James Marvin Stakes (Grade 3)
The Pick: #5 Jaguar Paw
The Longshot: #8 Laurie’s Rocket
1. Politicallycorrect (KY) – Last summer/fall this horse really had put it all together, but this year hasn’t been as kind. His best race matches up very well with these, and I think we might see a big performance.
2. Hello Lover (MD) – This old gelding is certainly a cool horse, but he may be a bit out-classed in this tough spot.
3. Souper Speedy (FL) – The winner of two in row looks like he’s in the best form of his life. He beat Politicallycorrect by a couple of lengths in the Jaipur Stakes last time out. Morning Line favoritism might be questionable, but he will compete.
4. Sage Valley (KY) – He capped off a four race win streak with a dominating performance in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap, but did regress when finishing fifth in the Grade 2 True North Handicap next time. He certainly looks to be the class of the field, and actually I thought he might be the favorite in here but can be had at a ML of 5/1.
5. Jaguar Paw (KY) – He’s coming in off two straight victories, but there is no doubt this is a class test for him. His only other Graded stakes race did not go well, but this is a different set of circumstances for him in this one.
6. Willyconker (IRE) – Trainer Eric Guillot says he’ll likely scratch for an easier allowance race on Saturday.
7. Right to Vote (KY) – Another one that is going to receive a class test, but his performance in the Kelly’s Landing Stakes last time out shows he’s definitely ready for the test. His best race gives him a big time chance.
8. Laurie’s Rocket (KY) – The toughest sprinter in the country is back for more! Laurie’s Rocket has run in every tough sprint in the country so far this year, but hasn’t been able to win one. Definitely not a horse you want to leave off the bottom of exotics, but also not one you want to bet to win.
9. Strapping Groom (KY) – Yet another horse trying Graded company for the first time, and yet another horse that looks like he’s ready for the challenge. He’s coming off an ungraded stakes win at Belmont last time out.
Schuylerville Stakes (Grade 3)
The Pick: #1 Elena Strikes and #1A Yes Liz
The Longshot: #6 True Blue Nation
1. Elena Strikes (KY) – Sharp maiden winner coming in from Monmouth, and you have to love the connections as Pletcher has dominated in this race. I’m a bit curious that her debut was at Monmouth and not Belmont, but perhaps they were just looking to get her maiden broke so she could get into this race.
1A. Yes Liz (FL) – There is no questioning that this coupled entry is the overwhelming choice in my eyes, yet they are the 5/2 ML second choice. Yes Liz is probably the better of the two entries, and would be my pick even if she was by herself.
2. Jonesin for Jerry (MD) – Obviously her maiden win came at a smaller track than most of these, but sometimes Delaware shippers can sneak up to the spa and win. However, I can’t see it happening in this case.
3. Silver Valley (KY) – This big time maiden winner was purchased privately shortly after the race, and ran a decent fourth in the Debutante Stakes last time out. Moquett has his horses running well, and I don’t think you can dismiss this one.
4. Brazen Persuasion (KY) – This was one of Asmussen’s many two-year old winners at Churchill although it did take her two attempts to pick up a victory. I like that Rosie stays on to ride, and she did run a speed figure that compares favorably to these.
5. Bahnah (KY) – Her only start was a blow out score at Churchill, but the race was only four and half furlongs so it will be interesting to she how she stretches out. Trainer Bret Calhoun is looking for his first Saratoga win, and has brought some nice two-year olds with him to try to get it done.
6. True Blue Nation (KY) – This could be a very live long shot. Her debut race at Belmont was a romp, and if she can match that performance she’ll have a big chance.