Friday, August 01, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
TimeformUS Saratoga Analysis for Saturday, August 2
Race 1: One final try for #11 Ziggy the Great, who was an impressive (and heavily bet) debut winner over this course and distance last summer. Rallied gamely through the stretch vs. a tougher overall field when cut back last time.
#8 Leroy Jr. returns to turf off the layoff. He blew away a field of maidens when last seen sprinting on dirt. Last turf race was OK going long, and he may simply be a better sprinter. #2 Hooked Forever was outfinished by #1 Soul House after they contested the pace together on June 22nd, but he is a better horse making one run and will be a much better price today.
Race 2: #8 Alexis Inspires caught a muddy track and completely blew the break in her Churchill debut. Thought she did well to finish where she did. She is eligible to deliver a much better performance second-time out.
#3 Skidmore also broke slowly in her debut, then had little chance to impact front-running Resistivity over a Gulfstream main track that tends to carry speed. Like Alexis Inspires, she is eligible to be much improved with that experience as she returns from a layoff. #2 Snowbell made a promising debut here last summer, but hasn't been able to build upon that effort and remains a maiden over a full year later. Didn't run poorly in her second start, which came off of a layoff, and she may appreciate getting back over this track. #6 Brilliant Jewel and #7 Ridingwiththedevil are the two fastest horses to this point, but they've both disappointed at short prices more than once and are vulnerable to their progressive rivals.
Race 3: #3 Face the Music is by a strong turf influence in Stormy Atlantic, and his dam is a half-sister to champion turfer Point of Entry. Shug not known for first-out success, but he's starting to get there with six debut winners over the past 12 months and three already this year. #5 Cordero is the horse to beat. He debuted in a super-tough spot vs. stakes company in Europe over seven furlongs and earned progressive marks after being bothered in the late stages.
#10 Firespike was on his way to an easy debut victory at Ellis Park when he appeared to attempt to jump the rail in midstretch. Switches from a 7-lb. bug to NY's leading rider. #4 Strong Coffee is a half to a pair of stakes winners over grass and debuts for a trainer adept at getting runners to win off of workouts.
Race 4: #9 Flashy Gal appeared full of potential as a 2yo in NY for Chad Brown, but never really got going as a 3yo after being transferred to this barn. Seems back on track after pair of improved starts this year, including a convincing win last time, and while Pace Projector indicates that the runners closer to the pace may hold the advantage, we'll hope that she can use her potent late kick (she has the top late pace rating in the field) to overcome any disadvantage. #3 Strike Charmer is still lightly raced and improving from start to start. She was way up against it while trying to close into a slow pace up here last year, and she appeared to take a step forward in her 2014 debut. #10 Tokyo Time hasn't quite panned out for top connections, but she has run well in her last two starts since returned to NY and fits very well in here. #2 Lady of Gold has a great inside post and competitive form, and may be a good price to include, assuming the trainer change doesn't attract too much attention.
Race 5: As usual, dirt sprint for 2yos, with several first-time starters, figures to go through trainer Todd Pletcher. He has two entered, including ML favorite #1 Royal Son. Winstar homebred is from the family of 2yo champion Countess Diana, and he's a half to Awesome Mama, who was a debut winner a couple of years ago. We're interested in one of his experienced rivals, #6 Pride of Stride, who gets first-time Lasix after dropping back and then rallying late in his Delaware debut. #7 Waging War brought big money as a yearling and debuts for a trainer who can win with first-time starters, but he has more of a turf pedigree. #4 Burndines debuts for a red-hot trainer and has attracted Javier Castellano despite Pletcher having two in here.
Race 6: #7 Pretty Syrie flashed potential while sprinting on synthetic and dirt, but is well-bred to handle the switch to grass, and her trainer gets a 99 rating with horses making their first start on turf. #8 Pink Poppy impressed when charging down maidens through the stretch of her second career start, and then failed to fire after getting rank in the early stages last time. Should be able to settle this time with a fast pace projected, and can be given a chance to rebound. #2 Granny Mc's Kitten broke her maiden vs. stakes company up here as a 2yo; makes third start of the year for top connections, and this will be her first attempt at this allowance condition on grass.
Race 7: De La Rose stakes features the return of a pair of graded stakes winners for trainer Chad Brown in #7 Pianist and #8 Dayatthespa. Of those two, we prefer Dayatthespa, but they'll both have to be ready to go right away if #9 Filimbi continues her ascent for Bill Mott.
She has recency on her two main rivals, and was highly impressive in her confident score over allowance foes when last seen.
Race 8: Guaranteed Late Pick 4 kicks off with the Grade 1 Vanderbilt for older sprinters. Both #1 Palace and #8 Bakken arrive here via the True North, which was contested the day before the Belmont Stakes downstate. Palace prevailed that day with the benefit of a perfect trip tracking a pace duel in which Bakken was involved.
With plenty of speed signed on here, we could see a replay of that race, though we are expecting Bakken, who was making his first start of the year in the True North, to be a tougher customer this time. #5 Happy My Way is a razor sharp speed stepping up to face his toughest test to date, and he could have a difficult time early with speed to his outside in the form of Bakken and to his inside in the form of #2 Falling Sky.
Excellent running of the Grade 1 Test figures to be a war from start to finish. We believe #7 Sweet Reason to be the best horse in the race to this point, and perhaps the top 3yo filly overall at distances under a mile, but she was able to work out a perfect trip from off the pace to win the Grade 1 Acorn last time, and may need a similar clean run to prevail today. #4 Thank You Marylou turns back to a better distance after trying to stretch out recently, and she had impressed over sprint distances earlier in her career. #5 Southern Honey has been improving rapidly for Rusty Arnold, winning three in a row while earning competitive TimeformUS Speed Figures along the way. #8 Little Alexis is stepping way up in class off of a pair of convincing wins in Florida. This is likely to be too tough for her, but she impressed in burying the talented My Miss Sophia in her debut. #12 Miss Behaviour is a very dangerous horse drawn out in the clear, but she may be pushing her limits over this distance.
Race 10: Grade 1 Whitney Handicap with a new $1.5 million purse goes straight through #5 Palace Malice. He is the clear leader of this handicap division right now and appears to be going from strength to strength since returning as a 4yo.
#1 Will Take Charge hasn't been able to hold his terrific form from the second half of 2013 and early 2014 but has a race in him that would make Palace Malice sweat. He was up against the dynamics of the Foster last time, but will have to rebound all the way in order to take down this prize. #3 Moreno matched up well with both Palace Malice and Will Take Charge as a 3yo, and he may be set to break through after his game runner-up performance going longer last time.
Race 11: Our Pace Projector indicates that a fast pace is on tap for the Lure Stakes, and that may allow #4 Big Blue Kitten to pick up right where he left off after his terrific 2013 season. Will be tough with something approaching his best, but he may be prepping for some longer graded stakes assignments later in the season. #8 Villandry never really got going as a 4yo, but he's been in improved form this year, and he was up against it when trying to close down a loose-on-the-lead Silver Max last time. #12 Kharafa took the worst of the draw, but he has been going well over a long series of races and can be tough if able to work out a trip. #2 Swift Warrior is also a big danger from his perfect inside post, and he will be hoping to catch firm ground for the first time this year.