by Dustin Fabian
July 26, 2018
This weekend is a great one in horse racing, with three-year-olds taking center stage at Saratoga and Monmouth. No Justify anymore? No problem, so long as the horses lining up in the Jim Dandy (Vino Rosso, Tenfold, Flameaway), Haskell (Good Magic, Bravazo, Lone Sailor, Promises Fulfilled) and Curlin (Hofburg) show up and run big.
Saturday at Saratoga, we’re offering one of our popular 1 Million Point Splits on the Late Pick 4. Hit it to win your share. And then Sunday at Monmouth for the Haskell, we’ve got a 1 Million Point Exacta Split and a Handicapping Tournament that features guaranteed prizes of a Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship Seat ($12,000 value) and $5,000 cash.
But, without further adieu, here are my full-card picks for Saratoga on Saturday. Good luck!
Race 1 (1:00PM ET) – Maiden Special Weight ($85K) – 5 1/2 Furlongs on the Turf
Chad Brown is going to have a big Saturday (Todd Pletcher probably will too) and it starts in the first race with PARTY WITH FRIENDS, who will be tough to beat if he takes to the turf. I loved his workout from the gate two back – 4f in :47 2/5 (2nd fastest of 61) – and if he shows that much speed Saturday, he’ll be tough. WINNING FACTOR ran a nice race in his Belmont debut on July 8, while BAGGINS will be in the picture IF (and it’s a big IF) he breaks with the field.
1. PARTY WITH FRIENDS
3. WINNING FACTOR
Race 2 (1:33PM ET) – Claiming ($50K) – 1 1/16 Miles on the Turf
DANCETRACK looks the part to me. He likes Saratoga enough (in the money in 2-of-3 local starts) and has performed well at the distance (2-1-0-1) and should get a nice setup in his first start since being claimed for $25K. He just always seems to run his race and he’s finished in the Trifecta in 8-of-13 turf races and all but one since coming to the US. WESTERN RESERVE takes a big drop in class – he’s a stakes winner that was running in graded races over the winter – which is extremely concerning.
3. KING OF NEW YORK
Race 3 (2:07PM ET) – Maiden Claiming ($45k) – 1 1/8 Miles on the Dirt
Chad Brown’s CONSENSUS THINKING checks all of the boxes here as he drops from tougher company and adds ground in a relatively weak field. This is his first time running for a tag and I think it’s the perfect spot for him to get his first win. GRAY NILE gets back to an appropriate level and distance and should do well. AIR ON FIRE is not a horse I can advocate betting a penny on. He was just beaten at 1/20 odds at Prairie Meadows and is 0-for-11 in his career.
1. CONSENSUS THINKING
2. GRAY NILE
3. AIR ON FIRE
Race 4 (2:41PM ET) – Allowance ($77K) – 6 Furlongs on the Dirt
New York-breds square off in Race 4 and FAIR REGIS is a horse to watch. She loves to win races (5-for-15 in her career) and is 4-for-7 at this distance, which is a mark that jumps off the page. Irad Ortiz keeps the mount and she’s a very likely winner. BOWL OF KISSES did beat her two starts ago by a nose, but that one appears to be slightly more dependent on a slow pace.
1. FAIR REGIS
2. BOWL OF KISSES
3. SHE’S DELIGHTFUL
Race 5 (3:15PM ET) – Maiden Special Weight ($85k) – 6 Furlongs on the Dirt
COAST was a $500,000 purchase at the OBS March Sale earlier this year and is bred to win early and often. He’s a half-brother to stakes winner Balandeen and will be tough from an advantageous outside post. Steve Asmussen sends out ABSOLUTELY AIDEN, who cost $120,000 at auction, despite being out of a value sire (Stay Thirsty). Asmussen two-year-olds are clicking this year, so look out for everything he enters. Chad Brown’s AURELIUS MAXIMUS is a son of G3 winner La Reina but may need more distance to shine. In races like this, watch the toteboard and bet accordingly. If someone is taking money, take note.
