Saratoga Weekend Preview Week 7


That’s a Wrap…

The Saratoga race meet, for me, has become like pizza. There is no bad pizza, only better somewhere out there. There is no bad Saratoga race meet, only the ones we thought were better in the past, the one we just lived through…and the ones we hope to experience in the future.

The nearly 10-inches of rain that moved far too many races from turf to the main track with short fields and a few strange results did not make for a good meet. Nor did the expanding number of short fields scratched down to 6 or less without monsoon rain. Nor the 9-furlong overnight stakes that start with 5 entered. Either the Racing Office is not writing races for horsemen to enter, or horsemen are not entering races that are written. Why is that?
In a few years, the term “spinners” will disappear from the lexicon that is Saratoga Race Course, to be used only by elders sharing tall tales and lies with great grandchildren…”Son, 50,000 people showed up on a Sunday for a Saratoga ski cap…and it was only $3.00…can ya believe it?” Spinners are going the way of the dinosaur and the annual Open House. Saratoga “giveaway day” swag has been the best marketing tool for racing at Saratoga. I see the stuff almost everywhere I travel. I’m not so sure that’s good.

The racing has been good…on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Saratoga “B” meet takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. You know what I’m talking about. Big race days are great days. But, bundling races into big days diminishes the product on other days. And people who travel to this destination to spend money in the region deserve a product that is good every race day. And that would be good. I can’t wait for next year!
I want to thank Capital OTB for the opportunity to bring you this blog. If you have any comments, please contact me at [email protected].



Saratoga Stakes Preview


September1, 2018

Race 9 The Saranac G3 $300k

Odds Post Horse
2-1 Raging Bull raced 7th in a 9-horse field over yielding turf behind a strong pace that enabled him to use his late speed to win by a nose. It took a perfectly timed ride by Joel Rosario to earn the win; he’ll need a similar pace and ride to repeat at 2-1.
3-1 Maraud is more tactical than rival (3) Raging Bull, and he, too, benefited from the strong pace last out. Maraud is a proven graded stakes competitor in his age class and should get first run again.
7-2 Up the Ante had it his own way setting modest fractions while unpressured and kicking clear. (3) Raging Bull was compromised by the race dynamics that day. Although there is speed to his outside, he could control the pace from his inside draw. Doubt he will be as unpressured today.
6-1 Free Drop Billy makes his turf debut meeting proven turf performers. Yes, he has been fast over the main track. And, yes, he has faced top 3-year old dirt horses. There is turf pedigree on the dam side, as dam Trensa, a daughter of turfer Giant’s Causeway, was 9-2-1-4 and G3 placed over turf. Romans is only 12% first-time sending a 3-year old a turf route and 3-0-0-0 in graded stakes. The sample is small, but at 6-1 or more, this one has a shot but needs several proven turf horses to run off efforts if he is to win.
8-1 Therapist should have no problem with the distance but the question is class. He has beat up on NYBreds while failing to factor in two graded stakes efforts. Those statebred wins make him co-highweight , giving weight to classier rivals. He loses the meets top rider, but Velazquez will give him every chance to earn a check.
10-1 March to the Arch exits a “key” racing producing two next-out winners. He is a 2-time winner at today’s distance with tactical speed but needs a top effort to factor here.
12-1 Golden Brown improved immediately when switched to turf in a Monmouth Park overnight stake, then stepped up to win the G3 Kent at Delaware Park at 28-1. Can’t understand why he was entered in the Haskell, but he was. Show horse Carrick came out of the Kent to win the G1 Secretariat at Arlington Park at 38-1, and place horse Hot Springs is entered here. Think the waters are deeper here.
12-1 Hot Springs ran well but had no resistance for winner (4) Golden Brown in the Kent. Turf routes are not Asmussen’s strong suit; Hot Springs will be a pace factor.
20-1 Sand Dancer is overmatched.

