I’ve waited for this weekend since the beginning of the meet and we’ve finally made it. On Saturday will be the Travers Stakes (G1), the pinnacle of the Saratoga summer. Before we hit the weekend, though, we have a great mid-week card to get to on Wednesday that includes two maiden special weight (MSW) races.

Saratoga Meet Statistics (7/31 thru 8/18):

Races Top 4 Wins Top 4 Exactas Top 4 Trifectas Top 4 Supers
34 28 16 10 1
 
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Saratoga 8/21

Race 5: $78,000 MSW for 2-year-old fillies going 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt

Christophe Clement will attempt to get #7 Jewel of Arabia to the winners’ circle in her second career start. This will be her first time that she gets to run in this condition, as she ran in the Stillwater Stakes in her first start. She ran a stalking trip in that debut back and she continued to close ground on My Italian Rabbi and Fierce Lady before finishing a close third. She should win with ease, albeit at a very short price.

Jose Ortiz will look to continue his torrid meet aboard #2 Sophie Rules. She has been training at Belmont Park in the mornings, which provides a nice little angle, especially for sprinters. Due to the nature of the wide turns and the long stretch, horses that come from Belmont Park tend to run well at Saratoga, as the track is slightly friendlier to horses on the lead. She certainly will be a contender in her first career start.

Like many of the other runners in this field, #10 Quantitativbreezin will make her career debut here in this spot. Out of Central Banker, she has dirt/sprint pedigree for days. Brad Cox and Luis Saez are producing winners at 27% together; not too shabby. She didn’t show much speed (if any) in her last morning work, but Cox has been known to let his 2-year-olds take it easy right before their debuts, helping them make an immediate impact.

The most intriguing first-time starter in here is #3 Barbara’s Bank. I’ve been on the record saying that horses that ship from Monmouth Park tend to not run as well at Saratoga due to the track conditions. She recently ran a monster morning workout there going 5 furlongs in 1:00.20. I don’t love horses that go more than 4 furlongs in their last work before a race, but 11 days between should be enough to recover. At a big price, I love everything about this filly, and Eduardo Jones and Kendrick Carmouche combined to win with Kazmania in their only other Saratoga start together this year.

Ricky’s Picks: 7-2-10-3

Credit: NYRA

Race 6: $75,000 MSW for 2-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the inner turf (horses must have sold or RNA for $45,000 or less in most recent sale)

#1 Smite makes his way back to the track after failing to win in his first career start. He did a lot of good things in that start at 11/1, such as going five-wide to make his final bid but running out of time down the stretch. That field, which included Frosted Rose and Summer Sangria, is much better than what he will face here. A race similar to what he ran on debut should beat this field with ease.

#8 Saint Marco makes his way back to the track coming out of the same race as Smite. Saint Marco needed more distance than what that turf sprint offered. His most recent workout on August 15 shows that he is progressing nicely and should offer up much more here. He is a very logical horse who will be a contender in this field.

One of the intriguing first-timers is #4 Legend of Bam. He had been entered in two turf sprints on August 1 and 9, but he was scratched each time as an Also Eligible. Interestingly, Rudy Rodriguez owns and trains this colt, which got me to dive a little deeper. Rudy’s runners that he owns have finished in the money eight of 12 times, so Legend of Bam should be considered live.

Kenny McPeek will send out #7 Flute Maker, who absolutely did not impress in his first start. He broke away slowly and never made any ground after moderate fractions. McPeek has done really well with horses who are stretched out, especially off of a layoff. Jose Ortiz is a sizable upgrade from Brian Hernandez, Jr., and should make a difference for a colt who had a lot of promise going into his debut at Ellis Park.

Ricky’s Picks: 1-8-4-7

Credit: NYRA

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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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