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Friday’s Lucky Coin Stakes is one of my favorite races at Saratoga. Last year, Extravagant Kid went gate-to-wire in this race and held off Pocket Change down to the very wire. This year, we get to see quality runners such as Disco Partner and Strike Power try to claim victory in the turf sprint. With that in mind, we have three maiden special weight (MSW) races on tap.
Saratoga Meet Statistics (7/31 thru 8/28):
Race 1: $78,000 MSW for New York-bred 3-year-olds and upward going 7 furlongs on dirt
#8 Freaky Styley (9/5) impressed in his debut, losing out to the favorite Golani Brigade, who had prior experience. Freaky Styley made up the most ground in the field from the back of the pack, and Joel Rosario is one of the best at bringing young horses from out of the heavens to the winners’ circle. I don’t think that he’ll be the overwhelming favorite, but playing him anywhere between 7/5 and 2/1 makes sense.
2019 has certainly done a world of good for #5 Luna’s in Charge (7/2). In his first start after the long layoff, he showed early speed, but it was obvious that he needed a race under his belt. In the following start, he ran out of time in a 6-furlong sprint. Phil Bauer has him in the right spot at this 7-furlong distance, and there is no better time than now for him to break his maiden status.
#7 Financialstability (2/1) debuted in the same race as Freaky Styley. He has all of the connections that a horse player would want: Klaravich Stables, Chad Brown, Jose Ortiz. He found himself down on the rail chasing Luna’s in Charge for most of the race, but expect him to be more forwardly-placed on the outside this time. The big question is, will Ortiz put him on the front, or will he rate him slightly to save a little for the end? He has the capability to do both and is a major contender here.
#3 Seven Plus Seven (15/1) never should’ve run on the turf last time out at Belmont Park. Two of his three prior races, all on the dirt, were pretty decent. I don’t know that he will win, but he has more than enough early speed to be a factor at a relatively long price. Nothing against Joel Rosario, but I prefer Irad Ortiz, Jr., if forced to pick between the two. He will be one of the biggest longshots on the board and can’t be left off of exotic or multi-race tickets.
Ricky’s Picks: 8-5-7-3
Race 6: $78,000 MSW for New-York-bred 2-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf
Linda Rice sends out #8 First Deputy (5/2), who’s surely the colt to beat here. He ran a winner’s race here on debut and shouldn’t have much of an issue beating this field. Rice is known to have her runners excel after their debuts, so First Deputy should be primed to win in his second start. It’s interesting that since his debut, he hasn’t worked in the mornings.
I’m very eager to see first-timer #11 Portfolio Hedge (9/2) – assuming he draws in; he was a veterinarian’s scratch on August 9. Klaravich Stables, Chad Brown, and Luis Saez are all well-known connections. By Summer Front, himself by War Front, this 2-year-old colt should have no problem enjoying the turf surface.
#9 Box of Rain (8/1) comes out of a Jeremiah Englehart barn that has been on absolute fire lately. Luis Saez is one of the most aggressive riders on the circuit, and when combined with Englehart, is winning at 20%. Expect that figure to rise in the last week of the meet. His morning line price is about right for his first time out. Expect him to charge out of the gate and show early speed.
Making his return after only a week layoff is #7 True Grace (6/1). Clearly, Christophe Clement knows what he has with horses making their turf debuts. The week layoff for most horse players would be concerning, but he wasn’t really used too much after he broke slowly out of the gate in his debut. Expect Joel Rosario to have this colt at the back of the pack and storm home late.
Ricky’s Picks: 8-11-9-7
Race 7: $90,000 MSW for 2-year-old fillies going 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt
D. Wayne Lukas got #8 Drop a Hint (9/2) to improve drastically in her second start. She was fractious in the paddock, in the warm-up, and was skeptical of getting into the gate. At odds of 14/1, she was overmatched but still did well enough to finish second. I was very impressed by her improvement from her debut, especially with her early speed. By Into Mischief, she has strong dirt pedigree. Her most recent workout at :47.70 going 4 furlongs suggests that she’s raring to go.
#6 Hallajoori (3/1) debut in the same race as Drop a Hint. She was very professional throughout, but Ricardo Santana, Jr., let her set early fractions because she was headstrong and forced his hand, as he had no choice but to let her run her desired race. That experience, along with her impressive back-to-back morning works at 3 furlongs, are encouraging signs that her second start could be one to remember.
Jorge Vargas has only ridden seven mounts at the meet, but he’ll be aboard #3 Leaveuwithasmile (4/1). He has a very good rapport with Jeremiah Englehart, as the two have combined to win at 31% in the past two years. Leaveuwithasmile was no match in her debut for Voting Agreement, but she should fare much better here.
After winning Wednesday’s With Anticipation Stakes (G3), Kenny McPeek will look to continue his winning ways with first-timer #4 Snaffle (12/1). She was purchased as a 2-year-old for $160,000 and looks superb on the track. I can’t imagine this horse being anywhere near 12/1 at post time, but if she is, consider playing her.
Ricky’s Picks: 8-6-3-4
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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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