The million dollar guaranteed Travers Day Pick 4 is not always one of the highest class multi-race wagers of the year, but it is also a bet that has been very good to me over the years. Hoping to keep my winning streak going, I will be hitting the Pick 4 pretty hard today. My strategy will be to catch some odds by spreading three difficult races, before nailing the Travers with my pick of the day, Palace Malice.
Race 9 - Grade 1 Test Stakes $500,000 7f Dirt
Sweet Lulu has been getting nothing but rave reviews on the West Coast, and has looked the part in both the mornings and the afternoon. The only problem is not only does she step up in class today, but all of the races and works for the unbeaten filly have come on a synthetic surface. She is a big danger, so I will use her, but as the likely favorite, I would like to see one of six others beat her generating some odds. My Happy Face looked great in breaking her maiden by more than 20 lengths last summer at the Spa, and her recent second in the nine furlong CCA Oaks, should have her primed for today’s demanding seventh furlong. Irish Lute is a long shot I’ve been trying to catch for a while. Her running style should suit today’s strong pace, and if you throw out the slop race, her form fits here. So Many Ways failed last time, but look for her to be in a more comfortable off the pace position today on a track she obviously likes. I’m Mom’s Favorite also failed last time, but a freshening, and a strong work at Saratoga have me thinking we might see the filly that ran right by Lighthouse Bay at Pimlico. Lighthouse Bay is a must use after her excellent win last time in the Prioress, and Ju Ju Eyeballs has been in career form this summer at Monmouth.
Race 10 - Grade 2 Ballston Spa Stakes $250,000 1 1/16 miles Turf
Miz Ida, 8-1 on the morning line, figures to sit a dream trip in the middle of the pack early today and rates a big chance to get her biggest win to date. Laughing is a filly who disappointed me last fall, but in her only two races this year, has been anything but a disappointment. A repeat performance of her Eatontown and Diana performances make her the one to beat today. If she does win, she will have dealt with the speed of Pianist right next to her in the starting gate. Pianist, as the other main speed in the field has the advantage of drawing just outside Laughing, and has the class to pull off a minor upset in here. If those two do tangle early, Hungry Island may be the one to take full advantage late. The five-year-old mare has a grade 2 win on Saratoga turf before, and certainly would be no surprise to get another one today. A few months ago, I would have tabbed Centre Court as the one to beat, but she has disappointed in her last pair. While not bad enough to toss her today, I believe she will need to show just a little more to return to her winning ways.
Race 11 - Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes $500,000 7f Dirt
While favored Forty Tales is the one to beat in here, I certainly feel like there enough other good options to look for some odds. Capo Bastone went too wide in the Woody Stephens and floundered a bit, but if the pace is fast enough, and he gets the trip, look out at juicy odds. Majestic Hussar beat Palace Malice this winter at this same seven furlong distance and is coming off a sharp win over the track, his second at Saratoga. Mentor Cane is a major talent. This is a tough spot for him, but if he puts all this racing thing together, he may prove to be the best of a very good bunch. A sharp Spa workout for Declan’s Warrior might point out that he is much more geared up for this preferred distance than he was for the six furlong Amsterdam. Overanalyze is a distance horse who has won sprinting before. Running against classic horse this spring and summer, might give him an edge in a field of quality sprinters. Look for him to run a big race shortening to seven panels. Let Em Shine is the fastest one in here, it’s only a question of how far he can carry them. I worry that Central Banker is a turf horse, but his return to the races in the Quick Call was so good, I’m willing to give the son of Speightstown a shot on the dirt.
Race 12 - Grade 1 Travers Stakes $1,00,000 1 1/4 miles Dirt
Here’s the single … Palace Malice. I’m convinced he’s become the best three-year-old in the nation, I know he can get the distance, and he clearly appreciates the surroundings at Saratoga. He’s done nothing but flourish since Kentucky to a point where I am ready to see his very best today. Look for him to get a perfect stalk and pounce trip from his outside post. Of the others, I see Moreno and Verrazano softening each other up enough early to make it very difficult for either to be at their best late. Orb is dangerous, but until he shows me can return to his early spring form, I have no problem playing against him. Transparent and Will Take Charge are interesting, but probably just a cut below what is needed in one of the best editions of the Travers in recent years.
The Play: ($140)
50 cent Pick 4 - 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 / 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 / 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 / 8