By Michael Patricks
The Sonoma County Fair begins on Thursday, August 2nd with post time set for 1:15 p.m. Our Airport Express Daily Handicapping Seminar begins at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and 12:30 on Friday with post time pushed back an hour to 2:15. Should be eight great days of racing so tell your friends and make plans to join us for Wine Country Racing at the Sonoma County Fair. For tickets, promotional details and more check out www.sonomacountyfair.com
Summer is in full swing with Del Mar having lifted the lid on their 36-day meeting Wednesday and Saratoga commences their 40-day meet on Friday. Post Time for Del Mar is 2 p.m. except Fridays which are 4 p.m. Saratoga begins each race day at 10 a.m. PST.
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Vicious beat with Draft Pick who got snapped off right at the wire of the Los Alamitos Derby by the longer Bob Baffert price in Once on Whiskey. Draft Pick prevailed in the proverbial battle as he took down race-favorite Ax Man with little difficulty but did ultimately end up losing the war. Draft Pick dug in tooth and nail but was unable to stall the winner late—such is horse racing.
It’s time for some cross-country opinions on the Saturday stakes action.
Saratoga Race Course-Race 9
The Sanford (Grade III)
6 Furlongs on Dirt for 2 y/o
There is speed everywhere in this race and I want a horse who will be able to stalk and pounce in the moment of truth. # 2 Lexitonian will get the nod at 3/1 on the morning line. Lexitonian was professional on debut, sitting in behind horses and coming with a strong move through the lane. He should move forward off his sovereign bow and I give him extra points for winning from the rail in his debut, as that’s very difficult to do. The extra furlong will be his friend and Johnny V. sticks, so he’s my pick.
The Diana (Grade I)
9 Furlongs on Turf for F&M 3 and Up
In a race that should be called the Chad Brown Invitational (3 of the 7 runners being his) I’ll try to get around the morning line favorite in # 1 Sistercharlie 9/5 with the slightly better price and razor sharp # 6 A Raving Beauty at 2/1. The Brown trainee figures to sit right off the flank of # 5 Ultra Brat at 8/1, or in the alternative may find herself relaxed on an uncontested lead. They’ll have to reel her in late and she comes to The Spa off a nice score in the Grade I Just a Game at Belmont Park.
The California Governor’s Cup
6 Furlongs on Dirt for F&M 3 and Up
Compact field of five to face starter Todd Stephens in this one. # 2 Alliford Bay 1/1 is the defending champion seeking four in a row and shows up in Sacramento as a six-time winner overall. She’s 5-for-6 on dirt and the one to beat. # 1 Eccentric Spinster at 5/2 got her nose down on the wire at Golden Gate Fields, narrowly defeating # 4 Deb’s Wildcard 7/2 in a tremendous stretch duel. It’s my belief with the inside draws that Eccentric Spinster and Alliford Bay may hook up early and that could put Deb’s Wildcard in the catbird seat. Sitting on the outside of the other speed at Sacramento is a huge key to success. With Spinster’s rail draw, I’m totally against her in this spot, plus she lacks value at 5/2 from her 7/1 off-odds last time. The dirt is a real question mark based off her only try to boot, though that did come in a Grade I; caveat emptor.