Equidaily Racing Journal

Today's Best Bets

by Seth Merrow

Saratoga Race Course
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Meet Total ... 44-149

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3-9. Winners in the 5th [$13.20], 7th [$7.30], and 8th [$9.10]. Cold R7-8 double [$28.40/$2]. In the featured G2 Hall of Fame we had a decent exacta [$58.00] using our top pick over our third selection. You perhaps could have eeked out some more action playing around with the selections -- but frankly, it would be a stretch to say there was much more on Friday.

The highlight of the day, of course, was the Hall of Fame induction ceremony that took place down the street at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion Friday morning. An overflow crowd turned out -- with many sitting in the backyard watching the proceedings on TV monitors after the fire marshals essentially declared the building full. Among those in attendance were plenty of current Hall of Framers. And the audience seemed to enjoy the program -- although, at two and a half hours, it was perhaps a little long. That said, Bob Baffert and Eddie Maple were crowd favorites and both presented entertaining acceptance speeches. The usually happy-go-lucky Baffert was more subdued than usual -- in spurts -- as he attempted to keep his emotions at bay. That proved difficult while he thanked his parents and some of his patrons in the game. He also took time to introduce his extended family in the audience. Maple's speech was also notable for a tangential path taken to not only thank the horses he had ridden -- but to also comment on the need for safe retirements for these equine athletes. Janet Elliot and the connections of Silverbulletday, Tiznow and Ben Nevis II completed the solid HOF presentation.

The induction ceremony didn't wrap until just about the time the first race was going off down the street where 23,276 filled the joint and they were treated to another gorgeous day at the track. Plenty of sunshine and warm temps -- perhaps a little too hot and humid for some.

After the 4th there was a Hall of Fame autograph session outside the Jockey Silks room that featuring not only this year's inductees but many current Famers. A long line of fans grabbed the 'john Hancock's' of these legends of the sport.

As the hot afternoon melted into the warm summer evening the crowds filled the post-race watering holes, Siro's and The Horseshoe.


Chief Export...Claimed two back and ran last time for $25K. A better fit at this level.
Furever Dancing/Hurricane Heat...Both certainly know how to get the job done -- and should also fit here.
Gimmeroutine...And this guy could wake-up with the drop.
Double or Nothing.

Brother Bird...Aptly named as this one is a half to -- Mine That Bird. This is only the dam's second foal. Comes out of the win-early Pletcher barn BUT the works don't necessarily jump off the page and keep in mind that Mine That Bird was sixth in his debut and broke his maiden in his second start. Still, we have to believe the connections would like to see this expensive 2YO purchase get it done at Saratoga in his first start.
Liston...Regally-bred firster from Darley/McLaughlin will be very dangerous.
Chief Counsel...With some of the firepower in this race this guy might get slightly overlooked. Has some decent win-early breeding and worked a quick 20.4 before 2YO sale.
Callide Valley.

Hot Minute...Can't ignore that big debut win.
Inherit the Gold...Also was impressive in his maiden-breaker and then ran an OK second behind a next-out winner in NW1. Firing bullets for a return off of a brief vacation.
Captain Sword...Should contend with a clean break.

Indian Dance...Invades off of a strong string of workouts in Maryland. Bred to get it done early.
Strong Commitment...Wouldn't be shocked to see this one rebound to number fired in debut. Cuts back to sprint.
Dixie Frolic...Brought a big price at a 2YO sale last year -- but is just making it to the races today. Worked the odd 3f distance at that sale [34.3], Related to a couple of very nice Florida-based stakes winners Stormy Frolic and Super Frolic.
Keep Thinking.

Tigresco...Nicely-0bred Mott runner should go well with first-start education under his belt.
Tawaared...Has the look of a horse that might be catching on to things after a few starts.
Peace Wine...If the number in the turf debut is to be believed he'll be tough.

Saginaw...Rolling the dice a little bit in a race where those with experience don't look like anything special. This firster has tossed a couple of bullets coming into this and won't have to be a world-beater.
African Knight...Beaten fave last time but fired a big Beyer -- maybe too big to believe. We'll see...
Driven by Power/Bawana Jake...Both halves of entry have enough breeding to be playable in debuts. Typically high-percentage trainer is still on the schneid here however.
Fisher Island.

Quiet On the Tee...Just missed in first start at this condition and should contend again today.
Munition...Looks like he'll be heard from in the stretch.
Globemaster...Just broke maiden last time -- but that was his turf debut, and at least a couple came out of that race to win next-out. Could be any kind.
Relatively Ready.

Stroll for Acure...This is an intriguing race because a lot of these are moving into restricted claiming company for the first time and are eligible to wake up. Prime example with this guy. Should find the class relief to his liking.
New Yawker...On the other hand, this one is moving up slightly, but has been running well lately.
Spartan King...Likely to appreciate the return to grass.
Ninth Client.

Thabazimbi...Dropping from graded stakes this guy might have a pace advantage here. It's possible he can sneak away from these early.
Expansion...If top pick falters on the front-end this one can pick up the pieces.
Independent George...Been in stakes but now moves in for a tag off of the 6-1-1-0 record in 2008-09.

TENTH RACE - Sword Dancer G1 $500K
Americain...We're going to be a 'wise-guy' and go for the Euro-invader -- with some trepidation. Pletcher is particularly the trainer we want with this move -- but this guy was an OK second-stringer going long across the pond and it's not unusually to see the 'scrubs' come over from Europe and do well against our best on the grass.
Quijano...Similar scenario to the top pick and we would have been tempted to put this one in that spot -- but second N American start of 2008 was disappointing.
Better Talk Now...10YO certainly didn't show too many signs of age with the good third in the G1 Manhattan Hcp. However, his best game has always been closing into a legit pace -- earlier in the career he would typically have a rabbit -- and we don't know if he'll get that pace today.
Grand Couturier.

Whirlwind Poppy...Decent debut looks like one to build off of.
Mr Hooker...AE lister. Last two on grass were promising.
Military Star...Could be live in debut in a weak field.
Cops Fever.
John Wyatt.

If we are interested in both halves of an entry -- in event of a scratch -- it is noted that way [in other words, both halves 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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