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Saturday, August 15: Saratoga/Del Mar Wagering Strategies

by Jeff Siegel

August 15, 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 Del Mar Best Plays:

Del Mar Race 2 – Post Time: 2:31 PT
3 – Disco Ball (4-1)

Was well-meant in his recent comeback but lost his best chance at the start with an awkward break and then did well to finish second behind next-out winner Vertical Threat in a fast race for maidens. The B. Koriner-trained 3-year-old continue to impress in the a.m. so at 4-1 on the morning line the son of Orb is worth strong consideration in the win pool and in rolling exotic play

Del Mar – Race 3 – Post Time: 3:07 PT
6 – Graziano (3-1)

Fast-working first timer catches a modest field in this five furlong turf dash for older maidens and should come out firing for a barn that has superior stats with debut runners. As a grandson of More Than Ready this homebred 3-year-old should like the grass, so with top rider F. Prat taking the mount the son of Verrazano looks extremely well-meant. He’s 3-1 on the morning line and should offer excellent wagering value at anywhere near that price.

Del Mar Race 4 – Post Time: 3:40 PT
3 – Negotiator (8-1)

He’s stepping way up in class after beating a bottom-rung maiden claiming field over this track and distance last month but was visually quite pleasing in doing so while giving strong indication that the G. Mandella-trained gelding has found a home on dirt. Today he’ll face a field with plenty of early speed that should set things up nicely for his late kick, so while he’ll obviously need to step forward the son of Awesome Again represents an intriguing long shot gamble at or near his morning line of 8-1.

Saratoga Analysis and Wagering Strategies:

RACE 1: Post 1:10 ET. Grade: C
Use: 3-Invest; 4-Bebe Banker; 8-Later Cat

Forecast: The Saturday opener, a restricted (nw-3) $14,000 claimer for older horses, looks a bit treacherous and should be treated with caution. Bebe Banker is listed as the 6/5 morning line favorite and certainly is good enough on his best day, but he’s just 2-for-22 in his career, was a voided claim two races back, and was off the board as the favorite in his most recent outing vs. state-bred allowance foes last month. Dropping below his $25,000 claim level two runs back, the R. Rodriguez-trained gelding beats these with a repeat of his June 21 romp but the pattern is shaky, so who knows what we’ll get today? Invest, haltered for $16,000 by A. C. Avila two runs back, faded badly on the raise in his first start for his new connections in a poor effort in late June at Belmont Park. After a bit of freshening, a drop in class, and a switch to J. Rosario, the Super Saver gelding is realistically spotted today and shows a recent bullet blowout (3f, :35b, fastest of 33) to have him on his toes, so he could bounce back. Later Cat is comfortably drawn outside in his first start since being eased in early March when claimed for $35,000. He shows up cheap with a somewhat sketchy series of workouts, so his current condition is a big question mark. You can use all three in your rolling exotics, spread even deeper, and perhaps simply pass the race.

RACE 2: Post 1:44 ET. Grade: B+
Single: 5-Polinesia

Forecast: Polinesia, by American Pharoah and the first foal from graded stakes-winning Super Majesty (a debut winner in 1:08 2/5 at Santa Anita in 2015), has been highly impressive in two recent turf drills over the Saratoga training track so it’s not surprising that he begins his career on the lawn. An $800,000 yearling purchase at Saratoga last year, the C. Brown trained colt appears to have plenty of natural speed - though he really hasn’t been allowed to show it in the a.m. – and it wouldn’t surprise us to see him on the lead from the get-go. With a strong foundation of drills to have him fit and ready for a barn that clicks at 21% with debut runners, he’ll offer plenty of wagering value at or near his morning line of 5/2 if you can get it. Let’s make him a win play and rolling exotic single.

RACE 3: Post 2:18 ET. Grade: B-
Use: 3-Reed Kan; 5-Chateau

Forecast: Chateau had a rough trip when well-beaten in a considerably tougher spot here last month but we’ll draw a line through that race and expect the Flat Out gelding to regain his winning from with this sharp drop into the $32,000 claiming ranks. The veteran gelding hasn’t performed up to stuff since being transferred from the suspended J. Servis barn but trainer R. Atras is more than capable of getting this gelding back on the proper track, and with I. Ortiz. Jr. staying aboard he projects to be on or near the lead throughout. Reed Khan seeks his third straight score but isn’t being raised in class and shows just two easy workouts since his most recent win 43 days ago. Obviously, if he fires his best shot he’ll be right there. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with slight preference on top to Chateau.

