Dudes Pick: #4 Tonalist
Long Shot Pick: #7 Wicked Strong
1. Cousin Stephen (KY) – He’s a curious entry here, as I thought the Curlin Stakes would be where he would end up. They somewhat put him on the Kentucky Derby trail during the winter months, but he failed to run well enough in a couple of Graded Stakes tries. Recently he returned to win an allowance race at Parx off a three month layoff, but it was only be a nose. Not sure he’s quite fast enough to beat the classier horses in this one.
2. Legend (KY) – Has never ran what you would call a bad race, but has also never ran what you’d call a great race. Pretty solid efforts especially in his last two, where he won a maiden special weight and then finished second to Kid Cruz in the Easy Goer Stakes on Belmont day. If you think Kid Cruz can win this race, then you might think Legend can as well…however I don’t think either of them have much of a chance.
3. Ulanbator (KY) – He’s finished behind pretty decent horses in his last two races, but like I said about Legend…how much you like Kid Cruz kind of makes you decide how much you like this horse. It’s not that I hate Kid Cruz or Ulanbator….I just don’t think they are as good as Tonalist and Wicked Strong.
4. Tonalist (KY) – He could end up being the Power Play of the Day…very confident in the Belmont winners chances here. No question that he’s the class of this field, and the Saratoga main track will favor his running style over that of Wicked Strong who will most likely be coming from behind. The short field will also most likely help him get a moderate pace up front, which makes him even more dangerous. However, the number one factor…he’s simply a better horse than the rest of this field. Possible single on an otherwise tough pick 4 sequence.
5. Kid Cruz (KY) – Certainly not going to criticize a horse that just knows how to win, however I think we saw in the Preakness that he’s just a slight cut below the top horses in the group. Tonalist and Wicked Strong might simply be better, but you can’t leave this horse off exacta, tri, or super tickets. He does have an edge over the top ones in here because he ran a prep race for this…perhaps it gives him a slight chance.
6. Commanding Curve (KY) – He’s cross entered in this one and the Curlin Stakes so we’ll see where he goes. I took a stand against him right after his runner-up effort in the Kentucky Derby, and I will continue that stand today. Like his stablemate G0lden Soul, for whatever reason I think Commanding Curve just ran a freak race on Derby day. Some handicappers that I respect still haven’t given up on him, but for me I need to see him repeat that effort. SIDE NOTE: The 2013 and 2014 Kentucky Derby Runner Ups will both be running on Saturday’s Saratoga card is Commanding Curve chooses this race.
7. Wicked Strong (KY) – It’s a two horse in my opinion between Wicked Strong and Tonalist, and I gave the edge to Tonalist because of a big tactical advantage. However, I will be watching Wicked Strong closely in this one when thinking about the Travers. The longer distance of that race and his grind it out style could make him a prime time player in four weeks. Just don’t think he gets the right set up today though.