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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 12:00 AM


Tuesday, July 23

In baseball, you will always hear conversations about momentum. But the keenest analytical minds will tell you that momentum is only as good as today’s starting pitcher. Things can change dramatically, but it is always good to have a foundation of knowledge when drawing "real time" conclusions.

Although certain trainers and jockeys do get "hot," their "momentum" is usually only as good as the horse they are respectively saddling and riding. This is why the best handicappers will look to not only determine how well or poorly the form of each individual horse in a race is manifesting itself, but how that form will play out given what is often referred to as the "bias" of the surface.

I bring this up because should you want to call it a "bias," there definitely was one regarding the 14 two turn turf races run during the opening 4 days of the Saratoga meet. And that bias, although I like to use the word tendency because it is a better definition of matching a horse’s preferred running style to results, leaned quite favorably to front runners and pressing speed types.

First we’ll take a look at the results with notes concerning those 14 two-turn races (2 on the Main Turf course and 12 on the Inner Turf Course.)

Monday 7/22

(IT) SEA QUEEN (1 1/16th Miles) - $10.80...First time starter broke ½ length back in 3rd at the 9/16ths pole, took the lead at the 5/16ths pole and continued clear.

(IT) ANGEL’S SOUTH (1 Mile) - $71.50...Monmouth shipper went wire-to-wire. Short field featured one other speed horse, but that was dirt-to-turf opponent, who ran second. Classier, shorter priced closers were slowed down early and couldn’t make up enough ground late, although first time in the states starter Corsage (third) got within a length late.

(IT) STARSHIP GAMBLER (1 1/16TH Miles) - $4.30...Went wire-to-wire. Big class dropper opened 8 lengths by 9/16ths pole and coasted home by daylight.

Sunday 7/21

(IT) RAPSCALLION (1 Mile) - $31.00...MSW Speightstown colt (good turf speed breeding) showed good sprinting speed on dirt at Delaware in two lifetime tries, the second of which was washed off the grass. Sharp connections (Graham Motion) finally got spot and the colt went wire-to-wire.

(IT) HAPPY FELLA (1 1/16th Miles) - $58.50...Won "against" the general "tendency" when he closed from 7th place (5 ½ lengths back at 9/16ths marker) and 7th place (3 ½ lengths back at 5/16ths marker.) Second place finisher WILDCATTER ran in 5th from first call until deep stretch (4 ½-3 ½-2 ½ lengths back) before closing to be beaten a neck and complete a $766.00 Exacta.

(IT) JOYSEEKER (1 Mile) - $10.40...Well-bred Heatseeker (Giant’s Causeway) colt had show speed in first three MSW tries of career and now got the grass for the first time. Went wire-to-wire vs field of twelve in which only two other horses had ever been in front at any point in their multi-race careers.

(MT) VINNIE GOODTIMES (1 1/16th Miles) - $3.20...At break was in 4th but just 3 l3ngths back. By 5/16ths was still in 4th but just 2 lengths back and pulled away by open lengths when asked. Beat weak field and could have gone wire-to-wire if pushed. Second place finisher RIVIT was on lead by 9/16ths market and held second when caught by winner.

Saturday 7/20

(IT) PALACE DREAMS (1 1/6TH Miles) - $15.40...Went wire-to-wire in field of 12. Place finisher MOONLIT SONNET ran second behind the winner all the way around the race track.

(IT) SILISTA (1 1/16th Miles)...$14.60...Broke in 3rd, just 2 lengths off pace-setter BROKEN SPELL, was 2 ½ lengths back at 9/16ths pole and 1 length back at 5/16ths pole before nosing the front runner at the wire and combining for a $138.50 Exacta.

(IT) TYCOON CAT (1 1/16th Miles) - $19.60...Broke in 3 lengths back in 3rd, quickly moved up to take lead at 9/16ths pole and continued on the lead to the wire.

Friday 7/19

(MT) HARDEST CORE (1 3/16th Miles) - $11.40...One of the two turf winners during opening week that made late rallies work. Was 12th of 12 at the start, was in 11th (6 ½ lengths back) at the 7/16th pole, still 4 lengths back in mid-stretch before getting up late.

(IT) SHORT SHRIFT (1 1/16th Miles) - $30.40...Was in second place, just ½ lengths off the lead at the 9/16ths pole and in front by the time they passed the 5/16ths marker before holding that lead the rest of the way.

(IT) HESSONITE (1 1/16th Miles) - $3.80...This guy did close to win, but the open company stakes winner was dropped into NYSB company in the 6 horse "On The Bus Stakes" and could have taken control at any time.

(IT) SONNYANDPALLY (1 1/16th Miles) - $25.80...Broke only 2 lengths off pace in 4th and was there at 9/16ths pole. Moved to 1 ½ lengths off the pace in third at the 5/16ths pole and drew clear inside the furlong marker.

11 out of the 14 winners PAID DOUBLE DIGITS. The average payoff was $22.20. That is why I pay attention to these things.

There are two ways to utilize this information.

  • First, when racing resumes and you are breaking down the two-turn grass races you should definitely give weight to those horses that have shown an ability to utilize pace-setting, pressing or close-up stalking speed to be in good position early into the race. This does not mean that you should use "only" those criteria. Once you isolate such animals you can then apply the ability of the connections, the company the horse(s) have kept, the jockey styles (better on pressers or closers), etc.

    You should also keep in mind that a change in the weather can also considerably change how any course is playing. Saratoga is known for its summer rainstorms and the tight dry courses that existed over the first four days can be altered greatly by a good soaking. But even if the "tendency" shown in the first 4 days changes you can still utilize the information.
  • Second, in future races, if the "tendency" appears to shift in favor of off the pace horses in two-turn grass races, you might get value on closers that ran well in the speed-style favoring races but were compromised.

FINAL NOTE- I did not catch ALL of these winners, but among my 8 Best Bet winners from 15 races during Opening Week were SILISTA ($14.60) as well as the $138.50 Exacta with BROKEN SPELL, RAPSCALLION ($31.00) and JOYSEEKER ($10.40).

I mention this because I want you to have all the confidence in me as I move forward.


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After a week up north, horses are feeling great in the cool weather. And that’s the signal for Jim Hurley’s Wednesday WAKE-UP RUNNER. Last year, Jim fell a little short as Chief Gaga ran 2nd, paying $11.00 to place, but Jim did hit that same day Centre Court ($7.50) in the Lake George, a race you’ll also get on this day. And the timing couldn’t be better because JIM IS EVEN HOTTER THIS YEAR. Already his Sensational Seven Program has caught Longshot Rapscallion on top ($31.00) along with Red Vine for the $108.00 Exacta, first time starter Joy Seeker ($10.40), the Daily Double of the Week with Asset Inflation ($5.70) and Silista ($14.20) ($49.80) as well as the Silista/Broken Spell Exacta ($138.50.)

In addition there was Sure Shot Special Sage Valley ($8.90) and both Exactas both Trifectas and both Daily Doubles when top picks Bahnah and Brazen Persuasion Dead Heated in the Schuylerville as well as also hitting the exacta in the Shuvee Handicap. There is still another week to go in Jim’s Sensational Seven so you can get the WAKE UP RUNNER, Horse of the Week and Jim’s Personal Clocker’s Best Play of the Day plus the 1-2-3 finishers in the Lake George...ALL JUST $20 Wednesday

FINAL NOTE: Make sure you check back by Thursday morning for another important edition of SARATOGA TRACK TALK.

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