First pick, the 3rd at Saratoga — the $85,000 Skidmore Stakes — posts at 2:20 pm
Saraotga has the best racing during the summer, which is why our plays lately have been concentrated there. But today we are going to expand our horizons a bit: we have two plays at the Spa, but we also have plays at Monmouth Park and Del Mar. It’s a five-pack for a summer Friday, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all five races. Let’s go.
Six juveniles go in the Skidmore, but most of the attention is going to be focused on the one on the outside, 6-Golden Pal, a Wesley Ward trainee who finished a strong second in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting in England in June. That is by far the best race any colt in the field has run, and based on that, Golden Pal has been installed as the 3/5 morning line favorite.
But we are going to try to beat him, and we will do so with the colt just to his inside, 5-Fauci. Also trained by Ward, Fauci broke his maiden quite impressively at Keeneland on July 9, and he did so on a yielding turf course that we think was probably softer than he likes. He will get firm grass today, and we think that he will move forward on it, and that will put him in the winner’s circle after the Skidmore. We will bet Fauci to win at 8/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 3, $30 to win on 5-Fauci.
This first-level allowance for sophomore turf fillies drew a field of seven. It’s a good race, from both a sporting and wagering perspective. The pace looks slow, as none of the entrants have much early zip, and that makes 4-Duopoly, who starts for leading trainer Chad Brown, the pick. She broke her maiden at Monmouth Park last out with the kind of trip we think she is going to get today: she inherited the lead when nobody else wanted it, set the pace, and then finished very strongly, drawing away, to win by five lengths. This kind of running style -- decent early cruising speed plus a strong finishing kick -- is lethal in turf races, and we think that Duopoly is going to run them off their feet again today in her first try against winners. At 9/2, we will bet her to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 6, $40 to win on 4-Duopoly.
Monmouth Park has a twilight card tonight, with a first post at 5:00 pm local time, and this is the best race on the card. It’s a second-level allowance on the dirt that drew a good field of nine.
The pick is 2-Sea Foam, who starts for Christophe Clement and who will be ridden by leading Monmouth jockey Joe Bravo. The only bad race he’s run in his last six starts, going all the way back to last year, was in the slop at Aqueduct; on fast tracks, he’s been excellent. He has high speed, which is important on the speed-favoring Monmouth dirt, and he should be fit off his last race, when he went wire-to-wire to win a state-bred allowance at Belmont Park in June. Look for him to be either on the lead or just off it, and to win the race going away from there -- and how can you not like a horse named Sea Foam running at the Jersey shore? We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 5, $40 to win on 2-Sea Foam.
This is a modest group of state-breds going a mile on the turf, but we like the race because of the presence of 1-Scooby. He was thrown into the deep end of the pool in his first start, running as a maiden in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar on August 2, and though he did not win that day, he finished a good third, only 2 ¼ lengths behind the winner. Now he switches from dirt to turf, and from sprinting to a two-turn race, but the same natural ability that caused us to like his chances last time makes him pick here, especially as this group is much, much less imposing than the field he faced last time. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 5, $40 to win on 1-Scooby.
The day’s lone graded stakes has eight females lining up to sprint 6 ½ furlongs on the Del Mar main track. We’re all in on 8/5 morning line favorite 5-Sneaking Out: she’s coming off a smart win in the Grade 2 Great Lady M stakes at Los Alamitos on July 4, and while we’d like her form under any circumstances, we think she has a tactical advantage here, as she’s a speed horse who drew outside the other speed horses. We see her winning the Rancho Bernardo by pressing the pace, and will bet her to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $50 to win on 5-Sneaking Out.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.