Thursday’s 9th race from Saratoga is the $85,000 John Morrissey Handicap for New York-bred 3-year-olds and up dashing seven furlongs on the main track (Post Time 5:46 p.m. ET).
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This race seems a bit light on pace, and that is why #4 AMUNDSON (2-1) is the morning line favorite. He won three dirt sprints last year and started 2020 with a front running victory in the Hollie Hughes at Aqueduct Feb. 17. He was up on the pace and hit the board in his last two optional claiming starts vs. open company. He is usually tough to catch when he gets the early lead, and I am expecting Jose Ortiz to seize command early. The only question is distance. He lost both of his seven panel attempts, but he did not get clear in either of those races, and he did run well in a clear place finish behind Fortin Hill as the favorite July 4.
#6 Funny Guy (5-2) exits a nice win vs. this kind in the Commentator Stakes at one mile. He can route or sprint and stalk or close, and he defeated Bankit by a head in the local Albany Stakes at a mile and an eighth last summer. He is usually a nice price when he wins, but probably won’t offer much value in this spot.
#5 Bankit (3-1) usually puts in a good late run and frequently finishes somewhere in the top three. He fired in all three local starts and Santana Jr. knows him well.
#8 My Boy Tate (12-1) was nowhere in the Commentator at 23-1 odds last time, but he is capable of much better than that. He owns competitive numbers and has fired in multiple state bred stakes races. The versatile gelding drew well, likes this oval, and is 3-for-4 at seven panels.
#1 Pat On the Back (6-1) probably would have been the favorite in a race like this last year. He won a couple of state bred stakes races in 2019, and also captured the Kelso (G2). He was dusted in the Cigar Mile (G1) after that, and chased wide and weakened in his Commentary return. He had a decent local work July 23 and might go better in this spot.
#9 Celtic Chaos (12-1) frequently finishes in the trifecta at Saratoga, but this race does not seem to set up for the late runner. He might be able to rally for a share if he is ready to rumble in his first start in more than six months for Brad Cox.
#3 T Loves a Fight (15-1) was in fine form last year and started 2020 with a good 2nd in the Say Florida Sandy at this distance Jan. 11. His last three efforts were below par.
#7 Freaky Styley (30-1) finished 1st or 2nd in all five career starts. He exits back-to-back wins at one mile vs. lesser, and he will try to get involved late. He has ability but is probably overmatched vs. these.
#2 Kazmania (30-1) won an allowance race at this course/distance, and he has dropped nine straight since. He is a bit light on numbers and struggled in his last three stakes starts.
#4 to win
Superfecta Key 4/1-5-6-8-9
July 2020 Best Bet Winners
July 4 - GUFO ($3.20), Trifecta ($34.30)
July 5 - NIGHT OPS ($4.90), Exacta ($18.40)
July 9 - Dos Vinos/Club Car Exacta ($14.80)
July 13 - MONACO PRINCESS ($5.00), Exacta ($16.40)
July 14 - Blue Buff/Deal Driven Exacta ($7.20), Trifecta ($10.00)
July 20 - INTHEMIDSTOFBIZ ($4.00), Exacta ($13.00)
July 21 - Flashndynamite/Slingin Sammy B/Unbridledadventure Trifecta ($4.00)
July 22 - Singular Sensation/Sharp Starr Exacta ($23.40)
July 24 - JO JO AIR ($9.20)
July 27 - HOOTIE ($7.80)
July 28 - GUILLAUME ($6.40), Exacta ($24.00)