Saratoga Picks
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Somo’s Keys: Top Picks for Saratoga’s Opening Weekend

Michael Spector

Words cannot properly express my excitement as July rolls around each year. I absolutely love Del Mar and Saratoga, though for completely different reasons.

Saratoga memories are the reason I’m writing this: running through the turnstyles at 6 AM with my grandfather, father, and uncles on Travers Day, making sure to get a picnic table in the perfect spot for the family, those are my first memories of the sport. Del Mar is my favorite track to bet: big fields, big purses, big prices. It’s responsible for my largest score and my largest sweat (and eventual near-miss) by a mile.

With both tracks about to be in full swing, I’ve decided to write a weekly article called Somo’s Keys. I’m going to highlight a couple of horses each weekend that will be my biggest focuses over the weekend. There are no rules to this – they may be chalk or 50/1 – other than the horses will most likely make or break my days. With Del Mar off until Wednesday, this week is all about the Spa!

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Friday, July 12

Race 4 – 7 Furlongs – Main Track

#3 Soul P Say

I’ve harped on The Magic Mike Show how important speed at Saratoga can be and that is what drew me to #3 Soul P Say in this spots.  He has consistently been forwardly placed going longer and should be just behind the speed here cutting back to 7 furlongs.  He should be ready to roll in this spot off the layoff for his new barn.  Diodoro is great off the claim, 25%, and off the layoff, 22%.  Additionally, we are adding top jock Irad Ortiz Jr. here.  The class drop is not as steep as it looks on paper and this is the first in a new 4 year old form cycle.  Anything close to 7-2 here is a steal!

Saturday July, 13

Race 5 – 5 1/2 Furlongs – Mellon (Outer) Turf

#1 Originator

I love 4-year-olds running either off the bench or second time out because I’m expecting improvement off of the numbers put up at ages 2 and 3, and if Originator improves, then she’ll be lights out here. It’s been 10 months since she ran a good fifth in a TOUGH edition of the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes (G3). Prior to that, she finished second over this turf course in the $100,000 Coronation Cup Stakes. Trainer Ian Wilkes fires at 17% off the layoff and she ran an 82 Beyer on debut to break her maiden while sprinting on the grass, so she can be live off of the bench. Additionally, she’s got some cheap speed to chase in this race, so she should sit a nice mid-pack trip. Jockey Chris Landeros steps aboard for the return after having success earlier in her career (4-1-2-0).

Horse Racing Picks

Sunday July, 14

Race 3  – 5 1/2 Furlongs – Mellon (Outer) Turf

#4 Crack Shot

I love playing trainer Jeremiah Englehart in two situations at Saratoga. First-time starters (especially in state-bred maiden special weights) and turf sprints. Crack Shot will probably be the favorite in this turf sprint for Englehart (20%), but he’s very, very deserving. In his first time out as a 3-year-old, he nearly broke his maiden attempting to wire a tougher field. Why was it tougher? The third-place finisher, Rinaldi, came back not only to win, but to break his maiden in the $150,000 New York Stallion Stakes. He will be breaking from the 3 hole here, not the 11 post like last time, so he should not have to burn up early energy to get the lead if that’s what jockey Jose Ortiz wants. The only other speed is directly to his inside, so he’ll have the option of going or sitting right off of #3 Wild William‘s flank. Either way, his last effort rolls this field and I’m projecting improvement. Add in that Englehart is 29% in second starts off of the layoff, and I will be singling this horse in the Early Pick 4 and Pick 5 sequences.

Good luck this weekend at the Spaaaaaa and make sure you check out the newest episode of The Magic Mike Show for a deep dive into Saturday’s Late Pick 4!

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