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Jeff Siegel: Saratoga Picks & Analysis | Friday, August 20

by Jeff Siegel

August 20, 2021

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.

The selections are posted at 6:00 a.m. and updated later in the morning to reflect late scratches and changes (approximately 10:30 a.m.). For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.

Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

RACE 1: Post: 1:05 ET Grade: B-
Use: 3-Fingal; 5-Fifty Sheas Ofgrey; 7-Chao

Forecast: We will pass this race if it is switched to the main track. Fingal moves up a level after a runaway sloppy track score that probably means nothing if the race remains on grass, but maybe everything if it’s contested over a wet track. The Noble Mission colt has a good stalking style that guarantees a trouble-free trip. Chao looked good winning at Gulfstream Park in late May but hasn’t been out since, though the S. Joseph, Jr.-trained colt shows a recent healthy work tab to be fit and ready and numbers that make him a major player. The presence of I. Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle is another indication that he’s live and well-meant. Fifty Sheas Ofgrey was overmatched and ran poorly in the Tale of the Cat S. at Monmouth Park last time out, but he earned good number when winning a maiden special weight event in his previous outing while on the front end, and similar front-running tactics likely will be employed again. A recent bullet half mile workout (:47 2/5, fastest of 78) since raced catches the eye.

RACE 2: Post: 1:41 ET Grade: B+
Single: 4-Empire Lily

Forecast: Empire Lily is a first-timer from a stable that excels with debut runners (27% with a massive flat-bet profit) and has trained like a very nice prospect in a race for New York-bred juvenile fillies. The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile gives every indication of being a win-early type while displaying smooth, easy action in her morning trials and a mindset that stamps her as a precocious sort with a touch of quality. The J. Abreu-trained filly gets the stable’s “go-to” rider J. Ortiz, so we’ll make her a strong win play and rolling exotic single.

RACE 3: Post: 2:15 ET Grade: B-
Use: 5-Scocciatore; 6-Scuttlebuzz

Forecast: We will pass this race if it is taken off the turf. Scuttlebuzz has excellent recent form, winning three of his last five with figures that fit at this state-bred two-other-than allowance level. In his first try around two turns last time out, the R. Rodriguez-trained gelding was part of the pace before weakening slightly to wind up third but he’s back sprinting today and should be capable of regaining his winning form. The same could be said for Scocciatore, unplaced in the same race our top pick exits but shortening up to his preferred trip and projected to be within striking range of the leader throughout. A repeat of his clever score at Belmont Park two runs back puts him right there. We’ll try to get by using just these two in our rolling exotics with preference on top to Scuttlebuzz.

RACE 4: Post: 2:49 ET Grade: B-
Use: 1-Aldan; 5-Hoopla; 6-Clemenza

Forecast: A little will go a long way in this extended sprint for older maiden claimers. Hoopla flashed speed before packing it in vs. straight maidens over a distance of ground in his debut last month at Belmont Park.. The class drop, the shortening in trip, a good recent work tab, and the switch to Johnny V. are factors that should lead to a vastly improved performance today, so we’ll put him on top. Abdan is a seven-race maiden and therefore not one to trust, but he does have dangerous early speed, shows the route-to-sprint angle, and is dropping below his claim price in his second start for R. Diodoro. The son of Liam’s Map earned a speed figure two runs back at Churchill in a similar event that puts him right there. Monmouth Park shipper Clemenza makes his first start since being gelded and he’s also dropping into a seller for the first time, so the K. Breen-trained son of Malibu Moon has every right to step forward. Toss him in on a ticket or two.

RACE 5: Post: 3:21 ET Grade: B+
Single: 8-Achilles Heel

Forecast: We will pass the race if it is transferred to the main track. Achilles Heel is improving with racing, and in a field in which the newcomers don’t look like much let’s go with the experienced colt coming off a narrow defeat vs. similar over the local lawn last month. The son of Fed Biz rallied against slow fractions to finish a strong second by a neck in a good try, after which he was transferred from R. Atras to B. Cox (30% this season). We’re expecting his upward mobility to continue, so let’s make him a win play and rolling exotic single.

