Breeders’ Cup Friday Picks and Analysis

The greatest two days in sports are upon us. Happy Breeders’ Cup, everyone! While COVID has prevented the typical trackside pageantry, the substance of the event—full fields and betting opportunities abound—remain unchanged. Friday’s card features five juvenile BC races—a very challenging proposition for handicappers. Logic would suggest tempering betting excitement and focusing more on Saturday’s races—but where is the fun in that? In all seriousness though, Friday’s races are wide open. If you have a strong opinion in one race, it may make sense to take a stand and spread wide in the other races. Our thoughts and analysis follow. Good luck, everyone!

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Travers 2020: Odds and Oddities

In a year of oddities, “the Midsummer Derby favorite being a Belmont winner who has never raced beyond 1 1/8 miles and prepping for the Kentucky Derby” is right up there for odd sentences. But that’s 2020, in a word it is odd. But it is all we have. And, in a world full of doubt, dread and uncertainty, we are happy to have “something” of substance in horse racing to grab onto.

The premier race of Saratoga has and always will be the Travers. And this year, unlike a few others in recent memory, we have the clear division leader for 3yos headlining the biggest race of the meet. Tiz the Law rolls into Saratoga on a four race win streak in which he towered over his competition at the finish. A win today would likely make him the biggest Derby favorite in modern memory. But as the Graveyard of Champions has already claimed some victims in 2020, nothing is certain in Saratoga.

Tiz faces a solid field of eight competitiors, including the lightly raced but undefeated Uncle Chuck from the deadly barn of Bob Baffert. Saratoga legend Bill Mott sends out South Bend, who has been knocking heads in this division all year with the nations best three year olds, but is new to the Mott barn after a fast closing second in the Ohio Derby. Ralph Nicks ships in from Florida with the speedy Shivaree, who ran second to Tiz in Florida in the Fountain of Youth. Linda Rice, Orlando Noda and Chad Brown all seek their first Travers. And Gustavo Delgado brings his consistently improving Caracaro to the table.

Although only eight strong, it’s a n interesting field with lots of story lines. And the rest of the card, although not packed with deep fields, has many horses at the front of their division, including: Gamine in the Test; and Come Dancing, Serengenti Empress and Bellafina in the Ballerina.

Here are our picks and plays for the day. Have a great Travers from home everyone

Race 1: no opinion here.

Race 2: 1,6

we like creative style (6) the best, as the 3-1 odds are appealing and like the sprint-route move for this runner, who ran well on the stretch out three back. The straight 1 appears the better half of the entry if he runs, but watch for scratches as Manny Franco is named on both. If 1 scratches, we like a strong win bet on Creative Style

Race 3: 9/8,12/4,5,7

We love turf sprints; always find them to be pretty formful races where horses get ignored for unknown reasons. Although I picked the heavy favorite Light in the Sky (9) on top, she has clearly best numbers and if she runs back to those, she wins. But this is still a great betting race, because after her its wide open. Watch to see if the white hot Christophe Clement scratches in with the 12, who is the clear second  choice. If she doesn’t, I like the 8 to run in the money at 8-1. She ran well here last summer, and now turns back from 7f to 5.5f. After that, let the bombs roll with 30-1 Mz Pat Seb (5) for David Donk and Graetz (7) for the Jimmy Bond barn, which is firing on all cylinders. Probably best individual betting race of the day here.

Race 4: 8/2,5,9

Hard race to love on the basis that the condition is haven’t won a race in 2020. But somebody has to win here, and we think it will be Golden Spear (8). He owns a win at Saratoga last summer and should improve second out. Underneath 2 for Tom Morley could get an uncontested lead and the 9 is a nice price play for David Cannizzo who hasn’t run often on the grass but when he has we think he runs his best races. The addition of the en fungo Joel Rosario doesn’t hurt.

Races 5 and 6

Historically, we are awful at 2yo maidens. So we won’t offer picks here. Time to drink a few beers and get amped for the stakes action. But if you need some action, the American Pharaoh sired American Monarch (3) could be fun play out of the Bill Mott barn in the 6th.

Race 7: 4/5,6

Competive 7 horse field. We like Bellafina (4) to get the stalk and pounce trip and run down Serengeti Empress, who we feel has lost a step this year and folds badly when pressured. Under Bella, all three outside horses have a chance, including former Mexican champion Letruska (5). Pink Sands is hit or miss, but one turn sprinting appears to be her best game. Come Dancing is the toughest horse to read in this field. Now 6yo, has she trailed off? Or did she need her first two of the year and will run back to last years form? I think it’s gonna be a play against, but hard leaving her off the ticket in Pick 6s.

