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Jeff Siegel: Saratoga Picks & Analysis | Saturday, July 31

by Jeff Siegel

July 31, 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: 2-Master Game; 6-Woodline; 7-H P Moon

Forecast: The Saturday Spa opener appears to be a fairly strong maiden special weight abbreviated sprint that requires a bit of a spread in rolling exotic play. Among the newcomers, Master Game may be the best of the lot, having done plenty of good work in the morning for T. Pletcher while easily handling his company in his two most recent drills. From the first crop of unbeaten Mastery, this colt brought a healthy $300,000 as a yearling despite what we’d describe an average bottom line, so his good looks must have been apparent. A colt with a nice stride that most likely will produce his best form over longer distances, he nevertheless should be quick enough to act at this trip, so at 5/2 on the morning line we’ll put him on top and hope he can settle just off the likely pacesetter and then kick on with it late. Woodline displayed good zip in a pair of outings at Churchill Downs in the spring and most likely will be on the front end again today. The son of Gun Runner, third and then second in his two starts with improving speed figures, can be expected to step forward again, and while he probably isn’t yet good enough to beat a real top prospect, there may or may not be one of those in here. H P Moon has been burning up the track at Delaware Park while preparing for his debut, and we’ll take it as a sign of confidence that his connections have chosen to debut the son of Malibu Moon against what certainly will be tougher competition than what he would have faced at home. He’s out of a half-sister to Travers S.-G1 winner West Coast, so there’s a possibility he will need more ground but out of respect for the connections we’ll toss him in on a ticket or two.

RACE 2: Post: 1:41 ET Grade: B+
Single: 1-Fast Gordon

Forecast: Fast Gordon stretches out to two-turns for the first time after a couple of fairly decent sprint tries vs. straight maiden state-bred foes. His numbers are rising, so with another forward move today the L. Rice-trained colt should be hard to handle. Additionally, he returns to the maiden $40,000 ranks and ran well when beaten a neck in his only prior outing at this level, and from his favorable inside draw the son of Alpha is guaranteed a comfortable, ground-saving trip. He’s bred to improve going long and hails from a barn that has superior stats with the stretch-out angle, so at 3-1 on the morning line let’s make him a win play and rolling exotic single.

RACE 3: Post: 2:15 ET Grade: B+
Use: 1-Miss Liana/1a-Flat Awesome Jenny; 2-Cartwheel

Forecast: The entry looks quite formidable in this $20,000 claiming seven furlong sprint for fillies and mares and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the same-owner duo run one-two. Flat Out Jenny shortens up and drops a notch after beating $25,000 foes at Belmont Park over a mile in late June. Most effective around one turn as a late-running sprinter, the daughter of Flat Out retains I. Ortiz, Jr., and with any kind of help up front she should be heard from again in the final furlong. Barn mate Miss Liana has the opposite running style – she’s committed speed type – so taking the entry ensures that you’ll have both styles covered. ‘Liana remains a level above her claim price after flashing speed but weakening late to wind up third in a tougher starter’s allowance $50,000 affair last month; today the projected pace flow is relatively soft, so if she can sneak away early without being used she should carry her speed a long way. As a back-up, you may consider Cartwheel. Sparingly raced but with speed figures that fit, the M. Hennig-trained mare was worn down late in a main track miler at Belmont Park in early May but before that, back in December, she was successful at this class and distance at the Big A. The good news is that she has a prior win over the Saratoga main track but a very light work tab for her first outing in nearly two months is a bit concerning.

RACE 4: Post: 2:49 ET Grade: C+
Use: 2-Pivotal Run; 7-High Tone

Forecast: There’s not much depth in this maiden $40,000 inner turf middle distance affair, so we’ll try to survive and advance using just two. High Tone, beaten a neck in a slightly cheaper affair at Churchill Downs in mid-May, makes his second start of the year, this time for new trainer R. Moquett, and has speed figures that are good enough to handle this field. Likely to settle into an easy pace-stalking position outside, the son of Tonalist should have every chance and no excuse. Pivotal Run was a bit disappointing when a fading sixth in a similar affair at Belmont Park last month in his first start since chasing maiden special weight foes in a pair of grass affairs last September. Perhaps he needed the race or maybe he’ll produce a significant forward move in his first start off a claim by G. Weaver (40% with a small sample with this angle), so in either case he’s worth including in your rolling exotics.

RACE 5: Post: 3:21 ET Grade: B-
Use: 4-Behind the Couch; 5-Honey Money

Forecast: Honey Money ran below her best form when unplaced in a similar state-bred allowance sprint for fillies and mares, but a muddy track gives her a legitimate excuse so let’s try her again and hope for a fast track. The daughter of Central Banker had won her previous three starts – two at Belmont Park and one at Finger Lakes – and in a field that should allow her to achieve her preferable front-running trip the W. Potts-trained filly seems set to regain her winning edge. Behind the Couch is a Pimlico invader fresh from a facile allowance win at Pimlico in a race that earned a competitive speed figure compared to our top pick. The veteran daughter of Awesome of Course should draft into a stalking position and have her chance from there. Preference on top goes to Honey Money but we’ll have tickets including both in our rolling exotics.

