Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Saturday's Picks from Saratoga and Del Mar

It is Whitney Day at Saratoga on Saturday with a blockbuster 12 race card highlighted by the $1 million Whitney (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

The Whitney is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the winner stamping a fee-expenses paid trip to Del Mar for the $6 million Classic. There are four supporting stakes on the card including a pair of Grade 1 races.

If you know me you know I just abhor five horse fields, and that is what we have in this year’s Whitney. I’ll give the race a slight pass as it did draw a top notch field.

Knicks Go is the 6-5 morning line favorite for the Brad Cox barn. Cox has started off the meeting by going 8 for 19, winning at a 42% clip. However Knicks Go has made three trips to New York and has not run very well in the Big Apple.

Maxfield is the second choice at 8-5. The Brendan Walsh trainee has won seven of his eight career starts, his lone loss coming in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) at 1 ¼ miles back in March. He comes in off back to back wins in the Alysheba and Stephen Foster, both Grade 2 races.

Swiss Skydiver (6-1) got detoured thanks to a herpes outbreak near the Ken McPeek barn and takes on the boys. She already has beaten the boys, taking the Preakness Stakes (G1) last year.

Silver State (4-1) has won six in a row taking the Met Mile (G1) last out for trainer Steve Asmussen, who tied Dale Baird as the leading all time trainer in wins with 9,445 and likely breaks the record today.

Asmussen has six runners entered at Saratoga and three each at Elis Park and Monmouth Park.

Completing the field is By My Standards (10-1), who had a troubled trip in a runner up finish in the Met Mile, beaten one length. The Bret Calhoun ran second in last year’s Whitney and earned four triple digit Beyers in his eight-race campaign in 2020.

W can make a case for each of the five, but I have to say By My Standards looks enticing if he goes off near his 10-1 morning line.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 11 strongest plays from Del Mar and Saratoga.

“Saratoga Live” is on FS2 (and streaming on YouTube) from 12:30 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 Md Sp Wt

  • #8 Speak Unity 5-1
  • #2 Dripping Gold 9-2
  • #1 Gooch Go Bragh 7-2
  • #5 Boston Flagship 5-2

Analysis: Speak Unity returns off a three-month break for the Thomas barn and stretches out to a route for his third career start. The gelding was fourth in his debut on dirt and last out on turf prompted the early pace and could not go with the winner in a runner up finish. He comes back gelded and has the pedigree to handle a route. He is by Union Rags out of a stakes placed Dynaformer mare that has dropped one other foal to race, a turf winner. The barn is 23% winners moving runners from sprint to route and Prat is up.

Dripping Gold debuts for the Shug barn that has won with just 1 of his last 13 debut runners here at the Spa. But this colt has been working sharply and has a nice pedigree. He was a $30,000 Ocala purchase, by Lemon Drop Kid out of a Danzig mare that has dropped four winners including three turf winners, top earner stakes winner Aurelia's Belle ($346,487). He did his prep work at Fair Hill and has two local drills since shipping in to New York. He looks ready to go.


Race 7 The Glen Falls G2

  • #5 My Sister Nat 3-1
  • #3 War Like Goddess 8-5
  • #4 Orglandes 10-1
  • #2 Temple City Terror 6-1

Analysis: My Sister Nat makes her first start since coming with a good late rally to finish third in the New York (G2) last out on yielding ground going 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park. The runner up Thundering Nights came back to win the Pretty Polly Stakes (G1) at the Curragh in her next outing on June 27. Two back in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) off nearly a six-month layoff she stalked a slow early pace and could not make up much ground in the stretch in a fourth-place finish. She won the Waya (G2) here last year at today's 1 1/2-mile distance. She has landed in the money in 13 of her 17-career starts and looks to be sitting on a top effort here in her third start off the bench for the Brown barn.

War Like Goddess makes the first start since a sharp win in the Bewitch (G3) at Keeneland going this distance over good ground. She has shown improvement with each start and her last was a career top speed fig in her first trip at 1 1/2 miles. The Mott barn is 19% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day layoff. The main knock is the lack of much early pace in here and Leparoux is going to need to keep her bit closer today.


Race 9 The Best Pal G2

  • #3 Pappacap 8-5
  • #4 Finneus 3-1
  • #1 Bet On Mookie 5-2
  • #5 Thirsty Always 7-2

Analysis: Pappacap took the field gate to wire in an impressive debut at Gulfstream Park for the Casse barn. The fourth-place finisher was a next out grad and two others came back to finish second in their next starts. The son of Gun Runner has impressed in a couple of local drills and the trainer, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday is really high on this guy. He looks capable of moving forward off a very promising debut.

Finneus was third in his debut against open maidens and then picked up his diploma last out when taking on Cal breds. He came with a last to first rally to win by 3/4 of a length. Three he beat have come back to break their claimers in their next starts. This guy was a $200,000 purchase, out of the stakes winner My Fiona ($478,743) who has dropped one other foal to race, stakes winner Fi Fi Pharoah ($189,060) who won the state bred Melair this June at Santa Anita.


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. 


  • R4: #6 Athenry 8-1
  • R5: #6 Vodka Mardini 8-1
  • R5: #9 Immokalee 10-1
  • R6: #6 Midnight Tea Time 15-1
  • R7: #4 Orglandes 10-1
  • R9: #2 Du Jour 8-1
  • R10: #1 By My Standards 10-1
  • R12: #1 Madam Maclean 20-1

Good luck today!

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