We're back for Thursday action at Saratoga and Del Mar. We expect fast dirt and firm turf at both tracks. Let's go.
Saratoga Race 2, 1:34 PM ETAllowance, 1 1/8 miles, turf, New York-breds 3 & up
This second-level state-bred allowance drew a field of seven, plus two main-track-only entrants. We like the outside horse, 9-Gambler's Fallacy. This Chad Brown trainee finished second in a similar spot at Belmont Park in June, but that was his first race since December, and he should improve second time off the layoff here. He will be rolling late, and we think there will be enough pace in this one for him to run at. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 2, $30 to win on 9-Gambler's Fallacy.
Saratoga Race 8, 4:46 PM ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, dirt, 4 & up
There's a lot of early speed in this one. 8/5 favorite 4-Ray'swarrior is probably the speed of the speed, but we doubt that he will be able to outrun the other early speed and hold on until the end -- he's going to have to expend too much energy early in trying to get the lead. We see a speed duel up front, and that makes us lean toward a closer.
We think we've found a good one in 3-American Power, who starts for trainer Linda Rice. This 4-year-old colt does his best when there's a fast early pace for him to chase; we think that is exactly the setup he will get today. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $25 to win on 3-American Power.
Saratoga Race 9, 5:18 PM ET$100,000 P.G. Johnson Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, turf, 2-year-old fillies
The P.G. Johnson drew a field of eight, and the 8/5 morning line favorite is 8-Sweet Melania. We think she's a play-against here, as she drew the outside post, which is bad in turf races at this length: she'll either be forced wide around the first turn, or will have to run too fast early to clear the other horses and save ground. Either hurts her chance to win. She will probably also be over-bet because she's trained by Todd Pletcher, and sired by American Pharoah. We will look elsewhere.
We like 6-Crystalle. This daughter of Palice Malice won her debut smartly for trainer John Kimmel on August 4, making a big late move and earning good speed and pace figures. She was 41-1 that day, which means she was a surprise, but we think her win was legitimate. We expect a midpack stalking trip from her today, and a big late move to take the prize. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $30 to win on 6-Crystalle.
Del Mar Race 6, 7:35 PM ET$50,000 Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, turf, 3-year-old fillies
This claimer drew a field of nine, and it's a wide open race that lacks a clear favorite. In these kinds of races, especially on turf, which horse gets the better trip can be the difference between winning and finishing off the board. There's no better place to avoid trouble than in the front, and we mention that because we like a front-runner here, 9-Muthhila. There's a noticeable lack of early speed in this race, and we think that puts her on an uncontested lead, and we think she will stay there all the way. The Del Mar turf course has been kind to speed in recent days, so we'll wager that Muthhila can take this race in wire to wire fashion. We will bet her to win at 8-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 6, $25 to win on Muthhila.
Del Mar Race 7, 8:05 PM ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 1/2 furlongs, dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & up
We like 2-D's Lovely Sophia in this spot. She has won her first two starts, has improved in each, and has the top last-race Beyer Speed figure in the field. Perhaps most important is that her last win was at Del Mar, which shows she likes the Del Mar racing surface: the dirt at Del Mar has been deeper and slower this year, and while that has made it safer, which is good, there have been horses who just don't take to it. That Lovely Sophia has already won over it makes her strictly the one to beat. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $30 to win on 2-D's Lovely Sophia.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.