Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Saturday's Picks from Saratoga and Del Mar

It is Travers Day at Saratoga and that is certainly something to celebrate but forgive me if I am not in a celebratory mood.

We were having a pretty good day on Friday, with four winners on top in the first 10 races including Giacosa at $20.80 and City Man at $11.00. Then my top pick Pivotal Run came rolling late to cross the wire first in the nightcap at 16-1.

A nice way to end the day, right?

The only problem was jockey Manny Franco cut off another runner in the stretch and after a lengthy inquiry was disqualified and placed third. My second choice Fast Gordon was placed first and I saw my late Pick 4 for $1 shrink from $2,661.50 to $311.00.

After watching the replays it was probably the right call, but the three stooges, I mean stewards have been insanely inconsistent the entire meeting.

They also seem to dole out no punishment for jockeys that don’t seem to think keeping a straight line in the stretch is important.

In addition, in the seventh race, my top pick Make Mischief appeared to break through the gate just as it was opening. Everyone thought the horse should have been declared a non-starter. Well, except for the stewards, who did not even put up an inquiry.

Over the past seven weeks, I don’t recall ever see so many incredibly bad decisions by the stewards and equally inept riding from jockeys for a major circuit.

It actually has been a winning meet for me, but judging from my disposition it would be hard to tell. The stewards are sucking the life right out of me, and I am not the only one.

Try and enjoy Travers Day. Just the fact I have gotten this far through this column without a profanity laced tirade, maybe I will too.

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

“Saratoga Live” is on today on FS1 from 11:30am-3pm, FS2 from 3-5pm, FOX - 5-6:30pm, then back on FS2 from 6:30-7pm (and streaming on YouTube). 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

  • #1 Royal Spirit 3-1
  • #10 Sweeping Giant 2-1
  • #3 Electability 7-2
  • #7 Doctor Davis 5-1

Analysis: Royal Spirit debuts for the Pletcher barn that is 30% winners (with a +ROI) with juvenile first timers at the meet. This colt was a $450,000 purchase, by Into Mischief out of a Malibu Moon mare that has dropped two foals to race with one dirt winner. The colt has been working steadily for his debut including a drill on turf on Aug. 15. The barn's juvies have been live at the meeting and this guy looks ready to go.

Sweeping Giant is also sent out by Pletcher. The colt came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot in his debut where he was sent off at 7-2 in a field of eight over good ground here on July 31. The barn is 23% winners overall with second out maidens. This colt is by Curlin out of the multiple graded stakes turf winner Isabella Sings ($648,170). He should move forward with a race under his belt.


Race 12 The Travers G1

  • #4 Dynamic One 6-1
  • #2 Essential Quality 4-5
  • #5 Miles D 12-1
  • #1 Midnight Bourbon 9-2

Analysis: Dynamic One bounced back off his 18th place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a solid win in the restricted Curlin last out. The colt railed the field early and he came calling with a good late rally to take over the lead and draw clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths. He did it over a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day. After breaking his maiden in his fourth career start he was beaten just a head in the Wood Memorial (G2) back in April. By Union Rags out of a Smart Strike mare he has the pedigree to handle 1 1/4 miles and gave every indication last out he can go farther. Pletcher seems to have this guy at the top of his game coming into this race and he will need to be to beat the chalk. Looks like this guy is going to end up the value of the race.

Essential Quality has won seven of his eight career starts with the lone coming in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at today's distance where he ran a solid fourth, beaten a length. The colt has to work a little harder than I thought he would last out in the Jim Dandy (G2) where he won by a half-length with his Beyer dropping 11 points from his previous career top. The colt owns solid early and mid pace numbers and Saez can send him or he can sit off the pace. Tough to find any knocks on this guy who is bred to handle 1 1/4 miles. The only real knock is his price which is going to be less than even money.

Miles D put in a solid effort in a runner up finish in the Curlin and also raced against the speed bias that day. He was making just his third career start and looks as if he has as much upside as any in the field. He has shown improvement in each start and he should have no issue going today's distance. He is by Curlin out of a Bernardini mare. He picks up Prat and the 12-1 morning line looks generous.


Race 10 The Pat O'Brien G2

  • #8 Flagstaff 3-1
  • #9 C Z Rocket 5-2
  • #7 Brickyard Ride 8-1
  • #2 Howbeit 6-1

Analysis: Flagstaff dueled for the early lead and could not go with Firenze Fire late while drifting out in a runner up finish in the True North (G2) at Belmont Park over a wet track. The winner came back to run second in the Nerud (G2) in his next outing. Two back our top pick won the Churchill Downs (G1) over Lexitonian who won the Ag Vanderbilt (G1) on July 31 and is my top pick in today's Forego (G1) at the Spa. This guy ran second in this race last year and owns a solid pace profile throughout. He is a seven-furlong specialist having won 4 of 6 at the trip.

C Z Rocket came with a good late rally while wide to miss by just a neck and a head in the Bing Crosby (G1) last out over the main track here going six furlongs. He won this race last year and is 3 of 6 at seven panels. He is going to get a good pace set up here as there is plenty of early zip signed up in this spot. The seven-year-old fits well here but tends to take a bit too much action in the betting and that may be the case again here.


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: #7 Steinbeck 8-1
  • R3: #1 Priness Fawzia / 1a Sparking Sky 10-1
  • R3: #2 Vividly 8-1
  • R7: #6 Estilo Talentoso 8-1
  • R10: #8 Harvey’s lil Goil 8-1
  • R10: #3 Bonny South 10-1
  • R11: #4 Channel Maker 8-1
  • R12: #5 Miles D 12-1
  • R13: #6 Constitutionrage 8-1

Good luck today!

We may be compensated by the company links provided on this page. Read more

Horses News