Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

The stars will be out in full force on Saturday at Saratoga with six Grade 1 races on tap highlighted by the $1.25 million Travers (G1) which drew a field of 12.

Three of the Grade 1 races—the $500,00 Ballerina, $850,000 Sword Dancer (G1) and the $700,000 Personal Ensign are Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races.

The Travers may help start to sort out the three-year-old division, although Maximum Security and Game Winner will not compete and will probably line up against each other next month in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx Racing.

Tacitus is the 5-2 morning line favorite and is looking for his first win since taking the Wood Memorial (G2) back in April. He has run well in his last three starts with a win.

He was fourth across the wire and placed third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), was second in the Belmont (G1) and the runner up in the Jim Dandy (G2) in his last outing, the beaten favorite in his last two starts.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is not sending Game Winer but shipped Mucho Gusto across the country to compete. The colt was second in the Haskell Invitational (G1) last out behind Maximum Security.

Code of Honor (4-1) won the Dwyer (G3) in his last outing, his first since getting placed second in the Run for the Roses. As you can see below this guy is my pick and just looks as if he is sitting on a big one this afternoon.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my nine 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 OClm $62,500N2X (11:35 ET)

8 Lemonist 4-1

1 Frontier Market / 1a Unleveraged 4-5

5 Keep Quiet 9-2

10 Penalty 6-1

Analysis: Lemonist tracked the early pace and made a good middle move to take over the lead and could not hold off the winner late in a runner up finish at this level going 1 3/8 miles here. he makes his third start of his current form cycle and cuts back to his preferred distance. All three of his wins have come at a mile. He appears to have the best shot of beating the imposing Brown entry.

Frontier Market made a good late rally to miss by just a neck last out in his first go off a nine-month layoff. He beat Alw-1 foes two back last fall in his first start against wines after taking seven tries to break his maiden. His entrymate Unleveraged prompted the early pace and finished gamely to beat Alw-1 foes last out in his first start against winners. With just three starts under his belt he still has some upside. He returns off a three-month break here for Brown who is 28% winners with runners coming back off a +90-day layoff. It is a tough entry for the meet's leading barn.

WIN: #8 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 1,8 / 1,5,8,10
TRI: 1,8 / 1,5,8,10 / 1,4,5,8,10

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:

SAR Race 11 The Travers G1 (5:44 ET)

2 Code of Honor 4-1

9 Looking At Bikinis 10-1

7 Mucho Gusto 6-1

6 Tacitus 5-2

Analysis: Code of Honor was last early in the six-horse field in the Dwyer and came with a good five wide run, the jock dropping his whip inside the final furlong but it did not matter and he drew clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths. He did it over a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day. The colt made a good late run to finish third across the wire in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and was placed second thanks to the DQ of Maximum Security. After his Fountain of Youth (G2) score I thought this was the Kentucky Derby winner but he came up a bit flat in the Florida Derby (G1) in his third-place finish. He still does not appear to have run his best yet and it may come here on the stretch out to 1 1/4 miles and two turns.

Looking At Bikinis made his stakes debut in the restricted Curlin where he caught a muddy track. The colt set the early fractions while down along a deep inside and weakened to finish fourth. The colt ran big breaking his maiden in his debut last September in the slop and he beat Alw-1 optional claimers two back off a 9 1/2-month layoff two back in fast time. The $240,000 Ocala purchase is bred to get the distance, by Lookin At Lucky out of a Bernardini mare, her first foal to race. The Brown trainee will move forward off his last effort and could give the trainer his first Travers win. Castellano sticks and with just three starts under his belt this guy still has a ton of upside and we may see it this afternoon. Decent value if he goes off near his 10-1 morning line.

Mucho Gusto ran second to Maximum Security in the Haskell (G1) last out, eight lengths clear of the rest of the field. This race as not on Baffert's radar until his bullet drill on Aug. 19 at Del Mar, at least that is what the Hall of Fame trainer said. he was pointing Game Winner here. This colt has landed in the exacta in 7 of 8 starts and had not earned back to back career top speed figs. He won the Affirmed (G3) two back at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Baffert won this race in 2017 with West Coast and in 2016 with Arrogate.

WIN: #2 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,9 / 2,6,7,9
TRI: 2,9 / 2,6,7,9 / 1,2,6,7,9

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

DMR Race 9 The Pat O'Brien G2 (6:00 PT)

6 American Anthem 4-1

7 Catalina Cruiser 4-5

3 Jalen Journey 5-1

4 Giant Expectations 7-2

Analysis: American Anthem is coming in here off a sharp win versus optional claimers and looks primed for a top effort here. The runner up Flagstaff exited his last win to beat Alw-2 optional claimers in his next start with a 97 Beyer The Baffert trainee only made three starts last year but won the San Carlos (G2) at Santa Anita last June. He has won twice over the main track here and has the best shot of beating the chalk.

Catalina Cruiser took the field gate tow wire to win the San Diego ' Cap (G2) last out going 1 1/16 miles over the main track here in his second start off the bench. He won the True North (G2) two back at Belmont park going 6 1/2 furlongs off a seven-month layoff. He won his first four career starts including this race last year but tossed in a clunker in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1). The Sadler barn is 17% winners moving runners from route to sprint. He is perfect in three trips over the main track here. He is the most likely winner but tough to get excited about backing him at 4-5 or less.

WIN: #6 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 3,4,6,7
TRI: 6,7 / 3,4,6,7 / 2,3,4,6,7

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: #2 Moonshine Now 10-1
R4: #5 Off the Record 8-1
R4: #1 Shamrocked 12-1
R5: #5 Bon Raison 12-1
R6: #7 Dawn the Destroyer 15-1
R6: #6 Minit to Stardom 8-1
R7: #9 Hog Creek Hustle 8-1
R7: #4 Borracho 8-1
R9: #3 She’s a Julie 12-1
R11: #9 Looking At Bikinis 10-1
R12: #3 Alien Season 8-1
R13: #3 Hidden Facts 10-1
R13: #7 So Gracious 15-1

Good luck today!

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