Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Thursday's Picks from Saratoga

Saratoga is here, the 40-day meeting getting underway on Thursday with 76 stakes to be contested over the next six weeks including 20 Grade 1 races.

The even better news is the 'Spa' is welcoming fans back at full capacity, and the historic racetrack should have a tremendous meeting.

In addition to 20 Grade 1 races there are seven Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" races coming up. The first is the $1 million Whitney (G1) on Aug. 7, the winner stamping a free ticket to the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1).

The highlight of the meeting is the $1.25 million Travers (G1) which will be held on August 28. The race will attract most of the top three-year-olds in training from the Triple Crown races.

Travers Day features six supporting stakes, three of which are Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. The stakes action kicks off on Thursday with the $120,000 Quick Call (G3) at 5 ½ furlongs on turf. The 1-2 morning line favorite is Golden Pal, who makes his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) last November at Keeneland.

The Wesley Ward trainee is going to be tough to beat and could get the stakes calendar off to a chalky start. The favorite for the $150,000 Schuylerville (G3) is no slouch. The Ward trained Happy Soul (8-5) won the Astoria at Belmont Park by 11 ½ lengths. This was after breaking his maiden in his second career start by 11 ¾ lengths.

Of the two Ward chalks he looks like the one to possibly play against at a light price. I landed on Pretty Birdie, who was a good looking maiden winner for the Norm Casse barn in his debut at Churchill Downs.

There are eight other races on the card so there are plenty of better wagering opportunities and it looks as if the weather is going to cooperate for opening day as well. Rain was in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday which may leave the turf course less than firm but by post time of the opener the main track should be fast.

“America’s Day at the Races” is on FS2 Thursday 12:30 to 6:30 ET with the action from Saratoga. TVG is offering new players up to a $300 Risk Free wager.  In addition, AmWager is offering up to a $500 bonus for new horseplayers.

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.

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


 SAR 1 Clm $12,500

  • #6 Flowers For Lisa 9-2
  • #5 Charlie'sarchangel 3-1
  • #4 Wagon Boss 7-2
  • #9 Hammerin Aamer 5-2

Analysis: Flowers For Lisa Flowers for Lisa pressed the early pace and tired to finish a well beaten seventh last out against $25,000 foes in his first start off the claim by the Levine barn. He was taken two back out of a tough nose loss versus $20,000 claimers. Levine lost this guy to RRod for $12,500 and dipped right back in to take him back for $20,000. He drops back in for a $12,500 tag and is a three-time winner in his career at nine furlongs, one of those coming here in '18 versus tougher. The eight-year-old has been freshened for two months and figures to bounce back with a better effort and picks up Saez.

Charlie'sarchangel was the beaten favorite last out in a runner up finish to Wagon Boss for a $16,000 tag at Churchill Downs. He set the early fractions and could not match strides late with the winner, beaten a half-length. He was claimed out of the race by the Diodoro barn that is 25% winners(with a +ROI) first off the claim. The barn had a rough meet her least year going 1 for 20. He went 6 for 26 here in '19. He drops a notch in class while picking up Irad. This is his first trip at nine furlongs in his career but has the pedigree to stretch out and get a bit more ground.


SAR Race 9 The Schuylerville G3

  • #1 Pretty Birdie 7-2
  • #7 Happy Soul 8-5
  • #2 Mainstay 7-2
  • #8 Eagle Express 10-1

Analysis: Pretty Birdie took the field gate to wire to break her maiden in an impressive debut at Churchill Downs where she was sent off at 9-2 in a field of eight. She set swift fractions of 22.16 and 44.91 and drew clear to win by 3 ¾ lengths. The fourth and sixth place finishes are the only two that have come back to run and they both broke their maidens. She picks up Saez and owns solid early and mid pace numbers. With the rail draw she figures to be sent and speed on the dirt here at six furlongs was very good here for the most part last year. Casse only started one runner here last year, a fourth-place finish.

Happy Soul has won her last two starts by a combined 23 lengths. After a second in her debut in the slop against the boys at Keeneland she graduated second out at Belmont Park taking the field gate to wire to win by 11 ¾ lengths. Of the four she beat in that race only the fifth-place finisher has returned to run and she was seventh. Last out in the Astoria the Ward trainee wired the field and drew clear to win by 11 ½ lengths. Her last pair of speed figs are tops in here but she is going to face more early pace pressure here and has to get another half furlong. The daughter of Runhappy is out of a Stephen Got Even mare that has dropped six other winners including Canada based stakes winner Calgary Caper ($335,895). In graded stakes dating back five years here at the Spa Ward is showing a 0 for 7 mark. David Grenig of the DRF wrote that in his career the trainer is an astounding 0 for 34 in graded stakes at Saratoga. This gal looks like the real deal but is going to be a puny price.

Mainstay broke her maiden going gate to wire in the slop at Monmouth Park, rolling to a 7 ¾ length victory going 4 ½ furlongs. Four she beat have come back to run with a second and a third the best finishes. She has popped a couple of bullet works at Philly for her stakes debut for the Reid barn. This gal is a half to Vequist ($1.2 million) who Reid trains and she won the Spinaway (G1) here last September off a maiden win at Philly.


These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win wager. 


  • R2: #6 Seduce 10-1
  • R3: #3 Smile Bryan 10-1
  • R4: #3 Evidence Based 8-1
  • R5: #5 Outfoxed 10-1
  • R6: #8 Choose Happiness 8-1
  • R8: #6 Fauci 10-1
  • R8: #8 Rebel Posse 12-1
  • R9: #8 Eagle Express 10-1
  • R10: #3 Shinjuku 12-1

Good luck today!

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