Race 10 Spinaway G1 $350k

6-5 Chasing Yesterday, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, “won her July 28 unveiling in memorable fashion, stalking the pace before drawing off to a 4 ¼-length maiden special weight win under confident handling from Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith at Del Mar.” She broke well, settled outside the pace setter as they drew away from the field, then hand ridden to put her rival away. Baffert’s graded stakes sprint record at Spa with older horses is 6-3-1-1. Baffert is 7-2-2-0 with his two-year olds in 7 furlong graded stakes. He would not be here with Mike Smith if he did not think he would win.
7-2 Catherine the Great crushed rivals in the G3 Schuylerville. She has been bet hard in her two previous starts, both over slop. She broke well from post 1, set a pressured pace to the top of the stretch and spurted clear. Fourth-place finisher and pace chaser Serengeti Princess returned to win a 7-furlong stake at Ellis Park.
6-1 Restless Rider could not have been more impressive in her debut and follow-up win in the Debutante. The question, however, is the quality of the fields she beat. Her debut field rivals remain maidens; no winners yet out of the Debutante. She will get tested for class today.
6-1 Nonna Madeline, like many Pletcher runners this meet, was off poorly and forced to rush up and chase rival (4) Catherine the Great. While no threat to the winner, this was a decent effort. An alert start and a forward move has her in the thick of this at fair odds.
10-1 Virginia Eloise rallied from last in a field of six behind a strong pace dynamic to miss the win by ½ a length. She earned a low speed figure for the effort and needs a big forward move to contend.
10-1 Reflect won easily going 5 furlongs on debut, then pressed an honest pace in the G2 Sorrento at Del Mar, racing willingly and professionally from between rivals before weakening without threatening. Winner Bellafina was impressive, and Kent Desormeaux did not punish Reflect when it was clear they were not earning a check. The pace was strong, and Reflect mid-moved into that pace before tiring. Reflect should have good stalking position and a chance to upset or hit the board at big odds.
10-1 Sippican Harbor ran a hole in the wind against an overmatched group of off-the-turf sprint rivals at today’s distance. She earned a big figure over a dry/fast surface that, if able to repeat, might earn a check
Contention runs deep; the rest look overmatched.

Race 11 The Woodward G1 $750k

4-1 Gunnevera has been an interesting and perplexing horse to handicap. He broke his maiden at 5 ½ furlongs in his third career start, then won the G2 Saratoga Special at 6 ½ furlongs. His other four wins have come at a mile and one-sixteenth in the G3 Delta Jackpot, the G2 Fountain of Youth, an overnight stake at Gulfstream, and, his latest, an optional claiming allowance race prepping for this. His placing in the Travers was his best finish versus graded stakes routers beyond a mile and one-sixteenth. Without a Gunrunner, West Coast, Thunder Snow or Always Dreaming in the field, Gunnevera might have things his way…but it won’t be easy.
9-2 Seeking the Soul upset an modest allowance field going today’s distance in July of 2017, a race that marked the beginning of a steady improvement cycle. Trainer Dallas Stewart has managed this horse magnificently. Stewart has prepped and placed him where he has chances to win or earn good checks, culminating in a near 8-1 upset in the G1 Stephen Foster over Good Samaritan and Hoppertunity. Like rival (9) Gunnevera, Seeking the Soul races from the rear and is at the mercy of pace and trip. Castellano is named to ride for the first time. Outside posts going 9f at Saratoga are negative, bit less negative to off-the-pace runners.
5-1 Yoshida will make his main track debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Mott is 9-2-1-1 with this move, doing so with Good Samaritan into the 2017 G2 Jim Dandy. There is ample dirt pedigree through Grand Sire, the great Sunday Silence. Dam Hilda’s Passion earned over $500k as a 9-5-2-0 dirt sprinter who won the G1 Ballerina. He is a 2-time winner at this distance, albeit over turf. No shock if he handles the main track/
6-1 Tapwrit rose to the occasion to take the 2017 edition of the Belmont Stakes. He, however, enters this race on a 4-race streak of off-the-board finishes, twice easily defeated behind the very sharp Diversify and today’s rival, Discreet Lover. His non-winning efforts prior to his last were fast races that would be competitive here. His last over slop was an “off” effort. He has tactical speed but is a tad slow on speed figures.
8-1 Discreet Lover is a “better than odds” runner from a long shot trainer. He has earned nearly $500k from 14 starts at today’s distance with only a single win. Discreet Lover is hunting another check, but it won’t be from a win.
8-1 Sunny Ridge has speed and tactical speed and must avoid being hung out wide rounding the clubhouse turn. He is fast, and the last effort was a new top speed figure that might be competitive without ground loss. He has been competitive in G3 & G2 routes without winning, but is poorly posted and meets the toughest field of his career
10-1 Kurilov’s two efforts going this distance on the main track were good. Trainer Chad Brown prepped him for this last out, and Kurilov delivered a solid effort chasing the pace and holding well against a closer friendly bias. He is a G1 competitor over turf but this is a much tougher spot than the four rivals he faced last out.
Others in the field at long odds are unlikely to factor at all

