Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

It is Day #3 of the Saratoga meeting and we have a solid 11-race card that features a pair of graded stakes although both drew small fields.

The $150,000 Sanford (G3) is for two-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track with a field of five heading to the starting gate.

The Mark Casse trained Cucina is the 8-5 morning line favorite. The colt was a game neck winner in the slop at Belmont Park in his second career start to break his maiden.

The $500,000 Diana (G1) is the feature, a nine-furlong turf test for fillies and mares which drew a field of six with four coming out of the Chad Brown barn.

It is tough to separate three of the Brown runners. Rushing Fall (9-5) has won eight of her nine career starts, her lone loss coming by a neck in the Edgewood (G3) last year. Among her wins was the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

Sistercharlie (8-5) is making her first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) last fall at Churchill Downs. She has won seven of her 11 career starts.

Homerique (5-2) is perfect in her two starts since coming to the U.S., winning the Beaguay (G3) and New York (G2).

Thais (15-1) was fourth in the Plenty of Grace in her last start, her first since a 13th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

The two not saddled by Brown will be the Bill Mott trained Mitchell Road (8-1), who won the Gallorette (G3) in her last outing and Secret Message (12-1) who won the Nassau (G2) in her last outing for trainer Graham Motion.

My Best Plays for Saturday includes my nine strongest plays from Belmont Park and Delaware Park.

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

SAR Race 1 Clm $16,000N2L (1:00 ET)

9 Warm 3-1

10 She's Not Bluffing 5-2

5 Win the Shake 4-1

3 Peggy Sue 6-1

Analysis: Warm takes a plunge here after a seventh on turf versus Alw-1 foes at Monmouth Park. Two back at Tampa Bay Downs the filly came with a good late rally and was beaten just a neck against Alw-1 optional claimers. She broke her maiden on the main track at Tampa last December in her second career start by 9 1/4 lengths. Castellano takes the call on this class dropped and the switch back to dirt should suit her. The barn is 0 for 33 moving runners from turf to dirt which is a concern, but this filly catches a pretty soft spot.

She's Not Bluffing was a good-looking maiden winner last out against $25,000 state breds on the switch form turf to dirt. The Falcone trainee earned the top last out speed fig in the effort. She faces winners for the first time here and looks headed in the right direction form wise. A repeat of her last makes her tough here.

WIN: #9 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 9,10 / 3,5,9,10
TRI: 9,10 / 3,5,9,10 / 1,3,5,9,10

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:

SAR Race 9 The Diana G1 (5:46 ET)

6 Homerique 5-2

4 Sistercharlie 8-5

2 Rushing Fall 9-5

3 Mitchell Road 8-1

Analysis: Homerique is one of four in here sent out by the Chad Brown and likely will be the third choice among them. The filly is perfect in her two starts since landing in the U.S. with Brown. She won the Beaguay (G3) two back off a seven-month layoff and then was the New York (G2) last out by a neck at even money. The third-place finisher in her last race was Semper Sententiae, who returned to win the River Memories in her next start while the fourth-place finisher Holy Helena came back to win the Dance Smartly (G2) in her next outing. This gal was right in the mix in a couple of Group 1 races overseas last year and is going to get a good pace set up here despite the compact field.

Sistercharlie is making her first start since winning the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) last fall at Churchill Downs over good ground. She won the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland last April off the bench. Brown is 29% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. She has earned triple digit Beyer sin each of her last five starts. if her stablemate Rushing Fall and Mitchell Road hook up early it will benefit her.

WIN: #6 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 2,4,6
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Delaware Park:

DEL Race 8 The Delaware Handicap G2 (5:25 ET)

6 Blue Prize 7-2

7 Elate 7-5

3 Escape Clause 5-1

2 Gotham Gala 8-1

Analysis: Blue Prize needs to make up 1 ½ lengths to turn the tables on Elate here and looks capable of doing just that. Last out the mare fought the jock early and going around the first turn, tracked the pace, battled on in the stretch and could not match strides with her rival late. Two back she ran third in the La Troien (G1) at Churchill Downs in her first start off a six-month layoff. She reeled off three in a row last year including the Spinster (G1) and I made her my top pick in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at 8-1 but she came up 1 ½ length short of the top spot in a fourth-place finish. Her one trip at 1 ¼ miles came in a Group 1 in Chile back in ’16. She should get a good tracking trip behind that could be a solid pace. She gets a two-pound shift in the weights and reunites with Bravo who was aboard her for her win in the Spinster.

Elate is the defending champ of this race, winning by 3 ¼ lengths last year as the short price favorite. She won off an 8 ½ month layoff, her first start since running fourth in the ’17 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She comes into this year’s edition off a sharp win in the Fleur De Lis ‘Cap (G2) at Churchill Downs at nine furlongs. She came up short in her first two starts this year, beaten by Midnight Bisou in both of those outings. The extra ground here will suit her as she has won twice at the distance. She owns the top late pace numbers and is going to get some pace to run at. The main knock is going to be her short price, which may drift downward off her 7-5 morning line.

Escape Clause has won 20 of 32 career starts with many of those wins coming at minor tracks like Century and Assiniboia. She made the change to the big time going to turf, winning a stake at Del Mar thanks to a disqualification and also winning the La Canada (G3) on the main track at Santa Anita. She gave Midnight Bisou all she could handle in the Apple Blossom ‘Cap (G1) at Oaklawn Park, coming up just a nose short, then regressed last out in a fourth-place finish in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park. She has talent but the distance is a question mark.

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

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: #11 Crater Rim 15-1
R6: #6 Mr Everything 8-1
R8: #8 Quasar 12-1
R9: #3 Mitchell Road 8-1
R11: #12 Catch a Cab 8-1

Good luck today!

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