As we close out the work week, we have one of the locals’ favorites this Friday, the $100,000 Skidmore Stakes. Since being added five years ago, this turf sprint shows off some of the quickest juveniles in the division. Before we get there, we have two maiden special weight (MSW) races on the card to analyze.

Saratoga Meet Statistics (7/31 thru 8/14):

Races Top 4 Wins Top 4 Exactas Top 4 Trifectas Top 4 Supers
27 21 11 9 1
 
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Saratoga 8/16

Race 1: $78,000 MSW for New York-bred 2-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the outer turf

A lot of runners enter this field having competed against one another back on July 26, going 7 furlongs on the dirt. Out of that race, I was most impressed with #1 Mo Ready (note: because he’s coupled with an also-eligible entry, he’ll break from post 6). He seemed to enjoy that 7-furlong distance, and the extra 1 1/2 furlongs should help. He has shown early speed; expect Jose Ortiz to utilize that. Mo Ready’s best performance should beat this field with ease.

Another runner coming out of that July 26 race is #8 Cold Hard Cash. He didn’t have the best of starts, which compromised his overall performance and took him out of the race. He still managed to finish third at 10/1 and showed that in better conditions, he can be a factor against similar competition. Linda Rice and Jose Lezcano are combining to win at 28% in 2019, and Rice is well-known for her prowess when her runners switch from dirt to turf.

When I first saw the debuting #3 Maxwell Esquire‘s works, I knew immediately that he was a turf router. His most impressive morning effort was back on July 28 when he went :50.26 for 4 furlongs on the turf training track. Christophe Clement is a strong turf trainer, and it certainly helps getting Irad Ortiz, Jr. Expect him to come flying home late.

Right to his outside is another first-timer, #4 Noble Emotion. His turf pedigree is strong: his sire, Noble Mission, was a multiple Group 1 winner in England and is a full brother to the legendary Frankel. He is bred for turf distance, and that is certainly what he’s going to get. Ever since he made his way to Saratoga, he’s only worked on the turf, and Jonathan Thomas always has his runners looking impressive in turf routes. Expect nothing less here.

Ricky’s Picks: 6-8-2-3

Credit: NYRA

Race 3: $90,000 MSW for 3-year-olds and upward going 1 3/16 miles (9 1/2 furlongs) on the outer turf

Chad Brown’s #1 Value Engineering will look win to win off the bench after most recently finishing third at Belmont Park in May. He broke away well from the gate in that start and settled comfortably three-wide the entire way but was unable to find a final kick down the stretch. That was a very competitive and difficult field to navigate, though, as The Last Zip came back to win again before making an appearance at the American Derby (G3) and the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park. Expect Value Engineering to get a better trip and show his class in his third start.

#4 Bail Out is one of the most consistent horses in this field: he’s finished second three straight times and in five of his nine career starts. An interesting note about this colt is that he’s the only 4-year-old against a field of sophomores. He always finishes well and seemed to enjoy Saratoga’s inner turf course back on July 25.

Bill Mott will send #7 Overbold out on the Saratoga turf to go the longest distance that he’s ever run, which should help him improve. His running style suggests that he will be on the lead, and the switch from an inside post to an outside post is a huge key because the turf rail hasn’t been very kind this meet. The combination of a lack of early speed from the other contenders and the post position change makes this colt a major player.

I am very intrigued by the Irish-bred #6 Shennan. He found himself in the four path on the far turn, then made his way inside as he tried to find running room down the stretch. The most impressive part of that race was the amount of ground that he was able to make up after running slow early fractions against an eventual gate-to-wire winner. Expect him to improve in his second start for trainer Mark Casse.

Ricky’s Picks: 1-4-7-6

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Good luck to everyone playing and be sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyP_15 for more NYRA race previews!

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