Saratoga: July 22, 2017, The Value & The Vulnerable, By Paul Hundley

Gate_cutHello everyone and welcome to our Saratoga column where I’ll be looking at several races through the card trying to find a horse, or sometimes 2, that I think will give good value to the better in proportion with the real chances to win and not just what the public says. Also, and just as important, we’ll try to identify horses that may go off the betting favorite that are probably wise to avoid on top of your ticket, or off it completely! So we have an 11 race card, let’s get right into it, shall we?

Race 1

There’s two horses in here, the #1 and #2 that are short prices on morning line and will likely be short at post, so the chances of catching a price on top seems iffy at best. However, if you truly want to swing against may I suggest 4-ADULATION. Makes 3 year old debut today after a trio of 2nd place finishes at 2. Note the winner of his last start was Untrapped, who I believe will turn into a pretty good 1 turn horse before his career is over. Ian Wilkes trains, it’s nice to see him at The Spa and great that he picks up Javier Castellano to ride today. Wilkes is an average 13% with horses off 90 days or longer but still has a positive ROI.

Race 2

Not sure about the 9/2 at post, but like 6-TIPSY KITTEN here. Has won last two and now drops into this 40K claimer, a suspicious move except Trainer Mike Maker has made it a successful one the last 3 times he’s dropped off a win. Needless to say, he knows what he’s doing. Maker and Leparoux are 5 of their last 20 together. My play is to key box the 6 in a exacta w/2,5,7,9 and to key him on top in a $.50 tri over the 1,2,4,7,9. Ticket will cost $10.

Race 3

The first turf route I’ve seen this year for 2 year olds, I think I’ll stay away, if you really must play it consult with a pedigree geek.

Race 4

VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT! 4-Shuffle Up (5/2 m/L) was well beaten last out, though versus tougher. Still, with the 3 cutting back in distance, and also with the 5 in here I’m not sure Shuffle gets the early lead and I doubt he wins if that happens. I will suggest the 1-ALEX THE TERROR (8/1) for Jeremiah Englehart, 1st time Blinkers (26%) 2nd off claim (30%) Ortiz is 3 for last 8 with him.

Race 5

Will pass because too many FTS, consult race 3 advice if you feel you must play this.

Race 6

5-TERRY O GERI (8/1) The only time this one caught a fast track was back on April 19 at Aqueduct and won by 4 1/2 lengths in a NY Bred Optional Claimer, earning a 101 BRIS Speed figure. That race was at today’s distance, and also Junior Alvarado who rode that day is back on today. Contessa 20% turf to dirt with a +ROI. My play here is just an Exacta wheel box; 4/3,4,9,12,13 $12 ticket.

Race 7

6-END PLAY (8/1) Won last out at Belmont vs entry level allowance, also has a win at Saratoga at today’s distance. Very good early speed and has Luis Saez aboard, a very underrated turf rider. Probably playing $5 Win, $10 Place.

Race 8

VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT! 1-Volatility Index (5/2) while does have good early speed, speed figures are light compared to others but will still be very well bet because of Castellano and Chad Brown, my guess is way over bet. However, the 7-BROQSE (12/1) is only making 2nd turf start for Shug McGaughey, who is 27% 2nd turf from last 22 opportunities. Impeccably bred, very good  speed. Had trouble in that turf debut but made a late run to close, going last 1/8th in under 11 seconds. Going $5 WIN $10 PLACE.

Race 9

The Grade 3 Sanford. Thinking the 1,2,5, and 7 all take money, which may leave 6-BAFFIN (9/2) overlooked in the betting. Nice Gate to Wire win as even  money favorite at Churchill in debut. Santana rides today, and he rode very well on Friday so that’s a boost of confidence for him. Not sure i recommend a play here unless he goes to about 8/1, then maybe a W/P.

Race 10

Small field, and probable heavy favorite in Lady Eli. While I don’t think she’s a vulnerable favorite, I do think she’s beatable (there is a difference) and if you wish to try and beat her, why not do it with a horse that’s already done it in 6-DICKINSON (9/2). Very little early speed in here, would not be surprised to see Paco Lopez take her and go right to the front and play catch me if you can. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin started off the meet the right way on Friday with a pair of wins.

Race 11

3-CHILTERN STREET (10/1) won at the 50K N3L last out, is coming from turf sprints where showed good early speed so imagine Angel Arroyo will try to have this one winging it up front. Ran 2nd here last August in an OC 62.5K n2x. Is 1st off the claim for Robert Diodoro (25%), who wins a third of the time with claim repeaters, 28% with horses who won last out, and he and Arroyo are 28% together recently.

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