Friday, August 22, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Saratoga on Travers Day, Aug 23
Race 1: #5 Three Alarm Fire ran a 96 TimeformUS Speed Figure in his promising debut. Will put the pressure on the firsters if running as well right back. #2 Hidden Candy broke very slowly in turf debut, and raced greenly while catching up to the field. Switches to dirt for second start, but showed enough in there to expect improvement. Todd Pletcher hasn't had his typical meet with his first-time starters up here (he's won with just four of 22 of them on dirt to this point), and he's not as potent with his older ones as he is with his 2yos, but #7 Liam's Map was an $800k yearling, and he shows up here with some fast works in tow.
Race 2: #9 Potthast took money for his sprint debut and was finishing gamely despite having no pace to close into. May appreciate having more ground to work with. #2 Face the Music is the horse to beat off promising debut behind a good-looking winner here earlier in the meet. Figures to improve for the experience, and there were whispers leading in to that one that this well-bred colt had some ability. #4 The Truth or Else was back off the pace on the stretch-out last time and was finishing gamely late to just miss 2nd. Runner-up from that race went to Arlington to win his next start. #5 Blazing Truth will stretch out for his second start after racing wide and appearing green in the stretch.
Race 3: #10 Blue Pigeon finished behind a couple of these in his 3yo debut on July 26th, but that was a fast-paced race and he wound up close to it before failing to rally hard in the stretch. Think he can do better than that, as his 2yo form suggests he has some ability.
6 John Bailey may be the one to beat after posting new top figure (91) win in his first start back as a 3yo. He dueled down a heavy favorite through the stretch that day, and it was encouraging to see him show an ability to rate. #1 Poliziotto makes his second start back as well, and he projects for a nice inside stalking trip from his rail draw. #9 Iced Over endured a very tough trip in turf debut back in June, but he parlayed a perfect one into a win in his first start with fellow NY-breds earlier in the meet, and he had a bar shoe removed.
Race 4: In the event that you're one of the blissful few out there without a Twitter account, let's get the Tony Dutrow second-time-starter-at-Saratoga stat out of the way: He has won with seven of the last 10 on dirt up here, and that includes three winners this meet. His #8 Today's Agenda could do no better than 2nd first time out behind Competitive Edge, who was perhaps the most impressive 2yo to debut at this meet. He finished just ahead of #7 Bayerd in there, and Bayerd is also sent over by a trainer who does excellent work with second-time starters. They are both major players here, but we'll put #6 Waging War on top. After getting away slowly from the gate on August 2nd, Waging War made a sharp run through the turn while hung up very wide, and he never gave in through the stretch while weakening late. There are, as always, some interesting firsters in this field, but we'll stick with the experienced runners for now.
Race 5: Not thrilled to be taking the 1-for-20 #9 Divine Luck on top, but there is little doubt that she's been unlucky in each of her last two starts. She failed to get clear at all in the stretch two starts back at Belmont, and she lacked room at a crucial point up here on July 19th before finishing well too late behind a pair of fillies who both came back to run well here again. #6 Luna Time has the upside as she switches to turf for the first time here, and her dam was a two-time stakes winner on grass. She galloped out with a purpose in her career debut and was game to get up to break her maiden last time after having to alter course in the stretch.
Race 6: #4 Shatak must be ready off the layoff, but he has run well in all three career starts so far, and may have closed down a pair of talented rivals when last seen had they not drifted over in front of him late. Projects for a perfect trip tracking up close in a race that our Pace Projector indicates will favor runners up close to the lead. #1 Picozza has burned too much cash to take on top, but this is the right race for him, and he didn't run poorly in either of his recent starts at Monmouth. #8 McIlroy has come forward rapidly for Chad Brown since being claimed for $50k earlier in the year, and he has a versatile running style. Came away narrowly second best after engaging in a game stretch duel with a heavily favored winner last time. #12 Adirondack Dancer repeats the pattern that produced a winning effort for him last year on Travers Day, returning 14 days after a game effort over this track. #6 Powerful Instinct is out of NY-bred conditions, but he has turned things around since being transferred to Chad Brown last year, and he exits a much-the-best win on July 24th.
