At the Gate - Sunday
August 5, 2012
By Mike Dempsey
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The Ian Wilkes trained Fort Larned stamped his ticket to the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) with a sharp looking win in yesterday's $750,000 Whitney Handicap (G1).
The Whitney is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" series of races, with the winner guaranteed a starting berth in the Classic.
The colt was coming off a gate to wire score in the Cornhusker Handicap (G3) at Prairie Meadows, but took a tracking role in the Whitney.
His jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. had him in a good spot as they turned for home and he quickly opened up a clear lead and drew off to win by 1 ¼ lengths, returning $16.40 to win.
It was the first trip to Saratoga for Hernandez, and it turned to be his first Grade 1 victory.
The Bill Mott trained Ron the Greek went off as the 5-2 favorite and had to settle for second as my top pick.
The $2 exacta paid $76.50, with Mott's other runner Flat Out completing a $2 trifecta that paid $288.00.
We saw a pair of chalks crash and burn on Saturday.
Hansen went off at 3-5, battled for the early lead and faded to finish fourth in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G2).
And we saw Agave Kiss come up short as the chalk in the $300,000 Prioress (G) at the Spa.
The Rudy Rodrigues filly set the early fractions and weakened to finish third as Emma's Encore showed her 39-1 win in the Victory Ride (G3) was no fluke, running them down and returning $12.40.
We have a solid 11-race card on tap at Saratoga for Sunday, featuring the $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1).
Met Mile (G1) winner Shackleford is the 6-5 morning line favorite and takes on seven foes in the six furlong sprint on the main track.
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My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Monmouth Park and Saratoga.
Here is today's opening from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:
SAR Race 1 OClm $35,000N1X (1:00 ET)
4 Fire Assay 7-2
1 Centrina 6-1
3 Decennial 5-1
9 Trophy Wife 3-1
Analysis: Fire Assay gets the call in a wide open race to start the day. The filly made a good late rally to finish third last out against Alw-1 foes at Belmont Park, beaten a half-length for the top spot. The way she has finished in her last two starts makes it look as if she will be able to handle the extra ground here. She did not get much pace to run at in her last two starts and there is not an abundance of early zip in here either.
Centrina is coming off a win against state bred Alw-1 optional claimers last out, her seventh career win on turf in 21 starts despite a less than stellar turf pedigree. She was claimed out of her last start by the Galluscio barn that is 20% winners first off the claim, taking this gal off the Martin barn that has been pretty chilly all year although has sent out a couple of live runners here at the Spa. The switch to Castellano certainly suited as Espinoza was ice cold at the Belmont Park meeting.
WIN: #4 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,3,4,9
TRI: 1,4 / 1,3,4,9 / 1,3,4,8,9
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:
SAR Race 10 The Alfred G. Vanderbilt G1 (5:56 ET)
4 Rothko 8-1
1 Shackleford 6-5
2 Emcee 2-1
7 Jersey Town 10-1
Analysis: Rothko caught a muddy track last out in the Iowa Sprint, chasing a loose on the lead gate to wire winner. The third place finisher in the race was Warning Song, who came back to win the Omaha at Horsemen's Park in his next outing. Two back our top pick ran the best race of his career, winning the Aristides (G3) at Churchill Downs off a three month break. The colt has landed in the exacta in 7 of his 9 starts, but does face his toughest test here. He looked as if he is sitting on a good one here third off the break and should get a good tacking trip behind what is going to be a sharp early pace.
Shackleford earned a career top winning the Met Mile (G1) last out in gate to wire fashion, holding off the late charge by Caleb's Posse by a nose. The colt is using this race as a prep for the Forego (G1) later in the meet. The colt has never raced at six furlong sin his career. He has run even furlongs four times, winning twice. There is some serious speed in here and his 6-5 morning line sure looks light.
Emcee looks back on track after a sharp looking Alw-2 optional claimer win where he matched his career top. He won his first two starts and then found graded company two tough, checking in third in the Tom Fool 'Cap (G3) as my top pick, and then he was fourth in the Carter 'Cap (G1). This is his first go off a three month break for the McLaughlin barn that is 27% winners (with a +ROI) with horses coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
WIN: #4 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,2,4,7
TRI: 1,4 / 1,2,4,7 / 1,2,3,4,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Monmouth Park:
MTH Race 10 The Tyro (5:09 ET)
1 Rip Roarin Ritchie 5-2
2 I'm Boundtoscore 7-2
6 Itsmyluckyday 4-1
4 Kiwi Ruler 6-1
Analysis: Rip Roarin Ritchie was a sharp maiden winner in gate to wire fashion last out over the grass at Churchill Downs in her second career start. The effort was flattered when both the third and fourth place finishers came back to graduate in their next starts. Two back in his debut over poly at Woodbine he ran third behind a pair of runners that each came back to win stakes. The winner Uncaptured won the restricted Clarendon and Vandal in his next two starts and the runner up Ray's Away won the Victoria in his next start on June 16. The Ward gelding has posted a couple of bullet drills since his last outing and is the one to beat here as the likely favorite.
I'm Boundtoscore is the only stakes winner in the field, taking the Chenery over yielding ground at Colonial Downs last out in his first trip on grass. The stakes at the New Kent Va. track do not always come up that tough, but the runner up Private Tutor did come back to win the Shuk Memorial at Delaware Park in his next start on Aug. 4. This guy has the experience edge over this group, with five exiting maiden races and another making his debut.
WIN: #1 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,4,6
TRI: 1,2 / 1,2,4,6 / 1,2,3,4,6
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: #1 Lelups 10-1
R4: #2 Evasive Cat 8-1
R5: #4 Goldie's Reward 15-1
R5: #1 Corinthian's Lark 12-1
R7: #10 Going Green 8-1
R10: #4 Rothko 8-1
R10: #7 Jersey Town 10-1
R11: #6 A Boy Named Em 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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