2. ABSOLUTELY AIDEN
3. OLYMPIC EXPRESS
Race 6 (3:49PM ET) – Allowance ($87K) – 1 Mile on the Turf
Talk about a crapshoot. This race is wide open and I’ve landed on a layoff horse – HEAVEN IS WAITING – as my top pick. This horse has twice run well off the pine and has faced off against the likes of Frostmourne, Keep Quiet, Adonis Creed and Ticoneroga in his brief career. RAPT will come running late but he’s so pace dependent that it’s tough to trust him up top. He hasn’t won in over a year.
1. HEAVEN IS WAITING
2. DR. SHANE
Race 7 (4:25PM ET) – Amsterdam Stakes (Gr 3, $200K) – 6 1/2 Furlongs on the Dirt
What will be, in my opinion, a parade of low-priced winners, starts in the Amsterdam where I love ENGAGE for Chad Brown. This field is loaded with ‘need-the-lead’ speed horses – PROMISES FULFILLED, STRIKE POWER and WORLD OF TROUBLE – and ENGAGE is going to get a perfect setup. Look for him to sit back, bide his time and unleash a winning kick. WORLD OF TROUBLE, who was fourth in the G2 Woody Stephens, will probably run well. In the event that one – or more – of the speed horses scratch, we should revisit this race and pick.
2. WORLD OF TROUBLE
Race 8 (5:02PM ET) – Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (Gr 1, $350K) – 6 Furlongs on the Dirt
For me, this is a two horse race – IMPERIAL HINT and SWITZERLAND – and IMPERIAL HINT is the best of them. On his best day, he’s one of the world’s fastest horses. He beat the very impressive Whitmore in the G2 True North on Belmont Stakes weekend and he drew nicely here, outside of SWITZERLAND. That top rival has won four straight, including the G3 Maryland Sprint Stakes last out, but this is a massive test. WARRIOR’S CLUB would love to see a pace duel and he’s run well at Saratoga. He could round out the Trifecta.
1. IMPERIAL HINT
3. WARRIOR’S CLUB
Race 9 (5:40PM ET) – Bowling Green Stakes (Gr 2, $250K) – 1 3/8 Miles on the Turf
I have a hard time picking any of these horses with much confidence. SADLER’S JOY is a really nice horse, but how do you trust him? He’s both pace dependent and quits running as soon as he makes the lead. He should’ve won the Grade 1 Manhattan last out, but stopped trying. And then in his two prior starts, he got caught behind slow fractions and couldn’t overcome the pace. MONEY MULTIPLIER is always around, but is just 1-for-5 at the distance and he seems to have a penchant for running second. HI HAPPY ran a nice race in the Manhattan (finishing 3rd, beaten ½-length) and gets an interesting rider change from Luis Saez to John Velazquez. He seems to relish this distance and is, tentatively, my top pick.
1. HI HAPPY (ARG)
2. MONEY MULTIPLIER
3. SADLER’S JOY
Race 10 (6:18PM ET) – Jim Dandy Stakes (Gr 2, $600K) – 1 1/8 Miles on the Dirt
It pains me to pick another favorite, especially one that is light on credentials, but it’s tough for me to envision a scenario where VINO ROSSO loses this race. Honestly, this field is just too weak. And while VINO ROSSO isn’t the best three-year-old in this crop, he’s the best one in this field. FLAMEAWAY seems to be over-the-top and while he might get a better setup here than he did in the Kentucky Derby or Ohio Derby, I don’t like the direction this horse is going. And TENFOLD was pretty far behind VINO ROSSO in the Belmont, despite VINO ROSSO’s early move that day. He’ll run well, but he’s not yet proven to be nearly as good as ‘VINO.
1. VINO ROSSO
Race 11 (6:54PM ET) – Allowance OC ($87K) – 1 1/8 Miles on the Turf
Chad Brown’s great day could continue in the nightcap, as he sends out the deep-closing REVERSETHEDECISION, who was just beaten by less than a length in a stakes race at Monmouth. My only worry is that she’ll come running just a bit late. If that’s the case, Godolphin’s TOO CHARMING has developed into a dynamite filly. She was also just beaten in a Monmouth Stakes race at odds of 27/1 and she’ll probably be the one they have to reel in. FERDINANDA faced a much tougher field in the Wild Applause Stakes at Belmont in June and was beaten just a nose in Gulfstream’s Sanibel Island Stakes earlier this year.
1. TOO CHARMING