Champagne: Two singles on Sunday's Saratoga Pick 5 ticket

By Andrew Champagne, Special to HRN
July 21, 2019 09:23am
Champagne: Two singles on Sunday's Saratoga Pick 5 ticket
Photo: Annette Jasko/NYRA

As a longtime Saratoga stalwart, this next fact feels incredibly weird to type: Race 9 kicks off the late Pick 5. I remember the days when Saratoga wouldn’t run more than eight or nine races in a day, so even conjuring up that thought took some effort. Alas, here we are, largely because NYRA cancelled Saturday’s races due to extreme heat.

 

I’ve got a $72 ticket that relies heavily on a pair of Chad Brown trainees. If both of those horses get home in the sequence’s two stakes races, we’ve got a good chance of taking this down. Here’s how I’ll play it.

 

Race 9: Allowance (older horses, 1M, turf), 5:09 p.m. ET

 

We kick off the sequence with a tricky turf race. Front-runners have not done well on the grass so far this meet, so I’m largely focusing on closers and stalking types throughout these five races.

 

My top pick is #10 HOBOE, who gets back to two turns third off of a long layoff and should get pace at which to run. He has two top-two finishes in as many local starts, and the faster they go early, the better his chances figure to be.

 

I’ll also use #1 VARIANT PERCEPTION, #7 MORRISON, and #8 HALLADAY. Halladay was literally the last horse I threw into the entire sequence, and while the two-turn route is a question mark, the horse he beat by a length last time out came back to graduate impressively earlier in the meet.

 

Race 10: Optional claiming (older horses, 7F), 5:43 p.m. ET

 

The last time #2 RESTORING HOPE ran in New York, he raised a few eyebrows from some who believed he ran interference for Justify in the Belmont. He’s now trained by Jason Servis, and his 2019 debut at Gulfstream was very good. The intermittent works since then are puzzling, but if he’s right, I think he’s the horse to beat.

 

I also need to use #8 BORRACHO, who was third in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens last time out and figures to be running well late. Even though he’s coming up a bit in class, I’m including #9 MAJESTIC AFFAIR as well. He’s done his best running over this seven-furlong distance, and Robertino Diodoro has done very well so far this meet with a limited number of starters.

 

Race 11: Caress S. (older fillies/mares, 5 1/2 F, turf), 6:16 p.m. ET

 

My first of two singles figures to be favored here. That’s #4 SIGNIFICANT FORM, and while I haven’t been a huge fan of hers in the past, I thought her win in the Grade 3 Intercontinental was very impressive. She overcame a slow pace for the rock-hard Belmont turf course in her first start since November and finished incredibly quickly. She may very well be gaining maturity as a 4-year-old, and I think the Intercontinental champion will be very tough (side note: if you took the “under” in the “Andrew’s wrestling references” pool, you lost).

 

Race 12: Allowance (older horses, NY-bred, 1 1/16 M, turf), 6:48 p.m. ET

 

I believe honesty and transparency are incredibly important. If you can’t trust your local public handicapper, why read what he/she has to say? I say this because I do not take this next statement lightly: I do not have a clue what any of the 12 runners in here will do.

 

For my money, this is the most difficult handicapping challenge of the meet to this point. There’s very little in the way of high-quality form signed on, and plenty of these horses have been at this level for a long, long time.

 

I’m relying on the horseplayer’s best friend here. That’s right: Despite the large field size, I’m punching the “ALL” button here. If we get to this point, I can sit back, relax, and root for a price, one that knocks some tickets out ahead of the finale (which features my second single).

 

Race 13: Grade 3 Shuvee (older fillies/mares, 1 1/8 M), 7:20 p.m. ET

 

This year’s Shuvee drew a field that’s of a much higher quality than its graded status would indicate. It’s headlined by Grade 1 winners #1 SHE’S A JULIE and #5 WOW CAT, and also features several fillies and mares who have had success at the Grade 2 level as well.

 

Wow Cat’s layoff scares me, as do her two defeats here last year. Having said that, she’s my single in here for a few reasons. Most notably, there’s a lot of early speed signed on, and she should love that given her late-running style. She got very good near the end of last year, when she won the Beldame and was second to Monomoy Girl in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and if she channels that form in a race that sets up for her, I think she’ll be very difficult to beat.

 

I respect She’s a Julie, and I think Steve Asmussen has done a great job helping her come to hand as a 4-year-old. If you want to hedge in doubles or the late Pick Four, I completely get it. However, given the likely race shape and what she showed she can do when she’s 100 percent, Wow Cat is a Pick Five single for me.

 

The ticket:

 

R9: 1,7,8,10

R10: 2,8,9

R11: 4

R12: ALL

R13: 5

 

144 Bets = $72.

 

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