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Race Record: (4) 2-1-0
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Trainer: Tom Albertrani
Graded Stakes Victories: NONE
The Verdict: In a race loaded with stars, its tough to back a horse that has actually only gotten to the wire first one time. He did officially “win” the Curlin Stakes last time out, but it was because of a disqualification. His price will be intriguing and his connections are strong, but I think there are better long shots to play in this race.
Race Record: (10) 5-0-2
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Trainer: Shug McGaughey
Graded Stakes Victories: 3 – Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, Grade 1 Florida Derby, Grade 1 Kentucky Derby
The Verdict: The Kentucky Derby winner looks to be back to his best form leading up to this race. After running in all three Triple Crown races you could tell he may have been a little tired by the end of it, as his third place Belmont effort was fairly average. We’ve all seen that he can fire fresh, and his workouts have been perfect according to his connections. One question remains…did the slop on Kentucky Derby day move this horse from very good to elite? His fast dirt performances haven’t been quite as strong as the Derby day slop romp. A must use horse in all exotics, but others appeal more to me on the win end of things.
Race Record: (7) 6-0-0
Jockey: John Velazquez
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Graded Stakes Victories: 4 – Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, Grade 1 Wood Memorial, Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes, Grade 1 Haskell Invitational
The Verdict: This one is clearly a freak. If you throw out his poor Kentucky Derby slop performance, this horse is six for six and hasn’t even been challenged in his races. So with him, the question is very simple…was his poor Kentucky Derby performance because of the slop, or because of the distance? If you think it was the slop, then you have to be all over him here. If you think it was the distance, then you must be loving that he’s going to be taking a lot of money Saturday afternoon. Personally I believe the slop did him no favors, but I also believe this mile and one-quarter distance is not his ideal spot. Hes horse that should be used in exotics, but he’s a favorite that is worth trying to beat.
Race Record: (8) 1-3-0
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
The Verdict: Take out his fluke performance in the Kentucky Derby and we probably wouldn’t know this horses name by now. Since that race he’s done very little, and I just don’t think this race will be much different. The price will be very good for a Kentucky Derby runner-up horse, but I think you have to draw a line through that race.
Race Record: (11) 3-2-0
Jockey: Luis Saez
Trainer: D Wayne Lukas
Graded Stakes Victories: 1 – Grade 2 Rebel Stakes
The Verdict: Here he is again, a handicappers worst nightmare. Will Take Charge has been as inconsistent as a horse could possibly be this year. After winning the Rebel Stakes and looking as though he was going to run huge in the Kentucky Derby before being stopped, he then ran back to back poor races in the Preakness and Belmont. D Wayne Lukas took the blinkers off for the Jim Dandy Stakes last time out, and the horse ran the best race of his career, finishing a solid second to Palace Malice. So now the hype is back, but will he disappoint again? I’ll say what I’ve been saying about him for months now…play him in a way to where he can’t beat you. Sprinkle him lightly on your tickets, but don’t but him in a position where you have to rely on him.
Race Record: (12) 2-3-2
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Trainer: Eric Guillot
Graded Stakes Victories: 1 – Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes
The Verdict: Honestly, it’s very hard to know what to make of this horse. It took him ten tries to finally break his maiden, but since then he’s won the Grade 2 Dwyer, and finished a solid third in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes. His front end running style will always give him a chance at Saratoga, but can he actually be good enough to make an impact here. Maybe a small play to pull the upset, but tread lightly.
Race Record: (7) 3-2-1
Jockey: Alan Garcia
Trainer: Ken McPeek
Graded Stakes Victories: 1 – Grade 2 Virginia Derby
The Verdict: Really tough spot to try to pick up your first dirt win. War Dancer has run just once on the turf, and finished fourth beaten six lengths in a maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park. On the turf it’s been a different story for him as he won the Virginia Derby last time out. Looks to me they are just taking a shot with him in this one so he’s probably not worth much of a look.
Race Record: (9) 3-3-1
Jockey: Mike Smith
Graded Stakes Victories: 2 – Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes
The Verdict: I have to stick with what I saw on Belmont day…this is the horse of the summer. After putting in superb workouts leading up to that race, he was the clear winner. Since the Belmont he’s done everything right, and his Jim Dandy win was probably his best career race. The horse has come into his own with age and experience, and just seems to be thriving right now. I expect the biggest performance of his career on Saturday, and for him to become the leader in the three-year old division.
Race Record: (9) 2-1-1
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
The Verdict: If you are thinking upset, this might be the horse to look into. He actually finished ahead in the Curlin Stakes last time out by two lengths, but was disqualified and placed fifth. However, it was very clear that he was the best horse in that race, and his slow and steady improvement is something you like to see. Yes, the class test is very steep, but he may be the horse that jumps up and ruins your trifecta and superfecta wagers. Dangerous…
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