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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 12:00 AM


A Race By Race Review Of Saratoga Races  
Sunday 7/27—Monday 7/28

By Jim Hurley

Every year the rains do arrive and wash races off the turf and shorten the main track fields. This happened this Sunday and Monday and hopefully, like last year, when we lost a minimum of days, weather will be more cooperative for the rest of the meet.

Before we begin the reviews of last Sunday and Monday racing let’s take a brief look at the HOT and NOT SO HOT Jockeys…heading into Wednesday (7/30) racing.


John Velazquez—52-12 (23%)…On The Board (OTB) 50%
Rajiv Maragh—26-6 (23%)…OTB 42%
Chris DeCarlo—9-2 (22%)…OTB 33%
Javier Castellano—61-13 (21%)…OTB) 52%
Rosie Napravnik—19-4 (21%)…OTB 63%
Jose Lezcano—37-7 (19%)…OTB 46%
Jose Ortiz—57-1- (18%)…OTB 44%


Irad Ortiz—64-6 (9%)…OTB 47% (13 seconds-11 thirds)…due some luck
Shaun Bridgmohan—18-2 (11%)…OTB 28%
Angel Arroyo—18-2 (11%)…OTB 22%
Cornelio Velasquez—22-2 (9%)…OTB 23%
Julien Leparoux—30-2 (7%)…OTB 30%
Joe Rocco—11-1 (9%)…OTB 27%
Joe Bravo—13-1 (8%)…OTB 31%
Taylor Rice—27-1 (4%)…OTB 19%
Corey Lanarie—35-1 (3%)…OTB 40%


Sunday 7/27
Race 1— Originally scheduled at a mile on the turf this juvenile filly MSW test was moved to the sloppy main track with the field of 12 chopped down to 4. Sunday Sonnet left the remaining 3 in her wake with 7 length win in relatively slow time. Not much to take out of the race.

Race 2—Another off the turf test this 9 furlong 25K starter allowance was won by Electro Peg who slogged through the mud in wire-to-wire fashion in 1:56 flat…one of the slowest 9 furlong races in recent memory.

Race 3—As bad as the juvenile fillies were in race number one was as good as they were in this one. The public was all over the red hot Anthony Dutrow as the conditioner once again did what he does best…sent out a second career start (33%) winner at 9-5 as High Dollar Woman recovered quickly after veering in at the start, pressed right outside pace setting first time starter Paulassilverlining and took over in the lane and after opening a clear margin stayed clear under urging in the 6 furlong MSW test. The daughter Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver appears to have a future and should move quickly through conditions. The pace setter weakened when confronted by the winner at the top of the stretch and was a well beaten fourth while the only other filly to show promise was runner up Curalina, a first time starter by Curlin and one of the few debut juvenile from the Pletcher barn not sent off as the favorite. She was interested late and finished 6½ lengths clear of the show horse so will take her turn soon.

Race 4—Another off-the-turf affair this 9 furlong MSW race was won by 9 ¼ lengths by MTO runner Lunar Rover in 1:52 3/5 as he tracked the pace in third, moved when asked and ran away and hid through the lane. The Malibu Moon colt has raced a mile or further in all 4 career starts and is a confirmed late runner. And although he did appear to love the off going he has also shown enough interest in all 4 starts to indicate now that he has learned how to be in front he could step forward when facing winners. None of the rest showed any interest in the surface, including the other MTO entrant Aslan who was all out to nose Defacto, Northeast Bound and Penobscot, a trio of turf refugees who finished within less than a length of each other in their battle for the show spot.

Race 5—Once more the two turn turf race was moved to the main track for a 9 furlong slog-fest as 6 fillies and mares did battle in a 25K claimer and once again the winner, Lottsa Noodles and runner up Darnley Bay got in as MTO designates. The former swept by the latter in mid-stretch after that one had pulled away from the remaining quartet of stragglers at the top of the lane. Darnley Bay has hit the board in 7 of last 8 and was claimed by David Cannizzo, but was probably a furlong past her comfort zone whereas the winner is now 4 for 5 over off going and 2 for 22 over any other surface.

Race 6—Starter allowance for NW2L 50K maiden breakers and below turned into good affair as Yes It’s True gelding Mack Miller took the deep rail route and after catching the dueling longshot pace setter at the sixteenth pole in the 7 furlong event head bobbed with even money favorite Dyker Beach to the wire and prevailed by a neck. The winner has been in and out as he has tried different distances and surfaces while in the Pletcher barn and with Gary Contessa for the last two after a private purchase. Dyker Beach finished second for the third straight time (all by a neck) and is beginning to look like one of those runners that does just well enough to cause bettors to pull their hair out. Charitable took a lot of late money but race dwell out in the track and never seemed to get hold of the surface.

