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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:53 PM

Saturday's Picks from Churchill Downs, Saratoga

Kentucky Derby Day is here, better late than never.

A field of 16 will line up in the 146th running of the Run for the Roses with the late scratches of King Guillermo and Finnick the Fierce.

Tiz the Law was installed as the 3-5 morning line favorite and may end up the shortest-priced favorite for the Derby we have seen in half a century.

The trend lately has been that favorites have done quite well. For six years in a row between 2013 and 2018 the favorite won. That streak was snapped last year when the Bob Baffert trained Improbable came up short as the lukewarm 4-1 favorite.

The second choice Maximum Security crossed the wire first, but well, you know the story. After a 22-minute delay, he was disqualified for interference in the stretch, and his trainer Jason Servis was later indicted on doping charges.


If you forgot who the actual winner was, it was Country House that was elevated to the win and he paid $132.40 for a $2 wager, the second-biggest upset in Derby history behind Donerail who returned $184.90 in 1913.

Tiz the Law is perfect in four starts this year and sure looks tough. However, backing him at 3-5 will not exactly get the pulse racing and I am looking for more value.

We have an outstanding card at Churchill Downs today with 14 races with seven stakes. Saratoga offers up a dozen races this afternoon featuring the Jim Dandy (G2) and Woodward (G1).

Between the two tracks this afternoon we have 26 races, and I have analyzed each and every one of them for your wagering pleasure.

My Kentucky Derby Day Report is available with my selections, analysis, and fair odds line for each of the 14 races on today’s card.

To purchase my Saratoga, Churchill Downs and Best Plays Reports for Saturday click here.

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

You can catch the action at Saratoga from 11:00 to 2:00 ET on FS1, 2:00 to 4:00 on FS2, and 4:00 to 6:30 on FS1. The Kentucky Derby telecast on NBC airs from 2:30 to 7:30 ET. Post time for the Kentucky Derby is 7:01 ET. 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 Derby Report.

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


SAR Race 1 Md Sp Wt
#6 Ancient Times 3-1
#3 Tackle 7-5
#2 Neuro 9-2
#1 Kaz's Beach 4-1

Analysis: Ancient Times debuts for the Pletcher barn that is 21% winners with first-timers. Here at the Spa, this meet the trainer is 4 for 18 with first-timers. This guy was a $320,00 Keeneland purchase, a solid number for a son of Carpe Diem. The mare has dropped five winners and two of them have won on turf, top earner $1.2 million Wild Dude. A solid string of works on the morning tab.

Tackle came with a solid five-wide rally to finish in the runner up spot in his debut. He was sent off at 11-1 in a field of 12 going a mile here. The colt did not get much pace to run at but no guarantee he will see much here either. The colt is by Flatter out of a Dehere mare that has dropped eight winners and three have won on turf. Mott hits at a 15% clip with second out maidens. The logical one to beat here at a light price.


SAR Race 10 The Prioress G2
#1 Kimari 2-1
#2 Up in Smoke 10-1
#5 Frank's Rockette 5-2
#7 Center Aisle 4-1

Analysis: Kimari makes her first start since running second in a 16-horse field in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot in June. She was away poorly and finished up well, beaten 1 1/2 lengths. The winner was Golden Horde, who ran third in the Darley July Cup Stakes (G1) at Newmarket in her next start, then was fifth in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville in her most recent start. Our top pick has just one start over a fast main track and that came in her debut last April where she broke her maiden at Keeneland going 4 1/2 furlongs. She has worked sharply for her return off a 2 1/2-month break.

Up in Smoke exits the Test which was won by Gamine. She stalked the early pace, came with a four-wide bid, and was no match off the top pair over a racing strip that was kind to inside speed. She was fourth behind three of these two back in the Victory Ride (G3) but may be able to turn the tables here at a generous price. She should get a good pace set up here as the early pace should be honest.


CD Race 8 The American Turf G2
#8 Fancy Liquor 9-2
#5 Smooth Like Strait 8-5
#4 Field Pass 2-1
#4 1 Taishan 15-1

Analysis: Fancy Liquor gets the call and it is tough to separate the top three in here. This guy set the early fractions and battled on gamely to prevail by a neck in the Caesars at Indiana Grand over yielding ground. He was beaten a nose and a neck when third behind Field Pass two back in the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland. There is plenty of early speed in here and breaking from the outside may be an advantage as Geroux can go or more likely sit just off the pace. The colt has handled any type of turf and has put in two good works since his last start.

Smooth Like Strait dueled for the early lead and got clear turning for home, drawing off late to win the La Jolla Handicap (G3) at Del Mar by 2 1/2 lengths at 4-5. The colt won the War Chant here two back off a three-month break. He has won 4 of 7 on turf and ships east against for the McCarthy barn. This guy owns the edge in early and mid-pace numbers and likely will be the one to catch here.


CD Race 11 The Churchill Distaff Turf Mile G2
#3 Juliet Foxtrot 5-1
#4 Newspaperofrecord 4-5
#2 Daddy Is a Legend 6-1
#6 Beau Recall 5-1

Analysis: Juliet Foxtrot tracked the early pace and finished evenly in a third-place finish in the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland in a good effort. The winner Rushing Fall came back to win the Diana (G1) in her next outing on Aug. 23. Two back this mare pressed the early pace and weakened to finish sixth beaten 1 3/4 lengths in the Mint Julep (G3) here which was off a six-month break. She landed in the exacta in five of her six starts last year and she looks primed for a top effort here in her third start off the bench here for the Cox barn. She has the best shot of beating the chalk in here.

Newspaperofrecord has run huge in her two starts since returning off an 11-month layoff. She won the Intercontinental (G3) on yielding ground at Belmont Park at seven furlongs off the bench, winning by four lengths. I was not convinced and she proved me wrong, rolling to a sharp win in the Just a Game (G1) on the stretch out to a mile. She owns a solid pace profile throughout with good early and mid-pace numbers. her last four wins have come taking the field gate to wire and there is some other speed in here if they elect to engage her early. She has worked sharply since her last outing for Brown. She is going to be tough here but her price is going to be lighter than in her last two starts.

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: #5 Wushu Warrior 8-1
R3: #2 Winifred J 10-1
R4: #5 Eliade 8-1
R5: #4 Regular Guy 15-1
R7: #3 Mo Heat 10-1
R7: #5 World Cruiser 12-1
R8: #11 Jack the Cat 8-1
R8: #10 Simply 10-1
R10: #2 Up in Smoke 10-1
R11: #6 Prioritize 15-1
R12: #10 Operative 10-1

Good luck today!

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