We have an outstanding afternoon of racing action to look forward to, with three Grade 1 races on tap at Arlington Park and two more at Saratoga.
The highlight of the Arlington Park card is the Arlington Million (G1), which drew a field of eleven runners including five overseas invaders.
The Shug McGaughey trained Boisterous, who came up a neck short in the Arlington Classic (G3) in his last start is the tepid 4-1 morning line favorite.
The race is wide open and with the U.S. based turf division on the weak side, I am siding with the Europeans to make it three straight wins.
Cape Blanco and Debussy shipped across the pond to win the last two runings of the race.
Supporting the Million are the $500,000 Secretariat (G1) and the $750,000 Beverly D. (G1).
The Arlington Million and the Beverly D. are Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" races.
At Saratoga this afternoon we have a pair of Grade 1's on tap, the $600,000 Sword Dancer and the $600,000 Alabama.
The Sword Dancer looks like a showdown between the speedy Turbo Compressor, who won the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park in his last outing, and Point of Entry, who won the Man O' War (G1) at Belmont Park in his last start.
The Alabama lost Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Believe You Can who will get a rest, but the race still came up very tough.
Mother Goose (G1) winner Zo Impressive, Delaware Oaks (G2) winner Grace Hall, and Coaching Club of America Oaks (G1) victor Questing lead the way.
The Spa stakes will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network's "Summer at Saratoga" which gets underway at 5:00 ET.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my nine strongest plays from Arlington Park and Saratoga.
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Here is today's opening from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:
Analysis: Master Splash drops in for a tag for the first time here after coming up short against state bred Alw-1 foes eight times. Last out he stretched out to a mile and was never a threat and now cuts back to a sprint. He ran into repeat winners in three of his last four starts and ran a decent third two back behind a couple of runners that came back to win next out. The winner Notmyfirsttime beat state bred Alw-2 optional claimers in his next outing on July 30 here and the runner up B Shanny beat state bred Alw-1 optional claimers in his next start on Aug. 12 here. He may have finally found a group here he can handle.
Shane Roars tracked the early pace and weakened to finish sixth last out against $25K non-winners of two on the grass, beaten 2 3/4 lengths for the top spot. He is better on dirt and broke his maiden in a NY Stallion Series race at 91-1 last fall. Some of those races tend to come up pretty weak. He looks like he fits here for the Galluscio barn that is 22% winners moving runners from turf to dirt.
WIN: #8 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 4,8 / 4,5,7,8
TRI: 4,8 / 4,5,7,8 / 2,4,5,7,8
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Arlington Park:
AP Race 8 The Secretariat G1 (3:48 CT)
7 Bayrir 6-1
2 Summer Front 5-2
8 Silver Max 9-5
6 Daddy Long Legs 6-1
Analysis: Bayrir makes his U.S. debut here and has won three of his four career starts overseas including a Group 2 in France last out at today's 1 1/4 mile distance. Two back at St. Cloud the colt was up on the pace and he has also shown he can handle ground with some give to it or firmer ground. He still looks like he has some upside. Treasure Beach shipped in from overseas last year to win this race and it looks as if the Euros can make it two in a row.
Summer Front is undefeated on turf in five trips, last out winning the Duluth for his fourth stakes win, three ungraded. His one graded win came in the Hill Prince two back going a mile at Belmont Park. The question mark is whether he can handle the stretch out to 1 1/4 miles.
Silver Max has won six in a row, all in gate to wire fashion. He showed he could handle yielding turf last out and the 1 1/4 miles when he won the Virginia Derby (G2). He is a danger if he shakes loose early, but it does not look like his foes are going to let him have tings his own way early here, which may make him vulnerable at a light price.
WIN: #7 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 2,6,7,8
TRI: 2,7 / 2,6,7,8 / 2,4,6,7,8 Today's Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:
SAR Race 10 The Alabama G1 (5:46 ET)
2 Zo Impressive 5-1
3 Grace Hall 7-5
6 Questing 5-2
7 In Lingerie 6-1
Analysis: Zo Impressive raced wide most of the trip last out in the Coaching Club of America Oak s (G1), going four wide around the first turn and wide again on the far turn. Jockey Rajiv Maragh let Questing get the jump turning for home and she was gone. Our top pick was closer to the pace two back in the Mother Goose (G1) and she finished gamely for the win, earning a career top speed fig in that outing. She has enough pedigree to handle the stretch out here to 1 ¼ miles. She is by Hard Spun out of the stakes winner Zoftig ($401K) who also dropped stakes winner Zaftig ($409K). The filly may be able to turn the tables here and it looks as if Maragh should have her right in the mix early here as there is not much early pace signed on. She looks like decent value here if she goes off near her 5-1 morning line.
Grace Hall came up short as the betting favorite in her third place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), but she sure bounced back with a sharp effort winning the Delaware Oaks (G2) last out, earning a career top speed figure in the win. The Oaks is the lone start in her career that she has missed landing in the exacta, and she has a win over the Spa main track, taking the Spinaway (G1) here last summer in her second career start. She comes in here really sharp and looks as if she will handle the extra ground, although her price is going to be a bit on the light side.
Questing is coming off a win in the CCA Oaks, opening up on the far turn and then drifting out badly inside the final furlong but was well clear, winning by 4 ½ lengths over our top pick in here. Two back she won her first start since arriving in the U.S. last fall when she popped a 105 Beyer beating Alw-1 optional claimers. The runner up and third place finisher came out of that race to win next out, with runner up Book Review earning a 98 Beyer for his win against Alw-1 foes at the Spa on opening day. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers in a race without much other early speed. The main question is whether she can handle another furlong.
WIN: #2 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7
TRI: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7 / 2,3,5,6,7
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.
Mike DempseyMike 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. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, 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 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. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike daily with top picks from Aqueduct or Gulfstream Park. You can also get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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Jerry SessaJerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins. Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.
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