Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

At the Gate - Sunday

We close out the racing week with a marathon 12-race card at Saratoga this afternoon and we have a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race at Del Mar.

The feature at the Spa is the $200,000 Amsterdam (G2) for three-year-olds going 6 ½ furlongs on the main track with a a dozen lining up.

The Jorge Navarro trained Shancelot is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The colt is undefeated in two career starts. He broke his maiden by a neck in his debut at Gulfstream Park in February and came back last month to roll over first level optional claimers at Monmouth Park by 6 ¼ lengths.

I landed on Nitrous who rallied from far out of it to run second in the Woody Stephens (G1) on Belmont Stakes Day. The colt should get a good pace set up.

At Del Mar a field of seven will face off in the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch (G1) with the winner earning a free ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

The John Shireffs trained Paradise Woods is the 8-5 morning line favorite. The mare is looking to bounce back after getting beaten at 1-9 last out in the Santa Maria (G2) at Santa Anita.

Her main foes will be the filly that beat her La Force and Secret Spice.

My Best Plays for Sunday includes my eight strongest plays from Saratoga and Del Mar.

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

SAR Race 1 Md Sp Wt (1:00 ET)
#4 Cleon Jones 5-2
#1 Three Jokers 6-1
#7 Brian's Last Song 4-1
#3 Stanhope 3-1

Analysis: Cleon Jones was hammered down to the favorite when making his debut at Belmont Park and was not much of a threat in a fifth-place finish in a seven-horse field. The $325,000 Ocala purchase may be worth another look here as he put in a good breeze over the main track here for the Englehart barn that is 23% winners (with a +ROI) with second out maidens. The colt is out of a Quiet American mare that has dropped one winner. The lone runner in her with a race under his belt may prove to be an advantage.

Three Jokers debuts for the Terranova barn that is 9% winners (with a +ROI) with first time starters. He is by Twirling Candy out of the stakes winner Heavenly Humor ($269,595) who has dropped seven foals to race, all winners including a pair of stakes winners, top earner Funny Guy ($245,270). Solid works over the main track here and Rosario takes the call.

Wagering
WIN: #4 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,3,4,7
TRI: 1,4 / 1,3,4,7 / 1,2,3,4,7

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:

SAR Race 11 The Amsterdam G2 (6:38 ET)
#6 Nitrous 4-1
#12 Shancelot 3-1
#5 Honest Mischief 7-2
#3 Super Comet 8-1

Analysis: Nitrous was last early and came with a good late rally to just miss by a neck last out in the Woody Stephens (G1) going seven furlongs at Belmont Park. The colt caught a racing strip that was playing to runners on the inner paths. The third-place finisher Borracho came back to beat Alw-2 optional claimers in his next start on July 21 here. The Asmussen trainee was third in the Hopeful (G1) here last summer and has a couple of stakes wins, at a mile at Sunland and the six-furlong Bachelor at Oaklawn Park two back. He should get some pace to run at here and will be coming late.

Shancelot is perfect in two starts for the Navarro barn. The colt graduated in his debut at Gulfstream Park in February in gate to wire fashion, holding on to win by a neck. Last out against Alw-1 optional claimers at Monmouth Park off a four month break he set sharp early fractions and drew away to win by 6 1/4 lengths and earn a triple digit Beyer. He only had to beat four foes, but the third and fifth place finishers did come back to win next out. The colt breaks from the outside which may suit him as there is plenty of speed to his inside. He steps into a tougher spot here but may be up to it.

Honest Mischief broke his maiden two back at Keeneland off in his second career start in a good looking outing, drawing clear to win by eight lengths. Last out in the Woody Stephens he was sent off as the favorite. He stalked the early pace, came with a five wide bid and weakened late to finish sixth while beaten two lengths. Castellano sticks on this Chad Brown trainee, who is out of the stakes winner Honest Lady ($894,168) who has dropped three stakes winners, top earner First Defence ($580,534).

Wagering
WIN: #6 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 6,12 / 3,5,6,12
TRI: 6,12 / 3,5,6,12 / 3,5,6,7,12

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

DMR Race 7 The Clement L. Hirsch G1 (5:20 PT)
#3 Secret Spice 2-1
#5 Paradise Woods 8-5
#1 La Force 3-1
#4 Ollie's Candy 5-1

Analysis: Secret Spice shipped to Churchill Downs last out on Oaks Day and ran a solid second in the La Troien (G1) The filly dueled for the early lead and got clear in the stretch but drifted and was unable to hold off the winner She's a Julie. She was 3 1/2 lengths clear of the talented Blue Prize. Two back the Baltas trainee tracked the early pace and drew clear to win the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. She returns off nearly a three-month break and has worked quickly over the main track here for a barn that is 14% winners with runners coming back of a 61-180-day layoff. She reunites with Prat who as aboard last fall when she popped a 106 Beyer beating Alw-1 optional claimers.

Paradise Woods stalked the early pace after bobbling coming out of the gate. She had to wait for some running room and then could not catch La Force when clear, settling for the runner up spot in the Santa Maria (G2) at 1-9. Two back in the Santa Margarita (G2) she trounced La Force by 10 1/2 lengths. That win was her first since taking the '17 Zenyatta (G1), snapping a seven ace losing streak. She is capable of much better than her last outing.

La Force got a great trip in the Santa Maria last out to pull off the upset at 5-1. It was just her third win in 25 career starts. She was second in this race last year and followed that up with a second in the Zenyatta. She will need to run back to the two efforts to beat her main rivals in here.

Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 1,3,4,5
TRI: 3,5 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,3,4,5,7

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.

Saratoga
R2: #1 Stink Man 12-1
R3: #1 Yes and Yes 12-1
R4: #3 Bustin Hoffman 10-1
R5: #7 Quaility Choice 8-1
R7: #10 Global Exchange 8-1
R8: #2 Pendolino 8-1
R9: #9 Discretionary Marq 8-1
R10: #4 Repatriated Gem 8-1
R11: #3 Super Comet 8-1
R12: #8 Tanielli’s Candy 8-1

Good luck today!

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