Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Thursday's Picks from Saratoga

A field of seven was entered for Saturday’s $1.25 million Travers (G1) at Saratoga led by Essential Quality, who was installed as the 4-5 morning line favorite.

The Brad Cox trainee has won six of his seven career starts, winning the Jim Dandy (G2) over the Saratoga main track in his last outing. Luis Saez has the return call and the colt will break from the two post.

The Travers is one of seven stakes on an outstanding 13-race card on Saturday at the Spa. Five of those are Grade 1 races and three are Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races. On Friday we have New York Showcase Day, an 11-race card with six stakes restricted to New York breds. Three-year-olds will take center stage in the $250,000 Albany. The Todd Pletcher trained Amerincarevolution is the 9-5 morning line favorite.

In yesterday’s column I predicted that Chad Brown might take over the top spot in the trainer standings at Saratoga and sure enough he did. I did not predict he would win five races and open up a four win lead on Mike Maker who had led the training standings throughout the meeting.

Brown is coming back for more today with runners in six races. State breds are not exactly Brown’s thing and he has just one starter in on Friday. He will have horses in seven of the 13 races on Saturday.

He is well stocked for Thursday’s $120,000 Riskaverse. He sends out a trio of runners including Rastafar (7-2), a promising filly who makes her stakes debut. He will also saddle a couple of runners exiting graded stakes company in Minaun (5-1) and Amy C (6-1) who were fifth and sixth in the Lake George (G3) in their last outings.

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

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


 SAR Race 1 Md Sp Wt

  • #2 Twist Just Right 5-2
  • #1 Let Her Inspire U 6-5
  • #3 Moam 5-1
  • #4 Regal Rebel 4-1

Analysis: Twist Just Right makes her debut for the Abreu barn that is 26% winners (with a +ROI) with first time starters. The trainer is 1 for 6 at the meet with firsters. This gal is by Distorted Humor out of the stakes winner Fitz Just Right ($142,051) who has dropped three foals to race with one winner. She is working quickly in the mornings and looks ready to go, catching what looks like a soft group of state breds.

Let Her Inspire U tracked the early pace and weakened to finish fourth in her debut as the chalk here on July 16. She will need to move forward a couple of lengths off her debut to earn a figure good enough to win at this level. Pletcher hits at a 23% clip with second out maidens. There is not much else in here to get excited about but she is going to end up a light price here. She was a $500,000 purchase, out of a Speightstown mare that has dropped three other foals to race with a pair of winners.


SAR Race 5 Md Sp Wt

  • #2 Luni Suma 8-1
  • #3 Imminent Storm 6-1
  • #8 Keepcalmcarryon 5-2
  • #6 Dowagiac Chief 8-1

Analysis: Luni Suma made his debut at Ellis Park in a race taken off the turf where he was sent off at 6-1 in a field of eight for the Sisterton barn. The colt tracked the early pace and weakened in the stretch to finish fifth. The runner up and third place finisher each came back to graduate next out while the winner Lucky Boss came back to run second in the Juvenile at Ellis Park on Aug. 15. The colt gets a jock upgrade to leading jockey Saez and the barn has won three races from just a dozen starters. Solid value if this guy goes off near his 8-1 morning line. By Keen Ice out of the stakes winner Malibu Beach ($71,00) who is by Tapit, this guy can handle nine furlongs.

Imminent Storm stretches out to a route for his second career start for the Shug barn. The colt was not much of a threat in a sixth-place finish in his debut going seven furlongs. He returns with blinkers for the Hall of Fame trainer who is 16% winners (with a +ROI) with second out maidens. He is by Flatter out of an Unbridled's Song mare and will likely appreciate more ground. I like the switch to Rosario.


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: #1 Clear Vision 8-1
  • R3: #2 Royne 8-1
  • R5: #2 Luni Suma 8-1
  • R5: #6 Dowagiac Chief 8-1
  • R7: #12 Reckless Spirit 8-1
  • R8: #2 Thoughtfully 8-1
  • R9: #6 Designer Ready 12-1
  • R10: #8 Three Outlaws 10-1

Good luck today!

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