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Tough Turf Marathon Is Saratoga’s Wednesday Feature | 2022 John’s Call Stakes Preview & FREE Picks
Tide of the Sea (Keeneland Photo)

Tough Turf Marathon Is Saratoga’s Wednesday Feature | 2022 John’s Call Stakes Preview & FREE Picks

Aaron previews the 2022 John’s Call Stakes at Saratoga, then gives his top picks and longshots. Which horse can last the grueling 1 5/8-mile marathon trip over the turf and come out on top? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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Travers Stakes Picks

Inside Track to the 2022 Travers Stakes

Download our MASSIVE Inside Track to the 2022 Travers Stakes wagering guide. Features picks and analysis for every stakes, exclusive bankroll article, & top 4 picks from the expert handicappers at!

Year to Date Winnings


Exacta Trifecta Superfecta Daily Double
$3,604.60 $13,026.40 $15,695.00 $7,770.20
Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5
$18,866.00 $8,410.60 $3,803.80

$4,572.40 in payouts last week

The track press release:

Flying P Stable’s Tide of the Sea will look to return to winning ways in Wednesday’s $135,000 John’s Call, a 1 5/8-mile Mellon turf marathon for older horses who have not won a graded stake on the turf this year, at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Tom Morley, Tide of the Sea made his first start off the claim for new connections in his last outing, finishing third in an off-the-turf 1 1/4-mile optional claiming event on July 28 at the Spa, his first career start over dirt. The effort came on the heels of a distant seventh-place finish over yielding Belmont Park turf in June when he was haltered for $62,500 from former trainer Mike Maker.

“He’s a horse that doesn’t seem distance limited,” said Morley. “We gelded him after we claimed him and he ran very disappointing the day we claimed him, so we were a little bit in trepidation of whether the horse still wanted to do it.”

Morley said he was encouraged by the recent effort from Tide of the Sea when he set the pace and lost place honors by a nose.

“We brought a fresh horse over the other day. It rained just before the race so the race came off the turf and he had never run on dirt,” Morley said. “But fair play to Jay [Provenzano of Flying P Stable], he said, ‘If we’re ever going to find out if he can do it, today is the day.’ So, we let him take his chance. I was very proud of the horse, he tried incredibly hard in that race. Hopefully he tries as hard on Wednesday.”

The 6-year-old son of English Channel is in search of his first win since a 1 3/4-length score in Japan Turf Cup in October at Laurel Park. The bay gelding began his career with Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott before transferring to Maker in June 2020. From there, he scored two allowance victories that summer before earning the best win of his career in the Grade 3 W.L. McKnight last January at Gulfstream Park.

He went on to pick up a graded placing when a close second in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream two starts before a good runner-up finish to dual Grade 1-winner Gufo in the Grand Couturier going 1 1/2 miles over good Belmont turf last July. His best finishes in 11 starts since were a close fourth in the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup at Ellis Park, his win in the Japan Turf Cup and his recent third at the Spa.

Tide of the Sea, who was bred in Kentucky by Juddmonte Farms, boasts field-best earnings of $475,899 through a record of 25-5-5-2.

Morley said that while Tide of the Sea is entered in a 1 1/2-mile turf optional claimer on Sunday at the Spa, his preference is to run in the John’s Call. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride from post 3.

Monmouth Stud’s Oceans Map will stretch out from a close second-place finish going 1 1/16 miles on July 29 at Monmouth Park for trainer Gregg Sacco. A dark bay son of Liam’s Map, Oceans Map earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, the highest last out figure in the field.

The John’s Call will be the farthest Oceans Map has raced in his career, but he has demonstrated his ability in longer turf routes with a win in the 1 1/2-mile Cape Henlopen last August at Delaware Park. The 1 1/2-length victory was the last time Oceans Map visited the winner’s circle, but he has put together good performances since when fifth, beaten two lengths, in the Cliff Hanger in May over good turf at Monmouth and with his recent near miss in third-level allowance optional claiming company.

Jose Lezcano has the call from post 4.

Trainer Mike Maker will send out two contenders in Michael Ryan’s Bluegrass Parkway and Three Diamonds Farm’s Girl Dad.

Bluegrass Parkway, a 6-year-old Quality Road gelding, was last seen finishing sixth in the Colonial Cup on July 27 at Colonial Downs, beaten just 3 1/4 lengths after going three wide and weakening in the 1 1/2-mile contest. His other start this year was in a 1 1/4-mile optional claimer on July 1 at Belmont where he closed from last-of-9 to finish sixth, 4 1/2-lengths behind the victorious Dynadrive.

Bluegrass Parkway was a determined winner of an optional claimer last January at Gulfstream Park and in the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup last August. He finished third in the Point of Entry in October at Belmont to cap his 5-year-old campaign.

Girl Dad will look to go from claim to fame as he makes his stakes debut in his first start for Maker. The 4-year-old Malibu Moon gelding was claimed for $35,000 out of a close eighth-place effort on July 22 at the Spa where he was defeated 2 3/4 lengths in a tight finish going one mile.

Girl Dad’s two wins are a maiden victory at sixth asking last February and an optional claiming event two months later at Tampa Bay Downs. The John’s Call will be his first time racing beyond nine furlongs.

Tyler Gaffalione rides Bluegrass Parkway from post 2 while Luis Saez is tasked with the ride aboard Girl Dad from post 1.

Buttonwood Farm’s Sa’ad returns to the flat after two races over hurdles for conditioner Keri Brion. A 4-year-old French-bred son of Tamayuz, Sa’ad won over the flat going 1 1/2 miles on May 7 at Great Meadow before a pair of off-the-board efforts stretching out over the jumps at Colonial Downs. Sa’ad finished a close second over soft going at Toulouse last June in the Derby du Languedoc.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides from post 5.

Completing the field is last-out winner Hieroglyphics [post 6, Jose Gomez] for trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul. The veteran 8-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile will make his 45th lifetime start and arrives from a rallying four-length victory in an $18,000 claimer going nine furlongs August 6 at the Spa. He won Saratoga’s Better Talk Now in 2017, defeating a field that included Snap Decision, who has since won three Grade 1s over jumps.

The John’s Call is slated as Race 9 on Wednesday’s 10-race program. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

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