We are counting down the racing days left until the meet is over. Before we get to the final Saratoga weekend of 2019, Thursday’s featured race is the 15th running of the P. G. Johnson Stakes for juvenile turf fillies. One of my best memories last year was watching Javier Castellano dive down on the rail and bring Dogtag home to victory. This year’s edition should provide just as much excitement, but we also have three maiden special weight (MSW) races on hand as well.

Saratoga Meet Statistics (7/31 thru 8/25):

Races Top 4 Wins Top 4 Exactas Top 4 Trifectas Top 4 Supers
48 36 19 11 1
 
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Race 1: $ 78,000 MSW for New-York-bred 2-year-old fillies going 6 furlongs on the turf

Christophe Clement is back at it again with a first timer on the turf. #5 Irish Danzing (4/1) makes her debut after training well down at Belmont Park. Clement is well-known for his prowess on the turf and his runners tend to make an impact at first asking. Her sire, Danza, was a very successful dirt horse who finished in the money in all of his five starts. Clement and Irad Ortiz, Jr., combine to win 25% of the time and make one of the deadliest combinations in North America.

#4 More Glitter (2/1) will benefit from Todd Pletcher teaming up with John Velazquez. At the beginning of the meet, these two struggled to make much of an impact, but they seem to have found their best form together. This More Than Ready filly was purchased for $380,000 in 2018. More Than Ready won over $1 million in his career and was a very good sprinter as well.

Dermot Magner has only sent nine prior runners to the track at Saratoga before #1 Tequila Fog (6/1) debuts. Like Irish Danzing, she has been training down at Belmont Park and recently went :47.66 going 4 furlongs. The most enticing thing about this filly is that she will have Chris Landeros aboard. Landeros is good on horses who have early speed and I think this filly certainly has that quality.

The last time we saw #2 Aubrey Tate (9/2), she was on the losing end of an early tussle out of the gate. She managed to finish fourth but never really gained ground as she passed tired horses. The winner was Risky Mischief, who in my opinion has been the most impressive 2-year-old at the meet. At 3/5, Risky Mischief won by over 7 lengths. This field doesn’t possess a first timer of that quality, so expect Aubrey Tate to fare much better here.

Ricky’s Picks: 5-4-1-2

Credit: NYRA

Race 6: $78,000 MSW for New-York-bred fillies and mares, 3-years-old and upward going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf

#7 Lead Guitar (1/1) lost by just a head against the boys back on August 7 after being forced three-wide and running out of room but still making a big effort in the stretch. I don’t think she even has to run her best race to beat this group. She is clearly the best runner in here and has no excuse not to win for the George Weaver barn.

#9 Plink Freud (5/1) sat off a relatively quick pace last time out going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. She had always gone a little longer in the past, except in her debut here last August. She seems to enjoy the Saratoga turf, as her two best career races have come at this track. I’m willing to give her an excuse in her last start, as she was checked halfway through the race. If Lead Guitar slips up, she is the most likely to win.

Another runner out of that race is #8 Corey Scores (4/1). Irad Ortiz, Jr., didn’t get this filly off to the best of starts in her last race. He managed to make up ground on the leaders but couldn’t catch Andretta, who wasn’t far off of the lead. She will be toward the back of the pack hoping for a lot of pace up front. In a relatively weak field, she is one of the main contenders in this spot and should hit the board with ease.

I have no idea what to expect from #1 Pendolino (12/1). She has never run on the turf, but Timothy Hills does have some success (22%) when his horses make this surface switch. With not much early pace, expect Eric Cancel to be aggressive and have her toward the front. At double-digit odds, I like her as a longshot who can, at minimum, make the exotic figures look better.

Ricky’s Picks: 7-9-8-1

Credit: NYRA

Race 7: $78,000 MSW for New-York-bred 2-year-old fillies going 6 furlongs on the dirt

If a scratch occur and #11 Critical Value (2/1) makes the field, she has all the talent in the world to win. She was off a step slow in her debut and ultimately had to go six-wide but still came running. She nearly won but ran out of time, missing by a nose. Junior Alvarado returns to ride her again.

#4 Myawaya (3/1) ended up being a very bad bet in her debut, breaking slowly out of the gate and not making much of an impression. She has two excuses for why she ran poorly. The track was sloppy and sealed, something she clearly didn’t enjoy. She also lost out to all of the runners with prior experience before that race. At a relatively short price, she didn’t live up to the billing, but I think she has too much talent to be left off of tickets here. A fast dirt track and her prior experience should do this filly wonders.

#10 Courageous Girl (8/1) comes out of that race that Risky Mischief dominated. Courageous Girl did show some positive signs, breaking away very sharply that day and showing some early speed. No one was catching Risky Mischief that day, so all things considered, she held her own. Her work on August 14, going 4 furlongs in :47.40, tells me that she came out of her debut very nicely. Expect bigger and better things from this filly in her second start.

The biggest wildcard in this spot is #9 Canarsie Angel (6/1). She ran on the turf in her debut, which didn’t seem to agree with her. After bobbling at the start, she was forced to make up ground and wound up being fifth, losing by only 3 1/2 lengths. It’ll be interesting to see if she is taken back again, or if her poor start caused that running style. Kendrick Carmouche has a few different options and I expect him to do much better with this filly this time around.

Ricky’s Picks: 11-4-10-9

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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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