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Thursday, July 16: Saratoga Wagering Strategies

by Jeff Siegel

July 16, 2020

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.

It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.

Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.
Grade B=Solid Play.
Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.
Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.

The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.

Today’s Day MakersWatch Video

RACE 1: Post 1:10 PT. Grade: X
Single/Pass: 6-Guy Caballero

Forecast: On pure form and given the projected paced scenario Guy Caballero should be a standout in the season’s opener, a $14,000 nine furlong main track claimer for older horses. But he shows an unhealthy pattern and probably won’t be worth the short price he’s sure to leave at. The veteran gelding was claimed for $35,000 three runs back, hit the board in his next two when trained by J. Navarro, and today shows up in the R. Rodriguez barn on a big class drop in his first outing since mid-February. While it’s likely he inherits the role as the controlling speed with soft fractions, the veteran Quality Road gelding shows a lifetime record of two wins from 28 starts and often has failed to deliver the goods when favored. If it’s not him, it could be anybody, so this is the type of race that probably is best left alone.

RACE 2: Post 1:44 PT. Grade: B
Use: 1-Leading West; 10-Scanno

Forecast: Leading West seems fairly logical is this $75,000 maiden-claiming middle distance turf affair after two recent runner-up efforts in straight maiden company at Gulfstream Park. The Distorted Humor colt adds blinkers for the first time, picks up I. Ortiz, Jr., and projects to enjoy an ideal second flight, ground-saving trip. He’s not particular fast on speed figures, but none of the others are, either. Scanno has finished in the frame in his last pair, most recently third at this level at Belmont Park last month. He’s a 10-race maiden and perhaps not one to be counted on but may be worth tossing in as a saver or a back-up.

RACE 3: Post 2:20 PT. Grade: C
Use: 2-Figure of Speech; 3-Palace Avenger; 5-Palomita

Forecast: This race drew just five runners, two of which reside in the C. Brown barn, so it’s probably a good race to stay away from. Palomita was seven clear of the rest when a strong runner-up with a good number when last seen at the Big A in early March and returns with a healthy work tab and cozy outside draw. Her non-coupled stablemate, Figure of Speech, broke her maiden at first asking easily and impressively over the Saratoga main track last year, but after finishing a distant third in the Spinaway S.-G1 was stopped on and turned out. A comeback race last month in Kentucky – a faltering sixth, beaten almost 11 lengths – provides no evidence that she’s made any progress between her two and three-year-old seasons, but a solid series of workouts since that race and the return of “win rider J. Castellano to the saddle gives hope that the daughter of Into Mischief can bounce back. Palace Avenger has an advantage in the speed figure department – that is, if you can believe her most recent number at Churchill Downs - and probably should be included somewhere on your ticket as well. The W. Ward-trained filly looks to be the quickest in the field and was more than two lengths clear of a next-out winner in her most recent outing. That said, she’s always been suspect under pressure in the final furlong.

RACE 4: Post 2:54 PT. Grade: B+
Single: 2-Yes to Mischief

Forecast: Yes to Mischief was scratched at the gate in a maiden special weight turf sprint at Belmont Park July 4 and didn’t work back until five days later, so we assumed she banged herself pretty good. She impressed at the OBS March last year, breezing a furlong in :10 flat and then bringing $400,00 at auction, and looks like a very live item in this main track dash that came up softer than expected. J. Ortiz takes call for M. Casse – always a good trainer/jockey combo – so if she minds her manners the daughter of Into Mischief can win at first asking while offering value at or near her morning line of 9/2. Let’s make her a win play and rolling exotic single. (Note: see Day Maker video analysis above).

RACE 5: Post 3:28 PT. Grade: B-
Use: 5-Dark Money; 8-The Caretaker

Forecast: Dark Money is strictly the one to beat in this $40,000 optional claiming sprint. This return to a seller may seem a bit suspicious following a nice first-level allowance score at Belmont Park last month, but the R. Rodriguez barn runs them where they can win and this relatively lightly-raced Central Banker gelding – victorious in six of 13 career starts - should settle into a comfortable stalking position and then have dead aim from the top of the lane to the wire. The Caretaker hits hard at this optional $40,000 level, is comfortably drawn outside, and is a two-time winner over the Saratoga main track. First or second in 16 of 31 career starts, the son of Speightstown always has been genuine and consistent and as usual will be doing his best work from well off the early fractions. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play; we’ll give a very slight edge on top to Dark Money.

