by Brian Nadeau
September 2, 2019
We may not have the Stronach 5 for one more week, but what we do have is Saratoga’s Empire 6 and a mandatory Monday, with a potential pool well in excess of $5 million, so let’s take a look at the sequence.
*** Please take note that this analysis is done upwards of 48 hours in advance, so obviously weather, track conditions and especially late scratches can and will have an effect. Please check back around 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. ***
Leg 1: Saratoga R6 (3:15 ET) – 2yo MSW at 7 furlongs
We get a little lucky here, in that this tough 2yo MSW, with a slew of potential live firsters from top barns, is the opening leg of the sequence, so make sure you tab the tote. On the face of it, you have to use #1 MAXIMILIANO and #8 GOUVERNEUR MORRIS, as they were pricey purchases and go for Ward and Pletcher, respectively, and it looks like #9 SECRET RULES is very fast, and this outside attack post is a good one, so I’ll use him too. After that it gets a little tricky, so I’ll wait to see the tote and if anyone is live and then adjust accordingly, if I need to add anyone else to the A-line. Lastly I’m going to add in #2 CLIFTON PARK, since I find it interesting he’s even here, as Romans didn’t run many at the meet and, with a ton of works showing, there’s no reason this one couldn’t have run at Ellis, and with a name like this (the town is 15 mins south), I’m surmising this colt can run.
Pk6 A horses: 9,8,1,2
You could use several here, so again, tote action is paramount, but to be comfortable I’d want #6 MALIBU EDGE, as well as #5 RUNWAY STAR, since he looks to be here for a reason and Irad rides. You could also add in #7 Tadeo too, but McLaughlin just doesn’t win with firsters any more, so he looks more like a C.
Pk6 B horses: 6,5
Leg 2: Saratoga R7 (3:52 ET) –3up 30k N2L at 1 1/16 miles (Mellon turf)
Tough heat here, as several look the same on paper, with #5 RHODE ISLAND maybe a tad better than all of them, though impossible to trust too, class drop and all. There’s no doubt #1 I’M ELMER J FUDD needs to step up off his local MCL win, but it did come over the course and he may be loose, so I’m calling for the upset. If he doesn’t wire, or finds the rise too steep, the #3 PIPES will be there to take over and get first run, and the route try for Motion last time was a big improvement. The post and an ascending figure pattern make #2 DANNY CALIFORNIA a player, and the drop does so for #4 JEROME AVENUE, so they round out the five-pack.
Pk6 A horses: 1,5,3,2,4
I should probably be confident enough in my handicapping to call it a day with the A’s, but with turf aces Irad and Jose Ortiz riding #6 QUALITY CHOICE and #12 SARATOGA COLONEL, respectively, I’ll back up with this pair, even though they have some major knocks.
Pk6 B horses: 6,12
Leg 3: Saratoga R8 (4:29 ET) – 3upfm NYB AOC (40k/N2X) at 7 furlongs
In a sequence without a true single it looks like #7 HAY FIELD is possibly the closest one, as she goes off the claim for Servis and Dubb, and her last two races at the level were already better than these, not to mention the race flow and distance really figure to suit her. The beauty of a 20-cent base play is that you don’t need to feel like you have to single, especially if you have expanded your bankroll a bit, so I’ll also use #2 BANGLE GAL, who is too slow on figures to win this, but has also won for fun the last two times she ran on dirt and is another who fits the race profile of a stalker who will love the distance.
Pk6 A horses: 7,2
From here it’s a bit of a personal preference, as I’m not the type to spread deep on backups when I think there’s a fringe single, though many others want to ty and blanket the race if their heavy favorite should stumble. Let’s split the difference a bit, as there’s no doubt #9 NEWPORT BREEZE can win if she backs up her last on the class rise, while #5 MISS LILY B looks like the speed of the speed and has won five straight out west at FL. Countless others are in with an upset chance—#3 Shelley Ann, #4 New Girl in Town, #10 Timely Tradition—but they all have some warts too, so I need to make them prove it.
