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Jeff Siegel: Saratoga Picks & Analysis | Wednesday, August 25

by Jeff Siegel

August 25, 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: C
Use: 1-Uncle Skeets; 3-Rudy Rod; 5-No Burn

Forecast: There are too many question marks in the Wednesday opener to have a solid opinion in this maiden $20,000 main track sprint for older horses. Tread lightly. Rudy Rod shows a decided edge in the speed figure department and on paper beats this field, but the R. Rodriguez-trained gelding is being wheeled back in three days off a hard race when second at 6/5, so it’s anybody’s guess how he’ll react to the short turnaround. It should be noted that this race was drawn last Friday, two days before ‘Rod drew in on Sunday as a main track only entrant in what turned out to be an off-the-turf race. So maybe he won’t run today. Uncle Skeets, a good runner-up in his debut but away since then for nearly 20 months, returns in a bottom-rung maiden claimer, so his connections obviously aren’t looking long term with him. The K. Breen-trained son of Khozan ships in from Monmouth Park as a first-time gelding for a barn that has good stats with layoff runners and picks up the stable’s “go to” rider, J. Ortiz, so the evidence suggests he’s a live item. The work tab is slow and sketchy but that may be by design. Suffice to say, we’re guessing. No Burn displayed speed going long on grass before fading vs. tougher in his first two career starts. Today, he’s sprinting on dirt. We’ll toss him in on a ticket or two, but that’s all.

RACE 2: Post: 1:41 ET Grade: B
Use: 2-Casalsa; 4-Forest Spirit

Forecast: Forest Spirit was nosed out in a slightly softer spot last month when earning a career top Beyer speed figure, and nothing much more will be needed to win this restricted (nw-2) S25,000 claiming sprint for older horses. Perhaps most effective when held up early and allowed to finish late, the Freud gelding retains J. Rosario and should get the type of ride that he prefers. Casalsa, freshened since late June, invades from Gulfstream Park, where he finished a no-excuse runner-up in a restricted $20,000 affair in an effort that makes his reasonably competitive on this circuit. A local bullet gate drill (:35.1, fastest of 10) four days ago is a positive sign, so with L. Saez taking the call we’ll give the P. Walder-trained gelding some consideration at 6-1 on the morning line.

RACE 3: Post: 2:15 ET Grade: X
Single: 1-Pocket Square

Forecast: We’re handicapping this race under the assumption that it remains on turf. If not, we’ll pass. Pocket Square is listed as the 2/5 morning line favorite in this conditioned allowance turf event for fillies and mares after exiting a pair of Grade-1 events and owning a monumental edge over her four rivals in the speed figure department. The lightly-raced English-bred filly will handle any sort of give in the ground, as she was a Grade-3 winner in France over heavy going as a 2-year-old. This should be a confidence-building win for a lightly-raced filly who isn’t quite up to beating the best in North America but should have no difficulty handling this group.

RACE 4: Post: 2:49 ET Grade: C+
Use: 3-Invaluable; 5-Timely Tradition; 8-Awesome Indra

Forecast: We’ll go three-deep in this $25,000 claiming sprint for fillies and mares, but not with a high degree of confidence. Invaluable has been away since April after a pair of disappointing runs while dropping to her lowest level, so her condition is a question. The work tab shows significant gaps, but the barn is reasonably proficient with layoff types and “win rider” J. Ortiz returns, so we’ll make an educated guess and say she’s the one to catch and perhaps the one to beat. Awesome Indra is nicely drawn outside and projects to inherit a comfortable stalking position. She returns at her claim (and winning) level after earning a career top speed figure when a distant third in a much tougher first-level allowance sprint earlier this month, so with L. Saez staying aboard she should be a major player. Timely Tradition, first or second in 18 of 38 career starts, has seen better days but this return to the claiming ranks may help and she’s a two-time winner over the Saratoga main track, so at 6-1 on the morning line she’s worth tossing in somewhere.

RACE 5: Post: 3:21 ET Grade: B-
Use: 1-Digital Future; 3-Partner’s Hope; 8-Cool Quest

Forecast: This race has been handicapped for turf. If it is switched to the main track, we suspect many of the entrants likely will remain in the field so most of the analysis will hold, but you should proceed with caution. Cool Quest exits a pair of fast, highly-rated races and could easily find this maiden field well within his capabilities. The son of Frosted adds blinkers, retains Johnny D., and has numbers that fit despite two speed/fade efforts that produced two off-the-board finishes by a combined 20 lengths. His work tab since raced looks healthy, so at 9/2 on the morning line there may be a bit of value to be found. Digital Future is the likely choice and one to beat despite missing at 3/5 when second vs. similar sprinting on grass at Belmont Park in late June. His numbers are okay, but no better than those assigned to Cool Quest, and at 6/5 on the morning line the C. Brown-trained surely will leave at a much shorter price than our top pick. Partner’s Hope, a $40,000 claim by L. Rice, picks up L. Saez, shows the route-to-sprint angle that we like, and may be the most dangerous of the closing types. Her main track numbers put her in the hunt, and she’s actually bred for turf, so at 8-1 on the morning line we have to use her.

