Champagne: Going deep in Wednesday's Saratoga Pick 5

By Andrew Champagne, Special to HRN
August 21, 2019 12:16am

Another week of racing kicks off Wednesday at Saratoga, and the late Pick 5 sequence is incredibly difficult. This is the case where even though I have a single in which I’m reasonably confident, I’ve had to go a bit over my budget for just the second time so far this meet.

 

My ticket costs $180 and buys one of the toughest races I’ve had to handicap this summer. It may, however, get considerably more affordable if there’s a scratch in the second leg (which seems pretty likely). If you hit it, chances are you’ll be rewarded handsomely. Here’s how I’ll play it.

It was announced Wednesday morning that all races will be off the turf.

 

Race 6: Maiden special weight (2-year-olds, 1 1/16 M, turf), 3:30 p.m. ET

 

This is an event restricted to horses that sold for $45,000 or less, and it’s a pretty tough one to dissect. My top selection is #7 FLUTE MAKER, who stretches out at second asking for Ken McPeek (whose horses tend to improve with experience). His second dam is multiple Grade 1 winner Flute, who did her best work going two turns, so he’s likely to love this trip.

 

I’ll also use #1 SMITE, who may go off the favorite, and #4 LEGEND OF BAM, a first-time starter with some sneaky-good works at Belmont. I’m against second choice #8 SAINT MARCO, who was beaten two lengths by Smite last time out.

 

Race 7: Claiming (older horses, 7F), 4:02 p.m. ET

 

Of the seven runners signed on here, six of them have run here during this meet. I’m set to go two-deep, although one of the runners I’m using may scratch (which would cut my ticket cost in half).

 

#4 AIR ON FIRE was a good second against similar foes last time out. He was claimed by Linda Rice, who’s among the best in the game with new acquisitions, and his best race would make him tough to beat.

 

If he runs, I’ll also use #6 KEEPING THE PEACE. He earned his fourth straight win (and second of the meet) just three days ago, and it’s likely he was cross-entered given that he cleared this non-winners-of-three condition with Sunday’s score. If he doesn’t run, I’ll single Air On Fire in what becomes a $90 ticket.

 

Race 8: Claiming (older fillies/mares, 5 1/2 F, turf), 4:34 p.m. ET

 

Like several other legs in the sequence, this is far from easy. I’m going five-deep in here, and while I’m using likely favorite #5 GOLCONDA, she isn’t my top pick.

 

That distinction falls to #8 MORISSETTE, who drops in class after a tough trip here last week. She ran very well against similar company two back at Monmouth, and a clean journey would give her a big shot at a nice price. She’s 8-1 on the morning line, and that would hit me as an overlay.

 

In addition to these two, I’ll also be using #2 ANNIE ROCKS, #6 AMANDA LANE, and #12 MERLINS MUSE. I sincerely hope I’m going deep enough in a perplexing event, but I can’t go deeper…

 

Race 9: Allowance (older horses, NY-bred, 6F), 5:06 p.m. ET

 

…because I’m punching the “ALL” button in this 12-horse field. NYRA morning line man David Aragona tweeted that he found this race impossible, and I completely agree. The longshots look live, the likely favorites certainly aren’t invincible, and I can see this race unfolding in many different ways.

 

I’m buying this event and hopefully gaining some security. I hate hitting the “ALL” button in races with fields this size, but I feel as though it’s necessary in this spot.

 

Race 10: Claiming (older fillies/mares, 5 1/2 F, turf), 5:38 p.m. ET

 

If we get to the payoff leg, our hopes, dreams, and aspirations will ride on the likely favorite. That’s #8 MATZO BELLA, who looks very imposing for trainer Jason Servis. She was a tough-luck second two back against allowance foes at Belmont, and a repeat of that effort would make her formidable.

 

If I was to use another in here, it would be #4 AVOCADO TOAST, and I’ll likely hedge with her in other wagers. However, for purposes of this ticket, I’m singling Matzo Bella and hoping she runs to her morning line odds.

 

The ticket:

 

R6: 1,4,7

R7: 4,6

R8: 2,5,6,8,12

R9: ALL

R10: 8

 

360 Bets = $180.

 

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