At the Gate – Thursday

We have a solid 11-race card on tap on Thursday at Saratoga highlighted by the $100,000 John Morrissey for state breds going 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.

If you are into the jump races the day kicks off with the $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase (G1) which drew a field of 13 with a dozen to start.

The Morrissey drew a field of six and while it is a compact field it’s pretty wide open. The Charlton Baker trained Gold for the King is the 2-1 morning line favorite.

The gelding took on graded stakes company in his last two starts, a sixth behind Catalina Cruiser last out in the True North (G2). He will appreciate the return to the state bred ranks.

I landed on the Jason Servis trained Eye Luv Lulu, who ran second in the race last year and is coming back off a short break for a barn that excels with the move.

We have a big day coming up on Saturday at Saratoga. We have the $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2), the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) and the $250,000 Bowling Green (G2).

The Jim Dandy drew a solid field of six three-years-olds— Laughing Fox, Tax, Mihos, Global Campaign, Tacitus and War of Will.

Saturday’s card at Del Mar includes the $300,000 Bing Crosby (G1), a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

More on those races tomorrow once I get my hands on the past performances.

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 Thursday click here .

Here is the second race (the opener is a steeplechase) from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:

SAR Race 2 Md $50,000 (1:18 ET)
#1 Mrs. Awesome 5-1
#3 Stunning Munnings 7-2
#5 Wedontbelieveher 5-2
#4 Polished Copper 3-1

Analysis: Mrs. Awesome is a $100,000 Keeneland purchase who has been working quickly in the mornings for the Contessa barn. The trainer hits at just an 8% clip with firsters but shows a flat bet profit. He is just 1 for his last 25 with debut runners here at the Spa but did win with one last summer and has had a couple of thirds and a fourth with firsters at the meeting here. She is by Awesome Again out of a Run Softly mare that has dropped six foals to race, all winners including a couple of talented runners in Sporting Art ($465,003) and Cheyenne Nation ($375,964).

Stunning Munnings was not a threat on turf in her debut and showed improvement last out on the main track at Gulfstream Park in a third-place finish as the beaten chalk. Ward has started off the meeting here going 0 for 8 and his juvies tend to take too much action, but this gal has some early speed and has the experience edge on this group.

WIN: #1 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,3,4,5
TRI: 1,3 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,2,3,4,5

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:

SAR Race 9 The John Morrissey (5:15 ET)
#5 Eye Luv Lulu 5-2
#1 Gold for the King 2-1
#2 Celtic Chaos 3-1
#4 Build to Suit 5-2

Analysis: Eye Luv Lulu returns off a three-month break here for the Servis barn, last seen running second in the state bred Affirmed Success on April 26 at Belmont Park in the slop. The winner of that race was Pat On The Back, who came back to win the state bred Commentator in his next outing on May 27. The gelding owns solid early and mid pace numbers and ran second in this race last year. He has one New York bred win, taking the '18 Affirmed Success. He runs well fresh, popping a 97 Beyer three back beating open Alw-2 optional claimers at Aqueduct off a short break. He is 0 for 6 over the Spa main track but has run well, landing in the money in four of those trips.

Gold for the King is back with state breds after a sixth-place finish last out in the True North (G2) at Belmont Park off a 4 1/2-month break. The gelding was last early and could not make up much ground in the stretch, beaten 3 1/4 lengths over a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day. The winner Catalina Cruiser came back to win the San Diego Handicap (G2) in his next outing on July 20 at Del Mar. The Baker trainee's last win came in a New York Stallion Series race last fall at the Big A and he was fourth in this race last summer. He should be tighter second off the short break and just needs to see some pace in front of him.

Celtic Chaos is coming off a career top speed fig where he beat Alw-3 optional claimers going seven furlongs at Belmont Park in a race washed off the grass. He bounced back after checking in sixth in the Affirmed Success behind our top pick two back. He put in a solid effort three back in a runner up finish in the state bred Hollies Hughes, earning a number good enough to be in the mix in this spot. The six-year-old has run well here, landing in the money in six of seven starts, taking a state bred non-conditioned allowance race here last summer.

WIN: #5 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,2,5
TRI: no play

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.

R1: #7 Modem 8-1
R1: #12 Gibralfaro 12-1
R5: #7 Family Biz 12-1
R6: #6 Middle Out 12-1
R8: #8 Clairvoyance 8-1
R8: #1 Kressie 12-1
R10: #1 Storm Prophet 8-1
R11: #4 Pecatonica 10-1

Good luck today!