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At the Gate - Saturday
Saratoga celebrates their 150th anniversary this afternoon, and the connections of Fort Larned will be seeking to celebrate becoming just the second horse in the history of the $750,000 Whitney Handicap (G1) to win back-to-back runnings of the historic race.
Discovery won the race three years in a row from 1934-1936.
Fort Larned is the 7-5 morning line favorite as he takes on a field of seven.  The Ian Wilkes trainee capped off an outstanding 2012 campaign by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and we did a little celebrating as he was our top pick in the race and returned $20.80.
It has been an interesting 2013 campaign so far. His first start came in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) in March. Coming back off a four month break he stumbled and dumped jockey Brian Hernandez. He sure looked good without a jockey, drawing away to win by nearly the length of the stretch, but of course it did not count.
He came back in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) on April 13 and I thought he could not lose. So did just about everyone else as he was sent off at odds of 1-2, only he did not fire his best and struggled home in fifth, beaten 10 ½ lengths.
Next up was the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs. I did not lose faith and still made him my top pick, and he returned to his old self, taking the field gate to wire and winning by 6 ¼ lengths, returning $8.60.
The five-year-old earned a 115 Beyer Speed Figure, just two points below his career best which he earned in his Breeders’ Cup Classic win last fall.
He gets a real test today as the lightly races Cross Traffic will assure the early pace will be swift. At a light price I am going to try and beat him today as you can see below in today’s featured race of the day.
The Whitney will be nationally televised on NBC today at 5:00 pm eastern,
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 $82,000N2L (1:00 ET)
4 Slan Abhaile   7-2
6 Gombey Dancer   4-1
1 Googleado   2-1
7 Midnite Poppa   8-1
Analysis: Slan Abhaile is back on dirt after a failed attempt in his first go on turf, checking in a non-threatening seventh behind a repeat winner. Two back he was third in the mud and three back in his last go over a fast main track he ran a good second against Alw-1 optional claimers at Churchill Downs in his first start against winners. Rosario sticks for the Romans barn that is 20% winners moving runners from turf to dirt.
Gombey Dancer failed to threaten last out in the mud and now comes back here off a nearly a two month break. This guy earned a solid fig in his maiden win in his second career start, and that was good enough for the barn to toss him in the Swale (G3) where he tired to finish ninth. He makes his first start here for the Tony D. barn that is 23% winners with newcomers to the barn. He should be fit and ready to go off works at Fair Hill.
WIN: #4 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 1,4,6,7
TRI: 4,6 / 1,4,6,7 / 1,4,5,6,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:
SAR Race 10 The Whitney Hcp G1 (5:45 ET)
5 Ron the Greek   6-1
3 Fort Larned   7-5
4 Cross Traffic   5-2
1 Successful Dan   12-1
Analysis: Ron the Greek was no match for Fort Larned last out in the Stephen Foster (G1), making a mild late run up the inside to finish third, beaten 10 1/4 lengths. The winner was able to control things early and had plenty left but might have his hands full today with Cross Traffic. If an early speed duel does develop our top pick likely is going to be the beneficiary, and he sure is going to offer more value for the top spot. Two back on the tight turns at Charles Town he was bumped and pinched back at the break and made a good late run to finish third behind Game On Dude, who came back to win the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) in his next start while the runner up Clubhouse Ride won the San Diego (G2) in his next start. He is getting four pounds from the favorite and this race may set up for him nicely.
Fort Larned looks back on track after losing his first two starts of 2013. He stumbled and dumped his jockey in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) and riderless won by a pole. It's tough to explain his sub-par effort in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) where he was a dull fifth, but he bounced back with an impressive victory in the Stephen Foster where he earned a near career top, just two points shy of his Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) win last fall. He is looking to become the first horse since Discovery in in the 1930's to win back-to-back runnings of this race. He beat our top pick in last year's race and won with a tracking trip, which he may need to revert to here. The only real knock is going to be the light price.
Cross Traffic set the early fractions and could not hold off Sahara Sky late in the Met Mile (G1), beaten just a nose in a game effort. The third place finisher Flat Out came out of the race to win the Suburban (G2) in his next outing on July 6 at Belmont Park. Two back Cross Traffic was beaten just a head in the Westchester (G3) in his stakes debut to Flat Out. This guy certainly has the most upside and the Todd Pletcher barn has been sending out live runners at the meeting, hitting at a 35% clip.
WIN: #5 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 1,3,4,5
TRI: 3,5 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,3,4,5,6
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Del Mar:
DMR Race 8 The Clement Hirsch G1 (5:40 PT)
6 More Chocolate   4-1
9 Include Me Out   9-5
2 Byrama   3-1
5 Via Villaggio   12-1
Analysis: More Chocolate was no match for Byrama last out in a runner up finish in the Vanity Handicap (G1) in her first trip over the fake stuff. She earned several solid figs earlier this year on conventional dirt including a 101 Beyer in a runner up finish in the Santa Margarita (G1) behind Joyful Victory. The John Sadler trainee has had a couple of good drills over the poly here and she looks capable of moving forward off her last effort. Most of the attention is going to land on the favorite here so this gal may end up a fair price.
Include Me Out is the defending champion in this race and looks primed for a top effort here second off a 7 1/2 month layoff. She came back off the bench last out with a sharp win in the Desert Stormer which looks as if it served as a good prep for today. She won four of seven last year including this race and has won two of her three trips over the polytrack here. She drilled a bullet work here on July 29 and while her 9-5 morning line looks fair I have a hunch we may be looking at even money by post time.
WIN: #6 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 6,9 / 2,5,6,9
TRI: 6,9 / 2,5,6,9 / 1,2,5,6,9
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.
R1: #7 Midnite Poppa   8-1
R5: #9 Carole Lee   15-1
R6: #2 Sunlover   8-1
R8: #2 Fan Base   8-1
R10: #1 Successful Dan   12-1
R11: #2 Nonnie Connie   12-1
R12: #4 Seriously Sharp   20-1
Good luck today!

· Dempsey: At the Gate - Wednesday
· Justify to resume training in California
· Fans cheer Justify during parade lap
· Lather Up wins $1M North America Cup
· Justify back at Churchill after winning TC
· Owners: Justify will race again
· Justify grabs Crown with Belmont win
· Mike Smith oldest jockey to win TC
· Baffert has winning day, 3 times over
Mike Dempsey 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.
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.

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Jerry Sessa Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to 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.

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.

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