RACE 6: Post: 3:55 ET Grade: X
Single: 4-Capital Structure

Forecast: We will pass this race if it is transferred to the main track. Capital Structure has been sparingly raced throughout her career – just five starts with only one this year (in April) - but she’s extremely fast on speed figures and is certain to eventually gain some black type if she can stay healthy. This second-level allowance event is hers for the taking if she returns as well as she left, though we haven’t seen her on video because she’s done all of her recent training at Belmont Park. We know she can fire fresh (she won her debut) and her better-than-looked fifth place finish in the American Oaks-G1 at Santa Anita last December provided some hint of her potential. She’s an obvious short priced, rolling exotic single.

RACE 7: Post: 4:29 ET Grade: B
Use: 1-Road to Success; 4-Scotto; 6-Gimme Some Mo

Forecast: Road to Success, another one of those high-percentage first-off-the-claim plays for R. Atras (34% with a strong ROI), is properly spotted after beating maiden $30,000 claimers last month at Belmont Park with a career top speed figure. He’ll have to step up again in this restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claimer, but we’re anticipating this lightly-raced son of Quality Road can do just that. He’s drawn comfortably inside and has the tactical speed that will ensure an ideal ground-saving, stalking trip. Scotto stretches out for the first time and acts like he’ll enjoy the extra ground after finishing with interest but much too late when a distant third in a hot race for the level in the mud last month. The son of Zivo switches to L. Saez and represents the most dangerous of the deep-closing types. Gimme Some Mo hasn’t had any real success on dirt – his lone win came on grass – but he’s dropping significantly in class, retains I. Ortiz, Jr., and may find himself as the controlling speed. Given that type of trip, the T. Pletcher-trained colt could prove elusive.

RACE 8: Post: 5:05 ET Grade: C+
Use: 1-Wicked Indeed; 3-F F Rocket; 10-Royal Realm.

Forecast: Several of these are making their first starts since being claimed and a few others have been haltered within their last couple of outings, so on paper this is a treacherous starter’s allowance affair over seven furlongs for older horses. A case can be made for virtually every one of the 10 entrants. Wicked Indeed, a $35,000 Rudy claim six weeks ago, returns protected in a sign of confidence after winning two of his last three starts, most recently over a Belmont Park sloppy surface. He has enough early speed to gain a decent early position from his rail post and has the proper style for this extended sprint distance. J. Rosario, who doesn’t often ride for this barn, picks up the mount, as J. Lezcano, who was aboard Wicked Indeed in his most recent victory, opts for F F Rocket, making his first start since joining the high-percentage R. Atras barn after being haltered for $30,000 out of a winning race in early June. The son of Curlin has been curiously campaigned this year, sprinting and routing on fast ground, a muddy surface and turf without any apparent consistent master plan. Maybe he wants to be late-running sprinter; guess we’ll find out today. Royal Realm lands the cozy outside post in his first-off-the-$40,000-claim for D. Donk. The son of Empire Maker is re-equipped with blinkers while turning back from a router and has back numbers that make him dangerous. Smaller ticket plays should include the three listed above in rolling exotic play but if you can afford to go deeper, do so.

RACE 9: Post: 5:39 ET Grade: X
Single: 3-Kaufymaker

Forecast: Today’s feature is a grass sprint for juveniles. Let’s hope it remains on that surface. Trainer W. Ward has a couple in here, including Tremont S. winner Overbore, but clearly the one to beat is Kaufymaker, a runaway debut winner at Keeneland in April before being sent to Royal Ascot for the prestigious Coventry S.-G2. She actually ran fairly well there when winding up eighth of 17, beaten just four lengths. The daughter of Jimmy Creed may have found the six furlong straightaway course a tad too testing, but at this five and one-half furlong trip against lesser foes she’s strictly the one to beat. A recent half mile turf breeze around dogs (:48b, second fastest of 62) indicates she’s spot on.

RACE 10: Post: 6:13 ET Grade:
Use: 3-Gabby Squared; 10-Never Content

Forecast: We will pass this race if it is taken off the grass. Gaby Squared could do no better than a non-threatening third at 6/5 in a similar maiden claiming turf router at Belmont Park in June but on numbers she’s clearly good enough to make amends in this spot, so with the switch to I. Ortiz, Jr. we’ll give the C. Brown-trained daughter of Jack Milton another chance. Her recent work tab is healthy, so we’re expecting a career top effort. Never Content, away since late May, returns to face her softest foes to date and seems likely to provide our top pick with some serious competition. The M. Maker-trained filly is a strong fit on speed figures and has enough tactical speed to secure a good pace-stalking position.