RACE 4: Post 2:51++ ET. Grade: B-
Use: 2-Farragut; 3-Papa Luke; 8-Eccoci Qua

Forecast: Let’s take a stab with the debuting Monmouth Park shipper Eccoci Qua in this state-bred maiden special weight sprint. As a four-year-old, he’s a bit late to the party but it may be significant that good trainer K. Breen (strong stats with first-timers) protects this gelding instead of running him for a tag – which he could easily do – so with a pretty decent series of workouts on his resume this son of Freud just might be able to beat what looks to be a moderate group. Papa Luke is listed as the 9/5 morning line favorite and appears to be the best of the known element. Second in his last pair with rising speed figures, the son of Strong Mandate shows a bullet half mile workout (:47 2/5, fastest of 108) six days ago that certainly catches the eye. Farragut, a close third in the same race Papa Luke exits, has hit the board in each of his last four starts and should be in the fray again. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics; we’ll be curious to see how much play (if any) Eccoci Qua gets on the tote.

RACE 5: Post 3:24 ET. Grade: C+
Use: 3-Fevola; 10-Brazen; 11-Beach Front

Forecast: After breaking his maiden in early July at Indiana downs and then running well to be second in a restricted (nw-2) $40,000 sprint here last month, Brazen is being tossed away in this $16,000 seller as if to indicate the son of Ghostzapper doesn’t have many left. A first-time gelding with numbers that are considerably better than par for this level, the R. Brisset-trained 3-year-old can beat this field if he shows up with his best stuff, but who knows if he will? Beach Front is a late-running sprinter that usually closes too late, but after a failed grass try when overmatched last month at Belmont Park the Smart Bid gelding returns to his proper level and should have clear sailing outside at this extended sprint distance which may play right into his style. With the switch to the barn’s “go-to” rider I. Ortiz, Jr., the J. Englehart-trained 4-year-old is a “must use” at or near his morning line of 6-1. Fevoda earned a giant speed figure when beating maiden $50,000 foes in February but then wasn’t seen for almost five months and returned in a starter’s allowance sprint that was far below his winning effort. The big drop to this $16,000 level is not a good sign, but the recent work tab looks healthy so perhaps this C. Brown-trained gelding will regain his confidence at this level. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics in a race that probably is best left alone.

RACE 6: Post 3:57 ET. Grade: B-
Use: 1-Engrave; 4-Swill; 6-Calibrate; 9-Unitedandresolute

Forecast: This looks like one of those Saratoga hot weekend maiden races for 2-year-old that could produce a future star. There are several contenders to consider. Unitedandresolute performed well in his debut at Keeneland in a turf sprint, overcoming some early traffic trouble to rally wide and finish willingly in a promising runner-up effort that earned an okay speed figure. Bred for dirt and switching to the main track today for a barn that has strong stats (20%) with second-time starters, the T. Amoss-trained colt seems likely to produce a significant forward move and may be set to graduate unless there is a real good first-timer in the field. Engrave, a $900,000 Keeneland yearling, is a half-brother to Arlington Million S.-G1 winner Beach Patrol so there’s every expectation that this C. Brown-trained colt will eventually do his best work running long on the lawn. Yet he debuts sprinting on the dirt, which tells you he’s been impressive in his a.m. main track drills while looking like a win-early juvenile. He’ll have to leave cleanly from the rail, but if the son of Flatter can avoid trouble he should be highly competitive first crack out of the box. Swill, a second-timer from the B. Cox barn (superior 26% with this angle), is likely to step forward with a race behind him. Second to subsequent graded stakes-placed Therideofalifetime in a fast dash at Churchill Downs last month, the son of Munnings was well clear of the rest and has to be considered a major player today. Calibrate, a son of Distorted Humor that brought $340,000 as a yearling at Keeneland, has done some very good work in the a.m. for S. Asmussen while looking in team drills like a colt with plenty of ability. He may not be totally cranked up by a barn that doesn’t often ask its young stock for too much in the a.m. but he’s still worth including somewhere on your ticket.

RACE 7: Post 4:32 ET. Grade: B
Use: 6-Mo Ready; 7-Simply

Forecast: Simply switches to the barn’s “go-to” rider R. Santana, Jr. after the 3-year-old gelding ran into repeated road blocks when full of run in a similar first-level state-bred allowance turf event and never had a chance to do any running when ninth beaten five lengths here last month. Hopefully, he’ll get a chance to show his best stuff today. At 6-1 on the morning line (and likely to go lower) he’s a strong win play and key in the rolling exotics. For protection, you may want to consider on a back-up ticket Mo Ready, fifth as the favorite in the same race Simply exits following a troubled trip of his own. A prior winner over the Saratoga turf course and retaining J. Ortiz, the T. Pletcher-trained son of Uncle Mo may have a tad more tactical speed than our top pick and should be the one to fear most.