Race 8: 7/1,6

Chewing Gum (7) is our best bet of the day. Since turning to turf sprints he’s really taken off this year and is the one horse in the field in th best form of his career. the Favorites Impiris, Pure Sensation and Sheeky Shebbaz all have great back form, but recent races give little confidence. If we get higher than 3-1 on Chewing Gum its abig win bet. Will also try to single in pick threes. Dont sleep  on 15-1 pulsate to finish out exact as and tris. shhhhhhhhh. Let’s get that $$$

Race 9: 1,7/3

Mrs Sippy (1) should be tough on return here. But we also like the on,y other runner in the field who has won at today’s 12 furlong distance in fools gold(7) in he event Sippy doesn’t fire off the bench. Also don’t sleep on the 3 at 20-1 to finish in the numbers.

Race 10: 5/1

Not a lot of analysis here. Gamine is better than these. But we do like Up in Smoke (1) at a price to close out the exacta.

Race 11: 6/3,7

We think Tiz takes it and could be a generational talent. But for second at a price we like Caracaro (7) who has improved with every start and could step up again going two turns for the second time. We see him as the best upset chance and if his odds float we might play a win bet here.

Race 12: 7,9/2,3

7 has best numbers in race and is 8-1. 9 ran a great number on turf and if he can run the same on dirt will be tough. Could be a nice little get out race after a possibly chalky day to roll the bankroll into Del Mar tonight

 

good luck everyone and happy Travers Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saratoga 2020: Preview of Racing Calendar Changes

As with everything else in this world, COVID-19 has changed how Saratoga Race Track will operate this year. No fans, limited owner attendance, restrictions on jockey travel, and fewer trainers using  the Spa City as their operation headquarters for the summer months. It will feel strange; it won’t be the same. But in the long-run, we should feel happy there is a racing meet to speak of.

In an effort to pick ourselves up from the fact we cannot: (a) walk down Union Avenue and into one of the oldest sporting venues in America; (b) drink coffee at the Morning Line while the horses train; or (c) crush Coors Light and Hattie’s Chicken sandwiches at a picnic table by the paddock while inspecting the horses and past performances for the next race,  we want to highlight some of the upcoming races of the summer, with a focus on how the stakes calendar has changed from the ‘traditional’ order of events.

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Happy (Arkansas) Derby Day! Stakes Analysis and Picks

This is not the first Friday in May racing fans expected. Churchill is empty. The Run for the Roses has been moved to September.

But…the julep glass remains half full. Oaklawn Park has blessed us with not one, but two Arkansas Derbies! Add the Oaklawn Handicap as the meat in the middle of this Pick 3 Sandwich and we have a great evening of racing ahead. With NBC Prime airing 2 hours of historical Derby Coverage, followed by two more hours of NBC Sports covering Oaklawn, racing has a unique opportunity to remain the center of the sports world even absent the Kentucky Derby.

For those of you looking for some live betting action (not the simulated Triple Crown Race—Secretriat/Pharoah exacta box), we have you covered with our thoughts on Oaklawn’s Big 3.  Happy “Derby Day”, everyone—may the juleps still flow!

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Breeders Cup Friday–Picks and Thoughts

 

The best weekend of the racing calendar is upon us.  Friday’s future stars card features five competitive Breeders Cup juvenile races.  Unfortunately, sugar induced late bedtimes on Halloween lead to an abbreviated write up for today’s BC races.  But we put in the time handicapping and think several of these races are wide open.  Good luck everyone and happy Breeders’ Cup.

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Weekend Warrior–The Sultan of Saratoga

Friday Happy Hour at Siro’s. Crafting a late Pick 4 ticket on Saturdays. Nursing a hangover in the shade of the picnic area on a Sunday. Back to work on Monday—counting down the hours until you can hit repeat.  Weekends in the summer are meant for Saratoga.  And it’s not just the championship racing.  It’s jet skiing on the lake, concerts at SPAC, fried chicken and dough boys, and late nights on Caroline Street.  Our Weekend Warrior Series highlights the very best of the racing, establishments, events and experiences for each 72 hour stretch of glory.  Happy Friday, Saratoga! 

