Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Saturday's Picks from Saratoga and Del Mar

We have a solid 11-race betting card at Saratoga on Saturday afternoon although the two stakes are lousy betting affairs.

The $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) drew the Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Malathaat, who is undefeated in five career starts for trainer Todd Pletcher.

The only problem is she faces just three foes, two of which look completely overmatched. She figures to be 1-9 and unfortunately the race is the last leg of the early Pick 5.

The co-feature is the $200,000 Caress (G3) for fillies and mares going 5 ½ furlongs on turf. The two main contenders are Robin Sparkles (6-5) and Caravel (7-5).

Perhaps the Ortiz brothers can do us a favor and get hooked up in a speed duel and set things up for In Good Spirits (8-1) who will be coming from off the pace and may have a shot of pulling off the upset.

We have a couple of good stakes at Del Mar. The $250,000 Eddie Read (G2) drew a solid group that will go 1 1/8-miles on turf. Smooth Like Strait is the 9-5 morning line favorite and he is going to be tough to catch if able to shake loose early.

Going Global is the 4-5 morning line favorite in the $200,000 San Clemente. The filly is perfect in her four starts since coming to the U.S. She won the Honeymoon (G3) in her last outing at Santa Anita.

She will face 10 foes and since I am not much of a chalk player, I am going to give Karakatsie (10-1) a shot of pulling off the upset. She ships in from Gulfstream Park and she exits a couple of quality efforts in runner up finishes in the Martha Washington and Honey Ryder.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 10 strongest plays from Del Mar and Saratoga.

“Saratoga Live” is on FS2 (and streaming on YouTube) from 1:00 to 7:00 ET. Looking to play the ponies? 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 and Best Plays Reports for Saturday click here .

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


 Race 1 Clm $40,000N2L

  • #2 Good Culture 8-1
  • #7 Royal Realm 6-5
  • #6 Ashaar 4-1
  • #1 Giocare 3-1

Analysis: Good Culture caught a sloppy track last out against $30,000 non-winners of two at Belmont Park. The gelding stalked the early pace and came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot, catching a racing strip that was kind to inside speed. He was claimed out of the race by the Maker barn that is 16% winners first off the claim and the trainer is off to a quick start at the meet here going 5 for 14. Ortiz picks up the call and it looks if this guy will be able to handle nine furlongs. He checked in third at nine furlongs at Keeneland back in April versus Alw-1 company in his first start against winners.

Royal Realm drops in for a tag after checking in fourth last out against Alw-1 foes at Belmont Park in his first start against winners. He was a game marine winner two back going as mile earning a fig good enough to beat this group. The blinkers come off this colt, who is bred to handle the trip. He is by Empire Maker out of a Niagara Causeway mare.


Race 7 OClm $80,000N1X

  • #6 Mira Mission 5-1
  • #11 Space Launch 7-2
  • #7 Calibrate 6-1
  • #3 Sifting Sands 10-1

Analysis: Mira Mission caught yielding ground last out at Belmont Park at this level where the gelding tracked the early pace and finished gamely in a runner up finish at 18-1, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot. The winner Public Sector was beaten just a neck next out in a runner up finish in the Manila at Belmont Park on July 4. The winner of the Manila was the third-place finisher Original. The Bush trainee broke his maiden for a $40,000 tag at Gulfstream Park and he came right back to beat $50,000 starter optional claimers in his first start against winners. He makes his third start of his current form cycle and looks as if he still has some upside.

Space Launch tracked the early pace and finished evenly in a third-place finish at this level off a six-month layoff. The winner was fourth in the Pennine Ridge (G3) in his next outing and the runner up Public Sector beat Alw-1 foes and then was second in the Manila. The colt broke his maiden in his debut and then made a mild late bid to finish third in the Awad on yielding ground in his first start against winners. The outside draw is not ideal but he is in good hands with the Clement barn and this guy is out of the G2 winner Spacy Tracy ($249,690) who has dropped four other winners and three are stakes winners, top earner High North ($437,430).


Race 8 The Eddie Read G2

  • #6 Smooth Like Strait 9-5
  • #4 Count Again 5-1
  • #2 United 5-2
  • #3 Say the Word 3-1

Analysis: Smooth Like Strait took the field gate to wire to win the Shoemaker Mile (G1) last out earning a career top speed figure. The effort was flattered when the third-place finisher Restrainedvengence came back to win the American (G3) at Santa Anita on June 20. Two back at today’s 1 1/8-mile distance our top pick was beaten just a neck when third in the Old Forrester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. His other two trips at nine furlongs were solid, a head loss in the Hollywood Derby (G1) here last November and a win in the Twilight Derby (G2) last October at Santa Anita. The colt catches a field here without much early zip signed up. He looks capable of stretching his speed out another furlong and taking this group gate to wire.

Count Again has managed to make just 11 starts in his career, not debuting until the summer of his four-year-old campaign. Since going from Gail Cox to Phil D’Amato he has stepped up his game. He won the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) in his first start for the barn with a career top going 1 1/16 miles here last November. After a clunker in the San Gabriel (G2) he bounced back rallying for third in the Frank Kilroe (G1) and then made a mild late run in a paceless race in the Old Forrester to check in fourth, beaten 1 ¾ lengths. He looks like the best shot of breaking up a chalky exacta.

United tossed in a bad one last out as the chalk in the Charles Whittingham (G1), checking in last of four. The gelding has worked well since that outing and Mandella said he discovered a minor hoof problem which might have contributed to his poor outing. He won the San Luis Rey (G3) two back in his first start of 2021. Last year he won four of his six starts including this race and the John Henry Turf Classic (G2). He may be better from 1 ¼ to 1 ½ miles but he has won both of his outings at today’s distance in his career. He figures to bounce back with a better effort but is going to be a light price.


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. 


  • R1: #2 Good Culture 8-1
  • R2: #1 Sitting Pretty 12-1
  • R3: #1 Universal Payday 8-1
  • R6: #3 Bourbon Heist 10-1
  • R7: #3 Sifting Sands 10-1
  • R8: #5 Midnight Choir 10-1
  • R9: #3 Entreat 10-1
  • R10: #4 In Good Spirits 8-1
  • R10: #5 Flower Point 8-1
  • R11: #10 Mike’s Girl 10-1
  • R11: #8 Choose Happiness 8-1

Good luck today!

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