Even on a Wednesday, Saratoga sometimes runs multiple stakes races worth six figures in purse money. For example, on Wednesday the historic track will host the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Stakes and the $150,000 New York Stallion Series Stakes. The former race offers the better opportunity for a possible long-shot winner.
Here are selections for those two mid-week stakes races, plus a mid-card nine-furlong maiden race on dirt for 3-year-olds and up.
Saratoga Race 3: New York Stallion Series Stakes
Once in a while, this blog sides with the favorite as a single. This two-turn turf race for 3-year-olds with New York-based sires is one of those cases.
Ocala Dream goes for his third win in a row after breaking his maiden at Belmont and winning the seven-furlong Belmont version of the New York Stallion Series Stakes. In the maiden race, he won by 1 1/2 lengths, and in the latter race he won by one length. Remember that in turf races, one or two lengths is a more significant margin than on dirt.
In the New York Stallion Series at Belmont, Ocala Dream beat six of his opponents who are entered here in the New York Stallion Series Stakes at Saratoga. He won by using his tactical speed to secure a stalking position and taking over in the stretch run. The speed is important because he needs to stay close to Dreamer’s Disease early on.
Step Dancer made a nice closing run in the New York Stallion Series to pick up second, and now he gets one more furlong in this one-mile race. But he carries a three-race losing streak, and the pace scenario might not set up properly with no clear presser for Dreamer's Disease.
Ocala Dream is the confident selection.
Saratoga Race 6: Maiden
Most of these maidens do not own nine-furlong experience, which makes handicapping the race tougher. Regardless, handicappers can use pedigree analysis and replays to get an idea of which of horses can move forward at a longer route.
Odds and value aside, the morning-line favorite Cody’s Wish holds a great chance to win after finishing third in his career debut in a seven-furlong Belmont maiden race.
Cody’s Wish's mild finishing kick with minor ground gain in a seven-furlong race is a good sign for his longer route potential. The even effort means he wants the slower tempo of nine furlongs.
Plus, his dam Dance Card took the nine-furlong 2012 Gazelle Stakes (G1), as well as a nine-furlong allowance optional claiming race at Saratoga. In addition, Cody’s Wish sire Curlin already is known as one of the top stamina influences out there.
Based on his way of moving and pedigree, Cody’s Wish is supposed to handle nine furlongs. He is the top selection in this analysis.
Pipeline offers bettors a second option with a legitimate chance.
He makes the third start of his career in this maiden race. In Pipeline's career debut on April 24 at Belmont, he ran somewhat greenly while never factoring on his way to a fifth-place finish. For his next start, trainer Chad Brown tried Pipeline on turf in a June 5 Belmont maiden race, but Pipeline was fifth again after making a brief move at one point.
Although Pipeline’s sire Speightstown is not an ideal sire for longer routes, he could likely get a nine-furlong winner with the right dam.
Pipeline’s dam Vivo Per Lei won up to 1 1/16 miles in her 18-race career. For the most part, she ran in turf routes and shows third-place finishes in the 2012 Yellow Ribbon Stakes (G2) and Goldikova Stakes (G2) to give her career highlights in graded stakes company.
Vivo Per Lei’s sire Empire Maker already is seen as a reliable stamina influence in the same fashion as Curlin.
Pipeline also owns minor tactical speed. He could travel either in mid-pack or end up stalking the pace on the stretchout since a nine-furlong pace is slower than seven furlongs.
John Velazquez takes the call, which is also a plus.
At 6-1, Pipeline deserves one more chance to prove he can fire for Brown, especially on the stretchout to a new distance for most of these runners.
If it rains, also think about the rail entry I Am the Law at 6-1 or higher. He shows good races on wet dirt, including a close second on June 4 at Belmont.
Saratoga Race 9: Honorable Miss (G3)
Bell’s the One is obviously the class of the field.
In her most recent start, she won the Roxelana Stakes by 3/4 of a length over Sconsin, who is one of the top runners in the division. Even though the Roxelana is not graded, it has hosted graded-stakes quality fields for the past few years.
Two starts ago, Bell’s the One was also fourth by 5 1/4 lengths in the Derby City Distaff (G1) with no pace to close into. The winner Gamine is unbeatable in sprint races. Given the lack of pace and Gamine’s presence, it is easy to forgive Bell's the One's effort.
Bell’s the One also began the year in a dead heat for second by 3/4 of a length to Kimari in the Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.
For a long shot, though, check out Miss Mosaic, who ran a troubled third in the Roxelana and lost by only 2 1/2 lengths to Bell’s the One. Miss Mosaic waited behind traffic on the turn, while Bell’s the One had a clear run on the outside, although she had to go wide to set up her final kick.
By the time Miss Mosaic could tip outside horses, Bell’s the One already held all the momentum as she wore down Sconsin in front. Although Bell’s the One is the best horse in the Honorable Miss, Miss Mosaic does offer talent at 15-1 and could give the favorite a scare in this race.
If Miss Mosaic remains double digits, think about playing this long shot to win and place. In multi-race wagers, Bell’s the One and Miss Mosaic are both usable.