Race 7—7 furlong NW2L 25K claimer for 3-year old and up fillies and mares went to turf to slop Tacones who seemed in control throughout as she was coaxed along from off the pace and outside of rivals, moved up when urged on the turn, moved out while relishing the slop and drew clear dramatically through the lane. The runner up was 5 lengths back in a final pedestrian winner’s time of 1:26 3/5 and she came from dead last to be 2½ clear of the show runner as the rest of the field was on its knees through the lane.

Race 8—Favored (3-2) River Rocks loved the slop and never gave the second level allowance/optional 62.5K claiming field a chance as he leapt right to the front out of the gate in the 7 furlong dash and was opening up at the finish in 1:23 1/5. Veteran Night Maneuver moved into second at the 3/8ths marker and though beaten 5 ¾ lengths by the lone speed did well enough to continue on and finish 4 ¾ lengths clear of the show horse Perilous Indian who was bumped hard at the start, needed 2 furlongs to get into stride and showed some late interest against the set up. Perilous Indian was taken for the rich price of $62,500 by under-the-radar but sharp claiming conditioner Hugh McMahon so the 4-year old son of Indian Charlie is worth following, even if he goes to one of the mid-Atlantic or mid-West circuits where McMahon is prevalent. But if he goes again before the meet is over vs the same level is worth a look.

Race 9—(Shuvee Stakes)—Surprisingly Antipathy was the slight second favorite behind Flashy American despite being beaten only a neck for it all behind top of the division of the division distaffers Close Hatches  and Princess Of Sylmar in the Grade I Ogden Phipps in her prior. The daughter of A.P. Indy has shown continued improvement as she’s moved up the ladder and the drop back in vs Grade III rivals proved the tonic. Stanwyck, who was making her first start since April 11 after third place finishes in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn and Grade I Santa Margarita at Santa Anita made a good late run for second and Hot Stones, a NYSB fresh out of restricted conditions and stakes races and a winner of the Grade III Bed O’ Roses in her latest also showed promise to get the show while favored Flashy American never got involved.

Race 10—Another two turn turf race was washed to a mile and an eighth on the main track and once again it was a one horse race as Lucky Nancy E won off by 9 lengths in 1:54 2/5 in the entry level NYSB allowance test. Not much else to write about.

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Monday 7/28
Race 1—Monday started off just as Sunday ended, with a lone runner 9-10 favorite Classic Sense dominating a 65K maiden claimer that was washed from the turf and went 9 furlongs on the sloppy sealed main track. All the runners were scheduled for the turf (no MTO entrants) and second favorite Point Hope followed the winner around the course, got place honors well clear of the show horse and was claimed for the price by Linda Rice.

Race 2—Off the turf MSW 5½ furlong dash for NYSB juveniles went to Rudy Rodriguez trained colt, an MTO entrant and one of only two previous starters. The son of Lookin At Lucky had jumped tire tracks when rallying for the place in his only previous start and was much closer to the pace in here before taking over and drawing clear as the 9-5 favorite. Again, judging youngsters originally thought better suited to turf when they make debuts over a sloppy oval is difficult but runner up Banana Thief followed the winner in fourth early on and moved with that one through the lane. Although unable to make up ground he did hold the place 4¾ lengths clear of the show horse so is worth following.

Race 3—As was the theme in all but two races on the day (pressers or pace setters prevailed) another short off-track field featured another wire-to-wire favored winner. This time it was Mr. O’Leary who gave backers little concern at even money as he bolted to the front in the NW2L 59=0K claimer and held a comfortable 2 length margin through the lane. Big Blue talent followed the winner all the way around the track in the 6 furlong test and as he has so often done since breaking his maiden, claimed a secondary check. The winner was taken from the McLaughlin barn by trainer David Jacobson.

Race 4—In this 5½ furlong 40K maiden claimer that was originally scheduled for turf two MTO entrants ran first and third and were split by a sharp debut runner. Second favorite Frame had made 7 previous starts vs MSW rivals and for the first time dropped into the claiming ranks to grab top honors. The gelding broke a step slow but was on the pace setter at the 7/16ths pole, took the lead at the 5 /16ths pole and widened his margin in the final furlong. Michael Maker (25% with debut maiden claimers) trained first time starter War Of Honor was bumped soundly approaching the half mile pole, dug in and moved 3 wide on the turn, came out 4 wide into the stretch and continued with good energy to the wire as he went past favored Touch Of Poetry who ran the same no-late-effort race he has run in his MSW test in all his previous starts. War Of Honor was originally scheduled for turf and is bred to run over that surface so Maker has options moving forward.

