Equidaily Racing Journal

Today's Best Bets

by Seth Merrow

Saratoga Race Course
Friday, August 18, 2006
Meet Total ... 48-181

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2-9. Still waiting for our first break-out day of the meet. It certainly wasn't Thursday. Two winners on top [4th, $4.50; 6th, $5.20]. Also, a very modest mix of gimmicks using the picks. Nothing to write home about.

On-track, yet another late/gate scratch caused an entry to run for purse money only. Last week we wrote in our weekly recap column for The Saratogian's 'Pink Sheet' supplement that perhaps there should be some scrutiny given to the late scratch situation to determine if there is any possible common thread that can be addressed. The inordinate number of such scratches seems to be more than an aberration at this point. And it's a situation that can't make anyone happy. Bettors have little or no time to re-handicap and make additional wagers. Owners and trainers don't want to see their horse scratched after all the prep work that gets them up to the starting gate -- and the connections of the other horses don't want to see their charges having to deal with a delay. And the track doesn't want to lose all the money that gets bounced back in refunds. Seems like a closer look would be prudent.

The weather continued to be top-notch. Things were a touch warmer and more humid than the past week -- but still quite comfortable. 19,984 attended and just taking a visual measurement of the crowd it clearly seems as though the last week has been a rebound from early in the meet. Perhaps it was the hot, muggy weather -- or, perhaps people still think of Saratoga as the August place to be. Whatever -- the crowds of the last week and a half have been more of the size we expect at the Spa.


We haven't had too many complaints about the racing so far -- but this is a weak card. Jump in carefully, it looks like there are plenty of traps.

Valiant King...Trainer Lake is struggling at the meet and that's a negative -- but heck, this is a bad field with weak connections, so we can think of worse ways to go than the nation's leading trainer and the jock with the most Spa wins among this field.
Breezy Way...Like the set-up -- stretching off of two sprints in third start off of a layoff. Just can't get excited about the oh-fer jockey and trainer.
Luke's Flash...Been pretty consistent lately. Should fit with these. Adds blinkers.
Yankee Magic.

Pure Pro...Shown speed the last two. Drops MSW into mdn clm. Blinkers on. Some things to chew on.
City At Night...In a weak field a first-timer might be the way to go. Wouldn't need to be a world-beater to take this bunch.
Chequer Cat...Shown a little life in the last couple -- but jock and trainer don't necessarily inspire confidence.
Mr Supreme Court.

Cadillac Cruiser...Won a NW1 at Delaware two back. Second at this level last time. Should be able to sit close to the pace and pounce late.
Owns the Place...Dangerous and we might regret not putting him on top -- looks like the speed, but will have to clear from the rail. If he can, and there's no pressure down the backside, he might be tough to reel in.
Caiman...In good from now -- against cheaper. Will be rolling late. Probably too late for the win -- but can pick up a share.
Indy Storm.

Whistlin'...This kind has a way of tossing in a dud after a big debut effort -- but the number and the just-miss finish are just too good to ignore against this bunch.
Hickory Stick...Showed good improvement start #1 to start #2. Now moves in against NY-breds.
Midtown South...Looks capable if he runs back to his best efforts.

Polished Arrow...Last looks like an aberration. Had some trouble in that one. If that was a fluke and he rebounds to prior good form he should be tough dropping in for a tag -- for Tagg!
SS Crafty...Trainer's been doing OK in these turf sprints.
Erdiston...Two good efforts since returning to the races. Cuts back in distance. Might be interesting.
Topside Trader.

Ruled...Really debated between the top two in here. Finally settled on giving this one a slight nod hoping he gained some education last time. Showed good speed and sometimes that indicates they're ready to move forward next time out.
Stratonic...Improving Beyers in three starts. Super-positive jock switch. Again, not much separated the top two selections in here.
Shadwell entry...Elshaan looks capable of waking up off the move in from MSW company. Must get in from AE list. Junood also moves in from MSW, adds lasix and blinks and gets a big jock switch. Don't overlook.

Banrock...Like the 6th race, we're torn between our tow top choices here. This one should get a good position from the 3-post. Trainer going well at the meet. Jock's heated up recently. The slightest of nods.
Dormeletto...Looks capable of stealing this one the front end. Everytime we've gone with that angle thus far at the meet however someone has jumped out to challenge our front-runner. There are a couple in here who look modestly capable of showing early foot. We have to hope one of them jumps up and makes some early noise, otherwise this one might be long gone at the top of the stretch.
Drinkwater...Will be rolling late.
Moon Ala Mode.

EIGHTH RACE -- Lake Placid G2 $150K
Lady of Venice...Beaten fave in the G1 Diana against older. Wide that day. Might not have liked the going. Now in against her own age -- let's give her another chance.
Wait a While...Top pick gets no cake-walk with this one in the field. Shipped across country to score in a solid G1 last time. Tough.
Dancing Band...The weak half of the Pletcher "hidden" entry. That angle worked in Wednesday's stake.
Art Show.

Sweet Lil Lolly...We might find some value here. Note that last year she came up from Belmont and jumped eight Beyer points to post a lifetime best in that category while running second in a 5 1/2 F turf sprint -- cutting back from a route. This year she came up from Belmont and was slated to turf sprint, cutting back from a route -- but the race was moved to the main track. She ran a dud -- but that might help the value. We're just looking for a replay of that nice Spa grass effort last season.
Madame Music...Showed good speed in 2006 debut. Picks up Prado and looks eligible to improve.
Mheara Maskey...More early speed. Will be in the hunt as far as she goes.
Make Us Happy.

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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