1. The Travers Stakes (August 29th)
Obviously this is the biggest race of the entire meet each and every year, but there is a Triple Crown winner that could be pointing towards the race this year! If American Pharoah does enter this one he will be only the fourth Triple Crown winner to run in the Travers, and if he wins we would only be the second Triple Crown winner to win the race. That is a lot of history on the line. On top of all that, American Pharoah would be only the fourth horse in history to pull off the Haskell-Travers double. The American Pharoah factor, plus what is sure to be a solid field of challengers, makes this race have the potential to be one of the best races of the year!
2. The Whitney Handicap (August 8th)
What a mess the older handicap division is this year, but with several of the top horses pointed to this race perhaps we can sort some things out. There is no doubt Honor Code is the most talented of the group expecting to run, but can he get the distance of the Whitney? His best races have come going one turn. Also, can the tough luck Tonalist emerge as a star and finally win a race at The Spa after finishing 2nd in the Jim Dandy and 3rd in the Travers last year? Many question marks will make this a great betting race.
3. The Fourstardave (August 15th)
Last year Wise Dan brought down the house in the Bernard Baruch when he and Optimizer battled down to the wire in an epic duel. Wise Dan won the photo, and was once again victorious in dramatic fashion. In 2012 and 2013 Wise Dan won this race, and is aiming for it again this year. If he makes the race this is a must watch for everyone, however if he doesn’t make the race then this will obviously not be ranked quite as high.
4. The Jim Dandy (August 1st)
Since American Pharoah is running the Haskell Stakes on August 2nd all of the sudden this race becomes a landing spot for several of the other horses within the division, including Belmont runner up Frosted. Texas Red is also pointing towards the race, as well as either Carpe Diem or Materiality. There also are several forgotten horses that will be looking to rebound for a big summer campaign, one being Upstart who has always ran well in New York. We’ll see if anyone can rise up and become a major challenger to American Pharoah.
5. The Alabama (August 22nd)
The 3 year old filly division is absolutely wide open so you can bet this race will sort some things out. Curalina probably comes into this meet as the “now horse” off her big win last time out, but she’ll be challenged by several worthy contenders including Kentucky Oaks winner Lovely Maria who flopped last time out. One other horse that is lurking that has been somewhat forgotten because of injury is 2 Year Old Filly of the Year Take Charge Brandi, who is training well since arriving in Saratoga. This race is unique because of the mile and one quarter distance, which is the classic distance to help determine championships.
6. The King’s Bishop (August 29th)
This field is ALWAYS loaded with talent, and it also draws a full field most years. There will be several 3 year olds that will enjoy the cut back in distance, but perhaps none more than Mr. Z who has just been confirmed for this race. Holy Boss is another that might target this spot as well as up and comer March. It’s hard to determine the others at this point, but this is always a tremendous betting race. This year will be no different.
7. The Hopeful (September 7th)
As of now we really have no clue who will be running in this race, but we do know it will be a great race. The Hopeful is the prize jewel for 2 year olds at Saratoga, and we all know 2 year old racing at Saratoga is always top notch. One last hoorah before they close the doors on another great season of racing. Always a sad yet exciting day when they run this race.
8. The Woodward (September 5th)
Whatever questions the Whitney fails to answer could be picked up here as this is another big race for older males. As we stated before this group is sort of a mess right now so any horse that might be able to win both the Whitney and the Woodward would be making a huge statement.
9. The With Anticipation (September 2nd)
Much like the Hopeful we don’t know who will be in this race, but we do know that it will produce future stars. This is a key race when starting to think about the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf as well as some of the other key turf races for two year olds. You can be sure that Chad Brown and Christophe Clement will be gunning to win the race like always.
10. The Forego (August 29th)
This race along with Vanderbilt on August 1st are the key sprints for older males at the meet. I ranked the Forego just ahead of the Vanderbilt because Private Zone is pointing for this race. Also, this race is ran at seven furlong which is a unique distance that can produce great betting opportunities.