At the Gate – Saturday

The big day is here at the Spa with a 13-race card on tap including the $1.25 million Travers (G1) along with five supporting Grade 1 races, with four Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races on tap.

We don’t have Triple Crown winner Justify but we have a deep and competitive field of 11 for the Travers led by Good Magic, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner who was the runner up in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and in his most recent start won the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park.

There are plenty of other options in the race including the filly Wonder Gadot, the winner of the first two jewels of the Canadian Triple Crown, Triple Crown race alumni Tenfold, Bravazo and Vino Rosso, the pair that started their careers overseas in Gronkowski and Mendelssohn, and Catholic Boy, who won the Belmont Derby (G1) on turf in his last outing.

The Grade 1 action starts with the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) at seven furlongs on the main track for three-year-olds. Promises Fulfilled is the 8-5 morning line favorite off his win in the Amsterdam (G3) in his first trip over the Spa main track but he looks like he could end up an underlay.

The $700,000 Personal Ensign only drew six and is not one of the better wagering races on the card, but who does not want to see a rematch between Elate (7-5) and Abel Tasman (6-5)?

The $500,000 Ballerina (G1) for fillies and mares drew a solid group of nine that will go seven furlongs on the main track. The Bob Baffert trained Marley’s Freedom (5-2) ships in from the west coast, but she will have her hands full with Finley’sluckycharm (3-1) and Lewis Bay (3-1).

The $600,000 Forego (G1) drew a good group of sprinters that will go seven furlongs including Limousine Liberal (3-1) and Whitmore (4-1) while the west coast invader City of Light (9-5) is cutting back from nine furlongs where he checked in third in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1).

The $1 million Sword Dancer (G1) at 1 ½ miles on turf drew 10 led by Hi Happy (6-1) who did not care for the soft turf last out in the Bowling Green (G2). Six exit that race including Channel Marker (5-1) and Glorious Empire (10-1) who landed in a deadheat for the win.

NBC covers the action at 4:00 ET. My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 10 strongest plays from Del Mar and Saratota.

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To purchase my Saratoga and Best Plays Reports for Saturday click here.

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

SAR Race 1 Md Sp Wt (11:35 ET)
#1 Greyes Creek 8-5
#6 Starting Point 6-1
#5 Puttheglassdown 2-1
#2 Mischievous Bird 9-2

Analysis: Greyes Creek debuts for the Brown barn that is 8 for 29 (28% with a +ROI) with firsters at the meeting. This colt was a $86,000 Ocala purchase, by Pioneerof the Nile out of the stakes winner American Lady ($151,866), who has dropped two foals to race, no winners to date. Solid works on the morning tab and gets the call despite the rail draw and Irad being in the irons so we will just hope for a good break.

Starting Point prompted the early pace and weakened in the stretch to fish fifth last out in his debut over a wet track in a race taken off the turf. He took some play, sent off at 5-2 in a field of eight. Mott hits at a 17% clip with second out maidens. This guy is by Paynter and the first foal to race out of a Dynaformer mare.

WIN: #1 to win at 7-5 or better.
EX: 1,6 / 1,2,5,6
TRI: 1,6 / 1,2,5,6 / 1,2,3,5,6

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:

SAR Race 10 The Sword Dancer G1 (4:49 ET)
#4 Hi Happy 6-1
#10 Sadler's Joy 7-2
#6 Bigger Picture 8-1
#2 Spring Quality 4-1

Analysis: Hi Happy was my top pick in the Bowling Green (G2) last out and six exit that race which was contested over soft ground. The Pletcher trainee tracked the early pace and tired to finish sixth, beaten eight lengths. It did not appear he liked the ground and I'll toss it and look for a better effort here from a guy that won 7 of his first 11 starts on turf. He won the Man o' War (G1) three back at 1 3/8 miles and won the 1 1/2 mile Pan American (G2) four back at Gulfstream Park with a career top speed fig. He should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace and the 6-1 morning line looks more than fair.
Sadler's Joy seldom runs a bad one and just needs pace and a trip to be right there at the wire. He too exits the Bowling Green where he came with a five wide rally and was beaten just a half-length while third. He has won three times at 1 1/2 miles including in this race last year at 7-1. There is enough early pace signed up to go her to set things up for him.

Bigger Picture raced last early in the Bowling Green and came with a mild late bid to finish fourth, beaten a length for the top spot. he rallied to finish third two back in the United Nations, beaten two lengths by Funtastic. he won the UN last summer and after missing in the Bowling Green he was third in this race, beaten a half-length at 8-1. He makes his third start of his current form cycle and the Maker trainee offers decent value in here if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line. He owns triple digit Beyers in 8 of his last 11 outings.

WIN: #4 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 4,10 / 2,4,6,10
TRI: 4,10 / 2,4,6,10 / 2,3,4,6,10

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Del Mar:

DMR Race 7 The Pat O'Brien G2 (5:05 PT)
#1 Catalina Cruiser 8-5
#4 Roy H 3-1
#8 Battle of Midway 8-1
#7 St. Joe Bay 10-1

Analysis: Catalina Cruiser is perfect in three career starts and rolled gate to wire to win the San Diego 'Cap (G2) last out in his first start around two turns. The third-place finisher Dabster came back to win the Brubaker on Aug. 22 here. Our top pick went gate to wire to beat Alw-1 foes two back with a 107 Beyer and the cut back to seven panels should suit him. He owns solid early and mid pace numbers and looks real tough here.

Roy H stalked the early pace and picked it up late while drifting out in the stretch to fish in the runner up spot in the Bing Crosby (G1) behind ransom the Moon, who will scratch out of here. The gelding as making his first start off a four-month layoff after running a good third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) two back. This guy won five of six last year capped off by his win in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1). A logical threat here but I don't think we have seen our top pick's best yet and that is scary.

WIN: #1 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,4,7,8
TRI: 1,4 / 1,4,7,8 / 1,3,4,7,8

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.

R2: #2 New Jersey John 8-1
R3: #5 Soustache 8-1
R4: #4 Salvator Mundi 10-1
R5: #11 St. Louie 12-1
R5: #1 Tathqeef 8-1
R6: #6 Gidu 10-1
R10: #6 Bigger Picture 8-1
R11: #11 Catholic Boy 8-1
R11: #8 Mendlessohn 12-1
R13: #7 End of an Era 8-1

Good luck today!