Jockey Ramon Dominguez sent the speedy Little Mike to the lead in Saturday's Arlington Million (G1) and they led every step of the way, holding off the European invader Afsare by 1 ½ lengths, retuning $9.80 for a $2 wager.
The $2 exacta returned $63.40, and there was a deadheat for third with Rahystrada and Colombian hitting the wire together.
The old saying goes, "Pace makes the race," and the Arlington Million was the perfect example.
Dominguez was able to set moderate early fractions of 25.10, 49.95 and 1:15.03, and there was little doubt as the field headed for home down the Arlington Park stretch that Little Mike had plenty left in the tank to hold off the rest of the field, which included five overseas shippers.
My top pick Wigmore Hall was off a beat slow, trailed the field, and came up the inside with a belated rally and had to steady late, checking in seventh at 18-1.
The Million was the only race of the four stakes from Arlington Park in my Best Plays Report in which we did not cash a ticket.
Jakkalberry got the job done in the American St. Leger as my top pick, paying $5.20 and topping a recommended exacta of $19.40 and trifecta of $64.00.
Bayrir won the Secretariat (G1) as my top pick, returning $8.40, with the double with Jakkalberry paying $18.80.
In the Beverly D. (G1) my second choice I'm a Dreamer ($14.60) beat my top pick by a head, the $2 recommended exacta returning $67.70, and we knocked down the recommended trifecta with Joviality that paid a generous $476.20 on a $2 ticket.
Point of Entry ($4.80) was an impressive winner of the Sword Dancer (G1) at the Spa as my top pick, completing a recommended exacta that paid $29.90.
Zo Impressive came up short as my top pick in the Alabama (G1) and the filly came out of the race with a condylar fracture of her right foreleg.
The injury is career threatening but is not life threatening according to her connections.
Joshua Flores, assistant trainer for Tom Albertrani took to Twitter about two hours after the race, stating, "Just so everyone knows #ZoImpressive is very comfortable in her stall. Her main concern was what time were we going to hang her feed tub."
Questing was a dominant winner of the Alabama, drawing clear in the stretch and winning by nine lengths despite the filly getting out again much like she did in her previous win in the Coaching Club of America Oaks (G1).
It took her three tries just to pass her first allowance condition, the first two on turf, and the move by Kiaran McLaughlin to return her to the main track looks incredibly brilliant as she is now won back to back Grade 1 races.
My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my nine 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 Clm $32,000 (1:00 ET)
2 Grand Mere 12-1
1 Kansas / 1a Kimono 3-5
6 Rainbow Dreams 10-1
3 Liberty Girl 6-1
Analysis: Grand Mere gets the call as backing the Pletcher/Ward entry at 3-5 does not look like an appealing way to start off the day. Our top pick makes her debut for the Stidham barn that is 10% winners with first time starters. The $45K Keeneland purchase is by Bob and John (9% winners with debut runners from a limited sampling) out of the stakes placed Petite Princess ($18K) who has dropped seven winners including a pair of stakes winners, top earner Raylene ($776K). The filly debuts with lasix and has been working steadily and quickly in the mornings.
Kimono earned a solid fig in a game runner up finish in her debut, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot. She was better than six lengths clear of the rest of the field in the effort. Her entrymate Kansas had the misfortune of running into the talented Kauai Katies last out, finishing in the runner up spot behind the filly, who came back to win the Adirondack (G2) in her next start here on Aug. 12. The Ward barn has been pretty chilly at the meeting, winning with just 2 of 32 starters.
WIN: #2 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,6
TRI: no play
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Monmouth Park:
MTH Race 10 The Restoration (5:09 ET)
2 Star Channel 2-1
3 Crafty Unicorn 8-1
1 Corinthian's Jewel 5-2
4 Fire Alarm 7-2
Analysis: Star Channel set the early fractions and weakened to finish fourth last out in the Duluth behind the talented Summer Front going a mile. The colt has done his best running sitting off the pace and I am hoping that is the strategy here. He looks headed in the right direction and for the most part has been facing tougher than he catches here. The gelding has plenty of pedigree to handle nine furlongs. He is by Empire Maker out of the turf stakes winner Reach the Top ($215K) who has dropped four other turf winners including stakes winner Changing World ($395K).
Crafty Unicorn dueled for the early lead and weakened to finish third last out in the Jersey Derby in his first go off nearly a two month break. He finished behind our top pick in the Sophomore Turf at Tampa Bay Downs but that was just his second career start. He broke his maiden in his debut in the OBS Championship on the fake stuff. The colt still appears to have some upside and he has enough pedigree on the bottom to handle nine furlongs.
WIN: 2 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 1,2,3,4
TRI: 2,3 / 1,2,3,4 / 1,2,3,4,5
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:
SAR Race 8 The Lake Placid G2 (4:55 ET)
3 Medolina 4-1
11 Stephanie's Kitten 9-5
2 Centre Court 2-1
5 Disposiblepleasure 8-1
Analysis: Medolina came up short last out in the Lake George (G2), tracking the early pace, and taking over the lead and did not have enough punch left late, weakening to finish fifth while beaten 1 1/4 lengths for the top spot. Five of these are coming out of the Lake George and on that is missing is the pacesetter Elusive Rumor. That leaves no pace in here and our top pick may be able to control things up front and if she shakes loose early she may prove tough to catch. She came from off the pace to win her first two starts, and then was up on the pace two back in her win in the Tweedside.
Stephanie's Kitten was the beaten favorite in the Lake George and she had a tough trip in the stretch. The filly was put to a drive in upper stretch and had nowhere to run from the eighth pole to the sixteenths pole, finally getting clear moving down toward the inside but it was too late to make up the ground. She was making her first start off a 2 1/2 month break and her trouble last out was so obvious she is going to get way too much attention at the betting windows here. She won three of five starts last year including taking the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2), as well as the Alcibiades (G1) on poly. She will be tough if she gets a clean trip but she is going to get bet down.
Centre Court was the winner of the Lake George despite getting bumped heading into the first turn. She split rivals in a tight spot in the stretch and took over inside the final furlong, holding on to win by a neck over Better Lucky. She was a bit closer to the pace two back in her win in the regret (G2) at Churchill Downs in her first go against winners. She has plenty of pedigree to handle the extra ground, by Smart Strike out of the stakes winner Let ($604K) who is by A.P. Indy.
WIN: #3 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,2,3
TRI: no play
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.
R1: #2 Grand Mere 12-1
R1: #6 rainbows Dreams 10-1
R2: #5 Always Home 12-1
R2: #3 Johar Beauty 8-1
R4: #3 Bay Head Beauty 8-1
R5: #6 Lovely Dynaformer 12-1
R6: #3 Hear of the Word 8-1
R6: #8 Splendiferous 10-1
R8: #5 Disposiblepleasure 8-1
R9: 32 Fiftyfour Forever 8-1
R9: #6 Marvelous Margaret 8-1
Good luck today!
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 success 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 each day with daily picks from Aqeuduct and Del Mar or you can 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. In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years. Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes. Jerry looks forward to working with everyone and making money for anyone who invests in his picks on a daily basis. Join Jerry everyday with daily picks from
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