Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

Friday's Picks from Kentucky Oaks, Saratoga

Kentucky Oaks Day is here and while there will not be over 100,000 at Churchill Downs in fancy hats drinking Mint Juleps this afternoon, we will be firing up the wagering accounts from home because we have a ton of betting action on tap.

There are 13 races on the card today at Churchill Downs and at Saratoga we have a dozen more on New York Showcase Day where there are six stakes restricted to state breds.

The field for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby shrunk by one on Thursday as it was announced that King Guillermo will scratch after the colt spiked a fever. The colt won the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) earlier this year and was 20-1 on the morning line.


The colt is owned by former major league baseball player Victor Martinez of Victoria’s Ranch. After the earlier defection of Art Collector, that brings the field size down to 16.

The $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) is the highlight this afternoon and we have been looking forward to a showdown between Gamine and Swiss Skydiver.

My Oaks and Derby Day Reports are now available. There are 27 races to wager on over the two days of action.

The Bob Baffert trained Gamine has won three of four career races, the lone loss coming via disqualification at Oaklawn Park earlier this year. She ran huge winning the Test (G1) and Acorn (G1) in her last two starts in New York.

Swiss Skydiver is coming off a victory in the Alabama (G1) at Saratoga. She took on the boys in her previous start with a solid second in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland behind Art Collector, who would have been the second or third choice in tomorrow’s Derby except for a minor foot issue that knocked him out of the race.

Both of these fillies are capable of winning the Oaks, but at short prices, I am going to land on a filly that is not getting much attention. Speech won the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland in her last outing and is no slouch. She is 5-1 on the morning line and certainly worth a look. Analysis below.

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My Best Plays Report for Friday includes my 10 strongest plays from Saratoga and Churchill Downs.

You can catch the action from Saratoga and Churchill Downs on FS2 from 11:00 to 7:00 ET and 3:00 to 6:00 ET on NBCSN. You can also stream the action by 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.

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package. It gives you a month of Saratoga/Belmont Park Reports daily, my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday, and my Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Reports.

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


SAR Race 1 The Seeking the Ante
#1 Make Mischief 5-2
#2 Rossa Veloce 2-1
#5 Summer Brew 3-1
#4 Samborella 7-2

Analysis: Make Mischief was brushed coming out of the gate, prompted the early pace, and was no match for the winner in a runner up finish in the Adirondack (G2) last out. She ran second two back in the Schuylerville (G3) in her first start against winners. She makes her third start of the meeting here and is back with state breds. She owns the edge in early and mid-pace numbers and looks quick enough to clear this group from the rail with an alert break.

Rossa Veloce was a game maiden winner in her debut at 7-2 going 5 1/2 furlongs. She earned the top last out speed fig in the effort. Two foes she beat came back to break maiden next out and they earned Beyers of 59 and 46, which makes me think this gal's last out number might be generous. She is in good hands with the Handal barn that is having a good meet hitting at a 19% clip. She was a cheap buy, just $12,000, by Girolamo out of a Hard Spun mare.


SAR Race 7 The Funny Cide
#1 Eagle Orb 3-1
#5 Effinity 4-1
#4 Lookin for Trouble 7-2
#3 Market Alert 6-1

Analysis: Eagle Orb tracked the early pace toward the inside and took over heading for home, drawing clear late to win by a length in a sharp debut. He was down toward the inside much of the trip on a day the outer paths seemed to be the best place to be. The colt comes back quick here for the RRod barn and he owns the top last out speed figure on dirt. The colt is out of a stakes-placed Harlan's Holiday mare that has dropped six other winners. Irad lands on the Maker trainee which is interesting and Cancel gets the call here which may end up helping the price.

