We are only a day away from the mid-summer classic, but don’t be in such a Travers Stakes (G1) mindset that you overlook the Friday card. Not only will there be six stakes races (the Fleet Indian, the Yaddo, the Seeking the Ante, the Funny Cide, the West Point, and the Albany), but we also have three maiden special weight (MSW) races to preview.

Saratoga Meet Statistics (7/31 thru 8/21):

Races Top 4 Wins Top 4 Exactas Top 4 Trifectas Top 4 Supers
36 29 16 10 1
 
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Saratoga 8/23

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

#9 Single Verse ran a pretty solid race in her debut, finishing second to Violent Point in an off-the-turf event. I was impressed that she went pretty quick in the mud (:23.01 for the first 1/4). Her running style suggests that she should be on the lead here. Tyler Gaffalione is a very capable rider and will use the first race to help this filly get home in career start #2.

Chad Brown and Javier Castellano will team up with another Klaravich Stables 2-year-old in #1 Deeply Analytical. By Majestic City, she has turf sprint in her blood and should like the conditions. She holds a pretty expensive price tag ($270,000) but has all the makings of a filly who will enjoy sprinting on a firm turf.

I’ve been on the record saying that Christophe Clement is the best turf trainer on the NYRA circuit. He enters #4 Stretchthestory after two impressive recent morning workouts. Clement and Junior Alvarado have won four of seven starts (57%) in 2019. Perhaps take it with a grain of salt since it’s a small sample size, but these two appear to have an understanding.

#2 Moana’s Tale has spectacular pedigree on both the sire’s and the dam’s side. Damsire Lion Heart won the 2004 Haskell Stakes (G1) and ran second in that year’s Kentucky Derby (G1). Her sire Bayern was no joke, either, winning both the Haskell and the Breeder’s Cup Classic (G1) in 2014. Kendrick Carmouche and Danny Gargan have combined to win at 20%. The connections and the pedigree suggest this filly has what it takes to be a factor in her debut.

Ricky’s Picks: 9-1-4-2

Credit: NYRA

Race 2: $78,000 MSW for New York-bred 3-year-olds and upward going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the inner turf

#1 Klickitat was so close to breaking his maiden at the beginning of the month but fell just short to Saltking, who made a great effort to win at the wire. He really seemed to enjoy the surface switch, as he was not impressive in either dirt start at the end of last year. The figures coming out of his last race on August 1 are strong enough that if he runs similarly, he will win this race with ease.

Brad Cox, who trained Klickitat last year, sends out #4 Waynes Footsteps. Unlike Saltking and Klickitat, he was forwardly-placed in that race by aggressive rider Luis Saez. He ran a winning race, but the fractions were hotly contested and he was used pretty quickly from the start. This extra 1/2-furlong will allow other runners to not be so quick to the front and let Wayne’s Footsteps slow the pace.

Chad Brown and Javier Castellano hook up again with this 3-year-old colt by Freud, #3 Crazy Life. His best start came on the Belmont Park inner turf course two back on June 9. He had a nice stalking trip throughout that race and didn’t really have an excuse not to fire home as the even-money favorite. He did run on this turf race last year, but his excuse for losing is that it was his debut. Crazy Life has shown improvement since then, and if he takes another step up, he has every right to be in the winner’s circle.

#7 Daring Disguise has run fourth three times in a row, but he just hasn’t found his way; he’s not a smooth runner. Three starts back, he ducked out at the break, which set him back pretty early on the rail. In his most recent start, he was only a length back in the stretch but veered out and took himself out of the race. If he ever runs a clean race, he will hit the board at a nice price. One thing to note: he hasn’t had an official morning work since his last race, so it’ll be interesting to see how he comes back.

Ricky’s Picks: 1-4-3-7

Credit: NYRA

Race 4: $78,000 MSW for New York-bred 2-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt

John Terranova had his colt #9 Three Jokers entered into similar conditions back on July 28, but he was a veterinarian’s scratch. Since then, he has looked amazing in the mornings. His most recent workout came in :47.66 over 4 furlongs on the main track. Terranova is known for getting his dirt sprinters ready to run, and Three Jokers has the makings of a colt who will show his speed at first call.

#4 Lord Camden makes the switch from turf to dirt, always an interesting move. Saratoga 2-year-olds usually go the other way around, but Mark Casse will send put his colt on the dirt for the first time. He showed promise on debut as a closer, but I expect him to be a little more forwardly-placed here. A better post position, the surface switch, and prior experience make Lord Camden one of the horses to beat.

#8 Scilly Cay deserves to be a short price in this field. In a dirt sprint, I tend to like when morning workouts are sharp at either 3 or 4 furlongs, as that shows speed. This colt has gone 5 furlongs in his last two morning works, but he’s been quick. Linda Rice certainly knows what she’s doing, and Jose Ortiz is one of the best around. Despite a workout trend that I don’t usually love, I’m looking the other way.

Joel Rosario will be aboard #1 True Grace, who was scratched as a main track only runner on August 9. Christophe Clement sends this colt out knowing that his sire loved the Saratoga dirt. Competitive Edge won twice here as a 2-year-old, including the Hopeful Stakes (G1). True Grace will try to live up to his pedigree against this field.

Ricky’s Picks: 9-4-8-1

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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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