Pk6 B horses: 9,5
*** Please note that I’ll be singling in the final leg on the Leg 3 backup ticket. ***
Leg 4: Saratoga R9 (5:04 ET) – 3up GII Bernard Baruch at 1 1/16 miles (Mellon turf)
No opinion here at all, other than thinking #4 Dream Friend and #5 Noble Indy can’t win but will ensure an honest pace, so I’ll use the five others and call it a day. The Brown trio of #2 EMARAATY, #6 SACRED LIFE, and #7 OLYMPICO will all take a lot of money, but the latter two are at the mercy of the pace and will need some luck, while the former needs to improve off his US debut, so you don’t have to love any of them. However, #1 MARCH TO THE ARCH has no speed at all, and #3 QURBAAN has lost seven in a row since his win in this race last year, so, hence my lack of any real feeling here.
Pk6 A horses: 6,2,7,1,3
If one of Dream Friend or Noble Indy scratches then the other becomes a Lone F and interesting, but if both run it’s tough to see either holding off the charge of their classier rivals late.
Pk6 B horses: NONE
Leg 5: Saratoga R10 (5:39 ET) – 2yos GI Hopeful at 7 furlongs
To Asmussen or not, that is the question. The Hall of Fame trainer runs three—#1 SHOPLIFTED, #4 GOZILLA, and #7 Basin—and all can win and all look like huge talents, but I’m going elsewhere, as I’ve been enamored with #3 GREEN LIGHT GO since his debut win and he did nothing to get me off his bandwagon when winning the local GII Saratoga Special last time, and if Jimmy Jerkens, one of the most patient trainers on the backstretch, decides to wheel back on short rest, then I’m coming along. Shoplifted was nothing short of awesome winning his debut with a rush late (as a side note, tab how runner-up Kowalski runs Saturday), so he has to be a major player here, while the fastest horse in the world, Gozilla, lived up to the hype when wiring on debut, but stretching out and meeting other pace pressure today means he’ll have to earn it.
Pk6 A horses: 3,1,4
Being able to sit off the pace will help #5 BY YOUR SIDE, and he enters fresh since his win in mid-July in the local GIII Sanford, but he’s a little slow on figures, while #7 BASIN was a flashy second-out winner and drew perfectly, but pressing and lasting won’t be easy either.
Pk6 B horses: 5,7
Leg 6: Saratoga R11 (6:13) 3up 20k MCL at 7 furlongs
We close the meet, and a potentially very lucrative sequence, with a bit of a conundrum, as #8 MINE THE COIN, who goes off the Falcone claim (23%), is clearly the horse to beat and should improve for his new barn while going second-off the long layoff. One of the reasons I was pretty expansive in the first five legs is because I think you can lean on ‘Coin, as Falcone is very sharp and this gelding was best to begin with, and he was 2nd to a repeat winner last time too. However, the Ward firster, #5 FU PEGCHU goes for a 31% debut barn and looks fast, in a race without a ton of speed too, so just maybe he breaks running and forgets to stop.
Pk6 A horses: 8,5
There are four I could see as underneath threats, but I’m only going to use #11 SKYWRITING, since he’ll be running for the first time on the dirt since the Rice claim and could wake up on that angle, and on the drop. The others—#7 Exchequer, #3 Impunity, and #4 Centsmybabyleftme—all have a few angles, but don’t match up with the top trio, and with the ‘Coin looking very tough as it is, I’m not interested in going five-deep.
Pk6 B horses: 11
This is an expensive play, but the pool size and mandatory payout warrant peeling off a few more bills from the bankroll and taking a swing.
Main Ticket: 9,8,1,2 with 1,5,3,2,4 with 7,2 with 6,2,7,1,3 with 3,1,4 with 8,5 = $240
Leg 1 B Backup: 6,5 with 1,5,3,2,4 with 7,2 with 6,2,7,1,3 with 3,1,4 with 8,5 = 120
Leg 2 B Backup: 9,8,1,2 with 6,12 with 7,2 with 6,2,7,1,3 with 3,1,4 with 8,5 = $96
Leg 3 B Backup: 9,8,1,2 with 1,5,3,2,4 with 9,5 with 6,2,7,1,3 with 3,1,4 with 8 = $120
Leg 5 B Backup: 9,8,1,2 with 1,5,3,2,4 with 7,2 with 6,2,7,1,3 with 5,7 with 8,5 = $160
Leg 6 B Backup: 9,8,1,2 with 1,5,3,2,4 with 7,2 with 6,2,7,1,3 with 3,1,4 with 11 = $120