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Closing Day at Saratoga is always bittersweet, reminding us of the amazing racing that we’ve seen over the past couple of months. This summer, horses like Sistercharlie, Guarana, Imperial Hint, Covfefe, McKinzie, Got Stormy, Dunbar Road, Mitole, Mind Control, Come Dancing, Midnight Bisou, and Annals of Time gave fans thrills as they hit the finish line. The Travers Stakes (G1) was like no other, as Code of Honor passed Mucho Gusto and Tacitus in the stretch to cap off his 3-year-old summer. Monday’s feature, the Runhappy Hopeful Stakes (G1), gives the top 2-year-olds another chance to show the racing world what their futures could hold. The two maiden special weight (MSW) races are the last two of the meet. I hope that you followed along and made some money with me!
Saratoga Meet Statistics (7/31 thru 8/31):
Race 1: $90,000 MSW for 3-year-olds and upward going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the inner turf
I picked #4 Doswell (7/5) last time out. He did well, closing ground on the leaders and taking over, but he couldn’t hold off Good Governance by a nose at the wire. Doswell has finished second in each of his four career starts and is the horse to beat here. His connections give him an extra 1/2-furlong here, which should work out nicely. He’s running out of time and excuses to break his maiden status.
Christophe Clement sends out #11 Malthael (4/1), who comes out of the same race that saw Good Governance claim victory. Malthael is a very consistent runner, finishing in the money four of six starts and never worse than fourth. Last time out, he ran into traffic trouble and wasn’t able to find any room to run down the stretch. The outside post should help him, as Joel Rosario can put him wherever he wants early on and position him to storm home late.
#10 Cardiff Cay (8/1) is a lightly-raced 3-year-old who also ran against Doswell and Malthael last time out. His connections showed a lot of confidence to enter him against a difficult field. It’s fair to expect improvement from this colt, perhaps enough to see him in the winner’s circle.
Irad Ortiz, Jr., will be aboard #3 Border Town (5/1) in the colt’s Saratoga debut. He had been training here all summer but made his debut at Monmouth Park instead. He ran a winner’s effort in that race, but after he took the lead, Epic Bromance caught him in the stretch. He stumbled out of the gate that day, so expect to see him closer to the lead this time out.
MAIN TRACK ONLY: #8 Deft (1) has some turf experience, but his best race to date came a couple of weeks ago on the dirt. He has the best dirt races out of anyone else in this field and would be the obvious choice if the race is rained off.
Ricky’s Picks: 4-11-10-3; MTO: 8
Race 6: $90,000 MSW for 2-year-old maidens going 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt
Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez will team up one last time with a 2-year-old maiden at Saratoga, this time involving #8 Gouverneur Morris (8/5). This colt has been putting up monster times in the mornings and figures to be one of the quickest out of the gate in his debut. His times and his connections will make him the horse to beat at a very short price.
#1 Maximiliano (3/1) looks to break his maiden for Wesley Ward and should love this surface; his sire Quality Road won the Woodward Stakes (G1) over the local course. Purchased for $425,000 as a yearling, his connections have high hopes, and Ward has been known to train his young runners over a firm turf course. This horse should be sharp and ready to go.
Bill Mott’s #9 Secret Rules (8/1) is a son of Secret Circle, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint and the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Secret Rules went :37.64 over 3 furlongs on August 26, indicating that Mott expects to see him on the lead early. He should enjoy this surface and distance.
Lacey Gaudet doesn’t usually run on the NYRA circuit, but she’s a quality trainer who knows what she’s doing with her horses. Based in Maryland and Virginia, when she brings one of her runners to Saratoga, I pay attention. #5 Runaway Star (10/1) makes his debut here after training at Laurel Park. His sire Run Away and Hide won the Saratoga Special (G2) and was undefeated in three career starts. There are a lot of things to like about this 2-year-old, who should not be left off of any tickets.
Ricky’s Picks: 8-1-9-5
Good luck to everyone playing and be sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyP_15 for more NYRA race previews as we head back to Belmont Park!
If you want further information on the other races for each card at Saratoga and beyond, you can check the Racing Dudes’ Free Picks page or subscribe to their Premium Selections and get detailed analyses for every race, every card, every track around the country.
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