RACE 6: Post: 3:55 ET Grade: B+
Use: 3-Whatlovelookslike

Forecast: The known element in this New York-bred maiden turf router for juvenile fillies doesn’t impress, so let’s go with the promising Whatlovelookslike as a win play and rolling exotic single. A daughter of the prolific grass sire English Channel, the T. Pletcher-trained filly has done some good work in the morning while displaying athleticism and stamina in both her grass and main track drills, and after viewing her videos she appears to be fit enough to handle a distance ground first time out. Drawn comfortably inside and with I. Ortiz, Jr. taking the call, the Stonewall Farm homebred should offer wagering value at or near her morning line of 4-1.

RACE 7: Post: 4:29 ET Grade: B-
Use: 4-Power Up Paynter; 5-Binkster

Forecast: We’ll use two in this state-bred $25,000 claiming sprint for state-bred older horses, but if you feel the need to spread deeper, go right ahead. Binkster shows up in a seller for the first time and seems properly spotted based on his recent speed figures. Winless in five career starts at Saratoga but in the frame in each of those outings, the R. Handal-trained gelding does his best work when allowed to stalk and pounce, similar to the style employed in his solid win at Monmouth Park two runs back. He was in a little steep when third of six last time out but still earned his usual number and a similar try against this group should be good enough. Power Up Paynter returns to the claiming ranks for the first time since he graduated in a maiden $40,000 sprint back in December of 2019. This will be his third start in his current form cycle, and it should be his best, especially if the track is dry and fast. The L. Rice-trained gelding is a late-running sprinter that depends on a quick-early pace to compliment his style; the race flow in this race projects to be sufficient.

RACE 8: Post: 5:05 ET Grade: B+
Single: 5-Winter Pool

Forecast: Although he missed in a photo vs. similar as the favorite over this course and distance last time out, Winter Pool deserves another chance, this time hopefully over a dry track. The Curlin gelding shows rising speed figures in each of his four starts and probably won’t need to improve much to win this starter’s allowance affair. In a race that projects to be slowly run early, he’ll likely settle into a comfortable stalking spot and then have every chance to grind out a win. At 2-1 on the morning line – hopefully no lower – the C. Brown-trained 4-year-old is a win play and rolling exotic key.

RACE 9: Post: 5:39 ET Grade: B
Use: 3-Shamrocket; 4-Ajourneytofreedom

Forecast: Shamrocket hits hard in these grass marathons and tackles a bit easier group today after finishing a willing third behind Cross Border in the Bowling Green S.-G2 last month. It’s of minor concern that his record over the local lawn is 4-0-0-3 but we’re expecting J. Rosario will have him along in time in this year’s renewal of the John’s Call S. Ajourneytofreedom, successful in a marathon turf here last month against a softer allowance field, earned a career top speed figure in victory, and while he doesn’t often win the son of Hard Spun usually offers a strong late bid and should at least hit the board for the always-potent M. Maker/T. Gaffalione tandem. These are the two we’ll be including in rolling exotic play with preference on top to Shamrocket.

RACE 10: Post: 6:13 ET Grade: B
Use: 2-Kitten’s Romance; 11-My Candy Girl

Forecast: This race has been handicapped for turf. If it is transferred to the main track, we’ll pass. My Candy Girl, freshened since May and arriving from Indiana Downs, joins the M. Maker barn, lands I. Ortiz, Jr., and looks extremely live and well-meant in this restricted (nw-3) inner turf $35,000 claimer for fillies and mares. Most effective as the controlling speed but able to stalk and pounce if the pace flow dictates, the daughter of Twirling Candy isn’t guaranteed a great trip from the 11-hole, but she has numbers that can beat this field, so let’s hope she can get over, save some ground, get some cover, and be in a position to fire her best shot. Kitten’s Romance, in the frame in five of her last six starts, projects to settle into a second flight position and then have dead aim from the quarter pole home. The Florida invader is a fit on numbers and has run we’ll over the local lawn in the past. At 6-1 on the morning line she offers some value in rolling exotic play, so we’ll include her in our ticket while reserving the main punch for My Candy Girl.