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Jeff Siegel: Saratoga Picks & Analysis | Friday, August 6

by Jeff Siegel

August 6, 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: C+
Use: 1-No Mi Culpa; 9-Smokey White

Forecast: The Friday opener is a restricted turf sprint for juveniles that went through the sales ring for $45,000 or less. This is a relatively new wrinkle to maiden special weight races and was designed to attract runners that normally would need to compete in maiden claiming affairs. No Mi Culpa had an outing in an off-the-turf event at Belmont Park in late May, got some play (3-1), and then displayed some early speed before weakening to finish fifth of seven, certainly not great but not terrible, either. The R. Rodriguez barn has solid stats with both the second-time starter and the blinkers-on angles, so we’re expecting this son of Blame to move forward considerably in a rather modest affair. His most recent workout July 22 (4f, :47.2b) was the second fastest of 54 for the distance over the Saratoga main track. Among the newcomers, Smokey White seems fairly intriguing. The son of Liam’s Map has been training at Monmouth Park for S. Joseph. Jr., where he recorded a bullet gate drill (3f, :36bg) that was the fastest of 27 for the distance, so that’s encouraging, as is the presence of I. Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle. In a field with lots of unknowns and question marks, the best suggestion is to tread lightly.

RACE 2: Post: 1:41 ET Grade: C
Use: 2-Crea’s Bklyn Law; 7-Roaming Union; 8-Malibu Pro

Forecast: This nine furlong main track $12,500 claimer for older horses has lots of moving parts, most notably Malibu Pro, a $25,000 claim by L. Rice in mid-June and today returning for half that amount. In fact, this gelding has changed hands in four of his last five starts due to consistent, hard-knocking form, but his most recent outing was far below his best, so his present condition is something of a question mark. The barn has a solid record with the first-off-the-claim angle (21%) so perhaps this class drop is nothing more than an attempt to steal a purse. Or, perhaps, in his 54th career start, the eight-year-old gelding is coming to the end of the road. You have to use him but protect with others. Roaming Union chased home our top pick two races back and then was trounced when facing $16,000 foes in his most recent outing. Freshened for six weeks and switching to J. Rosario, the C. Baker-trained gelding has run well at Saratoga in the past and may perk up a bit with the switch in venues following a brief time off. It’s been forever since he’s won a race, though. Crea’s Bklyn Law plummets to his lowest level ever after a dull try over this track and distance last month. Winless in six starts over the local main track and always more willing to finish second or third (20) than win (five) during his career, the son of Sky Mesa still must be considered something of a threat off his recent numbers and his projected ground-saving trip.

RACE 3: Post: 2:15 ET Grade: B
Use: 5-Coastana; 7-Creative Cairo

Forecast: This mini-marathon inner turf event for first-level allowance fillies and mares may be reduced to a final three furlong sprint as most of these won’t be doing anything until that point. Let’s see if we can survive and advance using just two. Coastana has produced rising speed figures in each of her four career starts and her pedigree suggests she can step forward again at this longer distance. The daughter of Kitten’s Joy likes to settle in mid-pack and then produce an extended, grinding rally, and that’s the type of style that generally produces three-turn specialists. L. Saez stays aboard, knows her well, and in a race that might produce an early pace only slightly faster than jog, we’re hoping he puts the C. DeVaux-trained filly in a position where she doesn’t have too much to do. Setting the Mood looks like the controlling speed whether she wants to be or not. She’s moving up in class from the claiming and starter’s allowance categories but has run well at this distance in the past, especially on the front end. If she makes the running she could get very brave and never look back. Worth nothing is that she was beaten a head over this course and distance at this level last year, and her present form indicates she’s just as good if not better now.

