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Jeff Siegel: Saratoga Picks & Analysis | Wednesday, July 28

by Jeff Siegel

July 28, 2021

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.

The selections are posted at 6:00 a.m. and updated later in the morning to reflect late scratches and changes (approximately 10:30 a.m.). For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.

Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

RACE 1: Post: 1:05 ET Grade: X-
Use: Pass/No Play

Forecast: The first race is for hurdlers. We will pass the race.

RACE 2: Post: 1:41 ET Grade: C+
Use: 2-Yodel E. A. Who; 4-Rockin the Boat; 6-Clench

Forecast: The second race, a $40,000 claiming sprint for older horses, attracted just six entrants three of which are main contenders. Yodel E. A. Who takes a significant and realistic class drop, adds blinkers, and at this level could regain his thoroughly genuine and consistent old form (first or second in 13 of 28 career starts). He’s coming back off relatively short rest (17 days) but retains L. Saez for a high-percentage outfit, so let’s operate under the assumption that the veteran Creative Cause gelding will snap back to life against this group. Rockin the Boat may have a tactical advantage in a race that projects to have soft early splits. The Churchill Downs invader has winning connections, good, consistent recent form, and speed figures that make him a strong fit on this circuit at this level. Clench returns to his claim level for Rudy and has a reasonable look with a repeat of his sharp runner-up try two runs back. Used up on the pace last time out, the veteran sprinter switches to J. Rosario, has a prior win over the Saratoga main track, and will be heard from late if given the patient ride he prefers. All three should be included in rolling exotic play.

RACE 3: Post: 2:15 ET Grade: B-
Use: 4-Ocala Dream; 6-Step Dancer; 8-Barrage

Forecast: Six of the nine entrants in this New York Stallion Series Stakes exit the same June extended turf sprint at Belmont Park, including the first five finishers. Ocala Dream won that seven furlong turf sprint in game style by a length, but today must pick up 6 pounds, whereas runner-up Step Dancer adds two. Both should enjoy this stretch out to a two-turn mile, so they’re hard to separate, but with ‘Dancer showing a previous win over the Saratoga grass course (her debut last year) we’ll give the B. Tagg-trained filly a chance to gain a bit of revenge today. Barrage is a “must use” as well. The daughter of War Dancer, a solid third in that same race last month, joins the high-percentage D. Gargan barn, adds blinkers, and picks up I. Ortiz, Jr. Improvement is likely.

RACE 4: Post: 2:49 ET Grade: C+
Use: 3-Alpine Queen; 6-Quasar

Forecast: Let’s see if we can survive and advance using just two in this restricted (nw-2) $25,000 seven furlong claiming sprint for fillies and mares. Quasar is logically the one to beat based on two good recent races vs. similar, but with a record of one win from 23 starts can she be trusted? Claimed for some reason in her last pair and now in the R. Atras barn (a superb 32% with a strong ROI with this angle), the daughter of Orb has the proper style for this distance, retains I. Ortiz, Jr., and clearly doesn’t have a whole lot to beat. Alpine Queen is lightly-raced and improving, having just graduated in her fifth career start in an off-the-turf middle distance affair that produced a pretty good number for this group. L. Saez stays aboard and should have her rolling from the quarter pole home.

RACE 5: Post: 3:21 ET Grade: B-
Use: 1-Raw Courage; 3-Timbuktu; 8-Regal Empire

Forecast: New York-bred juvenile maidens compete over a mile and one-sixteenth on grass in a race with lots of questions marks and requiring a bit of guess work. From what we can gather, there are three major players. Raw Courage, with two outings in sloppy track five furlong sprint races that were taken off the grass, may finally get his chance on the lawn today after hitting the board in both starts, most recently when a distant third to subsequent stakes winner Run Curtis Run. The son of Declaration of War seems sure to display excellent speed on the stretch-out from the rail from a barn that has solid stats with the sprint-to-route angle, so unless one of the first-timers are better than average this homebred colt should be hard to beat. Regal Empire, a son of Lemon Drop Kid and therefore bred to run long on turf, debuts for M. Maker following a series steady if unspectacular workouts. He did, however, bring $125,000 through the ring at the Fasig-Tipton March Sale after breezing a furlong over the Gulfstream Park grass course in :10 2/5 without undue pressure while looking pretty decent. One of the barn’s main guys, T. Gaffalione, takes the call. The B. Cox stable is represented by Timbuktu, a Munnings colt that attracts L. Saez while showing a fairly decent work tab that should have him plenty fit first time out. The dam (Corner Three) was a winner of three of five career starts, all on grass, including her debut at Saratoga when trained by C. Brown.

