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Jeff Siegel: Saratoga Picks & Analysis | Friday, July 30

by Jeff Siegel

July 30, 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: B
Use: 7-Laoban’s Legacy; 8-Sugar and Speights

Forecast: Let’s go with a couple of newcomers in this state-bred maiden juvenile sprint for fillies. Laoban’s Legacy shows a modest series of local drills but brought $150,000 through the ring at the OBS April sale after previewing in 10 seconds flat while displaying a long, athletic stride and accomplishing the move without undue urging. The barn is about average with debut runners, but this filly looks like a win-early type and should be fit enough to fire a big shot first crack out of the box. Sugar and Speights goes for the C. Clement barn (23% with a massive ROI with first timers), and with his main man J. Rosario taking the call this filly has the look of a very live item. She was reasonably competitive with runaway debut runner (and subsequently stakes-placed) Ready A. P. in a gate work July 15 in which she broke slowly but displayed good speed to move up and complete the work while pretty much head-and-head in :48 flat). Drawn comfortable outside, the daughter of Speightster will likely be prominent throughout, assuming she leaves with her field.

RACE 2: Post: 1:41 ET Grade: B-
Use: 1-Restored Order/1a-Hyperfocus; 6-Risk Manager

Forecast: This race has been handicapped for turf only. The T. Pletcher barn sends out a dangerous one-two punch in this $40,000 middle distance affair restricted to 3-year-olds, and the coupled entry, which includes a speed horse and a closer, is certain to take plenty of money. Restored Order drops into a seller for the first time and should be the controlling speed based on his two prior grass outings, one of which produced a gate-to-wire victory over this course and distance last year that produced a strong speed figure. Obviously, this $420,000 auction purchase must have issues for his connections to be giving up on him after just five starts that includes a poor recent outing in the slop in an off-the-grass affair but if he can make the running without pressure, he could be tough to catch. Stable mate Hyperfocus, freshened since early May, is another with the first-time-for-a-tag angle as the Repole Stable starts to cull its roster to make room for new blood. Unplaced in his last pair against stakes competition but earning speed figures in both races that make him a strong fit at this level, the son of Constitution shows a recent work tab at Monmouth Park that isn’t flashy but is healthy and indicates fitness. We’ll also toss in Risk Manager, a first-of-the-claim play for D. Gargan (a remarkable 39% with a powerful flat-bet profit with this angle) making his first start since early May, when he was haltered for $50,000. This class drop might be considered a negative, but the stable runs them where they can win and this son of Lookin At Luck has been training steadily at the Spa for several weeks. Because he won his debut, he’s proven he can fire fresh.

RACE 3: Post: 2:15 ET Grade: B-
Use: 4-Kasim; 6-Ahead of Plan; 10-Montauk Daddy

Forecast: This race has been handicapped for turf only. It’s a restricted (nw-3) wide open affair for $35,000 claimers that requires as much coverage in rolling exotic play as your budget will allow. Kasim is one of those automatic first-off-the-claim plays for the D. Gargan barn, and in a race that should have quick early splits this colt will have every opportunity to settle early and kick home strongly late. Away since late May but showing a good, healthy local work tab, the son of Munnings picks up L. Saez, and with clear sailing through the lane he may be able to tag the speed at a decent price. Ahead of Plan can be tough on the lead or from off the pace but we’d actually prefer to see patient tactics employed today. The C. Brown-trained gelding has several back speed figures that would beat this field, and the son of Big Drama should be well-positioned to make amends for finishing second as the favorite in a similar affair last month at Belmont Park. Montauk Daddy, freshened since May and dropping to a realistic level (but remaining about his claim price), is the quickest of the quick and will take them as far as he can. The barn has strong stats with layoff runners, so while the work tab looks a little light we’re expecting this speedy colt to fire a big shot off the bench. I. Ortiz, Jr. will try to hold him together in the final furlong.

RACE 4: Post: 2:49 ET Grade: B-
Use: 4-Too Early; 6-Control Group

Forecast: Too Early and Control Group know each other well and square off again in this nine-furlong main track state-bred second level optional claiming event. ‘Group got the best of ‘Early when winning this condition in mid-June at Belmont Park but is eligible to return in the same spot today because once again he’s entered for the $45,000 tag, though today he has to pick up four pounds and will carry 126. A real pro, the veteran son of Posse shows 17 career wins, including four scores from seven starts at the Spa. He’ll be tough, he always is. Too Early went down by a length to his rival in the aforementioned race in June and then returned to get nosed out in a similar spot earlier this month at Belmont Park while 14 lengths clear of the rest, an effort that equaled his career top speed figure. The Distorted Humor gelding should draft into an ideal pace-stalking position and then have every chance when the pressure is turned on. Both should be included in rolling exotic with perhaps a very slight edge on top to Too Early.

RACE 5: Post: 3:21 ET Grade: C+
Use: 10-Coach Bahe; 11-The Big Kahuna; 12-Ajhar

Forecast: The main contention in this elongated sprint for restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claimers is drawn outside. The Big Kahuna, a four-year-old with just three career starts and away since late May, surfaces in a seller for the first time and clearly has (or had) issues, but against this group the T. Pletcher-trained gelding should be hard to contain if he has at least one good one left. His only fast track outing resulted in a debut maiden score at Gulfstream Park in November of 2019, after which he disappeared until April of this year. Good enough on numbers to win, the son of Bayern attracts I. Ortiz, Jr. so let’s assume he’s okay for at least today. Coach Bahe shows six consecutive off-the-board finishes since breaking his maiden in the mud at Fair Grounds almost 18 months ago. Yet, he’s quite competitive on numbers and at this seven furlong trip the P. Bauer-trained son of Take Charge Indy should be able to settle in the second flight and then have dead aim from the quarter pole home. Ajhar was a voided claim last May but returns at the same level so we’ll assume he’s okay and projects to enjoy a comfortable stalking trip outside, in the clear, and ready to pounce when called upon. He’s been a two-turner most of this career, but his form suggests he’ll appreciate this trip and distance.

