First post is 4:40 pm EDT
Tomorrow is going to be quite a day, with stakes races at Saratoga and Woodbine, and the biggest card of the year in New Jersey at Monmouth Park, with the biggie being the Haskell Stakes. We will be working late into the night handicapping those races, and while the simulcasting lineup today is not quite so stacked as tomorrow’s, there is no shortage of playable races. We’ll take a look at both of today’s stakes races at Saratoga, as well as two races at Monmouth.
We’ve handicapped all races for fast dirt and firm turf, but there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms across the Mid-Atlantic this afternoon, so keep an eye on the sky. With that out of the way, let’s go.
$85,000 De La Rose Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Eight females are entered to run on the turf in this race, and Chad Brown trains four of them: an indication of the depth of Brown’s barn at the moment is that he can send out half the field in a pretty good Friday afternoon stakes. We like one of them, 2-Noor Sahara, an Irish-bred 4-year-old filly with a very good turf pedigree (she’s by top international grass sire Lope de Vega, out of a Van Nistelrooy mare). She ran in some very tough races in France last year, including the Group 1 Prix de Diane at Chantilly Racecourse -- that’s the French big leagues -- and though she did not win her North American debut, she did run well, finishing a good third in a tough allowance at Belmont Park on June 12. We think she will run a big one in her second start in this country, and we also like that she cuts back to a mile today from the mile and a quarter of her last race, as her best races in France last year were at this mile distance. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 7, $40 to win on 2-Noor Sahara.
$85,000 Shine Again Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
The Shine Again has ten older females sprinting on the Saratoga main track. The favorite, 5-Indian Pride, starts for -- you guessed it -- Chad Brown. She’s a lightly raced 4-year-old who has won two of her three career starts.
We tried to find a way to beat her, but we can’t do it: she looks like she’s just too good, as she comes from a hot barn, and possesses a big edge in early speed on a Saratoga racing surface that was kind to speed on opening day. Look for her to go right to the front, and to stay there all the way around the racetrack. We will bet her to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $50 to win on 5-Indian Pride.
$5,000 Claiming, 1 mile 70 yards, Dirt, 3 & Up
This dirt race drew a field of nine hard-knocking claimers. The pick is 8-Vincento, who fits on class - he drops into this out of a $10,000 claimer at Belmont Park -- and also from a pace standpoint, as there’s a lot of cheap speed in this race, and he’s a stretch-runner who should be able to pick up the pieces when the pacesetters shorten stride late. The trainer angle also works with him: he makes his first start for new conditioner Jose Delgado, who wins at a robust 20% clip with horses making their first start in his barn. Look for him to sit well behind the leaders early, and to be rolling late. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 3, $30 to win on 8-Vincento.
$40,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A full field of ten females will go to the starting gate in this turf claimer. We like 9-Volador. She won her last race, at the $16,000 level, quite impressively, and was claimed out of that race by trainer Derek Ryan. We like the fact that Ryan jumps her to $40k here, and we also like her running style: she should be able to sit just behind the leaders early, and pounce when the field straightens for home. We will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 4, $35 to win on 9-Volador.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow -- it’s a big day, and we can’t wait -- enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.