Sunday’s Picks from Saratoga, Del Mar

Maximum Security got the job done in yesterday’s Pacific Classic (G1) as the big favorite, returning $2.80 to win and stamp a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

The colt is now perfect in two starts since landing with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. He was previously trained by Jason Servis, who was indicted in a doping scheme and hopefully will never be training a horse again.

The colt wired the field and managed to set soft early fractions of 23.93 and 47.98 and he ran six furlongs in 1:12.37.

I thought Midcourt and possibly Dark Vader would mix it up early, but the jockeys on both thought it might be better to just sit off the pace and let the favorite have things easy up front.

Midcourt, who set the early fractions in the San Diego Handicap (G2) in his previous start was sitting fourth in the early going under jockey Victor Espinoza. Dark Vader, who has some tactical speed was last.

Instead it was Sharp Samurai who was closest to the favorite, tracking the early pace in second and he was no match for the winner while clear of the rest of the field in a runner up finish.

I don’t know if Espinoza was riding to instructions from trainer John Shirreffs to sit back or he decided that strategy himself, but it gave Midcourt basically no shot of winning.

Halladay was able to steal the feature at Saratoga on the front end, taking the field gate to wire to win the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) and return $12.60.

I went with Got Stormy who I thought would bounce back off her fourth-place finish in the Poker (G3) and she did. At 8-1 on the morning line, bettors dismissed her and she went off at nearly 11-1.

She came with a good move and midstretch it looked as if she would run Halladay down but came up 1 ¼ lengths short in a runner up finish.

Trainer Chad Brown sent out four runners in the Fourstardave including the favorite and they ran fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth.

That is something we may not see again in our lifetime.

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

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


SAR Race 1 Md Sp Wt
#6 Black Sand 8-5
#5 Uptown Flirt 5-2
#1 Community Adjusted 4-1
#3 Brynbella 9-2

Analysis: Black Sand debuts for the Chad Brown barn. The filly has a nice turf pedigree, by Dubawi out of a stakes placed Galileo mare that has dropped two foals to race including one stakes winner, Maqsad who won the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket last May. Brown is 21% winner with first timers. He has started 14 juvie firsters this year and has won with three, two of those coming in turf routes.

Uptown Flirt tracked the early pace while saving ground and finished evenly in a third-place finish in her debut, the Mott trainee sent off at 8-1 in a field of seven going long here on July 23. She missed the place spot by just a neck. The $100,000 Ocala purchase is by Speightster and the first foal to race out of a Warrior's Reward mare. She figures to move forward off her debut effort for the Hall of Fame barn.


SAR Race 8 The Diana G1
#6 Mean Mary 3-1
#3 Rushing Fall 3-2
#5 Sistercharlie 5-2
#4 Starship Jubilee 9-2

Analysis: Mean Mary took the field gate to wire to win the New York (G2) going 1 1/4 miles in a dominate outing and earning a career top speed fig. It was her first go off a three-month break and she has now won 5 of her 7 career starts for the Motion barn. The runner up in her last outing was My Sister Nat who came back to win the Waya (G3) and the third place finisher Glorious was third in the Matchmaker (G3) at Monmouth Park and then won the Perfect Sing here on Aug. 14. She may be able to get clear unless Rushing Fall goes with her and the Brown trainees are going to take much of the attention in the betting and we should get a fair price on this filly.

Rushing Fall prompted the early pace and finished up well to win the Jenny Wiley (G1) last out at Keeneland going 1 1/16 miles. It was her 10th win in 13 career starts. She ran second in this race last year to her stablemate Sistercharlie. She makes her third start off the bench here and except for her fourth behind Uni three back in the First Lady (G1) going a mile last fall at Keeneland this gal has run four triple digit Beyers.


DMR Race 9 The Del Mar Mile Hcp G2
#3 Galilean 9-2
#8 Restrainedvengence 10-1
#7 Royal Ship 5-1
#4 Mo Forza 7-2

Analysis: Galilean made his very first start on turf last out in the Cal bred California Dreamin' where he stalked the early place, split foes and went on to win by a half-length in a good looking outing. The runner up Whooping Jay came back to beat state bred Alw-1 optional claimers in his next outing on Aug. 14 here. Our top pick has now won 5 of his 10 career starts and he just shows up every time out for the Sadler barn. He gets a class test here but looks up to it.

Retrainedvengence stalked the early pace and finished evenly in a fourth-place finish as the beaten favorite in the San Francisco (G3) last out at Golden Gate Fields, beaten three lengths. He is a four-time winner on turf, and he has produced a triple digit Beyer on dirt, turf and synth in his career. He owns solid late pace numbers and there is plenty of early speed in here. Worth a good look if he goes off near his 10-1 morning line.

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.

R3: #4 Baba 12-1
R4: #8 Bielefeld 10-1
R9: #4 Unbridled John 12-1

Good luck today!