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Key on Gun Runner, Neolithic in Saratoga's Late Pick 4

by Jerry Shottenkirk

August 4, 2017

Some things, as the saying goes, are as clear as mud. The $1.2 million Whitney at Saratoga doesn’t go under that umbrella.

No mudpuddle here -- this one is crystal clear.

Gun Runner obviously is the one to beat in the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes, and there are no two ways around it.

He’s 4-5 on the morning line and deservedly so. The second best (?) dirt horse in training has put it in overdrive over his last four races, which have produced three wins and a second.

The loss to Arrogate made Gun Runner’s star shine as brightly as it did in any of his wins, but his wins were pretty doggone good as well. Gun Runner’s only Saratoga appearance came in last when he witnessed the coming out party for Arrogate, who won the Travers by 13. Gun Runner was third, 15 lengths behind.

Since then, the only real blemish, if you can call it that, was a 2nd in the Pennsylvania Derby, when he had a tough trip and was defeated by Connect. Gun Runner used it a springboard to the Breeders’ Cup and was 2nd in the Dirt Mile. Since then, only Arrogate has done more.

Eight wins in 15 starts and $4.6 million in earnings are the proof in the pudding. Gun Runner is the real deal and who knows how he’ll do if given another chance at Arrogate. Most folks would say he’d lose again, but those that wouldn’t say that do have some ammo when it comes to recent performances.

Trainer Steve Asmussen is off to a slow start at Saratoga, but there’s a plaque across the street at the National Racing Hall of Fame that hints he’ll snap out of it. Gun Runner likely will be the one to turn around his fortunes.

As a straight win bet would not be the way to go (unless you’re possessing stacks), the horizontals are the best option. The Whitney, as race 9, is the second leg of the Pick Four, which gives us a great chance for two singles. When you wipe out half of the gimmick with two horses, it leaves you with plenty to work with in the remaining races. Neolithic is even-money on the line in the 11th race, which is an optional claiming race. You probably won’t see even money (if you do, it’s your day) and Neolithic was 3rd in the Pegasus and Dubai World Cup in his last two. Grand credentials for an optional-claiming race, one would have to think.

If the singles come in, there won’t be a large payoff any way you slice it on a 50-cent card, but taking those singles and upping the ante on the cost of the bet can still bring a good payday.

Here’s a suggestion for attacking the Saratoga Late Pick Four on Saturday:

8th Race: #3 Chalon (with win and place bets if you’re playing the race individually), #4 Tequilita and #10 American Gal (3-4-10)
9th Race: #6 Gun Runner (6)
10th Race: #1 Thundering Sky, #2 Sassy Little Lila, #4 Puca, #10 Elysea’s World and #11 Light In Paris (1-2-4-10-11)
11th Race: #7 Neolithic (7)
Pick 4 Ticket: 3-4-10 / 6 / 1-2-4-10-11 / 7 ($7.50 for 50 cents)