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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:00 AM




PART I - July 19 - July 22
Below are 8 horses that ran opening week at Saratoga and could be set to run back in the near future. These horses are definitely worth a look under the terms noted and should be bet confidently.

AMBER MORNING - Phil Serpe trained 3-year old daughter of Pure Prize was a bit rank in her belated debut in recent 5 ½ furlong turf sprint. Was steadied early, entered the stretch 6 wide and yet continued to improve position late. Should be more experienced in next and breeding suggests mile or mile and a sixteenth on grass might be favorable.

BIG SUGAR SODA - Steve Asmussen trained juvenile colt got right down to business when shipped in from CD for second career start in 5 ½ furlong MSW dirt test last time out. He was forwardly placed and tired to third in debut but in Spa test he broke fast, grabbed the lead and held clear on the turn before opening up to an 8 ¼ length romp in 1:03 2/5 under a hand ride. Expect him to eclipse conditions or even do well if sent directly to Stakes. Plus, options exist for grass (More Than Ready is grand sire and Fusaichi Pegasus is dam sire.)

CHEYENNE AUTUMN - Was caught 4-5 wide much of the way in mile and a sixteenth turf allowance/optional 35K claimer last time out and rallied, moved 3 wide into the lane and did well to get the show over a course that played to speed during opening week (see article here.) Was claimed by Rudy Rodriguez and should fare well at the level when run back.

COZZETTI - 4-year old Cozzene colt battled hard to the finish despite a much troubled trip when shipped in from CD and switched turf to dirt in 7 furlong second level allowance/optional 62.5K claimer on opening Saturday. Was in position while 3 wide into the turn and was then bumped hard by a rival just outside the quarter pole, made contact again inside the 3/16ths pole and was leaned on throughout the final furlong. He still managed to grab the show spot so would back him next time on dirt vs the same or if returned to two turns on the turf.

J. QUIRK - Debut by juvenile filly resulted in a sharp second behind odds-on Pletcher firster STOPCHARGINGMARIA. The Gary Contessa trainee chased the winner throughout and though beaten 5 lengths was 7 ½ clear of the show filly in 1:05 3/5, which was 3 lengths faster than the winner of another juvenile filly MSW test later on the card. Breaks through soon.

MARRIEDTOTHEMUSIC - The 3-year-old Disco Rico colt won his third race in 4 lifetime tries last out when he dominated entry level 35K starter allowance foes. The Dominic Galluscio trainee went wire-to-wire for the third time and continued to open up daylight through the lane while under good handling. Appears to like the surface and should handle better so bet him back if kept sprinting.

WILDCATTER - Tom Voss almost pulled off another of his Steeplechase to main turf course switches in last with this 5-year old son of Tale Of The Cat. No stranger to the main turf course, the gelding was carried 4 wide around both turns in the mile and a sixteenth test, continued strong through the lane and grabbed the place, just a neck shy of the winner. Looks well placed at the 50K starter allowance/optional claimer level or vs open 35K to 50K claimers.

WIRED BRYAN - The juvenile son of Stormy Atlantic has dusted his opponents in both career starts, wiring MSW rivals by 7 ½ lengths in :56 3/5 and while extending to 6 panels following up with the easiest of victories (5 ¼ lengths) after charging to the front at the half mile marker in the Grade II Sanford Stakes. In-the-shadows trainer Michael Dilger has a monster on his hands and the colt is a definite must use if he runs back in either the Grade II Saratoga Special on 8/11 or the Grade I Hopeful on closing day.

Make sure you return to these pages this Friday (8/2) as I post the Horses To Watch from week two (July 24 - July 29.)

Saturday’s $750K West Virginia Derby Welcomes Back Overanalyze And Departing Plus Interesting Newcomers

Earlier this year both Overanalyze and Departing were smart winners of Triple Crown Preps, but when it came to the big show(s) Todd Pletcher’s Overanalyze (who was victorious in the Grade I Arkansas Derby) failed to have any impact in either the Kentucky Derby or Belmont Stakes while trainer Al Stall, Jr. skipped the Kentucky Derby to await the Preakness Stakes after Departing finished 3rd in the Grade II Louisiana Derby and won the Grade III Illinois Derby only to watch his gelding fail to fire.