RACE 6: Post 4:04 PT. Grade: C+
Use: 2-Mr Everything; 7-Sir Chubby; 8-Spitball; 9-Propensity

Forecast: Here’s a tough affair, a maiden-claiming turf sprint that drew a full field. Best advice is to use as many as your budget allows. Propensity is winless in eight starts and surfaces for a tag for the first time after a dull effort when well-backed (3-1) vs. straight maiden foes at Belmont Park last month. This is a considerably easier group, and with a repeat of his best race the son of Twirling Candy should be capable of winning in this league. Spitball finished second in a similar affair at Belmont Park in what was just his second career start and not much more will be needed to earn a diploma today. Mr Everything seems likely to get plenty of play with the switch to I. Ortiz, Jr. The Mr Speaker gelding has had just four starts and may very well enjoy an abbreviated sprint such as this. Sir Chubby switches to J. Castellano and projects as a threat from off the pace. The son of Tiznow has never sprinted in his nine-race career but with patient handling and good racing luck he could make his presence felt late.

RACE 7: Post 4:40 PT. Grade: B-
Use: 1-Astoria Kitten; 8-Pandamom; 9-Summer At the Spa

Forecast: Astoria Kitten has steadily rising speed figures, a good inside draw, and a projected pace flow that should favor her pressing/stalking style. The daughter of Kitten’s Joy switches to I. Ortiz, Jr. and in fact may find herself as the controlling speed. Given that trip she could get brave, just as she did in her maiden win last year. Pandamom seems to be a progressive sort and should make her presence felt. The daughter of Uncle Mo was handed a walking lead last month in a state-bred maiden affair and took full advantage of the situation; today she might find herself in a stalker’s role. A bullet training track workout since raced indicates she’s doing well and ready for another forward move. Summer At the Spa won her debut last November from far back in a sprint, was stopped on, and then returned in good style when once again rallying from the rear of the pack to be a willing runner-up in the same race Astoria Kitten exits. The Summer Front filly has every right to improve in her second start off the layoff but it must be noted that she was race-shape aided in that race and today’s pace scenario projects to be somewhat softer.

RACE 8: Post 5:14 PT. Grade: X
Single: 3-Beautiful Memories

Forecast: Beautiful Memories is 6/5 on the morning line by virtue of her fast, highly-rated and visually pleasing 10-length maiden debut win at Churchill Downs in late May. She’s been tearing up the track in the interim, most recently breezing five furlongs in Kentucky in :59 1/5, the fastest of 34 for the distance. Assuming the daughter of Hard Spun makes no mistakes, it’s hard to envision her getting beat in this year’s edition of the Schuylerville S.-G3, but of course she’ll be offering little to no wagering value other than as a short-price rolling exotic single.

RACE 9: Post 5:46 PT. Grade: B+
Single: 6-Mystic Guide

Forecast: Mystic Guide was very impressive breaking his maiden at Fair Grounds in March in just his second career start and then lost little in defeat while earning a career top speed figure in his runner-up effort behind Tap It to Win in a stakes-quality first-level allowance affair at Belmont Park last month. His style suggests he’ll be more comfortable in today’s two-turn, mile and one-eighth affair and with a strong healthy recent work tab at Fair Hill the M. Stidham-trained son of Ghostzapper should continue his rapid improvement. There should be sufficient early pace to compliment his late-running style, so at 5/2 on the morning line we’ll make him a strong win play and rolling exotic single. (Note: see Day Maker video analysis above).

RACE 10: Post 6:18 PT. Grade: B
Use: 1-Secure Connection; 2-Doll

Forecast: The finale is a restricted (nw-2) $40,000 claiming turf sprint for older fillies and mares. We’ll try to get by using just the inside two runners, with Secure Connection getting the slight nod on top. Shug’s filly has sprinted on grass only once in her career – a solid runner-up effort in her second lifetime outing vs. maiden special weight foes at Laurel – and with this turn back in trip combined with a class drop into a seller for the first time and the switch to J. Ortiz, Jr. the daughter of Data Link should be capable of tagging the leaders close home. Doll, in the frame in eight of nine career starts was most recently second in a similar spot last month at Belmont Park when hitting the front late but getting tagged close home, She’s always been vulnerable in deep stretch but catches a field without an abundance of early speed and may take some catching if not pressured early.