The Todd Pletcher trained Palace Malice got the job done in Saturday's $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga with a good looking one length victory over the D. Wayne Lukas longshot Will Take Charge, returning $4.70.
The Jim Dandy served as a prep for the Travers (G1) on Aug. 24 where all three Triple Crown race winners are expected to meet up.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb is training up to the race, while Preakness (G1) winner Oxbow will be in action today in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park.
Oxbow is the 2-1 second choice in the field of seven for the Haskell. The morning line favorite is Verrazano (9-5) who has won four of his five career starts, winning the Pegasus (G3) over the Monmouth Park main track in his last outing. His lone loss was a 14th place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Even if Verrazano or one of the other five in the field beat Oxbow, as long as the colt comes out of the race in good shape it seems likely Lukas will head to the Spa with the Preakness winner.
Lukas has not missed too many dances this spring, with both Oxbow and Will Take Charge running in all three of the Triple Crown races. Will Take Charge's best effort this spring was a seventh in the Preakness, but the well-bred colt is likely Travers bound as well after his solid runner up finish at 17-1 in the Jim Dandy.
Kettle Corn pulled off the mild upset in the San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar, upsetting 3-5 favorite Paynter, who was making his second start after a year on the bench with a series of life threatening illnesses.
Paynter ran very well in defeat, having the lead in deep stretch only to get run down by the winner in deep stretch. Kettle Corn was my top pick and we received $9.20 along with the exacta which returned $19.20.
Here is today's opening race from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:
SAR Race 1 The Sir Cat (1:00 ET)
1 Winning Cause 7-2
6 Play It Loud 5-2
7 Joha 2-1
2 Bellarmine 6-1
Analysis: Winning Cause has done his best work on poly, winning the Lexington (G3) back in April and then running second in a couple of stakes at Woodbine on the fake stuff. The colt has two turf starts, both here in his first two career starts, a sixth and a fifth. He has a solid turf pedigree, by Giant's Causeway out of a Kingmambo mare and Pletcher finds a great spot for him here in this restricted stake for non-winners of a stake on turf.
Play It Loud finished gamely to just miss in the Hill Prince (G3) in his stakes debut at 36-1. The winner of the race was Notacatbutallama, who came back to win the Solar Splendor in his next outing on July 13. The colt should move forward in his second start off a 4 1/2 month layoff for the Nihei barn. This guy is a half to stakes winner Bsharpsonata ($595,010) who could run on turf or dirt.
WIN: #1 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,6 / 1,2,6,7
TRI: 1,6 / 1,2,6,7 / 1,2,4,6,7
Analysis: Rainbow Heir is coming off a sharp win in the Jersey Shore (G3) last out at Monmouth Park, running his record to a perfect four for four and earning the top last out speed fig. Our second and third choices like to come from off the pace and among the top three here our top pick is likely going to offer the most bang for the beck. There are a couple of runners in here that are quick early and he did not bet a real tough group last out and his win two back was against NJ breds. I still think this guy may be tough if he is able to avoid a speed duel and a bounce.
Declan's Warrior got the worst of it last out in the Woody Stephens (G2). The colt saved ground in the early going on a day most of the winners were avoiding the inside paths, had a foe cut in front of him inside the final furlong, altered toward the inside and again was bothered by that foe and brushed with him late. A clear trip and he may have gotten to Forty Tales and looks capable of turning the tables on that foe here.
Forty Tales made a good late rally and his jockey Edgar Prado was able to alter course farther out in the stretch to avoid Clearly Now who was getting in the way of Declan's Warrior and finished up well to win by 3/4 of a length. Two back he picked up his first stakes win with a game neck win in the Derby Trial (G3) at Churchill Downs going a mile. He cuts back an extra half furlong here but did break his maiden at six furlongs and he has only missed the exacta once in his career and that was a fifth in the Hutcheson (G2) in his stakes debut. The Pletcher trainee will be tough but his price is going to be on the light side.
WIN: #6 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,6 / 2,3,6,7
TRI: 3,6 / 2,3,6,7 / 1,2,3,6,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Monmouth Park:
Analysis: Verrazano bounced back from his disappointing 14th place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a rather easy win in the Pegasus (G3) where his main foe Itsmyluckyday had to pull up. The colt was able to set moderate fractions and had plenty left, drawing away to win by 9 1/4 lengths The colt won his first four starts, but lost some luster despite winning the Wood (G1) as the race was won in slow time. The Todd Pletcher trainee has been working smartly since his last win and looks capable of moving forward off his last outing.
Power Broker took the field gate to wire to win the Easy Goer last out over a wet track and he was down toward the inside on a day most of the winners were using the outer paths. The runner up Micromanage came out of the race to win the Long Branch in his next outing on July 7. The Bob Baffert trainee is a Grade 1 winner, taking the Frontrunner as a juvenile and he looks back on track after failing to fire in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) which knocked him off the Triple Crown trail.
Oxbow makes his first start since his runner up finish in the Belmont (G1) behind Palace Malice, who came back with a sharp win yesterday in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee won the Preakness (G1) two back in gate to wire fashion as Gary Stevens was able to slow things down early and have plenty left late. The colt is the one to beat, but his price may end up lighter than his 2-1 morning line.
WIN: #7 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 4,7 / 4,5,6,7
TRI: 4,7 / 4,5,6,7 / 1,4,5,6,7
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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