Equidaily Racing Journal

Today's Best Bets

by Seth Merrow

Saratoga Race Course
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Meet Total ... 24-57

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Best Bets Week One: A Closer Look
We're off to a flaming-hot start!

With 24 winners on top in 57 races we're hitting at a phenomenal 42%! Even more impressive is the ROI. A $2 win bet on each of our top picks through the first six days would have cost $114.00 and would have returned $160.30. That works out to an ROI of 41%!

Overall favorites are winning at about 40% so far at the meet -- slightly the higher than the expected norm of 30-36%. And certainly we've had some of those favorites in our mix -- but we've also offered up enough value to help us to that 41% ROI.

And we're happy to read the emails from everyone who has benefitted from our Saratoga's Best Bets picks. Hopefully we provide another tool to put into your own handicapping toolbox to help you refine your selections. One caveat: It will be hard to maintain this pace throughout the meet -- but we'll certainly try!

Keep those (electronic) cards and letters coming!


5-9. A super strong end to Week One. We had five winners on top (1st, $4.80; 4th, $10.00; 7th, $10.80; 8th, $2.90; 9th, $5.30). We also had a couple small cold exactas (1st, $11.80/$2; 8th, $7.40). And in the featured 8th, the Baruch, we added a meager cold tri ($9.40). Our second and third picks combined for nice exactas in the 2nd ($121.00; quinella, $47.00) and 6th ($41.40) under a similar scenario. In both races the Pletcher/Velazquez favorite took a lot of money -- and when it ran out in both races the gimmicks were probably slightly inflated. We admit to having both Pletcher/Velazquez faves on top in our selections -- but the duo can't win 'em all so it's good to be aware of the 'probable pays' leading up to the race and at least back yourself up when things look that juicy with the underneath choices!

And not to make this a session in red-boarding, but hopefully to pass on some useful info to folks who might be relatively new to the game -- there was another instance Monday afternoon that demonstrated the need to keep 'fluid' with your selections and bets as the day progresses.

There was a delay before the 6th when a horse flipped in the gate. I used the extra time to take a second look at the PPs and found myself intrigued by Stock Tip, the Biacone trainee for Flying Zee Stables. Admittedly, and unfortunately, it was not among my top four picks on this page. However, keeping with the idea of remaining 'fluid' and open to changes and new input during the afternoon -- what really attracted me to the horse was the price: over 50-1! This horse was 15-1 on the morning line.

Stock Tip had debuted here at Saratoga on 9/3/2004. She was a dull eighth after a poor start going 7F on dirt. She had been off since and was coming back going 1 3/16M on the turf. Biacone was showing stats of 33% coming back from a layoff of six months or more, and 30% first-time on turf. Flying Zee had gotten off to a hot start at the meet. And jockey Chantal Sutherland picked up a little confidence by getting her first win at the meet in the finale on Sunday. Top trainer with good pertinent stats, hot owner, jock with some newfound confidence -- it added up to being worth taking a flyer at 54-1 and paid off to the tune of $110.00, 42.00, 13.80!

To my way of thinking you're probably best off not veering away from your prepared picks and plays too much during the day -- but you don't want to be so keyed in that you miss a potential good one...

Back to our selections for Monday, we had the winner on top in the last three which made for the cold double in the nightcap ($8.40) and the cold P3 ($51.50). The P4 ended with our top three picks, and started with our second choice for a nice $280.50 payout. There was also a good mix of other gimmicks using the picks in various forms.

On-track, 14,398 enjoyed another fine day at the track. It was cloudy and threatening in the morning but cleared by lunchtime. It was sunny, warm and a bit humid through much of the card, with clouds rolling back in during the last two or three races. But the rain held off.

In the featured Bernard Baruch Jerry Bailey looked to be on his way to another praiseworthy ride as he nursed second-fave Silver Tree through some sleepy early fractions over a turf course that has been kind to front-runners. But Artie Schiller bounced back to his best form and took dead aim on the leader at the top of the lane, eventually wearing him down and going by to score by a half-length.

And wow!, how about the Pletcher/Velazquez train just rolling through Week One?!? Jockey Velazquez rode thirteen winners over the first six days of the meet. Five more than second-place Javier Castellano. Velzquez holds the record for wins at the meet, 65.

But even more amazing is the win total for trainer Todd Pletcher. He finished out the week having visited the winner's circle eleven times! And to put that in perspective, the trainer record for wins at the meet is 35 (set by Pletcher in 2003 and tied in 2004)!


Dark day. No racing.

Sitting by the pool unwinding from a hectic Week One...


If we are interested in both halves of an entry -- in event of a scratch -- it is noted that way. If only one-half of the entry is named, then we prefer that half and will move to our next pick listed in event of a scratch.

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