#2 TONALIST – I’ve liked this horse for a long time, but I have to say that it’s now or never for him in my opinion. He’s ran terrific all year and I feel he’s had legitimate excuses in both of his losses this year, however it’s now time to put the excuses aside and win a race of this magnitude. His Saratoga record isn’t stellar which has me worried, but it also isn’t all that bad either. The pace set up in this one should allow him to be patient and make one late run which is something he needed last time out and didn’t get. With the right trip I believe he’s the one to get the job done.
#7 LEA – This horse has simply ran too good to lose in his last couple of races, and that is a trend that could end on Saturday. He’s no stranger to races like this, and his trainer Bill Mott has been lights out at Saratoga this year. Last time out in the Stephen Foster it was his first race since going to Dubai so I believe there is room for improvement off that effort. Mott only enters his horses when he believes they are ready to fire big…so obviously he will have every chance to win this one.
#8 COACH INGE – 15-1 morning line on this horse is almost too good to be true. In the Brooklyn Handicap on Belmont Stakes day he showed tremendous heart to defeat V. E. Day, and then in the Suburban he ran a stellar race to finish third even though he set a ridiculous pace in that race. I think if he can relax a bit early on he could be primed for an upset. Will definitely outrun those odds, and could be the “now horse” in this loaded field.
#3 NOBLE BIRD – Nearly labeled this horse a “Likely Winner” but I want to see him prove it once more before I fully buy into him. Let’s see if he can reproduce that strong type of race outside of Churchill Downs, and lets also see what he does with this being a little stiffer competition. A win here and I’m almost willing to make him the number one horse in the division. Wouldn’t be shocked if he does it, but just prefer others a little bit more on the win end of things.
#5 MORENO – He LOVES this track! This horse is the defending champion of the Whitney Stakes, and also has second place finishes in the Woodward and Travers Stakes. His front running style has always been favorable at this track now it’s just a matter of him finding his form once again. After his big win in the Charles Town Classic he has been less than stellar. I expect Saratoga to wake this horse up a little bit, but do not expect him to be able to win the whole thing.
#4 LIAM’S MAP – The talent that Liam’s Map has displayed is really something to behold, and Mike Smith is coming all the way to Saratoga to ride which is a positive sign. The bottom line though is this: Just how good is he and how far will he carry his flashy front running speed? This will no doubt be the toughest field he’s ever faced by far. Can he handle it? It’s a tough call, but I would not be surprised if he ran a big race in here.
#1 HONOR CODE – That’s right…I’m calling the most talented older colt in American a throw out in this race! The bottom line I see with him is the fact that he’s never been close to winning a two turn race, and he also has never been able to put together back to back big time performances. I admit that he could make me look very dumb, but I just believe there are much better betting opportunities in this race.
#6 V. E. DAY – Grind it out style of runner is in today at a distance I don’t think will be favorable to him. Will need a pace meltdown at this distance to have a shot and I don’t think he’ll quite get that. If the distance was a mile and a quarter or longer I’d give him a much better shot at winning.
#9 WICKED STRONG – Won the Jim Dandy last year, and also finished second by a nose in the Travers Stakes. However, this year they seem to be guessing on what race to try next. Last time they tried turf and it didn’t go well. Just don’t think his current form can beat these.
#10 NORMANDY INVASION – Curious entry here as he’s really struggled since returning off a long layoff. His two races at Delaware Park have not been very strong. Based on his current form I don’t give him much of a chance.