Equidaily Racing Journal

Today's Best Bets

by Seth Merrow

Saratoga Race Course
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Meet Total ... 49-190

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1-9. Oy vey. The frustration continues. Only one winner on top [1st, $4.20]. And there wasn't even a whole lot elsewhere with the selections to take solace in. We wrote about Friday's card, "...this is a weak card. Jump in carefully, it looks like there are plenty of traps. That turned out to be the case -- for us anyway.

As has been the case during much of the meet -- the winner's were not beyond logically making a case for, heck, seven of them paid less than $10 -- but overall the picture is kind of a head-scratcher.

For instance, in the 6th Skatin Jake looked playable at 9-2 as speed from the rail. If you thought he could sneak away early you had every right to use him. But when he had trouble at the break and was well towards the back of the pack early you had to figure his chances were lost. Wrong-o! The logical front-runner closes like a freight train in the stretch and wins for fun. So, sure you could have used him -- but the result was more luck than solid handicapping because his presumed front-running style never came into play.

In the 7th Dormeletto looked like the speed. Instead entry-mate Incredible Speed takes them wire-to-wire.

And -- hey, jockeys have a tough job and far be it from me to be too critical, but -- we had more than a few rides over the past couple of days that looked like the jock was expecting to be able to close twelve lengths in the last one hundred yards. Hey fellows, get in gear a little sooner -- fourth-place doesn't help anyone!

One last complaint while we're ranting -- it's absolutely time for the industry to get in gear and make first-time gelding something that is reported and printed in the PPs [and then follows the date of the race down the PPs as time passes]. On Friday Indy Storm was announced as a first-time gelding. The info wasn't in the PPs. We used the horse here as our fourth selection -- with the idea that a horse who had Triple Crown aspirations last season was perhaps questionable moving in for a $25K tag. But the gelding announcement made the move more palatable. Of course Indy Storm won at 5-2.

Yet another fine day, sunny and warm -- in fact a little bit warmer than the past few days. A solid crowd of 24,246 attended.


Chili Cook-Off, 12 Noon - 4 pm. Backyard. $5 to charity to sample the variety.

Student Council...Grabbed the lead and faded last time -- but cuts back today. Might last longer.
Thunder Pass...Broke maiden last time but has improved since moving to turf and looks capable off taking on winners.
Constitution River...Adds blinkers today and might be the one to catch.
Antrim County/Our Cat.

Romp...Showed improvement last time but has yet to get a clean trip. Picks up Johnny V in the saddle.
Holiday Trip...Just missed in debut -- beating the top pick. Tough if able to improve.
Blazing Dynamo...By Dynaformer. Will take to turf.
Equal/Le Dauphin.

Take the Bluff...Has been showing the front-running dimension last couple and that strategy will make him tough today.
AP Arrow...Had some Triple Crown aspirations last year. Off since November but might wake-up for Pletcher.
Scipion...Tossed a clunker last time which is a concern -- but prior two were good enough to contend here. Needs a rebound.

Quail Call...We might get some value on this Jerkens trainee... The first start wasn't much but he had a slow start and the morning bullets are very intriguing.
Thought Leader...Went well with the switch back to the dirt.
McMagic...He might actually be the one to beat. The first two were perhaps better than they look on paper.
Calculated Risk.

AP Dreamer...Has the look of one that can improve in his second start -- and that's a trainer spaciality.
Port Clyde...Ok string of works and trainer can have them ready.
Sightseeing...Well-bred and comes off of a decent debut.
Got the Last Laugh.
No Reply.

Tiverton...Ran well last time. Horse that won that day might turn out to be a nice turfer. Cuts back. Picks up Johnny V. Tepid vote in tough race.
Planets Aligned...AE lister. Two solid races against claimers, including a win here last time. El Prado Rob...AE lister. Looks capable of contending here on best -- but we really have yet to see how well he's going to do in the new barn.
Crossword...Have to decide if last was an aberration -- or does he not like this course. Hmmm.
Heart of a Leader.
Sir Halory.
Deep Canyon.
On dirt: Sir Halory, Deep Canyon, Crossword, Elements.

Hostile Takeover...Tough trip in debut. City Snitch might turn out to be a good one -- so that last might be a little bit of a key race. We'll see.
Sam P...Looks like his last race really was a key and Pletcher is 33% second-time out.
Johannesburgaffair...Bred to be quick early.

EIGHTH RACE - Yaddo Hcp $100K
Finlandia...Probably needs to step it up just a little -- but appears to be moving in that direction as a 4YO.
Sabellina...Going well all year and should appreciate return to state-bred competition.
On the Bus...Won a similar stake at Belmont in her latest. Reported to be in foal and making her last career start.
Half Heaven.
On dirt: Cayuga's Waters, The Lamp Is Lit, Finlandia, Puzzle.

NINTH RACE - Alabama G1 $600K
Adieu...Last looks like the 3YO wake-up call. goes out for Pletcher. Distance is the big "?".
Wonder Lady Anne L....Unlike top pick this gal has experience at the trip -- winning a G1 last time.
Pine Island...Only four lifetime starts -- but two close-up finishes in G1s last couple.
Miss Shop.

Dr Jess Jr...Took her ten starts to break her maiden -- but has the look of one that has gotten the wake-up call.
Lick the Spoon...Might offer some value. Think she's perhaps better than her last couple against state-breds have shown.
Oilily...Clement filly might rate as our top pick but jockey is ice-cold at the meet.
Follow My Dream.
On dirt: Legs Benedict, Marieval, Charming Jill, Flying Zee entry.

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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