Race 7: #3 Pretty Fancy's best races to date have come around one turn, including a Churchill Downs mile on May 24th in which she took part in a contested pace and prevailed only to be closed down late by an odds-on favorite. Like the turn-back for her after being in contention past midstretch of 9-furlong race last time. #4 Predicate is just 1-for-13, but she shows up every time and rallied gamely once again last time after extricating herself from the inside to just miss catching a heavily favored winner. Not a bad spot for #10 Divided Attention to kick off her 3yo campaign, and she'll do so with Lasix on for the first time. She showed potential last year, and she appeared to lose position after getting intimidated on the far turn of the Tempted Stakes.
Race 8: #9 Royal Blessing is getting the proper turn-back today after spending much of the past year running in races that are too far for him. Really not sure what to do with #2 North Slope as he comes back to grass after a brief foray on the main track. He's disappointed after showing early promise, but he's also had plenty of excuses, and we still believe in his natural ability. This is the right kind of race for him, assuming he isn't completely finished. Both #4 Bad Debt and #6 Star Channel are capable and are contenders, but we'll take our chances with the top two.
Race 9: Late Pick 4 with a guaranteed $1 million pool kicks off with the Grade 2 Ballston Spa on turf. #7 Filimbi impressed when overpowering #5 Dayatthespa in a prep for this, and she is a well-connected filly with much upside. We expect her to be tough, but Dayatthespa is a talent in her own right and had to work hard contesting the pace in front of Filimbi in that race. She can make it closer this time. We are also interested in #2 Centre Court. She appears to have lost a step or two since that big Grade 1 Jenny Wiley win early last year, but she has gotten a pair of questionable rides recently, and she'll be a price.
Race 10: As one might expect of a Grade 1 sprint carrying a $500k purse, there is plenty of speed signed on to contest the King's Bishop. #2 Wildcat Red has some of that speed, but he's been effective from a stalking position, and he figures to be ridden that way as he turns back out of longer races. Think he's best over these shorter races, and he's a fighter. #7 The Big Beast put up a 110 TFUS Speed Figure for blowout win over this track ladt time, and he is a talented 3yo sprinter on the upswing. #8 Coup de Grace is a talented closing sprinter who will also appreciate any pace that develops in front of him. Don't think he's necessarily one to take a short price on, but we're using him in our Pick 4. We also want #5 Noble Moon on our tickets as he returns from a layoff. He showed talent earlier in the year and can be a big threat with any natural improvement.
Race 11: Grade 1 Ballerina has a NY-bred feel, with four fillies bred in the Empire State entered. We think all of them are contenders and are taking them at the expense of multiple Grade 1 winners #2 Better Lucky and #4 My Miss Aurelia. #5 Willet has come back better than ever through two starts this year. Lone graded stakes tries to this point have come over longer distances, or off of layoffs, but we like her better as a sprinter. #8 Hot Stones has run nothing but good races, and she is a major threat turning back out of a game Shuvee try. #1 Artemis Agrotera is already a Grade 1 winner, and she has won her two starts over this track by a combined 22 lengths.
Race 12: Make no mistake. Whether you think he can get the distance or not, the Travers goes straight through ML favorite #2 Bayern. He's the clear speed, and it's unlikely that anyone will want to challenge him too hard early. We're going against him today, but without enthusiasm. We have liked #6 Tonalist from day one and think he is set to break through as he makes his second start back from a short break off his Belmont Stakes win. #7 Wicked Strong is not to be taken lightly, and he is our main backup.
Race 13: #9 Weave is an improving horse for a top trainer, and she was compromised by an outside draw and wide trip last time in a race where the horses racing toward the inside throughout had the advantage. She had a big excuse two races back in spill-marred race at Belmont, and we liked her determined late run to close down maidens at Laurel prior to that. #5 Sky Painter makes her three-year-old debut here for top connections, and she certainly flashed enough potential last year to believe that she can be tough here with first-time Lasix. #1 More Than Less is still green but has shown ability and she did not get a good trip in her last start.
Race 14: #2 Macagone raced away on too fast of a pace last time and couldn't stay on through the stretch. Figures to be able to settle more today with other pace in the race, and his best effort is good enough. #3 Thurgood has appeared to have potential beyond the NY-bred ranks after two starts. He did catch a fast pace to close into last time, but he was impressive, and there is not a lack of speed in this race, either. #5 Morning Calm fits well in here based on game effort trying to track down the talented Storm, who remains undefeated on grass. Not thrilled to see that he was listed as a vet scratch on June 18.