At the Gate - Thursday
August 20, 2014
By Mike Dempsey
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Entries for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes have come out and we will see a field of 10 go to the post in the Mid Summer Derby at Saratoga.
Haskell Invitational (G1) winner Bayern was installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite and is going to be the one to catch. The question mark is the 1 1/4 miles. The Bob Baffert trainee has not been beyond 1 1/8 miles.
Tonalist of course has been successful at 1 1/2 miles, taking the Belmont Stakes (G1) back in June. Wicked Strong (7-2) will garner plenty of support off his sharp win over Tonalist in the Jim Dandy (G2). The colt ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and fourth in the Belmont.
Another colt that has won at 1 1/4 miles is the Shug McGaughey trained Mr Speaker, who won the Belmont Derby (G1) last out on turf. The Travers will be just his second start on conventional dirt. The colt was seventh in the Holy Bull (G2) in January. He did win the Lexington (G3) over polytrack and has worked well over the main track at the Spa.
The Travers Day card also features the $250,000 Ballston Spa, the $500,000 Ballerina and the $500,000 King’s Bishop. The Ballerina and Travers will be part of NBC Sports Network's national telecast from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Travers has a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m.
There are 14 races on Saturday, and then we have Pacific Classic Day coming up at Del Mar on Sunday, which offers up an intriguing matchup between the undefeated three-year-old Shared Belief and the defending champion Game On Dude.
In addition, we have an 11-race card at the Spa on Friday that includes a showdown between Close Hatches and Princess of Sylmar in the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign.
I will catch up on sleep on Monday.
To purchase my full card report for Saratoga for Thursday click here.
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 Clm $25,000N2L (1:00 ET)
2 Tiz May West 8-5
6 Ocean Boulevard 6-1
3 Morning Star 5-2
5 Gem City Gal 3-1
Analysis: Tiz May West was brushed at the break, tracked the early pace and weakened to finish ninth last out against Alw-1 foes in her local debut. The filly broke her maiden in her debut and then was a good second two back in her first start against winners. She drops in for a tag here for the Stall barn and these Churchill shippers seem to need a race over the surface. She owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and may be able to take this group gate to wire.
Ocean Boulevard exits the same race as our top pick and she was badly outrun, trailing throughout in an 11th place finish. It was her first go off a nine-month layoff for the Wilkes barn. She broke her maiden over the Spa main track here last summer and was fifth in a couple of stakes before hitting the sidelines. She was dead on the board last out, sent off at 11-1 but expecting to see a better effort out of this gal here today and she may end up offering decent value if she goes off near her 6-1 morning line.
WIN: #2 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 2,6 / 2,3,6
TRI: no play
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:
SAR Race 7 Md Sp Wt (3:43 ET)
5 M B and Tee 8-1
7 Guilty Verdict 2-1
1 Dragonberry 6-5
2 Smart Ashley 6-1
Analysis: M B and Tee lost some ground early when she hit the side of the gate after lunging at the break. She came vie wide into the stretch but did not have any punch left in a fifth place finish, beaten four lengths for the top spot. The $110,000 Keeneland purchase came back with a good work since her last outing and with a cleaner break and a race under her belt figures to move forward. The barn is having a tough meeting (1 for 27) but is capable with younger runners. This filly has seven sibs that are winners including a pair of stakes winners, top earner Parker Run ($297,212). She should be a decent price in this spot and she has enough pedigree to handle nine furlongs.
Guilty Verdict stretches back out after checking in third last out going seven furlongs on the main track here. She came back off the bench two back with a decent effort in a fourth place finish on the turf going two turns. She looks primed for a top effort here in her third start off the layoff for the Shug barn. She is out of the stakes winner Smuggler ($654,352) and the nine furlongs should not pose a problem.
WIN: #5 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 5,7 / 1,2,5,7
TRI: 5,7 / 1,2,5,7 / 1,2,5,6,7
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.
R3: #1 Bryce Bryce Baby 8-1
R4: #7 Northern Smile 8-1
R6: #6 Champagne Ruby 12-1
R7: #5 M B and Tee 8-1
R8: #4 Rhythm Queen 8-1
R8: #8 Tidal Slam 15-1
Good luck today!
HORSE RACING EXPERT
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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