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Friday's Picks from Saratoga

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Rain moved the races from the turf to the main track on Thursday after the second race, causing an “all” race in the early Pick 5 and pretty much wiping out the day from a betting standpoint.

One race I did hammer was the eighth race where my top pick Finding Fame was 6-1 on the morning line and went off at a hefty 12-1.

The only problem is jockey Jose Ortiz appeared to fall asleep in the gate, the filly lunging at the break losing about four or five lengths to the field. I let out a few profanities which I do apologize for.

The early pace was brisk and Finding Fame came rolling eight wide down the outside of the track, losing a ton of ground after his lousy start. Deep stretch I thought Ortiz would get there but he came up a neck short to my third choice Regal Retort, who paid $18.00.

The $2 exacta will-pay was paying around $130 and of course I did not box it, the exacta returning $123.50.

That was the most painful beat of the young meeting so far.

The weather is supposed to improve for Friday so I am assuming we will be back on the grass. The feature is the $120,000 Curlin for three-year-olds which is a prep race for the Travers (G1) coming up next month.

First Captain is the 7-5 morning line favorite. The Shug McGaughey trainee won the Dwyer (G3) last out in his stakes debut going a one turn mile at Belmont Park. The colt has been hyped pretty good and I expect him to be closer to even money.

Chad Brown sends out Miles D who is 10-1 on the morning line. He is stepping up into stakes company off a maiden score in his second career start. The colt tracked thee early pace, took over the lead and drew clear smartly to win by 2 1/4 lengths going a mile last out at Belmont Park.

That was off the bench, his first start since his debut last October. In his debut he stalked the early pace and finished evenly in a fourth-place finish, beaten 1 1/4 lengths.

That race was a key affair that has produced some really nice runners including Smarty Jones winner Caddo River, Holy Bull (G3) and Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Greatest Honour, Wood Memorial (G2) winner Bourbonic and Manila winner Original.

The colt looks like a viable option to playing the chalk.

“Saratoga Live” is on FS2 (and streaming on YouTube) from 1:00 to 6:30 ET this afternoon. 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 Report for Friday click here.

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


 Race 1 Md Sp Wt

  • #8 Sugar and Speights 5-2
  • #5 Free Ninety Nine 8-1
  • #3 Sweet Sugar Baby 8-1
  • #7 Laoban's Legacy 2-1

Analysis: Sugar and Speights debuts for Clement who is 23% winners (with a +ROI) overall with first time starters. Here over the past two meets along with this one the barn has hit with 8 of 30 (with a +ROI) juvenile first timers, four of those on turf. The trainer is 3 for 5 (with a +ROI) this meet with juvie firsters. This gal is by Speightster out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare that has dropped one foal to race, a dirt winner. Solid looking works on the morning tab and Rosario is up. She looks ready to go and the outside post may live her an opportunity to stay out of trouble.

Free Ninety Nine debuts for the red hot Maker barn that is 14% winners with first timers. This filly is by Honor Code out of a Stormy Atlantic mare that broke her maiden on turf and has dropped two winners and they have both won on turf including takes placed Dreamer's Disease who missed by a neck in a NY Stallion Series race here on Wednesday. Good works and the barn is underrated with juveniles.


Race 7 Alw $50,000s (4:29 ET)

  • #6 Winter Pool 9-2
  • #4 Top Gun Tommy 8-1
  • #2 Hombrazo 5-1
  • #8 Parade Field 8-1

Analysis: Winter Pool earned a career top speed fig last out despite a less than stellar trip. The Brown trainee was off a beat slow and bumped a foe coming out of the gate, was ran while in tight and had to steady in the opening furlong, came with a good move, took over the lead and battled on between foes and came up just short, beaten a head. He graduated tow back in his second career start for a $50,000 tag going a one turn mile. This guy is bred to handle nine furlongs, by Curlin out of a Bernardini mare. I like Brown sticking with Santana here and the 9-2 morning line looks more than fair.

Top Gun Tommy makes his second start off a 3 1/2-month break here for the Breen barn. Off the shelf last out the colt stalked the early pace and came with a good late rally to miss by just a neck. He was 3 1/2 clear of the third-place finisher. Two back at Gulfstream Park this guy was no match for Known Agenda in a runner up finish. The winner came back to win the Florida Derby (G1) in his next start before coming up short in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont (G1). His numbers are on the light side but he looks capable of moving forward second off the break and the 8-1 morning line looks fair enough.


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: #5 Free Ninety Nine 8-1
  • R1: #3 Sweet Sugar Bay 8-1
  • R3: #2 Convection 12-1
  • R4: #5 Evaluator 10-1
  • R5: #4 Scotto 10-1
  • R5: #9 Matty’s Marauder 12-1
  • R7: #4 Top Gun Tommy 8-1
  • R8: #3 Mud Pie 8-1
  • R9: #1 Miles D 10-1
  • R10: #8 The Promised Road 12-1

Good luck today!

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Mike Dempsey Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year-round as well as covering the biggest events including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup.
A professional handicapper and horseplayers for more than three decades, no handicapper in the industry works harder and been more successful in bringing horseplayers analysis that produces profits at the track!

Mike has owned racehorses and knows the racetrack from the backstretch to the finish line.

Mike is in his second decade of producing great results for the readers of Vegas Insider. Among his scores in the Kentucky Derby include winning with his top pick Animal Kingdom who paid $43.80 in 2011 and Super Saver at $18.00 in 2010.

While favorites have dominated the Run for the Roses in recent years, Mike’s full card analysis for every race on each card is always looking for value for horseplayers looking to pad their wagering bankroll.

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