Thursday, August 21, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Saratoga on Friday, August 22
Race 1: #2 Bernie the Maestro goes well over this track and we'll take him to improve for a trainer who has had a good meet to this point, and who does well with these older sprinters off the claim. #4 Moments Notiz has avoided NY since streaking start once imported by this trainer at Aqueduct, but he's continued to race competitively out of town, and he has a race to get to that makes him tough in here. #5 Doubledown Again has settled for 2nd or 3rd in each of his seven starts since arriving in NY, and figures to be able to land a piece, at least, in this spot as well.
Race 2: #7 Nejma wasn't going to factor vs. an impressive winner here on August 3rd, but she was up against it immediately after missing the break, and she raced greenly down on the rail through the stretch. Down slightly in class for second start and is eligible for much better. #8 Know It All Anna acquitted herself well in a tough field on debut, then stumbled at the start vs. MSW company here on opening day. Class drop will help and she drew well on the outside for first start in blinkers. #2 Zarleeza caught a sloppy track for her debut at Monmouth, and she was outrun in the early stages before passing some horses late. Pletcher wins with a lot of first-time starters, but he also gets a 100 trainer rating with second-time starters and with the MSW to MCL drop.
Race 3: Well-matched group of sprinters will go six furlongs for $100k in the Tale of the Cat. #7 Sensational Slam isn't quite up to graded stakes quality, but he's been holding form over a long series of races. Think he'll appreciate getting away from the Monmouth main track, which was carrying speed on Haskell Day. He just needs some pace to close into. #3 Bahamian Squall also fits better in this kind of race, though he was a complete no-show in a weak renewal of the Grade 1 Vanderbilt last time. Can be given one more chance as he makes his third start off the layoff. #6 Bern Identity held potential early in his career and impressed in his return from a long layoff in the Monmouth slop. Faces some solid older sprinters here, but holds much upside and has the tactical speed to pull the right trip.
Race 4: #6 Savvy Star has a big pedigree (100 rating), being a half to Haskell winner Bluegrass Cat from the family of Derby winner Super Saver, and debuts in a likely field considering what we've seen from the experienced runners to this point. Trainer doesn't crank up his 2yos for early success, but does much better with his older first-time starters.
#1 Running Wild took a step forward here in her 3yo debut, and figures tough if improving from that run for a trainer who has been on a good run. #3 Judy Legend can also do better in her second start of the year after finishing behind Running Wild last time. Earned solid 91 TimeformUS Speed Figure for her debut as a 2yo.
Race 5: 5th features the return of the talented #4 Cigar Street, who hasn't been seen since completing hat trick on the Grade 3 Skip Away with a 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure back in March of 2013. He's better than these with one of his good efforts, but it may not be wise to expect that today. If he's just out there to shake off some rust, #2 Qualify was heading the right way before settling for 3rd in tough allowance here last month. That was his first attempt at nine furlongs, and he can do better with the experience behind him. #7 Bad Hombre is pushing his limit going this far, but he tried gamely while contesting the pace ahead of Qualify last time, and also ran very well in the Curlin at this distance up here last summer. #3 Awesome Vision is consistent and he can take advantage late as he can get this distance without issue, which can't be said so easily for some of the others.
Race 6: #5 Honor the Kitten has run the fastest races in the field, and he took the worst of it last time when rated wide off the pace behind a wire-to-wire winner. Drops in price off the claim, but is tough in this field with a typical effort.
#1 Tiu ran very well three times on turf up here last summer, and returns to that surface for the first time since for top connections after finally getting overdue win on dirt last time. #11 Giant Jo had to be used to get position from an outside post when dropped in for the price in his 3yo debut, and he was impressive in kicking away from that field in the stretch. Took the worst of the draw once again.
Race 7: #3 Paulassilverlining debuted over a muddy track earlier in the meet and found herself in a pace duel with a Tony Dutrow-trained second-time starter before tiring in the stretch. Faces some very well-bred and well-connected firsters here, but can be tough on them if showing similar speed in this spot. #1 Gap Year is out of Grade 1 Ballerina winner Dubai Escapade and debuts with some strong works in tow. #2 Path has also been working well, and she has a versatile pedigree, being by Tapit and out of a dam who was a Grade 1 winner on synthetic, a stakes winner on turf, and Grade 1- placed on dirt. #9 Souper Social is the first foal from a dam who is a full sister to Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose winner Secret Status.
Race 8: #6 Crushing couldn't impact the speedy Stormin Monarcho most recently, but he impressively overpowered a field first time back from the layoff, and he doesn't figure to struggle with the distance for a trainer who is heating up right now. #1 Smooth Bert hasn't come back to form so far this year, but he's been in a couple of tough spots and he has the speed to pull the right kind of trip here as he makes his third start back off the layoff. #9 Away Game already owns a pair of wins over this distance, including an upset win here last month after a perfect trip.
Race 9: Very interesting edition of the Grade 1 Personal Ensign is on tap. It feels as if legitimate cases can be made for many of the horses. #6 Close Hatches is the horse to beat in current form, and she has a running style that allows her to avoid being compromised by race dynamics. Her rival #7 Princess of Sylmar is in something of a make-or-break spot here after disappointing as a heavy favorite last time. Not sure that adding blinkers is a good sign for her, as Pletcher pulls that move with limited success overall and almost no success in races like this (1 for last 15 in graded stakes). Both #1 Antipathy and #5 Belle Gallantey finished close up to the two favorites (surprisingly) in the Ogden Phipps, and they have both since returned to prove that that result was no fluke. We could take either one to post an upset but will go with Antipathy, who got in a win over this track and trip earlier in the meet and appears to be a filly on the improve.
Race 10: #8 Beamer didn't take to jumping, but he put in a run through some traffic when returned to the flat after a layoff and is a threat with the right trip in this field. #4 Film Shot has come up short more than once in races that he appeared to have at his mercy, but he's also faced better horses right along and figures to benefit from the class relief. Still not sure what #3 Best Play's best game is, but he's a good fit at this level on grass and has run races that make him competitive. Figures to get overlooked in the wagering off the claim. #6 Media Kid is logical getting back to grass after contesting an off-the-turf affair last time. Has the kind of tactical speed that can get him any trip in a race.
Race 11: #3 Aripeka got a good trip and just missed after engaging in a stretch duel with Arch Avenger last time. Finished ahead of, and ran better than, several of these that day, and is tough to down if coming back with a similar performance. #1 Smokey Brown never kicked in with a run when behind Aripeka last time, but he is capable of producing a better finish, and he will add Lasix for the first time today. #8 Pecorino is interesting switching to grass first off the claim by Linda Rice. He is out of a dam whose three career wins all came on turf, and Rice also took the aforementioned Arch Avenger, who had turf pedigree but had never run on it, from Todd Pletcher and switched him to grass with immediate success.