RACE 6: Post: 3:55 ET Grade: B+
Single: 4-Royal Spirit

Forecast: Royal Spirit, a $450,000 yearling by Into Mischief from a family high-quality distance runners, debuts two-turning on grass in this maiden affair for juveniles that appears to have come up fairly light. The T. Pletcher-trained colt has done some excellent work around dogs on turf and appears fit and ready to perform up to expectations. This trainer/jockey combo that includes I. Ortiz, Jr. hits at a remarkable 30 percent with a significant flat-bet profit, so let’s go with this fresh face on top and hope to get close to his morning line of 5/2 in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics.

RACE 7: Post: 4:29 ET Grade: B
Use: 2-Invincible Gal; 8-Love and Thunder; 10-Drawn to Race

Forecast: Invincible Gal, a winner over the Saratoga lawn in her debut last year, has been stakes-placed on a number of occasions and today returns to the first-level allowance ranks while landing a comfortable inside draw while adding Lasix and blinkers. The G. Motion-trained filly is reunited with “win rider” Johnny V. and should be capable of settling into a ground-saving, second-flight early position and then having dead aim and every chance from there. English import Love and Thunder, second in her first two U.S starts, was a beaten choice both times but ran well enough to make her a major player once again. The C. Brown-trained Irish-bred filly likes to settle and produce one late run and with some help up front she should be right there. Dawn to Race makes her U.S. debut with Lasix and J. Rosario and her form in France wasn’t bad. Despite her outside draw, the German-bred filly probably is worth using as a saver or a back-up.

RACE 8: Post: 5:05 ET Grade:
Use: 2-Mischevious Alex; 6-Whitmore; 9-Special Reserve

Forecast: Special Reserve has never been better than he is now, but this Grade-1 sprint is by far his most difficult assignment to date. A winner of four of his last five starts including his last pair in listed stakes company while earning triple-digit Beyer speed figures, the M. Maker-trained gelding should be comfortably placed outside in a stalking position and then have his chance when the pressure is turned on to prove he belongs at this level. He picks up J. Rosario for his first start ever at Saratoga so at 9/2 on the morning line the Midshipman gelding is worth a play. Mischievous Alex lost nothing in defeat when third in the Met Mile in his last outing in early June and today shortens back to six furlongs, a distance that he’s perfect at (2-for-2). His only previous outing over the Saratoga main track came last year in the H. Allen Jerkens S.-G1 when he finished seventh, but the son of Into Mischief clearly is better now and can be expected to fire his best shot. Whitmore, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint-G1 winner last year, has hit the board in all three starts in 2021 and is overdue to get back on the winning track. A strong runner-up in this race last year, the thoroughly genuine and consistent veteran gelding has been freshened since early May but has trained eagerly and sharply of late and will be a major threat if allowed to settle early and produce one late run.

RACE 9: Post: 5:39 ET Grade: X
Single: 5-Essential Quality

Forecast: Essential Quality is the obvious free bingo square in this year’s Jim Dandy S.-G2 for rolling exotic players but is listed on the morning line at 50 cents on the dollar and that makes him unplayable other than as a no-value rolling exotic single. The winner of six of seven career starts, most recently the Belmont S.-G1 in early June, the B. Cox-trained colt probably isn’t totally cranked up for this prep race to the Travers S.-G1 three weeks later but still should find a way to win with what projects to be a soft pace-stalking trip outside. Exacta players should consider Weyburn in the two-hole. A smart runner-up to Mandaloun in the Pegasus S. last month at Monmouth Park when beaten just a neck, the son of Pioneerof the Nile can be the controlling speed today if they let him roll from the gate and given that type of trip the J. Jerkens-trained colt could get brave and carry his speed a very long way.

RACE 10: Post: 6:13 ET Grade: B+
Single: 5-Channel Maker

Forecast: This group takes turns. Maybe it’s time for Channel Maker to regain his winning form after finishing unplaced in Dubai in late March in his most recent outing. Always most effective as the controlling speed, the veteran gelding catches an ideal pace scenario that should allow him to make the running without pressure, and recent workouts indicate the W. Mott-trained son of English Channel is perked up and ready to roll. He’s a two-time winner over the Saratoga lawn and is reunited with M. Franco, who has gotten the most run out of him. In a race in which any one of the six starters have a right to win, let’s take a stand with Channel Maker and simply hope to be right.

RACE 11: Post: 6:45 ET Grade: C+
Use: 7-Tizzarunner; 8-Hieroglyphics; 10-Sharp Prospect

Forecast: Sharp Prospect returned off a 13-month layoff to dismantle an allowance field at Indiana Downs in mid-May while equaling his career-top speed figure. What’s concerning is the 10-week layoff and the drop into a $25,000 claimer, the first time he’s ever being risked for a tag. If he runs back to his last race, the J. Sharp-trained gelding can win again, but it sure appears like the connections are trying to lose him. Hieroglyphics, claimed out of a win for $25,000 by D. Schettino, returns nine weeks later for the same price, not exactly a healthy pattern, either. But the son of Pioneerof the Nile loves Saratoga (three wins in six starts), and the barn has solid stats with the first-off-the-claim angle, so at 6-1 on the morning line the veteran gelding is a “must use” in rolling exotic play. Tizzarunner goes for the red-hot M. Maker outfit and arrives in good form after missing by a neck in a similar claimer at Churchill Downs last time out. He’ll be running late under I. Ortiz, Jr.