RACE 8: Post 5:07 ET. Grade: X
Use: 2-Decorated Invader; 6-Colonial Liam

Forecast: Decorated Invader is the logical short-priced favorite in this year’s edition of the Saratoga Derby Invitational though he did make hard work of it when winning the recent Hall of Fame S.-G2 over the local lawn last month. The son of Declaration of War clearly is the most accomplished colt in the field, having already won four grass stakes including the Summer S.-G1 as a 2-year-old, but his best effort actually may have come when a much-troubled fourth (beaten just over a length) in the BC Juvenile Turf S.-G1 last year. A recent bullet workout (4f, :48.3b) around dogs on grass was the fastest of 39 for the distance so he’s clearly ready for another winning effort. Colonial Liam is worth consideration as a back-up or a saver. A rapidly progressing son of Liam’s Map who just earned a giant speed figure when beating older horses in a first-level allowance affair, he produced a recent bullet drill on turf (5f, 1:00.4b, fastest of 12) to indicate he’s very likely to continue his improving pattern. Today’s mile and three-sixteenths distance should promote his chances, as well.

RACE 9: Post 5:43 ET. Grade: X
Use: 3-Crystal Ball; 5-Swiss Skydiver

Forecast: Swiss Skydiver is listed at even money on the morning line and probably will go lower in this year’s edition of the Alabama S.-G1. She lost little in defeat when second in the Blue Grass S.-G2 to what surely will be the second wagering choice in the Kentucky Derby-G1, Art Collector, and with more than a month to recover from that taxing effort the daughter of Daredevil should be ready to produce her usual stellar performance. This 10-furlong trip may be a bit problematic but we’re guessing her intrinsic class will carry her throughout. Those wishing to protect a bit in rolling exotic play may consider including Crystal Ball on a back-up ticket. Beaten a head in C.C.A. Oaks-G1 over the Saratoga main track last month, she has trained well since and should be set for another forward move. ‘Skydiver will have to regress somewhat to give her a chance but the B. Baffert-trained filly should be capable of at least out-finishing the others.

RACE 10: Post 6:16 ET. Grade: B-
Use: 1-Maxwell Esquire; 2-Shiraz; 9-Bustin Shot

Forecast: Shiraz took a suspicious class drop when dropping to the $25,000 level following a win for $35,000 last time out but today he’s protected by new trainer M. Maker off the claim so we’ll assume he’s okay. Having won his last pair, the son of Tale of the Cat may be shredding his reputation of preferring to run second rather than win and based on the speed figure he earned in his most recent score the veteran gelding should be tough once again. Bustin Shout scored a mild surprise when winning against a slightly softer New York-bred field over the local lawn last month with a race that produced a career top speed figure. He’ll likely pop and go from his outside draw and settle into a good pace-stalking position, so at 6-1 on the morning line he’s usable. Maxwell Esquire was sharp winning a first-level state-bred sprint over this course and distance last month, and with another forward he’ll be very competitive right back. The main concern is his lack of tactical speed, and from the rail he’s probably going to have deal with some traffic. That said, it’s hard to toss anything from the C. Clement barn ridden by J. Rosario.

RACE 11: Post 6:49 ET. Grade: C+
Use: 4-Bricco 6-Michael’s Bad Boy; 8-Mommie’s Jewel

Forecast: The finale is a rather uninspiring maiden claiming state-bred turf miler. Bricco, in the frame in all three lifetime starts, shows gradually improving speed figures and with another forward move should be capable of earning his diploma. With L. Saez staying aboard, the son of Paddy O’Prado projects to settle into a pace-stalking position and then have his chance to seal the deal when the pressure is turned on. Mommie’s Jewel regains J. Rosario and may have a bit more improvement in him than some of the others, having started just three times. Third after setting the pace in the same race Bricco exits, the R. Falcone, Jr.-trained colt draws a better post today and shows a nice half mile training track breeze last week to indicate he’s doing well and perhaps getting better. Michael’s Bad Boy is another that appears to be gradually improving and will be running on late. With some help up front, the son of Noble Mission should pose a threat in the final furlong.