At the Gate - Sunday
July 22, 2012
By Mike Dempsey
Zo Impressive was my top pick in yesterday's $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) but it was Questing that was impressive, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee scoring a mild upset as the third choice in the field of six, retuning $9.80 for the win.
The filly got a perfect trip tracking the pacesetter Yara, and took over in the stretch getting the jump on the rest of the field.
Zo Impressive made a mild late rally to finish second but was not a real threat to the winner, completing a $2 exacta that returned $37.80.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. picked up his first graded stakes win.
It was an incredibly frustrating day for us, as my top pick ran second in six races on the Saratoga card. The night ended at Colonial Downs where my top pick Lucky Chappy ran second in the $600,000 Virginia Derby (G2) at 6-1.
Silver Max was sent off as the 4-5 favorite and held off our top pick by a length, his sixth consecutive win, all on grass.
The colt is trained by Dale Romans who won the marquee event at the New Kent, Va. track for the third time.
Romans won the 2004 running with Kitten's Joy, and again with Paddy O'Prado in 2010.
Silver Max made his debut for a $50,000 tag at Saratoga last summer going 5 ½ furlongs on the main track and did not break his maiden until his sixth career start.
After checking in fifth in the Holy Bull (G3) in his first start against winners, Romans put him back on turf and he has not lost since.
Next up for the speedy turf runner is the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park on Aug. 18.
We have a little added incentive to get back on track with a better day as there is a $280,309 Pick 6 carryover.
Sunday's feature is the $200,000 Sanford (G2) for two-year-olds that drew a field of nine.
Todd Pletcher is seeking his sixth win in the race and sends out a pair, my top pick Rose Junction (5-2) and Onetwentyeight (8-1), both of the colts coming off good looking maiden wins in their debuts.
My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my strongest plays from Monmouth Park and Saratoga.
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Here is today's opening from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:
SAR Race 1 Alw $62,000N1X (1:00 ET)
4 Tapitude 5-1
9 Victory Island 3-1
5 Alison's Wyn 6-1
1 Paper Plane 5-2
Analysis: Tapitude stalked the early pace and finished up well in a third place finish, beaten two lengths in her first start off a 13 month layoff for the Chad Brown barn. The filly missed the runner up spot by just a neck. The fourth place finisher Class Action Suit came out of the race to beat restricted $30K claimers in her next outing on July 13. She cuts back to a sprint here for a barn that had a solid meeting here last year hitting at a 29% clip and picked up a win on opening day.
Victory Island makes her first start since last October for the Pletcher barn that is 30% winners (with a +ROI) with horses coming back off a +180 day layoff. The filly broke her maiden here last summer over a muddy track in her debut, and then was a good third in the state bred Ann Clare and then faded to finish eighth in the Joe Gimma. She has been working quickly for her return, a couple of near bullet drills. She figures to be ready to fire off the bench for last year's leading barn here, although she likely is going to get bet down from her 3-1 morning line.
WIN: #4 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 4,9 / 1,4,5,9
TRI: 4,9 / 1,4,5,9 / 1,4,5,6,9
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:
SAR Race 9 The Sanford G2 (5:30 ET)
5 Rose Junction 5-2
1 Handsome Jack 4-1
3 Bern Identity 4-1
6 Special Jo 5-1
Analysis: Rose Junction is one of two in here sent out by the Todd Pletcher barn that has won this race five times, taking the race last year with the Mike Repole owned Overdriven. Our top pick here was sent off as the betting favorite in his debut, and he showed good early speed dueling for the early lead and drawing clear late to win by three lengths. The runner up Lignite came back to graduate in his next start opening day here on Friday. The $310,00 purchase has a nice pedigree, by Dixie Union and the first foal to race out of the stakes winner Sandra's Rose ($199K) who did her best work on turf Castellano takes over from the injured Velazquez and this colt looks capable of handling the extra furlong here.
Handsome Jack was dropped in for a $20K tag for his maiden breaker at Churchill Downs after showing speed and tiring to finish fifth over poly at Keeneland in his debut. It looks like Wesley ward pulled one off as this guy has some talent, finishing a game second in the Track Barron last out at Belmont Park behind the talented Shanghai Bobby from the Pletcher barn. The gelding was better than a dozen lengths clear of the rest of the field last out.
Bern Identity dueled for the early lead and drew off in the stretch to win by 13 3/4 lengths in one of the better looking maiden efforts at the recently concluded Belmont Park meet. Only two have come out of that race to run back and they ran third and fifth. He caught a sloppy track in his debut, chasing the gate to wire winner Sweet Shirley Mae, who came back to finish fifth in the Schuylerville (G2) on opening day here. The colt popped a bullet on July 15 for the Kelly Breen barn that is showing a 0 for 17 mark at the Spa dating back five years, 0 for 4 last summer.
WIN: #5 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,3,5,6
TRI: 1,5 / 1,3,5,6 / 1,3,5,6,8
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Monmouth Park:
MTH Race 11 The Klassy Briefcase (5:40 ET)
3 Dove Season 9-2
7 Inspired 3-1
6 Bounding Bi 8-1
2 Sounds of the City 4-1
Analysis: Dove Season is perfect in her two starts and ships in from Philly for her stakes debut. She was a good looking maiden winner in her debut on the main track, then was a game winner last out in her first go on turf versus Alw-1 foes. She looks as if she still has plenty of upside. She has three sibs that are also turf winners, top earner Don't Shoot ($167K). She is in good hands with the Servis barn that has won with three of five runners at the meet.
Inspired took the field gate to wire last out to win the Fort Monmouth, her fifth win on turf in a dozen starts. The mare has won four of six starts this year for the Iwinski barn and she owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers. She is going to be real tough to catch here if she shakes loose early.
WIN: #3 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,7 / 2,3,6,7
TRI: 3,7 / 2,3,6,7 / 1,2,3,6,7
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R2: #8 Heavy Breathing 10-1
R2: #3 Star Channel 8-1
R4: #8 My Golden Opinion 8-1
R5: #3 Astonish 12-1
R5: #6 Le Grand Artiste 12-1
R7: #11 Flirtatious Spring 10-1
R8: #1 Bakin' With Cindy 8-1
R10: #4 Sheersflakeofgold 10-1
R10: #8 Sally's Dream 12-1
Good luck today!
HORSE RACING EXPERT
Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.
Mike has also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.
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