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Another great day of racing is upon us this Thursday, highlighted by the $100,000 Union Avenue Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares. For everyone (like myself) who consistently watches the NYRA circuit, we’ve seen all of these runners on multiple occasions. Before the main event, though, we have three maiden special weight (MSW) races to look forward to as well.
Saratoga Meet Statistics (7/31 thru 8/14):
Race 2: $75,000 MSW for 2-year-old fillies going 6 furlongs on the dirt (horses must have sold or RNA for $45,000 or less in most recent sale)
Anytime that I see Dale Romans bring one of his horses here to Saratoga, I pay attention. #4 Tetrahydro seems on paper to have everything you’d look for as a handicapper. Every morning work has gotten quicker than the last, resulting in a :47.33 4-furlong blast most recently – that’s also the quickest in this field. He is bred for the dirt and certainly will enjoy going 6 furlongs. This horse has the makings of a very promising future.
One of the contenders with some experience is #10 Talk You Out Of It. This filly ran against much better competition at Belmont Park in the past, and her best effort came in the Astoria Stakes, where she closed ground every step of the way in the stretch and made her presence felt. Ever since Bruce Brown has gotten his hands on her, he’s given her more and more distance. I think 6-6 1/2 furlongs is ultimately what she needs and what will be best for her down the road.
Dylan Davis will be aboard the talented #2 Miss Marissa, who has had some bad luck. After running in the mud and then getting entered in a turf route, Miss Marissa will get her chance to show what she’s made of going 6 furlongs over fast dirt. For what it’s worth, Luis Saez jumps off of this filly for Tetrahydro, but that’s more or less due to his connections with Dale Romans.
The most intriguing filly in here is #3 British Idiom. Brad Cox and Javier Castellano don’t need to be discussed at length, as both have been superb at Saratoga. The question marks with British Idiom are her background and her morning works. I tend to shy away from horses who train at Churchill Downs and ship here, due to the track’s conditions and the tendencies for those horses to show a little less speed once they make it to Saratoga. I don’t know that British Idiom will fall under those notions, but it will be something to watch.
Ricky’s Picks: 4-10-2-3
Race 4: $90,000 MSW for 2-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
Once again, we get to my favorite sire as of late, Into Mischief, who sired #4 Mystic Lancelot. Todd Pletcher will send this colt who came to him with a hefty price tag ($450,000). Pletcher was only winning at 8% about two weeks ago. He’s now up to 13% and has been crushing it as of late. With the connections firing on all cylinders, I expect Mystic Lancelot on the lead in his debut, and don’t be surprised if he goes gate to wire.
#1 Buy Land and See will have Jose Lezcano aboard, a rider who automatically garners my attention, especially on the turf. He’s possibly the best turf rider on the NYRA circuit and always knows what buttons to push. Buy Land and See ran a fantastic :49.89 going 4 furlongs on the firm turf last time out. Steve Klesaris hasn’t had many winners, but his horses are always live factors down the stretch.
I know that I just spoke about how Churchill horses don’t always run well here, but #2 Relentless Dancer is different. While his sire Midshipman doesn’t have a strong turf pedigree, Midshipman’s top earnings leader, Big Changes, does. I think he will fire out of the gate with ease, important for a sprinter drawn inside.
We have to go back a ways to find the turf pedigree for #5 Croi Mor. His damsire, Stormy Atlantic, produced the likes of Neptune’s Storm and Stormy Liberal, so if Croi Mor is anything like those two, then we might have something. Pletcher has been very high on this debuting colt. I don’t know if he’s ready to win in his first time out, but with a pedigree like his, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Ricky’s Picks: 4-1-2-5
Race 9: $78,000 MSW for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up going 1 mile (8 furlongs) on the inner turf
Christophe Clement will send out #8 Kerry’s Ring to try and capture her first win after failing to do so in three prior starts. She ran very well in her last race back on June 30 but ran out of room while going 7 furlongs. The added distance should help her, as her best showings were in longer races. Clement is also winning at 21% when his horses are coming off of a layoff lasting 31-60 days.
Jose Ortiz will once again be on #12 Crescent Lady, who will definitely have a different running style here. She was down on the rail in her last two races, which is never the place to be on the turf. It’s much easier for her, a horse with speed, to make her way to the inside versus the other way around. Moving from the rail in her last start to the far outside here should help her dramatically.
The other Clement runner in here is #5 Marquet Legacy, who will get Lasix for the first time. She made her debut back in October of 2018, where she passed live horses down the stretch after a moderate first quarter in :22.85. Had that race been another 1/2-1 furlong further, she might’ve won with ease. Clement has done really well off of the bench (like Kerry’s Ring); she should be a definite contender in this two-turn mile.
#3 Sterling Beauty will be happy to see that Kid Is Frosty and Niko’s Dream are not entered in this spot. She was in a little over her head against them, and the odds certainly reflect that, as she’s gone off at double-digit odds in her last four starts. Taking a drop in class from her two stakes appearances and getting to go a two-turn mile will ultimately give her the best chance to break her maiden.
Ricky’s Picks: 8-12-5-3
Good luck to everyone playing and be sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyP_15 for more NYRA race previews!
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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