Race 5—The mile and an eighth 20K claimer for NW3L runners scratched down to 4 horses and 9-10 favorite Village Warrior went wire-to-wire in a decent 1:51 4/5 to win by 9 lengths. Second favorite Best Play followed the inner around the course and when unable to gain ground was wrapped up late and settled for the place. Best Play was likely compromised the most by the pace and surface as he is a determined closer so might be a play vs the same or slightly better after being claimed out of the race by Luis Miranda.

Race 6—What do you know…another wire-to-wire 9-10 favorite wins the race. After the only other likely speed in the race, Yankee Dime, was a scratch Pecorino figured to have the lead from his inherited inside post and John Velazquez wasted little time in grabbing it in the 7 furlong 50K maiden claimer. Act Of Heroism dropped in vs sellers for the first time in career start number five and after getting his usual sluggish start went 4 wide under urging around the turn, moved 5 wide into the lane and passed all but the winner. Appealing Alex (5th career start) and Forest Boy (12th career start) also dropped from MSW to maiden claimers for the first time in their careers but spun their wheels with even runs at third and fourth respectively and are beginning to look like career maidens at this high level. The winner was claimed from Todd Pletcher by Linda Rice and has the breeding to go longer (A.P. Indy is dam sire) on dirt or grass.

Race 7—In another off the turf 5½ furlong sprint, an entry level allowance test, the public completely ignored a live MTO runner and a layoff runner whose early career credentials and return from a layoff made them players in a non-descript field. MTO runner Takajo was coming off a dominant win vs open 16K claimers at Belmont in his last and too often the public discounts what they perceive as a class rise when Takajo actually faced multiple race winners in that open claimer and was dropping in vs mostly one time career foes. The $28.40 winner rallied smartly from off the pace and caught another longshot, Run For Logistics (23-1…$14.20 to place) a few strides from the wire. The latter was making his first start for Gary Contessa (16%...$2.87 R.O.I. under those circumstances) and was good enough as a juvenile to finish third in the Grade III Sapling at Monmouth and the Bird On The Wire Stakes at Calder. He came here following a pair of bad efforts at Calder in April and May and rediscovered his early career form in a good effort that fell a head short of lighting up the tote. Third and second favorites Big Sugar Soda and Apex continued on for third and fourth without any impact and favored Father John’s Pride was pulled up at the 7/16ths pole and vanned off.

Race 8 (Honorable Miss Stakes)—La Verdad was sent off the 7-5 favorite in a good field of 6 in the Grade II 6 furlong sprint based largely on her 9 of 11 career mark and the fact that on such a speed favoring surface her first at first call, second call and in the stretch in her last 6 races (5 of which were wins) being to her acute advantage. But she was taken back a bit after getting out first and by the half mile pole the winner R Free Roll had inherited that position and La Verdad wasn’t comfortable in her unfamiliar chase position as R Free Will continued to wire the field at $15.00. Merry Meadow chased the pace setter but was softened up enough to settle for the show as My Wandy’s Girl in turn lay just off that one and gained the place late.  La Verdad never got interested and chugged home fifth of six.

Race 9—In this group of 16K claimers that has taken turns beating each other or running up the track at or about the same level it was the turn of longshot Bedouin Now to seep by them late and claim the 28-1 victory. It was his 2nd win from 11tries in 2014 and 4th of 27 lifetime. Favored Zoe Bear and pace setting longshot I Want You To Know finished second and third after being in position to grab top honors throughout and Zoe Bear was claimed by trainer John Toscano. Also claimed (by Abigail Adgit) was Rap D’Oro who broke in at the break, bumped repeatedly with a rival and was never able to get off the inside and into stride. He has been the most consistent of the group of late (3-3-1 in his last 11 at or above the level) and might be overlooked if he faces the same or slightly better in next.

Don’t forget to check back Friday for the review of Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Saratoga Races plus my preview of the coming weekend’s Grade I Whitney, Grade I Test and Grade I Vanderbilt plus Grade I Clement Hirsch from Del Mar. The Whitney (Classic) and the Clement Hirsch (Distaff) are each a Breeders’ Cup Win & You Are In Race.

Also, don’t forget that you can get my best bets daily at Saratoga (click here for more information).


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