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What a historic day of racing we just witnessed. Yesterday lived up to everything I ever could’ve hoped to and more. Each race had a different storyline and provided thrill after thrill. We also witnessed a sneak peek of some of the potential runners that might reappear at the Breeders Cup in early November. We cap off the weekend with today’s feature: the Better Talk Now Stakes. As always I have written previews for the maiden special weight (MSW) races.
Saratoga Meet Statistics (7/31 thru 8/23):
Race 1: $78,000 MSW for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf
Unlike many of the other entries in this field #4 Sea of Blue doesn’t have a sky-high price tag. However, this does not mean she won’t be a live runner first time out. Sea of Blue will look to win first time out like her sire, Midshipman. Midshipman hit the track winning four out of his first five races. Kiaran McLaughlin is giddy about this two-year-old filly and expects big things out of her moving forward.
#2 Wicked Whisper has some of the best connections that a two-year-old can have with Steve Asmussen and Ricardo Santana Jr. These two have won at 19% with 643 trips in 2019. Steve had this filly down in Kentucky but recently brought her up here to get a feel for the Saratoga track. She looked great in the mornings and should be the post-time favorite in this shortened field.
I don’t remember the last time Barclay Tagg only had 15 entries this late in a Saratoga meet. His runners are not to be outdone as he’s been in the money 33% of the time. He sends out #5 Highland Glory who has the most impressive four furlong of this bunch. At :48.00 she clearly has top-end speed. I expect Junior Alvarado to explode out of the gate with this filly from the start.
#7 Stop Shoppin Tammy comes into this field with a $625,000 price tag attached to her. Philip Bauer has been on fire at this meet and Eric Cancel is a more than capable jockey. Personally, I don’t think this horse will go off at 8-1 as her morning line odds indicate. I don’t expect her to be on the lead early, as her front-end speed doesn’t quite compare to the other first-timers. In saying this, I expect Eric Cancel to sit off the pace and let the other fillies battle it out and wouldn’t be surprised if Stop Shoppin Tammy made her presence felt at the end.
Ricky’s Picks: 4-2-5-7
Race 2: $90,000 MSW for three-year-olds and upward going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf
We haven’t seen #7 Ahead of Plan since he ran at Belmont on June 7. After his career debut, he was bet as a 3-5 favorite but certainly didn’t run like one. I think the extra furlong hurt him as he is an out and out sprinter. Today he makes the switch to turf which looks like a positive move. Chad Brown has won at 27% in 2019 when his horses make their turf debut. He clearly has a read on which of his runners might prefer the grass such as Ahead of Plan.
The biggest wildcard in this field is #5 Tench. The last time we saw him was on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in June. Tampa Bay Downs and Churchill Downs are known to have slightly quicker times than the NYRA tracks. He also makes his first career start on turf after putting in a monster effort last time out. He clearly has speed, but this field is much tougher than he’s faced in the past. At a moderate price, I like this horse to potentially go gate-to-wire if he can put down moderate fractions.
I would like to give the most consistent award to #8 Vehement. He’s 0-6 but he’s gotten progressively better with time. Last time out, he was forced six-wide and I think that ultimately did him in. Junior Alvarado saw eventual winner Sayyaaf break for the lead, so he chose to lay off the highly contested pace. Vehement clearly enjoyed this surface and I expect Junior Alvarado to have him in a similar position just off the front-runners looking to pass a few in the stretch.
#3 Real Moneywill get his chance to go 5 1/2 furlongs for the first time in his career. He hit the gate last time out but that didn’t seem to affect him as Jose Ortiz had a solid hold on him the entire time. He was ultimately caught by Lonhtwist who was able to sit just off the pace and save a little at the end. Real Money will look to win after a lengthy layoff and being a heavily bet favorite. I don’t expect him to be the clear-cut favorite here but is a colt who deserves a lot of attention.
Ricky’s Picks: 7-5-8-3
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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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