RACE 4: Post: 2:49 ET Grade: B
Use: 1-Jalen Journey; 5-Wicked Trick

Forecast: Jalen Journey is a hard-knocking, consistent sprinter with six wins from 14 career starts and finds a spot today that should be well within his grasp. The S. Asmussen-trained six-year-old has been started and stopped on a number of times during his career but seems to be healthier than ever at the present time and projects to be on or near the lead in this extended sprint that projects to produce a soft early pace. He’s reunited with “win rider” R. Santana, Jr. and seems the solid pick. Wicked Trick has faced graded stakes sprinters in each of his last three starts and will welcome this drop to the three-other-than conditioned allowance ranks. Perfect in two starts over the Saratoga main track, the L. Rice-trained gelding is fast on numbers but will have to close into slower than average splits, which makes his task a bit more difficult. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics, with the main push going to Jalen Journey.

RACE 5: Post: 3:21 ET Grade: C+
Use: 1-Commandandcontrol; 5-Lady Clementine; 7-Hot Anna

Forecast: Maiden claiming $50,000 fillies and mares meet over seven furlongs, with several well-bred, former expensive purchases being culled from their stables. Commandandcontrol, acquired at auction for $270,000 a couple of years ago, has been sparingly raced with just three career starts, the best of which came in her debut in November of 2020 when the daughter of Quality Road finished a distant but decent second in a maiden sprint at Aqueduct. No threat when sixth in a turf sprint at Belmont Park in early June, she returns two months later in a seller that she should be capable of winning. The connections won’t care if someone takes her. Lady Clementine continues to train better than she runs but she shows the first time maiden-to-maiden claiming angle for a barn that has off-the-charts success with this maneuver (41%), so we’ll anticipate considerable improvement in this modest affair. Hot Anna, originally sold for $100,000 at Keeneland, was outfooted in her debut at this level at Churchill Downs in late June, winding up a distant fourth after producing a mild late rally. She gets an extra furlong to work with today and has a right to step forward, so at this extended sprint distance she deserves at least a little bit of a look.

RACE 6: Post: 3:55 ET Grade: B
Use: 5-Value Engineering; 10-No Word; 11-City Man

Forecast: Away since November but with the proven ability to fire fresh (he won his debut), No Word appears well-spotted for a major effort off the bench in this second-level allowance turf event that came up as strong as a listed stakes. Grade-1 placed last year when a close second in the Belmont Derby-G1, the T. Pletcher-trained colt should make a very useful older horse and has trained well enough to be fit and ready to begin his campaign on a winning note. Regular rider J. L. Ortiz should have him within striking range throughout. Value Engineering, never off the board in eight career starts, has had trouble sealing the deal in recent races (that’s a nice way of saying he tends to hang) but after a two month freshening and a return to what probably is his favorite turf course the C. Brown-trained horse has to be considered a contender. The son of Lemon Drop Kid does his best work when held up early and then produced as late as possible. City Man is realistically spotted after being pitched over his head in a pair of graded stakes races during the spring meeting at Belmont Park. A versatile type that can be effective on any surface, the C. Clement-trained colt likes to settle in the second flight and grind away and given the projected pace flow of the race the son of Mucho Macho Man should have dead aim from the quarter pole home.

RACE 7: Post: 4:29 ET Grade: B
Use: 2-Public Sector; 3-Ranger Fox

Forecast: Though he was beaten at even money when missing by a head in the listed Manilla S. last month at Belmont Park, Public Sector deserves a chance to make amends in this year’s renewal of the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame S.-G2, a race that promises to offer to him a more favorable race flow. The son of Kingman rallied against the grain when just failing to catch Original (who was allowed to stroll on the lead), but today’s early fractions should be closer to normal and allow the C. Brown-trained colt to produce the last run. Regular rider F. Prat flies in to keep the mount. Ranger Fox is progressing with experience, and after easily handling a maiden field with a good stalking trip the son of Nyquist bypasses the first allowance condition for a shot in this stakes turf miler that is restricted to his own age group. He’s likely to inherit a good stalking spot behind Original and then have every chance from there.

