by Jerry Shottenkirk
August 16, 2020
We know the graded stakes races, like any others, can be a guessing game. Some races are underrated and some are given too much stock.
Sunday’s headliner at Saratoga is the $500,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes, which is not graded, and will be contested at 1 3-16th miles, and several of the runners are coming out of graded events, including the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes.
However, going in to that 1 1-8th-mile event, it was apparent the runners were not what you’d expect for a Grade 2 in the Lake Placid. Speaktomeofsummer won the Lake Placid after running fourth in the Grade 3 Wonder Again. Enola Gay also comes off a Grade 2 win, this one in the Appalachian at Keeneland. It was her first and only two-turn attempt. Enola Gay’s win probably was better, but Speaktomeofsummer’s was over the Saratoga course, and that can be an advantage, but in this case it may not be. Others have come out of races that were probably as good as the Lake Placid. The lean is away from the Lake Placid in today’s suggested Late Pick 4 ticket ($72). The Oaks is the ninth on the card and the third leg of the sequence.
Here’s a look at the Late Pick 4 races:
Race 7 (4:40 p.m. ET, allowance)
PICASSO is a Tapit colt ready to make his first turf start. He was good in sprints and is a threat to carry his speed on out.
LA HARA was second in his initial start of 2020 after a nine-month layoff. Made a serious bid toward the yield, then hung late.
DURESS closed in all of his races and just didn’t hold it after he got the lead and was caught late. Looks ready to stretch out again.
MO GOTCHA battled out front and faltered to third last time in his first turf effort. Usually a pace factor and this distance effort on grass will give his connections a handle on what he prefers.
Race 8 (5:14 p.m. ET, allowance optional claiming)
BERTRANDA outgamed a similar group going 6.5 furlongs and will not be hurt by turning back a half-furlong. Was very game in New York-bred races and will battle it out with these.
PLAYTONE was fifth in a stakes race in January and has been off since. Capable of mixing it up in this post, and that stakes appearance marked the only time in six starts she hadn’t been first of second.
BIG Q was clear second in stakes in her last two races and broke her maiden over this strip last year. She didn’t seriously threaten the winners of those stakes races, but carrying over those efforts to this race will make her a serious contender.
Race 9 (5:46 p.m. ET, Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes)
ENOLA GAY was impressive in her first distance encounter, and while she has raced only three times, she’ll likely get better with even more distance. She was fourth in a sprint stakes at Aqueduct, and the Appalachian was her first in eight months. It was particularly impressive as she kept close to fast fractions and ended the mile in 1:33 4-5. She has a sharp work over the Saratoga turf and is ready for a top effort.
ANTOINETTE moves over from the main track, where she was third in the Grade 1 Coaching Club of America Oaks. She broke her maiden on grass at Belmont last fall.
RICETTA invades from Great Britain, where she was most recently third in York’s Group 3 Musidora after wins at Newmarket in her first two races. Bill Mott takes over the training and gave the filly a moderate work on the Saratoga turf.
Race 10 (6:18 p.m. ET, claiming)
SOUTHERN BRIDGE drops to a claiming price for the first time and can get going early as she turned back in distance.
INK SPLOTZ tried some tough spots after a maiden-claiming win at Belmont. He’s a threat to shake loose, and rider Saez is strong on the front end.
DANGEROUS EDGE should get a favorable pace in front of him and has the late energy to take over if the speed falters.
BIG BOY MO faltered from early efforts and you never know what style you’ll see with him. He’s been on the front end but has also come from off the pace.
Saratoga Late Pick 4:
7) #3 Picasso, #6 La Hara, #9 Duress, #10 Mo Gotcha.
8) #6 Bertranda, #9 Playtone, #11 Big Q.
9) #2 Enola Gay, #3 Antoinette, #6 Ricetta.
10) #3 Southern Bridge, #6 Ink Splotz, #7 Dangerous Edge, #9 Big Boy Mo.
50-cent Late Pick 4: 3-6-9-10 with 6-9-11 with 2-3-6 with 3-6-7-9 ($72)