Equidaily Racing Journal

Today's Best Bets

by Seth Merrow

Saratoga Race Course
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Meet Total ... 2-10

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2-10. A lot of folks were touting the opening day card as super-tough -- but we felt like we had a legit chance at pulling down four or five winners. Got off to a promising start with the cold exacta in the 2nd ($12.80/$2) and our top two boxed for the exacta in the 3rd ($24.60/$2) with our third choice completing the decent tri ($104.00/$2). But then we hit a disappointing lull through the mid-portion of the card, only to bounce back with the solid $18.60 winner of the featured G3 Schuylerville (it's a head-scratcher that the punters let a Pletcher/Velazquez baby get away at that price!). Our second pick completed the handsome $49.60/$2 cold exacta. So we didn't reach the total of wins for the day that we thought were within our grasp -- but it was still an OK start.

A crowd of 27,346 attended, beating 2005's opening day by about 1500 and another 500 more over Day One of 2004. So a solid showing by the faithful who enjoyed a nice sunny day -- albeit warm and humid.


It's bobble-head day, baby! A free Todd Pletcher boing-er with each paid admission while supplies last.

Langburg...Always like jumpers who can successfully move back and forth from hurdles to the flat. Trainer had a good 2005 meet.
Sheppard entry...Underbidder is slightly preferred. Seems to be in good form. Sovereign Duty Is lightly raced but looks to have found a home over the obstacles.
Sanna Hendricks entry...Frecuente had a good year in 2005 -- but off since November. Hot Springs learning with every start.
Big Is Best.

Kauai Calls... AE lister was a $2 mil purchase across the street last summer. Goes out for trainer Blasi -- who is subbing for the suspended Steve Asmussen. Should be live right out of the box.
Imperial Reign...We always stand up and take notice when youngsters debut after selling for big numbers at 2YO sales -- particularly from connections that like them precocious.
Cool the Economy...Decent debut followed by a flop when ambitiously placed in a stake. Beaten that day by Desire to Excel -- that one finished a good second in the opening day stake here despite some trouble.
This Just In/Quality Affair.
Mary's Prayer.

Tiverton...Broke through NW1 with lifetime best Beyer in seasonal debut. Maybe a little bounce from that effort last time. Went well on this track last year.
Crossword...Turned the corner since moving to turf and clearly the one to beat.
Defer...Phipps/McGaughey runner was a Derby Trail'er early last season. Has shown some sparks on turf and should be set for a good try in his third start of 2006.

Captive Melody...Clement filly is improving nicely with each stat.
Mott entry...Art Critic is intriguing making first US start and first for Mott after a real flopperoo in debut across the pond last fall. Nunnery makes her first start and could come out running, but might be at her best next time.
Elle Belle...Nice improvement when moved to turf. Should benefit from that effort.
Fairy Princess.

It's the Ritz...Going the wrong way Beyer-wise, which is something we don't like. But might get the wake-up call versus a weak field here.
Saint Jules...Dangerous. Drops in for lowest tag yet and has plenty of early speed. Bullet work five days ago.
Closing Ball...Another that's capable of being heard from on the drop.
Commander Matt.

Say Revain...Showed speed and faded behind two next out winners in his debut last year. Off since but working well for return.
First Expression...Has looked OK in three 2006 starts.
Tough and Easy...Long time maiden ran his best yet last time -- but could have been aided by the off track.
Jet Blue Dream.
Top Secret Speed.

Solewisher...AE lister. Pretty solid since moving to turf. Moves in for a tag today.
Marco's Tale...Has shown some flashes off talent on the dirt -- and might be a little better than these if he takes to turf.
Res Ipsa...Expect a rebound with move down the claiming ladder and return to turf.
New Awakening.

EIGHTH RACE - Sanford G2 $150K
Scat Daddy...Eye-popping debut. Always have to wonder in these cases if things were aided by the surface -- but we'll take that gamble since we're getting Pletcher/Velazquez.
War Wolf...Improved nicely in his second start and looks ready for this assignment.
Trip to the Bank...Scratched out of tough MSW event yesterday. Why not? -- this five-horse stake might be easier!

Buxton Hill...Ran two good ones to start the season -- then faltered last time after blazing through crazy fractions. Get Johnny V onboard today and must stay away from dueling with Prince Raffie.
Prince Raffie...Knocked heads with the top pick last time and also faded. It's just a matter of jock intent today. If they hook up early again today and go too fast they'll probably both burn out again. We're hoping they can lead through reasonable fractions -- in which case we think both can be there late.
Secret Agent...The number from that last seems a little out of whack -- but perhaps he's turned the corner. We'll know more today.
Couth [AE].

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

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