After watching the Travers Stakes (G1) draw Tuesday night, I’m counting down the hours, minutes, even seconds. We are just two days away from the biggest day of the meet, and in my opinion, the biggest of the summer. Before we see the 150th running of the mid-summer classic, we have a great Thursday card featuring three 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|
Race 5: $75,000 MSW for 2-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the turf (horses must have sold or RNA for $45,000 or less in most recent sale)
#7 Las Ramblas was entered back on July 31 in a dirt sprint here at Saratoga, but Wesley Ward ultimately chose a better path for her debut here. A turf filly through and through, she didn’t figure to perform well in that spot anyway. I love that she has experience on the turf in her morning workouts, which should give her the foundation that she needs to win.
Rajiv Maragh will be aboard #8 Raggedy Annie, who will attempt to run better than the non-threatening sixth she did in her first career start. On that day, the main track was sloppy and the speed prevailed throughout the day. I haven’t talked about this angle much, but she will get Lasix for the first time. That change. along with the switch in distance and surface, leads me to believe that Raggedy Annie will do much better in her second start.
#2 Blessingsofliberty had absolutely no chance when debuting in an off-turf sprint at a longer price (12/1). Girlintheyellowtaxi won for fun and clearly was much the best that day. Blessingsofliberty ran a morning work going 3 furlongs on the turf at :40.20 right before that race, and I’m not the one to question Michael Trombetta, but after that workout, I figured she would be best suited for this surface. She needs the extra distance, and the experience gained after the first start will most certainly help.
Rudy Rodriguez, like the rest of these trainers, will hope for better as he sends #3 La Negrita back out to the track. She was on the right surface but was way overmatched back on August 9 in a turf sprint against the likes of Voting Agreement and Boston Beauties. Those fillies were quicker and showed their class. In a much softer field here, expect La Negrita to be much more of a factor and to at least hit the board.
Ricky’s Picks: 7-8-2-3
Race 7: $78,000 MSW for New York-bred fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and upward, going 1 miles (8 furlongs) on the inner turf
Luis Saez will stay aboard #10 Tatterazzi in her second career start. Of all her companions here, she figures to have the best chance to improve. She was bumped at the start and never got comfortable, but it was pretty evident that she needed a longer distance anyway. She’s not nearly as quick as the winner, Andretta, and John Terranova is superb at bringing runners back between 31-60 days (26%), so she should enjoy this spot.
#7 The Great Johanna is coming out of the same race is Tatterazzi, where she made her turf debut. In her best start to date, she was well back early but closed to finish sixth. Don’t expect Ricardo Santana, Jr., to let her break so slowly this time around. What you should expect is a better start and to play a major factor.
Mark Hennig and Rajiv Maragh will team up to get #5 Freddymo Factor to run a race similar to her previous one. At 35/1, she was close to the lead while never more than a length back of the leaders. She ran a winning race but tired late and was ultimately caught by Star of the East. This field certainly isn’t as tough as the one that she most recently faced, so if she runs similarly to that effort while adding blinkers, then she can take this field gate-to-wire.
I’ve been waiting for Bruce Levine to get #9 Blame It On Mom on the turf. To his defense, she was scratched as an Also Eligible in the same race that a lot of these runners entered on July 19, but after not making the gate, her connections her entered into a dirt sprint. That backfired, as she finished a well-beaten seventh as the favorite. This filly belongs on the turf (her dam broke her maiden over it), so expect her to love the surface switch. It’ll be interesting to see if Joel Rosario keeps her off the pace or tries to position her near/on the lead.
Ricky’s Picks: 10-5-7-9
Good luck to everyone playing and be sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyP_15 for more NYRA race previews!
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