We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming this weekend to instead pay a Weekend Warrior’s tribute to one of the all-time coolest horses, local hero and proclaimed Sultan of Saratoga, Fourstardave. Dave’s affinity for the Saratoga sod and his massive following earned him the honor of being the namesake for major Saratoga Saturday Grade 1 turf mile race (a race he won several times).  And this year’s Fourstardave is full of intrigue as two talented mares—Uni and Got Stormy—take on the boys.  Got Stormy in particular would make Dave proud as she is proclaiming her Saratoga love by wheeling back off a one week layoff (after dominating the De La Rose). Got Stormy also tries to join the legacy club as her sire, Get Stormy, won this race in 2010.

In preparation for Saturday’s Fourstardave check out our ode to the Sultan of Saratoga:

On August 28, 1987, hall of famer Randy Romero piloted a 2-1 second choice juvenile to win what appeared to be an otherwise benign edition of Saratoga’s Empire Stakes–a six furlong event for two year old New York Breds.  Fast forward seven Saratoga meetings later, and that otherwise unremarkable 1987 state bred stakes held a much larger legacy. It marked the birth of a Sultan.

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Fourstardave, The Sultan of Saratoga, won at least one race at the Spa for eight consecutive years spanning from 1987 thru 1994.  In doing so, he became a local legend.  Fourstardave retired after making 99 (!) starts with a record of 21-18-16 and earnings of $1,636,560.   He also owns a mellon turf course record at Saratoga, traveling a mile and sixteenth in 1:38 4/5.

In 1995, following his retirement, Fourstardave was given an edible key to the city of Saratoga and a street,  “Fourstardave Way” was named in his honor.  On a personal note, two young Thorobros attended the 1995 street naming outside Siros and have signed goggles which Angel Cordero wore that day as he rode ‘Dave over from the barn area.  As an aside, proof of our attendance can be seen here–at the four second mark–that young jockey sporting the black and cherry silks is indeed a young Bro. Fourstardave Ceremony

In 1996, the Darly’s Joy Stakes–a race Fourstardave won twice–was renamed the in the Sultan’s honor. Besides its namesake, only one other horse has won the race multiple times–Wise Dan. Other winners include Breeders’ Cup mile champs Lure, Da Hoss, and Steinlen.

Today’s clip features Tom Durkin, in rare cheerleader mode, rooting home the “Old Boy” as he dominates an allowance field for his final Saratoga victory in 1994.

Fourstardave’s final Saratoga win

Enjoy and best of luck to everone wagering on today’s Fourstardave.

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Weekend Warrior–Whitney Weekend!

Friday Happy Hour at Siro’s. Crafting a late Pick 4 ticket on Saturday. Nursing a hangover in the shade of the picnic area on a Sunday. Back to work on Monday—counting down the hours until you can hit repeat.  Weekends in the summer are meant for Saratoga.  And it’s not just the championship racing.  It’s jet skiing on the lake, concerts at SPAC, fried chicken and dough boys, and late nights on Caroline Street.  Our Weekend Warrior Series highlights the very best of the racing, establishments, events and experiences for each 72 hour stretch of glory.  Happy Friday, Saratoga! 

The Whitney is the biggest race of the Saratoga Meet this side of the Travers. Always a historic and prestigious race, the 2019 Whitney has even more meaning given the recent passing of its namesake, Marylou Whitney.  Saturday promises to be a very special day at the track.  But the Whitney is not the only major event this weekend.  Friday is the Hall of Fame induction ceremony—a Thorobro favorite.   Add gorgeous weather forecasted and this weekend carries epic potential.  Here is your guide to all the on and off track excitement of Whitney weekend. Continue reading Weekend Warrior–Whitney Weekend!

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Weekend Warrior– Jim Dandy Weekend

 

Friday Happy Hour at Siro’s. Crafting a late Pick 4 ticket on Saturdays. Nursing a hangover in the shade of the picnic area on a Sunday. Back to work on Monday—counting down the hours until you can hit repeat. Weekends in the summer are meant for Saratoga. And it’s not just the championship racing. It’s jet skiing on the lake, concerts at SPAC, fried chicken and dough boys, and late nights on Caroline Street. Our Weekend Warrior Series highlights the very best of the racing, establishments, events and experiences for each 72 hour stretch of glory. Happy Friday, Saratoga!

Happy Friday, Saratoga! After a rough week of heat and cancelled racing, weekend number three looks much more promising. The Jim Dandy, the traditional prep race for the Travers, headlines a terrific weekend of racing. This year’s edition features Triple Crown stars Tacitus and War of Will along with other promising colts. In addition to the Jim Dandy, this weekend features other top stakes action, on track entertainment and benefits for a great cause, and lively food and drink options around town.

Here is your guide to all the on and off track excitement of Jim Dandy weekend.

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