Effinity pressed the early pace and could not go with Market Alert late in a runner up finish in his debut. He came back next out and drew off to break his maiden by four lengths over the main track here on July 26 at 5 1/2 furlongs at 6-5. His speed fig is coming up a bit on the light side but he won as if he still has something left. He is in good hands with the Cox barn and Saez sticks. He looks as if he is not going to have a problem handing the extra furlong her eon the stretch out to 6 1/2. The colt has worked smartly in the morning since his maiden score.


CD Race 10 The Alysheba G2
#5 Mr Freeze 6-1
#6 By My Standards 7-5
#2 McKenzie 8-5
#3 Owendale 6-1

Analysis: Mr Freeze may end up getting overlooked in the betting here. The Romans trainee is capable on his best day, having earned triple-digit Beyers in four of his last seven starts. Last out in the Met Mile (G1) he was bumped coming out of the gate and came around the far turn and was fanned out very side and could not make up any ground late in a sixth-place finish. He was a decent third in the Oaklawn 'Cap (G2) two back behind By My Standards and three back earned a career top winning the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2). He won the Ack Ack (G3) over the main track here last September and was a decent third in the Clark (G1) two races later. I like the stretch out to two turns and is going to end up a fair price.

By My Standards tracked the early pace and could not get to Improbable last out in a runner up finish in the Whitney (G1) at the Spa going nine furlongs. He ran second to Tom's d'Etat two back in the Stephen Foster (G2) here which snapped a three-race winning streak. He owns a solid pace profile throughout with the edge in late pace numbers. He should get a good trip sitting just off the pace and has landed in the exacta in 9 of his 11 career starts.


CD Race 12 The Kentucky Oaks G1
#4 Speech 5-1
#1 Swiss Skydiver 8-5
#5 Gamine 1-1
#3 Donna Veloce 15-1

Analysis: Speech is going to offer the best value among the three main contenders in here and she has a shot of pulling off the mild upset. She is coming off a career top effort winning the Ashland (G1) last out at Keeneland going 1 1/16 miles. She prompted the early pace and drew clear in the stretch with a good looking effort. The runner up Venetian Harbor came back to run second in the Test (G1) at Saratoga and the fourth-place finisher Bonny South was second in the Alabama (G1) in her next start. The filly was four lengths behind Swiss Skydiver two back in the Santa Anita Oaks and beaten a neck by Gamine three back at Oaklawn Park although she was placed first when Gamine tested positive for a drug positive. The McCarthy trainee is going to get a good tracking trip behind what could be a lively pace and she looks as if she is going to handle her first trip at nine furlongs. She put in a good breeze over the main track here on Aug. 28.

Swiss Skydiver prompted the early pace and drew clear heading for home to a sharp win the Alabama (G1) at Saratoga last out, her fourth win in her last five starts. The loss came against the boys two back in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) where she was a good second behind Art Collector, who would have been the second or third choice in the Derby but a minor foot issue knocked him out of the race. She took the field gate to wire three back to win the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) over our top pick. She owns solid early and mid-pace numbers draw the rail. There is a ton of speed in here and she has the look of a filly that can sit and pounce.

Gamine has looked like a freak in her last two starts, winning the Acorn (G1) going a one-turn mile by 18 3/4 lengths and then winning the Test (G1) at seven furlongs by seven lengths. The question now is can she handle nine furlongs and some pace pressure if it comes. Last out in the Test she did take advantage of a racing strip that was kind to inside speed and horses on or near the lead fared well on the day she won the Acorn. Baffert is 25% winners moving runners from sprint to route. Baffert has won the Oaks three times, the most recent with Abel Tasman in 2017.

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: #4 Skippingsnfsjumpin 10-1
R3: #1 Microsecond 8-1
R5: #1 Myhartblongstodady 12-1
R5: #3 Wegetsdamunnys 10-1
R6: #11 Judge Alexander 8-1
R6: #4 Moonshine Maker 12-1
R8: #9 Pandamom 12-1
R8: #7 Morning Colors 8-1
R9: #5 Big Package 20-1
R12: #3 Inspector Henning 12-1

Good luck today!

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