RACE 6: Post: 3:55 ET Grade: B-
Use: 2-Top Gun Girl; 4-Slipstream; 8-Fan the Fire; 9-Castle Leoch

Forecast: This race has been handicapped for turf only. The W. Ward-trained Castle Leoch seems certain to get plenty of play, though we’re not really sure how much horse he is. Beaten at 3/5 in his debut at Gulfstream Park in May in a modest affair, the son of American Pharoah shows a couple of recent breezes around dogs on grass over the Saratoga training course, one fairly decent, the other not so much. We suspect a good colt – or filly - can beat him today, but is there one in the field? Ward’s other entrant is the one we’re most interested in. Top Gun Girl has been training slow and easy at Keeneland before arriving at the Spa but shows a :34 1/5 three-furlong bullet drill at Palm Meadows on grass way back in mid-March (she was off for two months following that drill). Ward is an amazing 33% with first timers that have produced a significant ROI, so we suspect this daughter of Air Force One is cranked up and ready to roll. Among the others with credentials are Slipstream, a second time starter from the C. Clement barn (20% with this angle) that probably is better than his first race shows, and Fan the Fire, a first-timer bred for turf (Hard Spun) with a solid work tab for the powerful M. Maker/I. Ortiz, Jr. combo.

RACE 7: Post: 4:29 ET Grade: B+
Use: 6-Winter Pool; 9-Runnin’ Ray

Forecast: Winter Pool is a lightly-raced, late-developing four-year-old who has worked well enough since arriving at Saratoga to make our Clocker’s “Primed and Ready” List. Beaten a head in a similar starter’s allowance router at Churchill Downs last month that produced a strong, career-top speed figure, the son of Curlin has had only three career outings and seems very likely to continue developing for C. Brown. R. Santana stays aboard and should have him in an ideal stalking position with every chance to seal the deal from the quarter pole home. Runnin’ Ray won a freaky fast waiver protected $20,000 claiming one-turn miler at Churchill Downs by 11 lengths with monster speed figure in mid-June off a nine-month layoff. If can turn in two alike and carry his speed nine furlongs over a testing Saratoga main track he certainly can win again and therefore is a “must use” in rolling exotic play, at least as a back-up or a saver.

RACE 8: Post: 5:05 ET Grade: B
Use: 1-Eyes On Target; 2-Galawi; 8-Compliant; 10-Box N Score

Forecast: This race has been handicapped for turf only. French import Galawi produced a furious turn of foot to graduate in his U.S. debut in a visually pleasing performance after rallying behind crawling splits to get up in time. The son of Dubawi should enjoy today’s added distance and could develop into a very nice older turf performer for G. Motion. This will be just his fourth career start, so further improvement is probable. Box N Score and Compliant, two-three finishers while heads apart in a similar affair at Belmont Park in mid-June, both can handle the distance, and both are in top barns with solid recent form. They may lack the upside of Galawi but certainly project to be in the fray throughout. Eyes on Target ran well in both of his previous starts at Churchill Downs, recently winning a maiden affair on the front end after rallying from far back to finish a close second in his debut. The son of Exaggerator strikes us as a one-paced grinder with the ability to run all day, so with another forward move from his preferred inside draw the W. Mott-trained colt should have a chance to step up at a decent price. Toss him in somewhere.

RACE 9: Post: 5:39 ET Grade: B-
Use: 4-First Captain; 5-Beren

Forecast: First Captain is undefeated in three starts, most recently winning the one-turn mile Dwyer S.-G3 at 40 cents on the dollar. The son of Curlin had to make hard work of it and earned his lowest Beyer speed figure (90) of his three-race career, but today he gets his chance at nine furlongs around two turns and we’re expecting Shug’s colt to relish these conditions. If he has designs on taking on the big boys in the Travers S.-G1 later this month, this is a race he has to win. Beren, victorious in his last two races by a combined 20 lengths and a winner in five of his last six starts, clearly is the one to fear most, though an argument can be made that he’ll need a wet track to have his best chance. Certainly, this is the toughest assignment he’s faced, but the Parx shipper, mostly likely the controlling speed, blew out in 46 3/5 seconds last week over the local main track to indicate he’s fit, sharp, and ready to prove his worth. In an intriguing race for 3-year-olds, we’ll have tickets using both in our rolling exotics and then press keying First Captain on top.

RACE 10: Post: 6:13 ET Grade: B
Use: 6-Mill Stone Creek; 10-Highway Queen; 12-To the Tune

Forecast: This race has been handicapped for turf only. A full field of New York-bred maiden claiming fillies and mares appears to have a logical top pick in Highway Queen, a lightly-raced filly trying two-turns for the first time in her first off the claim for M. Maker. A willing third with a good figure sprinting on grass at Belmont Park last month, the daughter of Super Saver switches to T. Gaffalione and seems certain to improve with experience and distance for her new connections. Mill Stone Creek and To the Tune are two others that deserve consideration. The former removes blinkers, stretches out, and has hit the board in both of her turf outings to date, while the latter, in the frame in her last two starts, is drawn poorly outside but should have enough tactical speed to get over and to secure a decent stalking position and then have her chance from there.