RACE 6: Post: 3:55 ET Grade: B+
Use: 2-Absolute Courage: 6-Cody’s Wish; 9-Beatbox

Forecast: Cody’s Wish ran better than the line will show when a troubled third in his debut over seven furlongs last month and has trained well enough in the interim to be included in our Clocker’s “Primed and Ready” list. The 3-year-old son of Curlin should thoroughly enjoy today’s stretch out to nine furlongs, switches to J. Rosario, and figures to produce a significant forward move for a barn that has good stats with the second-time starter angle. While we like the W. Mott-trained colt on top, he’s listed at even money on the morning line and there are two others that warrant at least some consideration as well. Absolute Courage has three outings underneath him with rising speed figures in each, including a good runner-up effort in which he was on the pace throughout. Similar tactics most likely will be employed again. Beatbox, a C. Brown-trained son of Pioneerof the Nile, was fourth in that same heat while stepping forward following a disappointing debut. Another forward move today should make put him the fray despite a disadvantageous far outside draw.

RACE 7: Post: 4:29 ET Grade: B
Use: 5-Passing Out; 6-Tamahere

Forecast: A stakes-quality third-level allowance event for fillies and mares on grass ushers in the late Pick-4. We’ll try to survive and advance using just two. Tamahere exits three consecutive Grade 1 events, so the C. Brown-trained filly certainly will appreciate the class relief. She did manage to finish a solid runner-up in the Jenny Wiley S.-G1 at Keeneland in April but was overmatched against Althiqa and Summer Romance in the subsequent Just A Game S.-1 at Belmont Park in early June. Freshened for almost two months and showing a strong, healthy work tab, the Grade-2 stakes winner gets an ideal spot to regain her confidence. Passing Out, away for almost 11 months but with a history of firing fresh, returns for Shug with a big look if she’s cranked up and ready. The barn has an excellent record (20% with returnees), and this daughter of Orb is strong on numbers and is a prior winner over the course.

RACE 8: Post: 5:05 ET Grade: B-
Use: 3-Big Package; 4-Yes and Yes; 7-Noble Emotion

Forecast: Noble Emotion fired a winning shot off the bench when scoring in game style in a state-bred first-level allowance turf sprint at Belmont Park last month and today will seek a repeat score when facing open company. The 4-year-old son of Noble Mission won over this course and distance last year and based on his recent victory appears even a better type now, so at 5-1 on the morning line let’s with the H. DePaz-trained gelding right back with J. L. Ortiz staying aboard. Big Picture likes to settle and produce a late run and at this abbreviated sprint distance there’s a decent chance the race will produce quick enough early fractions to compliment his style. A perfect one-for-one sprinting at Saratoga, the D. Donk-trained gelding is reunited with “win rider” I. Ortiz, Jr., and seems very likely to step forward with his best stuff. Yes and Yes is fastest on pure speed figures but is only 2-for-19 during his career with eight seconds/thirds, so he’s not really one to trusted. Also, we’re not convinced he’s as effective over the Saratoga turf course as he is at Belmont Park. We’ll use him as a back-up or a saver.

RACE 9: Post: 5:39 ET Grade: B
Use: 4-Lake Avenue; 9-Bell’s the One

Forecast: Bell’s the One deserves her high weight assignment (123 pounds) in this year’s renewal of the Honorable Miss H.-G2, a six furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Fresh from a career-top winning performance in the Roxelana S. at Churchill Downs, the thoroughly genuine daughter of Majesticperfection is comfortably drawn outside and likely will settle somewhere in mid-pack and then be asked to produce a winning late kick. Though she’s been primarily raced at extended sprints, it’s important to note her career record at this exact six furlong trip (she’s perfect in four starts). Lake Avenue isn’t as fast on numbers as our top pick, but her middle distance form is very strong and features a neck defeat in the Bed o’ Roses S.-G3 over a sloppy track at Belmont Park in her most recent start in early June. Six furlongs might be a tad sharp for her, but if she can stay within range to the top of the lane she’ll make some noise in the final furlong. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play.

RACE 10: Post: 6:13 ET Grade: B-
Use: 3-Carribean Gold; 6-Prayer Book; 121-Flight to Paradise

Forecast: Prayer Book is a first-time gelding dropping into a maiden claimer for the first time, and with form against better during last spring the son of Uncle Mo appears well-placed to graduate. The T. Pletcher barn hits at a strong 23% with this type of class drop so we’ll put him on top while also using a couple of others for protection. Caribbean Gold, another with the first-time gelding angle and therefore eligible to improve, stretches out again and likely will employ gate-to-wire tactics. The M. Maker stable has outstanding stats with the sprint-to-route angle (21% with a massive ROI) and from where he’s drawn the son of Treasure Beach can have the lead if he wants it. Flight to Paradise is stuck way out in the 12-hole in a post that figures to compromise his chances, but the addition of blinkers, the return to grass, and the drop to his lowest level ever makes the M. Trombetta-trained gelding worth tossing in somewhere used on your ticket.