September Saturday Saratoga Spotlight
By Michael Patricks
Back into the handicapping world we go with both Del Mar and Saratoga bringing their respective curtains down this Labor Day Monday. Racing continues from the Sonoma County Jockey Club through Monday and we will reopen on Thursday, September 6th for Los Alamitos Race Course’s thoroughbred meet which features twelve days of racing through September 23rd. Santa Anita Park kicks in on Thursday, September 26th. Belmont Park begins their Fall 2018 meeting on Friday, September 7th.
Hats off to Catholic Boy for his powerhouse score and head-handing to yours truly. Good Magic was listless and manhandled by the balance of the Travers cast. Mendelssohn atoned for previous poor efforts stateside so perhaps his arrow is finally pointing upward. This certainly wasn’t my best work, unless you were able to place my bets with an exotics bookmaker where you backed my four horses in a last place trifecta. My selections finished fifth, eighth, ninth and Wonder Gadot was tenth and last.
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The old expression goes that it’s always darkest before light. Let’s see if I can step out of the darkness and into the light with a couple timely selections from Saturday’s action.
Saratoga Race Course
Race 11-The Woodward (Grade I)
9 Furlongs on Dirt for 3 y/o and Upward
They say Saratoga is the graveyard of favorites and that certainly was on display last Saturday with Good Magic in the Travers. Keeping that firmly entrenched in my mind, I’m going to look to go shopping for a bit of value in Saturday’s Woodward.
#9 Gunnevera is the 4/1 morning line favorite and while he appears to be “on the come” and has shown a fondness for Saratoga, I’m not thrilled with the prospect of taking short odds on a horse who is going to have lots of traffic in front of him and sitting behind a pace that could be fairly soft. Gunnevera might have the best turn of foot of any of these but he’s 0-for-6 in Grade 1 races and I can’t live with him at this mutuel.
I’ll be taking a stab with #12 Sunny Ridge at 8/1. The gray has been pesky in Grade II events and this isn’t the world’s most talented group to see a Grade I. He shows up at The Spa off his first triple digit Beyer speed figure of 102 in a very professional victory over Big Sandy at Belmont in a small stake. If you’re willing to toss the Charles Town disappointment and give him a mulligan, you find yourself with a horse who has performed well in six consecutive races surrounding the bull ring hiccup. Jason Servis excels with horses off a similar freshening and perhaps the biggest “buy signal” of all is that Irad Ortiz gets off a Chad Brown runner to stay in his camp. The millionaire is a must-use at this price point.
Golden Gate Fields–Race 4
5 Furlongs on Turf for 3 y/o and Upward
This looks like a competetive race on paper but I believe taking a stand against the top two could pay dividends para-mutuelly. #3 Kochees is the 8/5 favorite and a solid trier, but he’s 1-for-12 on turf and 0-for-4 over the Golden Gate Fields sod, thus this five-furlong dash is likely not his favorite dance. #4 Mr. Twinery at 2/1 is quickest off the blocks but he’s only 2/1 and is making his turf debut. There is enough quality speed in this cast to keep him honest—or at least in the alternative to make him expend more energy than he wants to use.
#6 Krsto Skye gets the call at 3/1. He’s drawn perfectly to the outside of Mr. Twinery and should have that one in his sights from the sound of the starter’s pistol. He’s won three races over this course and distance plus the work tab is truly sparkling. Krsto Skye is also a juicier price on the morning line compared to the other Herbertson entrant in Kochees.