Saratoga: September 2, 2017, The Value & The Vulnerable, By Paul Hundley

Hello, and welcome to the final Saturday edition of the V & V for the 2017 Saratoga meet. I’m your host with the most (according to my wife) and hoping for better success than Travers Day, plus hoping weather holds out long enough today.

RACE 1: Driven by Thunder is the 2/1 morning line favorite, and is dropping in class and Pletcher, Johnny V and Repole Stable behind him, not to mention could control the early pace. But, there’s no way I’m trusting enough on top for so little reward. Now, the early pace may depend on which version of 6-Guick shows up. The last 4 races has ran 2 good and 2 not so good, in alternating form. Would be in form to run good today should he follow that pattern. Is 2nd off the layoff for Jeremiah Englehart (22%) and he and Manny Franco are 4 for last 14 together. Playing 6/1,7,9/ALL $10.50 Ticket for a $.50 Trifecta play.

RACE 2: Scheduled for the turf, of course we’ll see how that goes. VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT! With a catch here. 12-Voting Control (5/2) is a FTS for Chad Brown by Kittens Joy. Now, the catch is, is the 2nd also eligible in the race, so I’d say there’s a better than even chance he won’t even draw in. Even should he draw in, will be compromised by an outside post here. Another thing I don’t like about him is, Kittens Joy commands a $100K stud fee, yet this one was sold last year at the yearling sale for only $85K, which was under KJ’s average. 10-Mauraud would seem like a better choice in here should both stay in, but to me the most intriguing FTS here, price wise, is 7-Desert Stone(12/1) for Rudy Rodriguez (16% FTS) . WAS A $373K October 2016 purchase. Has 8 consecutive weeks with a work, and arguably the best bred for the distance in here. $5 Win, $10 Place $1 Exacta Key Box 7/2,3,6,9,10

RACE 3: Bluegrass Jamboree (2/1) has been beaten twice at this level already, last time as the 3/2 favorite. Normally that would automatically qualify as a VFA horse, however, while not totally sold on the Charlton Baker charge, there’s not a lot in here. All the early speed, if any, is cheap at best, so my suggestion is to PASS this race. Maybe you could make a case for 5-Palladian Bridge at 6-1, but my plan is to just move on.

RACE 4: For the first time ever, we have a DOUBLE VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT! 11-Turbo Street (5/2) AND 5-Slim Shadey (3/1). Let’s talk about the latter first. Yes the 9 year old gelding won last out at this level last out, which was the lowest level he’s ever ran on turf. However, was 9-1 that day, and was aided by a fast pace early that he was able to close into. Pace in turf races in New York are always iffy to predict, so may not get the pace to chase this time. Plus, won’t be the nice price he was in last. Now for Turbo Street, has 4 starts in the U.S., has been no better than 4th in any of the 4, though vs much higher levels than today. Plus, as mentioned earlier, outside posts in these turf routes are not the place to be. While Trainer Brian Lynch is having a good 2017, has struggled during the Saratoga meet and this drop almost seems like desperation move. Is 13%. 1st time claiming, which, while not horrible, isn’t awe inspiring either, especially for such a short price. I’ve even came up with a jingle for him, to the tune of”Easy Street” from Walking Dead, Season 7.

Well I’m bettin’ ‘gainst TUR-bo Street , ’cause he WILL get beat, Odds on MY horses will be a treat, because I’m against TUR-bo Street”

So the question remains, who is the value? Well, Dancetrack drops from Optional Claimers, but 2017 comeback race not inspiring and at 7/2 morning line won’t appear to offer value. 2-Shalako(10/1) probably won’t be that price at post, seeing how is first off the claim for Linda Rice (26%), is dropping off the claim (31%) and 36% dropping 2 or more class levels. Was posted wide last out in 12 hole which certainly didn’t help chances. Another who I think offers value, even though on the dreaded outside, is 12-Generous Kitten (15-1), who has been well beaten last few going longer vs tougher, but now cuts back to the 8.5 furlong distance that he won his only try at. Is first off the claim for Asmussen (19%) and 26% dropping off a claim. My plays this race are Shalako $5 Win, $10 Place, Generous Kitten $5 Place, $10 Show, $1 Exacta Key. 2,12/1,2,5,6,7,9,11,13 $14 ticket.

RACE 5: 3-Funtastic is 5-2 morning line favorite, and won debut on turf last out in 2nd career start. But, faces winners for the first time. too short a price to take in that situation. 8- J.S. Choice closed well for 2nd at this level vs open company last out, but had a very fast pace to close into, which I don’t foresee having today. 13-Lucullan almost mirrored what JS did in that last common race both were in, so the pace question applies to him as well, should he draw in. 1-Lunaire (10-1) made a bid before weakening in Grade 3 Kent last out, 2 back vs a more similar but probably tougher level than today was a closing 4th beaten only 1 length to probably the 2nd best 3 year old turf horse in the country in Bricks and Mortar. That despite a slow early pace, so isn’t possibly as pace dependent as shorter priced horses in here. 11-Brockton George (20/1) won only turf start in 2nd career race as a two year old. Was off 8 months before returning in Grade 2 Indiana Derby on dirt, which is a weird return spot to say the least. Is worth taking a chance with considering probable price. $1 Exacta Key Box; 1,11/1,3, 8,11,13 $20 ticket.

RACE 6: PASS

RACE 7: I cannot pass up 20-1 morning line on 2-Alex The Terror, has ran well in starts this meet at Saratoga, and is 1st off the claim for Gary Sciacca (16%), 20% beaten favorite. Very good early speed and will be gunning from rail. $5 Win, $10 Place

RACE 8: PASS

RACE 9: As I said earlier, Bricks and Mortar may be the 2nd best 3 year old turf runner in the country, and is certainly the deserving favorite today. That being said, think there’s a coin here that can beat him, especially if B&M finds a little bit of trouble which he has been lucky not so far. Though not as class tested as some in here, really high on 9-Rocketry for Jimmy Jerkens. Will play $5 Win $10 Place, also going deep in the Pick 4 starting here.

Pick 4 Play: 1,2,4,5,6,7,9/1,4/2/1,2,3,4,5,6,8 $49 ticket that I’m hoping to catch a price in the 2 turf races.

RACE 10: What can I really say about this race that you don’t already know? Gun Runner is head and shoulders above the rest in here, will go to the front, shrug off the pressing Rally Cry, and run off to his 4th career Grade 1. Neolithic has tried in Dubai, I doubt result will be any different than it was there.

RACE 11: 1-Seperationofpowers looks like something special. That being said, 4-Pure Silver has more experience and has faced better, plus a more favorable post. Using these 2 for the Pick 4.

RACE 12: Don’t really like any one particular horse in here, just hoping for a price for the Pick 4 and hoping 7 or 9 doesn’t win.

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