With Saratoga’s meet in full swing, there is suddenly a number of interesting betting races to choose from. Even regular allowance races sometimes give the feeling of a graded stakes race at this place because the quality of runners is always high. On Saturday, the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana Stakes for older turf fillies and mares highlights the card.
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Here are picks for select races on Saratoga's Saturday card, plus the Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth.
Saratoga Race 5: Maiden
Chattalot makes his career debut for the familiar combination of trainer Steve Asmussen, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. and Bloom Racing Stable.
On paper, this colt seems ready to fire now.
For one, Chattalot shows two impressive four-furlong bullet workouts on June 13 and June 20. In the former workout, he went in 46.80 from the gate, faster than 106 other horses working four furlongs on the same morning at Keeneland. As for the June 20 workout, Chattalot went in a blazing 46 flat, the best time of 66 horses.
Also, take a look at Chattalot’s auction history. He was an RNA for $4,500 last October as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton Fall Yearling Sale. Then in April, he cost $110k at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale and went to an experienced buyer in Jeffrey Bloom. In the time in between those sales, Chattalot likely went through positive changes physically to attract $110k.
Chattalot is the choice and a possible single. As for an exacta, the value is in trying to beat Montauk Point for second. Fromanothamutha, Red Danger and Carpe All Day are underneath candidates with double-digit odds.
Saratoga Race 8: Allowance
Crowded Trade flashed his talent when second by a nose to Weyburn in the one-mile Gotham Stakes (G3) back in March. At the time, he seemed like an interesting prospect on the Derby trail, but his next two races did not work out.
In the nine-furlong Wood Memorial Stakes (G2), Crowded Trade had perfect aim at the leaders in the stretch run and just hung in the stretch for a disappointing third.
Afterwards, Crowded Trade tried the Preakness Stakes. He made a noticeable move on the backside along with France do Go Ina, before ultimately flattening out late for a distant fifth by 12 1/4 lengths. Crowded Trade did not run terrible in the Wood Memorial or Preakness, but longer routes do not appear optimal for his best chance.
Now, Crowded Trade cuts back to seven furlongs and gets plenty of pace in front of him to work with. At 4-1, he is a fair deal to back as a win or place candidate.
Saratoga Race 9: Sanford Stakes (G3)
After a poor start, Wit won his career debut by six lengths in a June 5 Belmont maiden race for trainer Todd Pletcher and the ownership team of Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable and Gainesway Stable. There are obviously big names behind this colt.
However, it is a liability to trust a slow-breaking 2-year-old drawn on the rail.
Headline Report is capable of beating Wit from Post 9. He broke his maiden on April 23 at Keeneland in mild fashion by 2 1/4 lengths for trainer Wesley Ward. Even though Ward trains him, there is possibly more room for improvement. For what it is worth, Headline Report’s second dam is the $1 million earner Critical Eye.
Also think about Ottoman Empire, who made a closing move to break his maiden by one length on June 20 at Churchill Downs. He is supposed to receive plenty of pace in this spot as well. According to TimeformUS, the Sanford is a red pace scenario.
Ottoman Empire cost $120k as a yearling last September at the Keeneland sales. He is trained by Tom Amoss, who is capable of winning here with the right horse.
For a third alternative to Wit, consider the Pennsylvania-bred Dance Code. He only broke his maiden by a neck over For the Dreamers at Parx Racing. The two of them also had five lengths over the third-place Rich’s Way. Why would trainer Juan Vazquez run this Pennsylvania bred in an open stakes race unless he saw talent?
Saratoga Race 10: Diana Stakes (G1)
Harvey’s Lil Goil could rebound off her fifth-place finish in the New York Stakes (G2). Watching the replay though, there was little reason for her fade late.
Lemista lost to Harvey’s Lil Goil by half a length in the Beaugay Stakes (G3) in early May, but this is possibly a different situation with a longer distance.
As a tracker in second, Harvey’s Lil Goil took advantage of a slow pace in the Beaugay, while Lemista did not get the full motor running until the stretch run. Lemista could turn the tables in her second start off the layoff.
For a longshot, consider Vigilantes Way. Two starts ago, Vigilantes Way closed well enough in the Gallorette Stakes (G3) at Pimlico to only lose by half a length to Mean Mary. Last month, Vigilantes Way also won the Eatontown Stakes (G3).
Vigilantes Way is in career best form and offers value at 20-1.
Monmouth Race 12: Haskell Stakes (G1)
Although overbet in the Preakness Stakes, Midnight Bourbon is likely the best value in the Haskell Stakes (G1) with Hot Rod Charlie, Mandaloun and Following Sea all set to attract significant money. In contrast, Midnight Bourbon is an attractive 9/2 on the morning line.
There is no reason to think Midnight Bourbon is any worse than those other three names. In his Preakness effort, Midnight Bourbon went to battle up front with Medina Spirit, as well as the longshot France do Go Ina on the backside. According to TimeformUS, the fractions were fast.
Understandably, Midnight Bourbon had nothing left to hold off Rombauer in the stretch. He still ran well enough to beat Medina Spirit for second.
Cross out Midnight Bourbon’s Kentucky Derby effort because of the slow break and 19-horse field. The Derby is a unique challenge for horses who do not break sharp.
At 9/2, Midnight Bourbon is a value price considering his proven quality.