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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:53 PM

Thursday's Picks from Saratoga

There will be no fans and the nightlife in town won’t be the same, but Saratoga opens Thursday for its much anticipated 40-day meeting.
 
Horseplayers will be wagering from home, and we certainly have been sending it in enthusiastically during this pandemic. Average daily handle at the recently concluded Belmont Park meeting was up 42% over last year’s numbers.
 
Many trainers wanted to keep running at Belmont Park, but the New York Racing Association knows Saratoga is not only a racetrack it is a brand, and handle will be better by moving racing to the Spa.
 
Over the course of the meeting which ends on Labor Day, we have 39 graded stakes, 18 of them Grade 1 races.
 
The big day comes on Aug.  8 where the $1 million Travers (G1) will be run. The race features many of the top three-year-olds. Instead of seeing runners from the Triple Crown series compete, the race this year is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race. The Derby was rescheduled for Sept. 5.
 
The top older horses in training will compete in the $750,000 Whitney (G1) on Aug. 1. The race is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). The card will also feature the $500,000 Personal Ensign (G1) and the $300,000 Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1).
 
The traditional opening day stake is today’s $100,000 Schuylerville (G3) for two-year-old fillies. The race drew a field of eight led by the Mark Casse trained Beautiful Memories.
 
The filly rolled to a 10-length victory in her debut at Churchill Downs on May 28. Her main rivals appear to be Hopeful Princess (2-1) and Hara (10-1) who both come into the race off maiden wins.
 
The co-feature today is the $100,000 Peter Pan (G3), which was moved from Belmont Park where it traditionally served as a prep for the Belmont Stakes (G1), which this year has already been run. Now the race is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race with 50-20-10-5 points up for grabs.
 
Nine go to the post in the nine-furlong test. The Mike Stidham trained Mystic Guide is the 5-2 morning line favorite. He ran second against first level allowance company in his last outing. Modernist (7-2) will be looking to bounce back off an awful showing in the Belmont Stakes and Country Grammar (7-2) exits the same race as the favorite where he checked in third.
 
You can catch the action at Saratoga from 1:00 to 6:30 ET on FS2. In addition, you can stream the action using the TVG App. The horse betting company based in the U.S. is offering a risk free bet up to $300 for new players. 
 
To purchase my Saratoga Report for Thursday click here.
 
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 which will include all the major Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races.
 
Here is the opening race from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:

Saratoga Race 1 Analysis - 7/15 (1:10 p.m. ET)

SAR Race 1 Clm $14,000N3L (1:10 ET)
#1 Castle Casanova   7-2
#7 Jerome Avenue   5-2
#6 Guy Caballero   2-1
#2 Grit and Glory   6-1
 
Analysis: Castle Casanova makes his second start off a four-month break and drops into an easier spot here after checking in fifth last out against state bred Alw-2 optional claimers. His last win came three back last May where he beat state bred Alw-1 company. He makes his third start of the year here for Englehart who had a solid meeting here last summer, winning 14 races to finish in fourth in the trainer standings. He has enough pedigree to handle the stretch out to nine furlongs. The barn is 20% winners moving runners from sprint to route.
 
Jerome Avenue exits $35,000 non-winners of three op turf which was his first go off a 3 1/2-month break. The gelding raced near the back of the pack and finished evenly in a sixth-place finish, beaten four lengths. He has won trips at nine furlongs, the best a third here in the slop last year against $30,000 non-winners of two in a race washed off the turf. He makes his first start here for Atras who is 23% winners with newcomers to the barn. The trainer has a slow meeting here last summer, winning with just 2 of 34 starters. This guy does fit on the class drop and has back numbers good enough to win in this spot.
 
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:

Saratoga Race 8 Analysis - 7/15 (5:14 p.m. ET)

SAR Race 8 The Schuylerville G3 (5:14 ET)
#6 Queen Arella   6-1
#3 Beautiful Memories   6-5
#2 Hara   10-1
#8 Hopeful Princess   2-1
 
Analysis: Queen Arella was not off cleanly in her debut, getting bumped coming out of the gate and then got squeezed and bumped again when stuck in between foes. She recovered, tracking the early pace while four wide and drawing clear late while drifting in slightly and the rider standing up in the irons. The runner up Hara came out of the race to graduate in her next outing on June 19 at Gulfstream Park by six lengths. Our top picks last out Beyer of 44 sure seems light but runner up, third, fourth and fifth place finishers came back to improve their figure by 20+ points in their next starts, which makes that 44 seem suspect. She looks as if she can move forward off her debut effort and gets a jock upgrade to Rosario. This gal has already turned out to be a bargain buy at $1,000 at the Fasig Tipton sale last October.
 
Beautiful Memories took the field gate to wire to break her maiden in a very impressive looking win, the margin 10 lengths. She was down in the three path most of the trip on a day the outer paths were better. Eight she beat have come back to run and the best they have done is a couple of thirds, so it does not appear she beat that tough a field. She earned a solid number and has a nice pedigree. She is by Hard Spun out of a stakes placed Sky Mesa mare that has dropped three other winners including stakes winner Kimbear ($766,669). She has come back with sharp works and no doubt she has talent but is going to be a light price.
 
Hara ran second to our top pick in her debut at 17-1 and then came back to wire the field last out to break her maiden going 5 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream Park. She earned solid early and mid pace numbers and another move forward puts her in the mix in this spot. She is by Hard Spun out of a Dixie Union mare that has dropped one other winner, 1 for 4 Midnight Curfew ($42,210).

Live Long Shots

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: #3 Price Talk   10-1
R5: #2 Steam Engine   8-1
R7: #5 Marquet Legacy   8-1
R8: #2 Hara   10-1
R10: #7 Quasar   8-1
 
Good luck today!

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