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At the Gate - Saturday

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Saratoga got off to a rousing start on opening day on Friday, complete with a deadheat for the win in the feature, the $150,000 Schuylerville (G3) for two-year-old juveniles.
 
The pacesetter Brazen Persuasion headed for home with the lead and  looked well on her way to the winner’s circle, but the petite Bred Calhoun filly Bahnah was as game as could be, getting to the frontrunner in deep stretch in a head bobbing finish.
 
Bahnah was the betting favorite and paid $2.40 while Brazen Persuasion returned her backers $2.80 for the win.
 
The two may face off again later in the meet in the $300,000 Spinaway (G1) on Sept. 1.
 
John Velazquez took the early lead in the jockey standings by picking up three wins. The Hall of Fame jockey won the riding title in 2010 and 2011 and was fourth last year after missing the first week of the meet recovering from an injury.
 
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Rosie Napravnik, who was aboard Brazen Persuasion in the feature capped off the day by winning the nightcap aboard Sonnyandpally ($25.80).
 
One trainer I am going to keep a close eye on is Rudy Rodriguez, who picked up a win with Sage Valley ($8.90) in the James Marvin (G3). Rodriguez has been on the chilly side, finishing the Belmont Park meeting with just 12 winners from  111 starters.
 
He has runners in four races on Saturday, one a main track only entrant. Last summer the trainer won with 10 of 68 starters (15%). Until we see a few more of his runners outrun their odds I am going to continue to avoid most of his runners.
 
I have a quick preview of the Del Mar and Saratoga meets on the front page of our horse racing section.
 
Michael Dempsey’s Monthly Package is available for only $99.95. The package includes his full card reports for Saratoga six days a week and his weekend Best Plays Report, which will include his strongest plays from Del Mar and Saratoga.
 
Click here to purchase my full card report for Saratoga for Saturday.
 
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my nine strongest plays from Saratoga and Del Mar.
 
Here is today’s opening race from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:
 
SAR Race 1 Alw $77,100N1X (1:00 ET)
10 Flirtatious Spring   8-1
6 Heart of New York   3-1
5 Moonlit Sonnet   5-2
3 Palace Dreams   6-1
 
Analysis: Flirtatious Spring stalked the early pace from the inside, was taken off the rail but flattened out in the stretch in a fourth place finish last out at this level. Two back over yielding turf the mare was only beaten 3/4 of a length in a game effort in a third place finish. Three back in her first go against winners she was beaten just a nose, earning a career top speed fig. The mare should be closer to the lead here as there is not much early speed signed up to go here. She has a couple of sibs that are stakes winners, top earner Flirt for Flame ($347,350). CVel sticks for Rice.
 
Heart of New York finished behind a couple of these when fourth last out as the beaten chalk. The filly made a mild late rally but did not get much pace to run at. The winner of the race was Pure Amour, who came back to beat $35,000 starter optional claimers in her next outing on June 20. Rosario takes for the Chad Brown barn that could have a big day today as he has plenty of live runners spread across seven races.
 
Wagering
WIN: #10 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 6,10 / 3,5,6,10
TRI: 6,10 / 3,5,6,10 / 3,4,5,6,10
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:
 
SAR Race 10 CCA Oaks G1 (5:45 ET)
1 My Happy Face   3-1
3 Unlimited Budget   2-1
4 Princess of Sylmar   9-5
2 Cue the Moon   10-1
 
Analysis: My Happy Face looks primed for a top effort here for the Chad Brown barn as she makes her second start off a 4 1/2 month layoff. Last out she tracked the early pace and drew away late to win the Lotka in the mud going a mile as the chalk. Two back in her first go this year she was second to Kauai Katie in the Forward Gal (G2) at Gulfstream Park going seven furlongs. The winner came back to win the Road Princess in her next start and then was third in the Acorn (G1). AS a juvenile she landed in the exacta in all four starts including a tough head loss in the Frizette (G1) behind Dreaming of Julia. The barn hits at a 25% clip with runners making their second start off a 61-180 day layoff. Among the top three she likely is going to offer the most value in this small field.
 
Unlimited Budget makes her first start since a sixth place finish against the boys in the Belmont Stakes (G1). She was bumped coming out of the gate and checked in third in the Kentucky Oaks behind her stablemate Princess of Sylmar, which was her first defeat. She started off her career winning her first four starts including the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and as a juvenile she won the Demoiselle (G2) at the Big A going nine furlongs. She is quick enough, owning solid early and mid pace numbers and should get a good trip sitting just off the pace.
 
Princess of Sylmar pulled off the shocker in the Kentucky Oaks at 39-1 where she was roughed up at the break when caught in between foes, came with a four wide run to get up and pull off the upset. She comes back here with an 11 week break and is using this race as a prep for the Alabama (G1) later in the meeting. After seeing 39-1 last out the 9-5 sure seems light today.
 
Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,3,4
TRI: no play
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Del Mar:
 
DMR Race 8 The Eddie Read G1 (5:42 PT)
9 Lucayan   5-1
2 Sofast   5-1
4 Jeranimo   7-2
1 Barocci   9-2
 
Analysis: Lucayan makes his third start off the layoff and third since arriving in the U.S. and landing with the Drysdale barn. This guy ran into Obviously in both starts and ran a good second to him two back off the bench and last out was a bit closer to the lead and weakened to finish fifth. He has only been beyond a mile once and that was a fifth at Longchamp last fall going 1 1/4 miles in Group 3 company. I like the added distance here and he likely will be sitting farther off the pace today and looking for him to be running late.
 
Sofast makes his U.S. debut here landing with the Mandella barn and receives lasix for the first time. Two back in Group 2 company he was only beaten a head and a neck when third and then was seventh last out in the Prix de  d’Ispahan (G1) which was a solid field. The runner up Planteur was third in the Dubai World Cup (G1) back in March. His only Group win was way back in '11 but this is not a real tough group considering it is a Grade 1.
 
Wagering
WIN: #9 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,9 / 1,2,4,9
TRI: 2,9 / 1,2,4,9 / 1,2,3,4,9
 
Live Longshots:
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.
 
Saratoga
R1: #10 Flirtatious Spring   8-1
R3: #7 Silsita   10-1
R4: #7 Amber Morning   10-1
R4: #9 Echluath   10-1
R6: #6 Cozzetti   12-1
R7: #3 Cay to Pomeroy   8-1
R8: #6 Panama Will   8-1
R9: #5 Sea Island   10-1
R10: #2 Cue the Moon   10-1
R11: #6 Upward   12-1
 
Good luck today!

  
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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.
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