by Jerry Shottenkirk
August 1, 2020
While the best Saratoga stakes races are stacked up on Saturdays, the Sunday cards – particularly with the Late Pick 4 – bring good opportunities for players. In many cases, certain barns and jockeys are overplayed, which can leave the value door wide open. The usual big players are still used, and if they win, no sweat. However, a win over the “name” trainers and riders usually brings more than you’d expect. Last week’s late sequence yielded a $1082.25 payoff from the $72 suggested ticket and we go for a third straight win.
This week’s suggested ticket takes a 5x5x2x3 approach for $75, and the highlight race on the card is the Birdstone Stakes, which runs as the ninth and is the third leg of the Pick 4. Here’s a look at the suggested play:
Race 7 (4:40 p.m. ET, claiming)
DOWSE’S BEACH tired in his first of the year but had a three-of-four string last year and his best puts him right there. BANANA THIEF was too late in his bid last time but that was his first in eight months and he can be expected to make a strong late run. SHIRAZ dug in for a win going longer at Belmont and can carve out a good trip. KITTEN’S CAT was claimed two back and ran poorly in a much stronger spot than this. Can move up on the class drop. SQUARE SHOOTER makes his first of the year, has trained steadily and rates a class edge, having seen in graded stakes last year.
Race 8 (5:14 p.m. ET, allowance)
RIKEN tries for his fourth straight win and takes a step up in class for it. GANDY DANCING romped in a maiden race and then was outrun in a stakes event. This move to an allowance race will help him out. HARRIS BAY has hit the board in two of three stakes race and makes his first since January. MIDNIGHT WHISKEY Comes off a maiden score in his only attempt at Saratoga. Dug in nicely and can battle throughout this one. FORT WORTH makes his first since April 2019 and that was a good one as he crushed state-bred maidens. Has some bullet works to his credit and clearly is a strong contender.
Race 9 (5:46 p.m. ET, Birdstone Stakes)
STANDARD DEVIATION moves to dirt after being unplaced the in G1 United Nations. Grade 1 placed, adds blinkers and had a second and a third on dirt last year. Classy and capable. MORETTI will be favored off his second-place finish in the G2 Suburban. He was not a threat to winner Tacitus but won the photo for second. Won the Flat Out Stakes two back and fits nicely for his first-ever Saratoga attempt.
Race 10 (6:18 p.m. ET, maiden claiming)
STRIKING SPEED drops to his lowest level and is back to dirt after tiring on turf. He was third in a maiden special at Aqueduct and that can make him a big player here. TACTICIAN was third when claimed last out and looms as a late threat. HEIGHT ran on well for second last time and stretches out. Has been in better races than this.
Race 7) #2 Dowse’s Beach, #4 Banana Thief, #5 Shiraz, #8 Kitten’s Cat, #9 Square Shooter.
Race 8) #3 Riken, #6 Gandy Dancing, #8 Harris Bay, #9 Midnight Whiskey, #11 Fort Worth.
Race 9) #1 Standard Deviation, #6 Moretti.
Race 10) #1 Striking Speed, #2 Tactician, #9 Height.
Total Ticket Cost) 4: 2,4,5,8,9/3,6,8,9,11/1,6/1,2,9 = $75 for $0.50