As of late Thursday morning, the dirt at Churchill was listed as sloppy, and at Saratoga it was good; we’ve handicapped accordingly. First picked race, the 6th at Saratoga, has a post time of 4:01 pm.
The good news is that starting tomorrow, the forecast for the entire U.S., east of the Mississippi, is terrific. It is shaping up to be an absolutely perfect Labor Day weekend in terms of weather.
The bad news is that we’re not there yet: rain fell overnight in both Kentucky and upstate New York, forcing the cancellation of all turf racing at both Churchill Downs and Saratoga. As of late Thursday morning, the dirt at Churchill was listed as sloppy, and at Saratoga it was good; we’ve handicapped accordingly, but, as always, make sure to check track conditions closer to post time of each individual race, as this time of year, track conditions can change very quickly. Let’s go.
Seven state-breds line up to go 6 ½ furlongs in this stakes race at the Spa. It’s supposed to be dry in upstate New York the rest of this afternoon, so we’re expecting a main track that is fast, or close to it, by post time. The pick is 3-Spin a Yarn, who ships in from Finger Lakes with good speed, good figures, and, in case she needs it, established wet-track form. We are looking for her to go right to the front, and to stay there all the way around the track. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 6, $40 to win on 3-Spin a Yarn.
After scratches, there are nine juvenile maidens who will line up to go a mile and a sixteenth in this race. We like the favorite, 4-Windcracker, who ships in from Saratoga and stretches out from a route to a sprint. His running style in his two career starts seems to show that he wants more ground, and his pedigree (by Super Saver out of a Forestry mare) suggests he will thrive at both the longer distance and the wet going. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Windcracker.
Including also-eligibles, there were twelve entered in the Opening Verse, but moving the race off the turf has decimated the field, leaving just four to run a one-turn dirt mile. The best of the remaining horses is the one on the rail, 1-Captivating Moon, who brings the best dirt form to the table: he has been running against some pretty stiff competition in recent months in stakes races at Oaklawn Park and the Fair Grounds. His last win was in an overnight stakes in December that was rained off the turf, and we are expecting a similar result today. We will bet him to win. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Captivating Moon.
This non-winners-of-two allowance drew a good and tough field of eleven. Two of them are coupled in the wagering due to common ownership, leaving ten separate betting interests. We like the horse on the rail, 2-Explorer. He’s a very fast 5-year-old son of Orb whose last race was very, very fast, and while that race was a long, long time ago, in June of 2019, his recent works suggest that he is ready to go here. He’s got early speed and an inside post position; as long as he breaks cleanly, look for him to go right to the front, and to win this race in wire-to-wire fashion. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Explorer.
The Pocahontas drew a field of twelve promising juvenile filles. 10-Inject, has everything we like to see in a 2-year-old this time of year: high speed, a good trainer in Stanley Hough, the ability to rate behind horses, and a pedigree that suggests she will thrive at this mile distance. Add to this this that she drew an outside post, which is an advantage in this one-turn race, and she is the pick. She’s fast enough to take the lead, if she wants it, but she may also stalk from the outside; either way, we think she takes the Pocahontas. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 10, $35 to win on 10-Inject.
That’s all for today. Tomorrow is a big day -- Kentucky Oaks day -- and we are looking forward to it. Until then, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.