RACE 8: Post: 5:05 ET Grade: B-
Use: 4-Art Collector; 7-Jesus’ Team; 8-Night Ops

Forecast: Art Collector was approaching super star status after winning five straight and then being sent to the post as the strong second choice in the 2020 Preakness behind subsequent Horse of the Year Authentic. However, he failed to live up to expectations, winding up a distant fourth in the Triple Crown’s second jewel. Two subsequent poor outings led to a trainer change to W. Mott, for whom he’ll make his first start in today’s nine furlong listed Alydar S. The question of whether or not he will ever regain his past form may be answered today, because in a race that lacks a true front runner the son of Bernardini should be comfortably placed on or near the lead, just where he prefers to be. The local works are okay, nothing great, so his present form is hard to gauge but the winner of five of 12 career starts has just barely passed the midway point of his four year old season, so he’s hardly over the hill. Jesus’ Team flopped at 3/5 in an overnight handicap at Gulfstream Park last month, so we’re not quite sure where he is, either. Three races back he was an outstanding second in the Pegasus World Cup-G1 and if he were to run back to that race today he’d be home free. Night Ops is fast on numbers but is winless in five starts this year and has been stuck on seconds of late. He should be within range throughout and then have his chance to grind down the leaders late.

RACE 9: Post: 5:39 ET Grade: B-
Use: 7-Imprimis; 9-Chateau; 10-Lazuli; 11-Bound for Nowhere

Forecast: Imprimis finished first in this race last year and was quite convincing in doing so, crossing the wire more than two lengths clear of the rest in what may have been the best race of career. Unfortunately, he was disqualified for causing crowding when blowing past the leaders inside the furlong pole (a bad call, in our opinion) but hopefully this time the veteran gelding will maintain a straight course and duplicate that type of performance. This will be his first outing since hitting the front but then getting tagged right on the wire by Bound for Nowhere in the Shakertown S.-G2 at Keeneland in April, but he’s shown the ability to fire a big shot fresh in the past so we’re expecting he’ll return as well as he left. Bound for Nowhere is most effective when held up early and allowed to finish late, the strategy employed in his Shakertown score. He was on the lead and faded to third at even money in the subsequent Jaipur S.-G1 in early June, so we’ll expect jockey J. Rosario to revert to patient tactics today. Trainer C. Appleby sends over his tough-as-nails turf sprinter Lazuli, who is a strong fit on pure form but questionable around a turn. A winner of five of 11 in England including a pair of valuable Group-3 races, the Irish-bred gelding carried 135 lbs. to victory two races back and today makes his U.S. debut under L. Saez and a “feathery” 122. Stranger danger comes in the form of the speedy Chateau, likely the quickest of the quick. He’s never been tried on grass but the son of Flat Out certainly will be a big price and is worth including somewhere on your ticket.

RACE 10: Post: 6:13 PT Grade: B-
Use: 1-Digital Software; 10-Run Dilly Run

Forecast: On pure form Bail Out is a contender, having finished second in a pair of similar recent maiden claiming turf routers at Belmont Park, but he’s winless in 24 career starts, so we’re just not going to go there. Instead, we’ll try to get by using just two in rolling exotic play. Digital Software lands the good rail and will try to make amends after finishing second as the 4/5 favorite in a maiden $50,000 grass router at Belmont Park in mid-May. He was a voided claim in that race and returned to the C. Brown barn, so today, following a healthy work tab that dates back to mid-June, the Temple City gelding finds an excellent spot to make amends. He ran well when a close third here last year and has speed figures that are good enough to beat this field. Run Dilly Run is stuck way out in the 12-hole, but he’s only had two starts and therefore has plenty of room for improvement. A decent runner-up in a softer maiden $25,000 affair at Gulfstream Park in mid-June, the S. Joseph, Jr.-trained gelding has trained nicely since arriving at the Spa and with continued improvement could provide a serious challenge from off the pace.