Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

At the Gate - Friday

The Saratoga meeting got off to a good start, with Armament getting the job done in the opener paying $11.40 as my top pick and we knocked down the exacta cold for $60.00.

It did not end as well, with rains coming down hard and moving the finale on the 10-race card off the turf, scratching the field down to three.

Handle was down compared to last year. According to The Daily Racing Form handle was down 31%, part of that due to the fact there were 79 runners this compared to 92 last year, when opening day was on a Friday and a week later.

Not the kind of start the New York Racing Association was probably looking for, but the weather should improve today, and we have 39 more days of racing action at the Spa.

The Friday feature is the $150,000 Forbidden Apple (G3) for four-year-olds and upward going one mile on the inner turf course.

A wide-open field of 10 go to the post with the Linda Rice trained Voodoo Song the 3-1 morning line favorite. He won this race last year in gate to wire fashion at 5-1. This will be his first start since winning 12th in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) last fall at Keeneland.

There are options at better prices including Qurbaan (6-1), who has been facing tougher and Offering Plan (6-1) who was third in the New York bred Kingston in his last outing.

Coming up on Saturday we have a pair of graded stakes—The $150,000 Sanford (G3) for two-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track and the $500,000 Diana (G1) at nine furlongs on turf for fillies and mares.

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package. It gives you a month of Saratoga Reports daily and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday.

To purchase my Saratoga Report for Friday click here .

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

SAR Race 1 Md $20,000 (1:00 ET)
#3 Derby Memories 6-1
#5 French Revolution 8-5
#8 Oso Negro 2-1
#2 Legion Storm 9-2

Analysis: Derby Memories was not a threat last out on yielding turf at Churchill Downs against $50,000 foes off a long layoff. It was his first start since his debut back in Sept. of '17 where he showed speed on the main track and tired to finish sixth. The Gargan barn is 33% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from turf to dirt. He is out of the stakes winner Prissy ($189,569). Carmouche picks up the call and expecting to see this one in the mix early.

French Revolution tracked the early pace and faded to finish eighth last out off a six-month layoff taking on $40,000 foes. He drops into an easier spot here tagged for $20,000. He is out of a stake placed Suave mare that has dropped two other foals to race, both winners. Pletcher is 26% winners moving runners from turf to dirt. He should be a threat here taking on easier company and is better suited pedigree wise for the main track.

WIN: #3 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 2,3,5,8
TRI: 3,5 / 2,3,5,8 / 2,3,4,5,8

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:

SAR Race 9 The Forbidden Apple G3 (5:51 ET)
#8 Qurbaan 6-1
#4 Offering Plan 6-1
#1 Gidu 12-1
#3 Hembree 8-1

Analysis: Qurbaan has lost six in a row since winning the Bernard Baruch 'Cap (G2) last September in his U.S. debut. The blinkers come off after a two-race experiment. Last out in the Manhattan (G1) at 1 1/4 miles he dueled for the early lead and tired to finish eighth. He has landed din the money in three Grade 1 races including a solid second two back in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. The cut back in distance should suit this guy.

Offering Plan made a mild late rally to finish third last out in the state bred Kingston at Belmont Park going a mile over good turf. The winner Gucci Factor came back to win the Poker (G3) in his next outing on June 16. The Brown trainee has had most of his success against state breds but did run a good third in this race last year. This is his third start this year and he appears to be sitting on a good one here. He handles ground with some give to it which may be the case here.

Gidu opened up a clear lead and held on to win by 3/4 of a length to beat Alw-3 optional claimers last out, his fourth win on turf in 11 trips. Last summer here on yielding ground he was beaten just 1 3/4 lengths in a fourth-place finish in the Hall of Fame (G2). He draws the rail and has solid early and mid pace numbers. He should be tighter second off the bench here but does have several foes in the capable of keeping him honest early.

WIN: #8 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 4,8 / 1,3,4,8
TRI: 4,8 / 1,3,4,8 / 1,3,4,6,8

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.

R6: #2 Heavy Ruler 10-1
R7: #11 She’s a Dreamin 8-1
R7: #7 Tzipi 8-1
R9: #1 Gidu 12-1
R9: #3 Hembree 8-1
R10: #5 Abby Normal 8-1

Good luck today!

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