Sunday plays: Amsterdam, Clement Hirsch and more

Sunday plays: Amsterdam, Clement Hirsch and more
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

Graded stakes action continues at Saratoga and Del Mar on Sunday, with the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam Stakes for 3-year-old dirt sprinters on tap at Saratoga, while fillies and mares compete in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar.  

Those two stakes races are covered in the analysis below. For fun, the 2-year-old maiden race for New York-breds in the middle of the Saratoga card is also included.

Saratoga Race 5: Maiden

At first glance, Rotknee is an obvious contender after showing good tactical speed in his July 9 career debut at Belmont and finishing second by three lengths.

Although Rotknee might prove too quick for this field in his second start, why did jockey Luis Saez abandon him for the first-time starter Who Hoo Thats Me?

Who Hoo Thats Me is a Keen Ice colt out of a Hard Spun mare, which does not sound favorable for six furlongs. However, trainer Jorge Abreu shows a surprising 100 rating from TimeformUS with first-time starters. Out of 23 tries over the past year with horses making their career debut, he displays an impressive 30 percent winning rate.

Abreu also has an 88 TimeformUS rating at Saratoga with a 27 percent win rate out of 33 tries over the past year. For a low-profile trainer, those are great statistics.

For a third option, consider Bointheback. In that same July 9 maiden race, he came from 12 lengths behind and made up significant ground in the stretch to nab third.

On the slight stretchout to six furlongs, Bointheback may improve even further.

Strategy: Rotknee, Woo Hoo Thats Me and Bointheback are all usable in muti-race wagers, while Woo Hoo Thats Me is probably the most interesting option for a win bet.

Saratoga Race 9: Amsterdam Stakes (G2)

Drain the Clock beat Jackie’s Warrior fair and square by a neck in the Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) at Belmont. Earlier in the year, Drain the Clock also won the Bay Shore Stakes (G3), Swale Stakes (G3), Limehouse Stakes and ran second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) while trying a two-turn route for the first time.

In the Amsterdam, Drain the Clock should beat Jackie’s Warrior again. From purely a win betting perspective, there is no reason to pick Jackie’s Warrior over Drain the Clock if Jackie’s Warrior still offers lower odds. Win bettors are supposed to get a deal on the losing horse, and that is not the case here as Jackie’s Warrior is 6/5 on the morning line.

With that said, multi-race bettors might want to use both of them.

Crowded Trade has a smaller chance to win in his return to sprinting. He did break his maiden going six furlongs at Aqueduct in January, before stepping onto the Derby trail and Preakness Stakes.

Why was he a vet scratch on July 17 though?

Strategy: If Crowded Trade is used horizontally, he is a B or C player in multi-race wagers. He is probably more useful in the second slot of exactas. One idea is to put a win bet on Drain the Clock and make a straight Drain the Clock over Crowded Trade exacta, or even a box.

Del Mar Race 9: Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1)

As Time Goes By and Shedaresthedevil are obvious choices to think about, and it is hard to make a direct comparison because they are currently based in different circuits.

In As Time Goes By’s past three starts, she ran second to Swiss Skydiver in the Beholder Mile (G1), won the Santa Margarita Stakes (G2) by 9 ¼ lengths and won the Santa Maria Stakes (G2) by a nose, all at Santa Anita Park. She does own some local experience at Del Mar too, as she ran third here in her career debut here last August.

As Time Goes By is also trained by Bob Baffert, who is tough to beat in Southern California.

As for Shedaresthedevil, she was third in the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) at Belmont, losing by 3 ¾ lengths to the division leader Letruska. Prior to that race, Shedaresthedevil won the La Troienne Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs and Azeri Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn by a head over Letruska after an exciting stretch run.  

Because Shedaresthedevil was once trained by Simon Callaghan, she also was based in California for a brief period and ran third in the 2019 Sorrento Stakes (G2) on this course.

Shedaresthedevil can win. But it seems difficult to say she looks better than As Time Goes By, or that As Time Goes By looks better than Shedaresthedevil. Until they run, both runners appear about even. 

For bettors who want a super longshot, think about Paige Anne at 15-1 or higher.

Paige Anne made some steps forward last year with a third to Harvest Moon in the Torrey Pines Stakes (G3) on this course and a second in the Remington Park Oaks (G3) to Envoutante. In those two races, she finally broke 100 on the TimeformUS scale.

Forget about Paige Anne’s third-place place finish in her return race at Golden Gate on May 21. Horses typically hit their best stride in their second or third start back.

As another plus, the team of Simon Callaghan and Flavien Prat is rated 100 by TimeformUS.

If the two favorites both misfire or get caught up in a fast pace, anything can happen late in the race. 

Include Paige Anne in the second and third slots of vertical wagers. Bettors can also use this improving filly in multi-race wagers if the budget allows a third option.


Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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