I want to do more than just a celebrate the opening day of the finest meet in American racing, I also want to clean up at the windows. Is that too much to ask? Bring on Saratoga 2012!
Race 7, Md Sp Wt
The Spa will kick off their first late Pick 4 of the meet with maiden fillies going a flat mile on the grass. My top pick in the race will be the Christophe Clemente import, Lanett Lady. After four competitive races in sprints last year in Ireland, the daughter of Teuflesberg should appreciate the faster pace of American racing. Breaking from the rail for Julien Leparoux, she will need to find room to roll, but if she does, she could prove the class of the race for the high win percentage turf trainer. Her main competition could come directly from her outside in Cosmic Energy, who has been close in each of her for turf starts. Others to consider include, the former stakes performer, Colonial Empress, the well bred Bella Bandita, and the speedy Lily the Pink.
My best bet of the day, comes in the form of one of the top sprinters in the nation, Jackson Bend. Look no further than the mighty mite's perfect 2 for 2 record at Saratoga, and his perfect 4 for 4 record at the seven furlong distance, to see why I consider him worth the single in the first graded stakes of the meet. With plenty of early speed to set up his best rally, look for the Nick Zito trainee to get back to his winning ways, much the way he impressively did in this very race last year. While I hold big respect for the seven-year-old cash machine, Caixa Eletronica, I don't think he is quite as good as Jackson Bend at seven furlongs, let alone at the latter's racetrack of choice. I say single him with confidence!
With Mr. Hall's Opus scratching, the Schuylerville is left with six promising young fillies looking to win their first lifetime stakes race. If I had to select one, I would lean to the Todd Pletcher Jersey-bred, Can't Explain. After running a solid debut race, the daughter of Not For Love came back with strong improvement to easily dispatch a Belmont maiden field in :57 and change in her second start. The problem is, I like her only slightly better than every other filly in the race. Each of the other five are undefeated in one start, and looked good enough to believe that they could become a graded stakes winner in their second lifetime start. This is the kind of race when it is perfectly OK to hit the All button.
***The more I look at this race, the more I like the #1, Sweet Shirley Mae. Breaking from the rail for excellent juvenile trainer, Wesley Ward, not only did she defeat colts in her opener, but the horse she defeated, Bern Identity, absolutely whistled in his next and is one of the horses to beat in Sunday's Sanford.
Race 10, maiden claiming
The final race is a little bit of a crapshoot, but again I lean towards the one trained by Todd Pletcher. Top Position showed good speed in his debut effort, before fading to 4th in the mud. Since then, the second place finisher in that race came back to break his maiden in his next start. Top Position has turf breeding on both sides of his pedigree, and after trying to get in a turf race the first time, he should appreciate his initial try on the lawn tomorrow. Any surface improvement should make him tough to beat. There are enough others in here, however, who could show marked improvement on the grass to once again give strong consideration to hitting that All button.
Here are the winning 50 cent Pick 4 tickets:
1,2,3,4,7 / 7 / All / 5 ($15)
1 / 7 / All / All ($36)
Additional Ticket - 1,2,3,4,7,9,11 / 7 / 1 / 2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11,12 ($35)