At the Gate – Thursday

The feature on Thursday is the $100,000 Birdstone, the longest race run over the flat at the Saratoga meeting, a marathon 1 ¾ miles over the main track.

Only five were entered led by the defending champ Hard Study, who won the race last year at even money and is likely going to be even shorter this year. The Todd Pletcher trainee was installed as the 3-5 morning line favorite.

The five-year-old has made just three starts since winning the race last year. He took a vacation after Saratoga and came back to beat optional claimers, then take the Flat Out at 1 3/8 miles and in his most recent start was third in the Brooklyn (G2) at 1 ½ miles.

He finished behind two solid older runners in Hoppertunity and War Story and does not face as tough this afternoon.

His biggest threat may be his stablemate You’re to Blame, who was third in the State Dinner in his last outing at Belmont Park. Pletcher takes the blinkers off and will give a leg up to Javier Castellano, who was aboard the colt for his last win, which came back in February at Gulfstream park against optional claimers.

Do not forget coming up on Saturday we have the $1.2 million Whitney (G1), one of five stakes on the Saratoga card. The race is a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package for just $99.95. It gives you a month of Saratoga which is running six days a week and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday.

To purchase my Saratoga Report for Thursday click here.

Here is the opening race from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:

SAR Race 1 Clm $25,000 (1:00 ET)
#2 Satin Sheets 5-2
#4 Bustin Hearts 4-1
#6 My Won Love 7-5
#1 Archumybaby 9-2

Analysis: Satin Sheets
came back off nearly a three-month break with a sharp win versus $14,000 non-winners of three at even money. The runner up Asian's Way came back to beat $14,000 non-winners of three by eight lengths in her next outing on June 28. Our top pick was claimed out of her last start by the Gullo barn that is 22% winners first off the claim. She beat state bred Alw-1 foes two back and looks well spotted here back in with NY breds here for a $25,000 tag. She ships in from Finger Lakes where she was a game winner versus state bred optional claimers last out in her second start off the bench.

Bustin Hearts was a game winner at Finger Lakes last out against state bred optional claimers in her second start off the bench earning a career top speed fig. The mare has now won 9 of her 17 career starts and she did break her maiden at Belmont park way back in '16. Looks like a good spot here tagged for $25,000 and Saez takes thee call.

WIN: #2 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 2,4 / 2,4,6
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:

SAR Race 8 Alw $87,000N1X (5:02 ET)
#6 Naples Princess 10-1
#5 Shimmering Moon 6-1
#2 Dream Pauline 5-2
#4 Mizzen Max 7-2

Analysis: Naples Princess
was bumped coming out of the gate, was last in the early going and came with a good late rally to finish a close up third last out at this level in her first start off a 10-month layoff. The runner up Alberobello came back to beat Alw-1 foes here on July 26 by 5 3/4 lengths. The Mott trainee broke her maiden back in '16 and in three starts at this condition last year landed in the money in all three trips. The Hall of Fame barn is having a solid meeting and the 10-1 morning line looks generous on this gal.

Shimmering Moon tracked the early pace, took over the lead heading for home and got run down late to come up just a neck short while three lengths clear of the rest of the field in the mud in a race taken off the turf. She looks back on track after three subpar efforts to start her '18 campaign. She beat state bred Alw-2 optional claimers at Aqueduct in her final start of '17. She makes her third start of her current form cycle for the Nevin barn and she could be more forwardly placed in this spot if Ortiz sends her.

WIN: #6 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 5,6 / 2,4,5,6
TRI: 5,6 / 2,4,5,6 / 1,2,4,5,6

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.

R2: #2 Tenency 10-1
R3: #8 Piantagrane 8-1
R5: #2 Non Finisce Mai 8-1
R6: #8 Souper Echo 8-1
R6: #4 Currency Chaos 8-1
R7: #7 Miles of Humor 8-1
R8: #6 Naples Princess 10-1
R9: #2 Last Promise Kept 8-1

Good luck today!