof One in a minor stakes at Del Mar last month. We think that the pace will set this one up for her; she should be moving late, and we think that gets her to the wire first. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $25 to win on 1-Wise Rachel.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.