Saratoga: August 12, 2017, The Value & The Vulnerable, By Paul Hundley

Monday was a good day on the V & V, $53 of wagers netted $240 return! Also since the start of this column we’ve identified 12 horses we thought were vulnerable favorites, 11 lost with only 1 finishing 2nd, and the other was a scratch (Sassy Lil Lila, who runs today) Let’s keep it going!

RACE 1: VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT! 4-Scarly Charly(2/1) is taking a fairly big class drop, and has ran and won at Saratoga in the past. But Larry Rivelli, who has been high percentage in Illinois, isn’t exactly having the same success in NY. On speed figures, probably should win, but hard to trust showing no wins in last 10 races and Luis Saez has been struggling at meet as well. Also, while that bullet work looks enticing (4f in :47), remember, this horse is in for a tag, so that work could be an indicator they’re trying to get him claimed. I don’t trust 1-At Guard either, who has regressed the other two times he ran a big effort, and comes off a fairly big effort. Taking a small play with 6-SET THE TRAPPE (8/1) who’s positioned well outside, has good tactical speed, and is 1st off the claim for Naipaul Chatterpaul. Like the move stepping up from $12.5K to today’s level. $5 Win, $10 Place

RACE 2: A little birdie told me that 9-Base Command is the play in here, but I’ll PASS on this race. Just too many unknowns for me to have any confidence in.

RACE 3: I’m not sure why 5-Driven by Thunder is the m/l favorite here, well, I take that back, I DO know! It’s because it’s JRV/Pletcher. And while he certainly has a feasible chance for victory, 5/2 and probably lower is just not worth it. 3-PIONEER SPIRIT(5-1) is first off claim for Linda Rice (26%) and stretches out to a mile for first time. And while on paper there seems to be a decent amount of speed early, if you’ve watched any NY turf racing lately, then you know that rarely transpires. So I like Rice’s choice in Jockey here, the aggressive riding Jose Lezcano, who has shown he’s not afraid to take a horse to the front on turf. He and Rice have won 4 of their last 10 together as well. $5 Win, $10 Place

RACE 4: The Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes. Pletcher has the 2 inside horses here, and it’s certainly possible that 2-1 favorite 1-Pure Silver is just too fast for this group. But honestly, shell have to be breaking from rail. I’m going to make a small play on 8-SOUTHAMPTON WAY(5/1), whose pace figs from his last far exceed those of the favorite. Trainer Horacio DePaz is 2 for 6 at the meet, and. 26% with 2 year olds. Also that last race was the first time adding blinkers. Has the outside post, so Santana should be able to clock the speed to his inside. $5 Win, $10 Place

RACE 5: This race seems ripe for a bomb. And though I’m not superstitious or believe in signs of things to come, I was at a bar Thursday night and staring right in front of me was a sign that said “ON TAP”, which I made a Todd Pletcher joke about on Twitter. Now, in r5, there’s a horse named ON TAP, who’s 20-1 morning line. Add to that the horse should be forwardly placed from the inside, and has the right Jockey to do that in Lezcano, and I certainly believe he’s worth a shot at the price. $5 Win, $10 Place I will say also watch out for the 19-Italian Charm, who has Tyler Gafflione riding for Christophe Clement and is coming up from South Florida. Also a first time gelding. 4-Azar the one to beat for Pletcher, drops in for a straight Claiming event first time. While Pletcher has decent numbers doing this (19%), it’s obviously not his specialty.

RACE 6: I will PASS on any play here, but this one is DEFINITELY worth watching. We have a FTS by FRANKEL debuting for Chad Brown in 8-SPORTSWEAR, which should draw tons of interest. Only 2 of the runners guaranteed to be in have raced.

RACE 7: Another 2 year old race, another PASS. I apologize, but 2 year olds are just not my specialty, and I’m not going to con anyone into thinking I know enough to have an educated guess in this race.

RACE 8: VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT! 8-Off Limits (8/5) has only 1 win since coming to the States, draws outside in this turf event that has not been kind to outside horses at this distance so far. Will be running late for sure, and it is Chad Brown, but 8/5?? Keep it. Looking at 6-PROMOTIONAL(8/1) Paco Lopez has gotten a couple of wins in the last week so things are looking up for him. This 5 year old Mare by 2005 BC Mile winner Artie Schiller has been running very evenly spaced races at longer distances versus tougher. Cuts back to 8.5 furlongs today. We saw Hunter O’RILEY do a very similar move 2 weeks ago here. $5 Win, $10 Place, $1 ex key box 6/ALL

RACE 9: PASS, Just a mess for me to decipher anyone here

RACE 10: Grade 1 Forestardave. Sassy Lil Lila is the wild card here, she was scratched out of a minor stakes last Saturday in favor of this spot. Interesting.  Time Test is 8/5 morning line but has already lost at 2/5 and 6/5. Well on his way to becoming a money burner. 6-Disco Partner, I think, goes off the PTF, but has not faced this quality before. Plus loses regular ride IRAD, who is in Arlington. Believe there is plenty of speed in here, with Ballagh Rocks, Sassy Lil Lila and World Approval all close up early. I think this sets it up well for 2-AMERICAN PATRIOT (6/1), whose last race in the States was a win in the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile at Keeneland. $5 Win, $10 Place, $.50 Trifecta 2/3,6,7/ALL $6 Ticket.

RACE 11: PASS

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