Big day of racing on hand, as Derby Day joins the last Saturday of Saratoga and Del Mar on the calendar. Coast to Coast action will keep players busy all day. We have selections and some quick thoughts on all the Derby Day stakes at Churchill. Full fields, full hearts…can’t lose! Good luck to all.
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!
Share and Enjoy
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.
Share and Enjoy
The fourth week of July marks the start of our two favorite summer traditions: Saratoga and Shark Week. So last night, we recovered from an epic opening weekend at the Spa by turning on the Discovery Chanel to watch Shaq standing on the bow of a boat screaming for sharks. And as the Big Aristotle dove into infested waters searching for the mythical Megalodon, our mission became clear—”Shark Week–Saratoga Edition.”
Today’s shark always seemed to exhibit the cold-blooded instincts of a shark on the prowl during his dominant years at Saratoga during the 1990s and early 2000s. After Angel Cordero, another Saratoga Shark, retired Bailey took over as the alpha male in the Saratoga jockey colony. Bailey made it a goal every year to win the title at Saratoga, a feat he accomplished 7 times. He ruled the Saratoga jockey colony with an iron fist.
Bailey, unlike Cordero, was the regular rider from some the eras most prolific trainers, namely Bill Mott and Bobby Frankel. Bailey, or J-Money as he is known by the Thorobros, appeared to always be riding the best horse. But this was an illusion, as he knew how to get the best out of horses and weave through trouble. Much like a shark, he perservered through a tough trip in order to claim a visit to the winners circle. His calm under pressure seemed to be second to none, waiting until the perfect moment to pounce and take the race by force.
Bailey also was known for sharking mounts away from his peers, by proclaiming and backing up, that he could ride their horses better. Like any other shark, Bailey wanted the biggest and most tasty prey and would do whatever it took to get it. He was never satisfied with the status quo, he was always hungry for more.
Bailey won every major stakes at the Spa including a record seven running a of the Test and six running shoes of the Hopeful. One of his best rides that displayed both his calm nerve, expert sense of pace, and furious finish was in the 2002 Test. It also happens to be this Thorobros favorite race of all time. Aboard Bobby Frankel’s filly You, Bailey sat well off a torrid pace set by Todd Pletcher’s Carson Hollow. Rounding the turn Bailey asked his mount to start making up ground along the rail. As they reached the top of the stretch, there appeared to be no room for You, but Bailey bidded time and found a tiny seam on the rail to dart through. Then Bailey pulled along side Carson Hollow with Johnny V aboard, and the two went punch for punch to the line with You prevailing by a nostril. It’s a race that has to be seen to believe, so please check it out https://youtu.be/oCuJjhBBCS
Bailey’s shark-like dominance of Saratoga came to an end with his retirement in 2006. But Bailey couldn’t stay away, continuing on in the industry as a TV commentator. In his new line of work he still asks like a shark, asking tough questions and never fearing to put his opinions on the line, or to question the tactics used by his former peers. Once a shark always a shark.
Share and Enjoy
The fourth week of July marks the start of our two favorite summer traditions: Saratoga and Shark Week. So last night, we recovered from an epic opening weekend at the Spa by turning on the Discovery Chanel to watch Shaq standing on the bow of a boat screaming for sharks. And as the Big Aristotle dove into infested waters searching for the mythical Megalodon, our mission became clear—”Shark Week–Saratoga Edition.” In honor of Shark Week, we will profile the Sharks of Saratoga, legendary horses, jockeys and trainers who loomed large meet after meet and devoured all competition in their paths.
Today we are featuring Angel Cordero Jr., the King of the Saratoga Seas. Not only was he clearly the King by winning 11 consecutive riding titles from 1976 to 1986, he did so by displaying many shark like characteristics.
He was clearly held a mental edge on his competitors by toying with Jean Crueget like he did with his ride in the 1984 Whitney aboard Slew O’ Gold. A race in which he admittedly talking trash down the backstretch.
Cordero also won all of those titles without being the “go-to” rider for many of the larger training outfits; he did whatever he had to to assert his dominance. He was fearless on the track, taking any tactic, regardless of the risk, he thought might work to get to the Winners Circle.
And his shark mentality didn’t end when he hung up his saddle in 1992. He has since become the a shark-like agent on the grounds, by taking the book and hustling mounts for leading riders Johnny Velazquez and Manny Franco.
His dominance over his opponents, his killer-instinct and his willingness to take risks to get to his prey make Angel a cold-blooded killer at Saratoga.
Share and Enjoy
The Kentucky Derby, the best known race in America and possibly the World, is likely the most “handicapped” race. In hopes of finding a winner on the first Saturday in May, many fans scrutinize the various preps around the country to find their pick. Like the vast majority of handicappers out there, we love our statistics. Using the past to predict the future is at the heart of nearly every handicapping strategy. Many try to use a specific horse’s past to predict their next performance. However, for big races a more historical approach is often utilized to find the similarities and trends in past winners to lead you to the next winner.
In order to help you find the 2017 Kentucky Derby Winner, we have evaluated the past 15 winners, and the races they prepped in, to find trends to watch for and follow over the next few weeks.
Share and Enjoy
The Kentucky Derby is a great reason to throw a party. It’s an event where everyone dresses to impress, comes with a pre-determined theme, engages the party-goers with the chance to pick a winner and presents an opportunity to drink an otherwise obscure cocktail. What more could you ask for?
Kentucky Derby parties are held all over the country on the first Saturday in May, especially in cities and towns with ‘Racing Fever’. Saratoga Springs is no exception, and starting in 2015 the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has hosted one of the best around.
Share and Enjoy
We have reached the HorseMadness II Championship after a month long competition battle to see who will be the last Cinderella still dancing. Thank you to all who have voted and helped us conduct this poll. But now on the ‘ship!
Jim Dandy v. Onion
It is interesting to note the similarities between these two Cinderellas, and what it says about our readers thoughts on what makes a great upset. Both defeated a Triple Crown winner, at Saratoga the Graveyard of Favorites, in that Triple Crown winners’ championship season. As lifelong Saratoga enthusiasts (read: obsessed diehards), the ‘Bros could not be any happier that the Spa takes center stage in the Championship. But although these Cinderellas danced on the same stage, they were far from the same “type” of underdog.
Share and Enjoy
Welcome back to Horse Madness II, the quest for racing’s greatest Cinderella. Ironically, the bracket of upsets has been dominated by chalk, with all favorites advancing to the Elite 8. Some great matchups ahead, ripe with opportunities for upsets, so stayed tuned…
Canonero II v. Jim Dandy
This matchup is a face off between one of the most famous Cinderellas in the history of the sport (Jim Dandy) versus a great underdog with an unimaginable path to success in the 1971 Derby and Preakness. Continue reading Horse Madness II – Elite Eight: Canonero II v. Jim Dandy
Share and Enjoy
Welcome back to the second round of Horse Madness 2016! We are through the play-in round, and an updated bracket is here: Horse Madness 2016.
Two more Cinderellas dancing in this madness: one a David to the Goliath that was Secretariat. The other, a hard-knocking stakes winner who finally achieved Breeders’ Cup success in his third attempt against a classy field and denying Goldikova a spot in the history books.