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At the Gate - Thursday

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Entries were drawn yesterday for Saturday’s $1 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga, with the Todd Pletcher trained Verrazano installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite.
 
Once the early futures betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1), the colt faded to finish a well beaten 14th on Derby Day and after skipping the final two jewels of the Triple Crown, the colt has come back with a vengeance.
 
The colt won the Pegasus (G3) by 9 ¼ lengths and then came back to win the Haskell Invitational (G1) by 9 ¾ lengths. His trainer Todd Pletcher will be looking for his third Travers, winning in 2011 with Stay Thirsty and 2005 with Flower Alley.
 
Pletcher will also send out the second choice Palace Malice (5-2), which bounced out of his Belmont Stakes (G1) win with a victory in the Jim Dandy (G2) and is perfect in two starts over the Spa main track.
Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Orb is relegated to the third choice on the morning line at 4-1.
 
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After his fourth in the Preakness and third in the Belmont, trainer Shug McGaughey sent the Derby winner to Fair Hill Training Center for a couple of months.
 
The colt came back and put in a bullet work on Aug.19 over the Spa main track and looks like he is ready to fire.
 
There are 14 races on Saturday, with an early post time of 11:35am eastern. The Travers and the $500,000 King’s Bishop (G1) will be televised live during the 90-minute “Summer at Saratoga” on NBC which gets underway at 4:30pm eastern.
 
What a great betting card we have to look forward to including three supporting stakes to the Travers. The $500,000 Test (G1) starts off the Pick 4 with a field of nine three-year-old fillies. The west coast invader Sweet Lulu is the 5-2 morning line favorite and makes her stakes debut for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
 
The $250,000 Ballston Spa (G2) drew a field of eight fillies and makes that will go 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Diana (G1) winner Laughing  appears to be the one to beat for trainer Alan Goldberg.
 
The $500,000 King’s Bishop (G1) drew a full field of 14 sprinters that will go seven furlongs on the main track. The Pletcher trained Forty Takes is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The colt comes into the race riding a three race win streak, a winner of the Amsterdam (G2) last out in his first trip over the Saratoga main track.
 
$1 million Travers Stakes G1 Post time 5:46 eastern
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds
1. Romansh, J. Castellano, T Albertrani, 12-1
2. Orb, J. Rosario, C R McGaughey, 4-1
3. Verrazano, J.R. Velazquez, T A Pletcher, 2-1
4. Golden Soul, R. Albarado, D Stewart, 20-1
5. Will Take Charge, L. Saez, D W Lukas, 10-1
6. Moreno, J. Ortiz, E Guillot, 12-1
7. War Dancer, A. Garcia, K McPeek, 15-1
8. Palace Malice, M. Smith, T A Pletcher, 5-2
9. Transparent, I. Ortiz, Jr., K McLaughlin, 10-1
 
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 Thursday.
 
Here is today’s second race (the opener is a steeplechase race) from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:
 
SAR Race 2 Md $50,000 (1:35 ET)
4 Saratoga Karaoke   3-1
2 Free Release   7-2
1 My Jimmy Chew Girl   5-2
6 Foxbeau   5-1
 
Analysis: Saratoga Karaoke makes her first start since her debut at Churchill Downs where she was sent off as the betting favorite, was off a beat slow and bumped coming out of the gate and was not a threat in a eighth place finish. The fifth place finisher Indian Run came out of the race to graduate in her next outing on at Indiana Downs on July 24. She put in a good breeze over the main track here on Aug. 5 for the Kenneally barn that is 32% winners (with a +ROI) with second out maidens. She was a $65,000 Keeneland purchase and the first foal to race out of an Unbridled's Song mare.
 
Free Release is a $55,000 buy making her debut for the Chad Brown barn that is 13% winners with first timers. The filly is by Dixie Union (12% winners with debut runners) out of a FuPeg mare that has dropped two foals to race, both winners, top earner Briteliteinthecity, ($33,180).The filly put in a  good gate drill on Aug. 18 and the barn has hit with four of 13 firsters here at this meeting to date.
 
Wagering
WIN: #4 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 2,4  / 1,2,4
TRI: no play
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:
 
SAR Race 8 OClm $62,500N2X (4:49 ET)              
6 Viva Rafaela   4-1
4 Moonwalk   6-1
5 Floral Romance   6-1
3 Free as a Bird   3-1
 
Analysis: Viva Rafaela makes her second start since arriving in the U.S. and her second start off an eight month layoff. The filly tracked the early pace and a bit rank going around the first turn and did not have any punch left in the stretch in a fourth place finish, beaten three lengths. She won a Group 1 in Brazil and she figures to move forward with a race under her belt. The Pletcher barn is 28% winners with runners making their second start off a +180 day layoff.
 
Moonwalk tracked the early pace toward the outside and made a mild late rally to finish third last out in her first trip over the Spa turf, which was labeled as good. Two back she was in a deadheat for the runner up spot off an eight month layoff. The winner of that race was Awesome Flower, who came back to win the Lady Canterbury in her next outing. The filly that landed in the deadheat with her was Street of Gold, who also won next out, taking an optional claimer at Ellis Park and then coming back to run a close up third in the Hatoof at Arlington Park in her most recent outing. The Dale Romans trainee won the Jessamine (G3) last fall at Keeneland and looks primed for a top effort here in her third start of her current form cycle.
 
Wagering
WIN: #6 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 3,4,5,6
TRI: 4,6 / 3,4,5,6 / 3,4,5,6,8
 
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: #2 Spy in the Sky   15-1
R3: #5 Vitoria Olimpica   8-1
R4: #6 Let’s Discuss   12-1
R5: #3 Sam’s Buck   12-1
R6: #4 Madris   8-1
R9: #6 Bizarroworld   10-1
 
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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