Race 12 The Glens Fall G2 $250k

6-5 Santa Monica is the favored of three Chad Brown runners. In a Chad Brown world, there’s a favorite and the “other” at longer odds. Santa Monica looks like a solid favorite, having done little wrong since arriving in the Brown barn. Like many Brown turf runners, she races near the rear and must either be faster than the competition and/or require the help of a contested pace. (4) Danceland looks the most likely pace setter, with company from the 4, 7 or 8.
3-1 Onthemoonagain is also from Chad Brown. This horse was unable to win his U.S. debut chasing a slow pace set by rival (4) Danceland. That runner will be pressured today, providing a better pace dynamic for Onthemoonagain. The “other Brown is always a threat at odds.
9-2 Homeland Security is the third Chad Brown entrant. This one will get tested for class today. He needed the 2-back effort off the September-to-May layoff, and comfortably defeated two of today’s rivals last out. He has never regressed on Thorograph Performance Figures and another forward move is expected. If he classes up, Homeland Security might be able to upset his stable mates at fair odds.
8-1 Lady Montdore, switched from the great Euro-trainer Andre Fabre into Tom Albertrani’s barn, was impressive in her American racing debut versus NWx1 Allowance foes. She was Group 3-placed in France while carrying significantly more weight than today’s impost. She has the look of a filly with a stakes future and goes to post at fair odds.
10-1 Danceland looms the speed they will catch today, as there is other speed to keep her honest. Scratches of other speed types give her a bigger chance, but she does not appear fast enough to hold off the closer.
7 & 2 are non-contenders.

Saratoga Shippers – July20 – August 27

As we complete the final week of this 2018 race meet, it is instructive to see which tracks and circuits have success shipping into Saratoga.

Track Last Raced# StartsWins
Arlington Park154
Belmont 131
Delaware 388
Ellis Park90
Finger Lakes2810
Indiana Downs161
Presque Isle100
Santa Anita40
Saratoga (2017)50
Saratoga (2018) 55

Horses to Watch

Race Flow Dynamics and Trips

Serious handicappers understand that many variables influence the outcome of Thoroughbred races. Among these factors are race shape (FLOW) and track biases (BIAS). Certain race shapes (negative FLOW) and racing surfaces (negative BIAS) are so speed favoring it is nearly impossible for a stretch runner to perform well. Other race shapes (positive FLOW) and racing surfaces (positive BIAS) so favor stretch runners, it is impossible for speed to hold.
Race Flow


Once Race Flow’s Plod Boys Jake and Phil produce their figures, I pore over results charts to identify horses that were somewhat to significantly disadvantaged by the Race Flow dynamics. If the projected Race Flow of their next start appears to be more favorable, and the odds offered appear generous, consider using these horses in your betting mix.

Updated List as of August 24, 2018
Horses listed below were disadvantaged in their last start by a closer favoring race shape:
Andretta, Bartlett’s Mart, Steele’s Run, Prompt, Holy Helene, World of Trade, Infinite Wisdom, Messi, Fancy Case, Frosty Linz, Free Kitty, Dr. Edgar, Driven to Excel, Our Whim

Horses listed below were disadvantaged in their last start by a speed favoring race shape:
A Song for Sue, Brielle’s Appeal, Complicit, Frosted Mint Chip, Brattata, Chateline, Girls Know Best, Ponti Scheme, Mighty Scarlett

23July8 Harangue – better effort than finish over sloppy sealed track
29July18 Style and Grace looked to be a prep for route
30July18 Aurelius Maximus raced greenly after a poor start, improves next out
05Aug18 The inside and along the rail was not the place to be. The following horses were compromised and should be upgraded. Horses winning with outside sweeping moves should be downgraded next out: Lady TNT, Packed House, Panic Attack, O Shea Can You See, Mighty Zealous, Scarf It Down, No Distortion, Fortunate Girl, Joopster, Timeline, Naples Legacy
15Aug7 It’s worth watching the replay as several here were involved in the frantic run to the wire, including Peter’s Kitten, Soar From Shadows and Shamrock Babe
17Aug7 Palladian Bridge lost her race when fractious pre-start. Pay attention to Maggie Wolfendale next out.
18Aug4 Borracho and He’s the Souperwon raced well while outside against a strong inside speed bias.
19Aug10 Mad Munnys, a speed horse, was bumped hard at the start and forced to chase a loose leader to no avail, did well to earn 3rd
27Aug5 Mobridge trailed the field along the inside, jock opted to stay inside, lacked room in the lane, never had a chance to run
27Aug6 Pagliacci cried out for running room in the stretch, no chance
27Aug9 Niko’s Dream hopped in the air at the break, trailed throughout, finished with interest and galloped out well, stretch out soon
29Aug 10 Jimmy Jazz, a horse with tactical speed, dragged back to last, angled out, passed several but had much too much left to do, will appreciate Belmont Park
30Aug 7 Risp lost action down the backstretch, losing momentum and dropping back before being put under a drive by the jockey, finished up well to get third but may have been best


Tom Amello

About Tom Amello

Tom Amello produced and hosted original television programming for Capital OTB from 1992 – 2012. More recently, Tom has written blogs during the Saratoga meet and weekend race previews. He and his family live in Saratoga Springs, NY where they operate the Brunswick at Saratoga Bed and Breakfast at 143 Union Avenue.

Categorized: Horse Racing , News , NYRA , Saratoga , Tom Amello , Weekend Stakes
Navigation Menu