Both Overanalyze and Departing will return in Saturday’s premier Mountaineer 3-year old Stakes, the 750K West Virginia Derby as the former makes his first start since the Belmont and the latter his first since the Preakness.

Each has put in 4 useful breezes in the month of July so the uninterrupted work schedule speaks to their fitness, but each still has much to prove despite the obvious class relief. Rosie Napravnik will make the trip down from Saratoga, where she is spending the summer and get aboard Pletcher’s colt for the first time while Robbie Albarado will replace Brian Hernandez, who has been aboard for all of Departing’s 6 career starts. These two will most likely draw most of the betting action but given their inconsistent form there are a few late developing 3-year olds that bear watching.

The Joan Scott trained Ruler Of Love has raced on conventional dirt twice in his 10 race career and finished a just-miss second in the 7 furlong Sophomore Stakes at Tampa Bay in early April and third behind multi-graded stakes winner Forty Tales (most recently the Amsterdam this past Sunday at the Spa) when rallying in the one mile Grade III Derby Trial. He prepared for this with another sharp rally for third in the 7 furlong Coach Jimmy Lee over the Arlington synthetic on 7/13.

Another who is stepping up off a number of impressive performances is Say Ow, a west coast shipper who has never run over a fast traditional dirt surface but has worked gangbusters over the Mountaineer surface since arriving. His 5 furlong breeze here in :59 2/5 was an eye-opening best of 6 just this past Monday for trainer Charles Kaiser. After a pair of seconds going two turns on turf at Santa Anita he has won his last two going two turns over the Hollywood synthetic, showing good speed in each.

One more lightly raced 3-year old who appears to be emerging is the Steve Asmussen trained Betweenhereandcool, a son of Unbridled’s Song who comes in off a very sharp second in the Grade III Iowa Derby last out, losing by a neck to Looking Cool and finishing in front of Bashaar, each of whom ran back in this past Saturday’s Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes at the Spa. Ricardo Santana, who has teamed up with Asmussen for 28% winners from a sizable sample (well over 200 mounts) in the last year will be aboard.

Also looking for better things moving forward are Shaler, who will be shipped in from Presque isle Downs by 37% trainer Louis V Roberto, Jr. (35-13-7-4) and the Kenny Smith trained Stratocruiser, who was second, beaten a neck in the Grover Delp Memorial at Delaware two back and a non-disgraced fourth in the Long Branch Stakes behind Micromanage (3rd in the Haskell on Sunday), Forever Thing and west coast stakes runner Carving.

Longshots Mi Sto Divertendo and Ledokol complete the nine horse field.

This is one of the handfuls of Stakes races I’ll be releasing on Saturday so make sure you stay glued to these pages.


On Thursday, August 1 the first two races of the day at Saratoga will be Steeplechase races. The first is an optional allowance/30K claimer and the second is the $100,000 Grade I A. P. Smithwick Stakes. As is often the case, trainer Jonathan Sheppard will have entries in each races as he saddles Royal Fling Shot and Bluegrass Summer in the first and the entry of Divine Fortune and Italian Wedding as well as the uncoupled Hunt Ball in the second.

Sheppard’s entry is the ML favorite and as is always the case, his jumpers must be considered as "Live." However, Sheppard is already playing with house money because in the first Steeplechase Race of the meet he not only won with second favorite Martini Brother but also finished second with the uncoupled longshot Barnstorming for a $92.00 Exacta that in itself is notable, but the Win is significant well beyond the mutuel payoff.

By finishing first in that race, Jonathan Sheppard extended his streak of winning "at least" one race a year at the Spa back to 1969. That’s right, Sheppard, predominantly a Jumps Conditioner at Saratoga, has now won a race or more during the meet FOR 45 STRAIGHT YEARS. DiMaggio would have been proud and perhaps Pete should have been betting on Sheppard. Congratulations Jonathan.

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