Garrity's first post is 12:50 pm EDT.
We’re headed to the Spa today, to Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York. The forecast is hot, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms, but as of late Wednesday morning, the rain had held off, and the main track was listed as fast, and the turf course firm. We’ve handicapped with the hope they can dodge the raindrops until the day’s racing is concluded. We have plays in four races, so let’s get right to them.
Saratoga, Race 1, 12:50 pm
Jonathan Kiser Novice Hurdle, 2 1/16 miles (Hurdles), 4 & Up
This is the year’s first race over jumps at the Spa, and it’s a good one, with a deep field of seven. The 4/5 morning line favorite is 2-Snap Decision, who’s won five in a row, the last three in stakes. He’s very logical, but we’re looking elsewhere, at 4-Galway Kid. He’s a 5-year-old, which is just a kid in jump circles, and he’s done a lot right in his three career starts, winning two of them. He’s making a huge jump in class here, but we like the way he’s heading, and we like the fact that he’s trained by Jonathan Sheppard, who’s a wizard with jumpers. We will bet Galway Kid to win at 9/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 1, $10 to win on 4-Galway Kid.
Saratoga, Race 3, 1:54 pm ET
$85,000 Lubash Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, New York-breds 3 & Up
The day’s lone stakes race on the flat at Saratoga is the Lubash, a turf route for state-breds, and it’s being carded early, presumably to get it, and overwhelming favorite 1-Cross Border, out of the late Pick 4 and PIck 5 sequence. Tracks do this because a winner at 1/5 can depress pools: bettors don’t want to take a price that short, but can’t find a way that the favorite will lose.
We don’t have that issue here: we will be playing against the chalk, and we will do so enthusiastically, with 5-Rapt. Cross Border is a front-runner -- he won his last going wire-to-wire -- and there are a couple of other entrants with early speed, including 2-1 second choice 6-Blewitt. That, combined with the fact that the Sarotoga turf has been unkind to speed since the meet opened -- stalkers and closers have been dominating on the grass -- has us looking for a come-from-behinder, and we think we’ve found a good one in Rapt. Look for him to be last early, and flying late. We will bet him to win at 12-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 3, $20 to win on 5-Rapt.
Saratoga, Race 8, 4:46 pm ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up
Twelve go in this first-level turf allowance. We like 5-Gauguin, who starts for trainer Bill Mott. We’re expecting a good early pace, and Gauguin, as a stretch-runner, should be able to pick up the pieces. We think Gauguin will paint a masterpiece this afternoon, and will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Gauguin.
Saratoga, Race 9, 5:17 pm ET
Allowance, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Seven go to the gate in this state-bred allowance. The pick is 7-Eloquent Speaker: she’s a a 3-year-old filly who broke her maiden at Belmont Park on June 12. That race was a six furlongs, and today’s is at nine, but we think she’ll actually be better at the longer distance. She’s worked well since her maiden victory, and it looks to us like she’s sitting on a big one. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 7-Eloquent Speaker.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.