Champagne: Analyzing Saratoga's closing day late Pick 5

September 01, 2019 09:59pm

It’s closing day at Saratoga, and I’ve got a lot of people to thank. First of all, I need to acknowledge Jonathan Lintner and Mark Midland, who graciously brought me back into the HRN fold after five years away from the site. It meant a lot to be to be able to come back and contribute content people enjoy reading. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity I was given, and I sincerely hope there’s more from me to come on this site.

I’d also like to thank you, the reader. If you took the time to read or comment on my stuff, it’s important to me that you know you’re appreciated (even if what you had to say was negative or involved criticizing something I said or did; hi, Vic!). Whether we agree or disagree on ticket construction, wagering strategies, or anything else is secondary to the fact that we all want what’s best for this sport. That matters above all else, and I thank you for taking some time out of your summer to come into my little corner and talk horses.


We’ve got one more late Pick 5 sequence to dissect before they pack up and move back to Belmont Park. It starts in Monday’s seventh race, and I’m playing a $150 ticket that assumes we stay on the grass (please, for the love of everything holy, stay on the grass on closing day!). Here’s how I’ll bet it.


Race 7: Claiming (older horses, 1 1/16 M, turf), 3:52 p.m. ET


We start things off with a grass grab bag, and I felt the need to spread five-deep. While my top pick will be favored, it’s tough to have real confidence in any of these runners.


#5 RHODE ISLAND has already run twice at the meet. He was sixth against starter allowance foes but woke up a bit when a close-up second at this level and route. A repeat of that race would give him a big shot, but he’s 1-for-12 for a reason. That one win came against a weak group of maiden claimers at Belmont.


I’m also using #1 I’M ELMER J FUDD, #2 DANNY CALIFORNIA, #4 JEROME AVENUE, and #12 SARATOGA COLONEL. If you have a single somewhere on your ticket, hitting the “ALL” button wouldn’t be a bad idea, as this is a pretty puzzling event.


Race 8: Optional claiming (older fillies/mares, NY-bred, 7F), 4:29 p.m. ET


This is a fun race, as a number of these runners have recent stakes experience. Having said that, I’m only going two-deep, and I’m using two horses that will likely get plenty of play at the windows.


#7 HAY FIELD is my top pick. She hasn’t won in a while, but she’s been competitive at this level and goes to the Jason Servis barn. Few trainer switches are as able to wake a horse up as that one is, and a step forward off of her last race would make her tough.


I’ll also use #5 MISS LILY B, who ships in from Finger Lakes having won five in a row there. This barn doesn’t ship in for fun, and she’s attracted Jose Ortiz. I think she’ll be bet down from her 6-1 morning line, as she’s got a big shot if she runs to her recent form.


Race 9: Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap (older horses, 1 1/16 M, turf), 5:04 p.m. ET


This race drew just a field of seven, and unfortunately, not many heavy hitters showed up in the entries. However, it’s an intriguing betting race, one where I’m going three-deep.


#6 SACRED LIFE did everything but win in his North American debut. He was beaten a nose in the Lure earlier this meet and is a major candidate to improve in his second start off the bench. There should be plenty of pace signed on, and that plays right into his hands.


I’ll also use fellow closers #1 MARCH TO THE ARCH and #3 QURBAAN. The former ran into Got Stormy in the Grade 1 Fourstardave, while the latter won this race last year and was beaten just a half-length in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple.


Race 10: Grade 1 Hopeful (2-year-olds, 7F), 5:39 p.m. ET


The closing day feature drew several highly-regarded 2-year-olds, including one that’s already proven himself as one of the best in the country. He’s logical, but I just can’t bring myself to single him.


#3 GREEN LIGHT GO has two daylight wins in as many starts. The most recent one came in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, when he sprinted clear in midstretch and won with something left. The others will have to step forward to beat him, and there’s nothing saying he’s not sitting on an even bigger performance.


However, #5 BY YOUR SIDE is also 2-for-2 with a graded stakes score to his credit. I liked the way he won the Grade 3 Sanford when he rated just off the pace, pounced turning for home, and rolled to the wire. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides back, and one had to figure the rider had other options here. By Your Side's 6-1 on the morning line, and that hits me as an overlay.


Race 11: Maiden claiming (older horses, 7F), 6:13 p.m. ET


We end with a maiden claimer, which seems anticlimactic but did draw a field of 11. I’m going five-deep to finish this off, and hopefully we can finish the meet cashing for a healthy chunk of change.


#8 MINE THE COIN seems logical enough. He was second in his first start off a long layoff behind a horse that repeated at next asking, and he was claimed out of that race by a high-percentage outfit. Any step forward would make him tough, but the presence of just one timed workout since that performance does raise a few eyebrows.


With that in mind, I’m also using #5 FU PEGCHU, #6 BOROUGH BOY, #7 EXCHEQUER, and #11 SKYWRITING. It’s not a great group, so I wanted ample coverage, and I sincerely hope I’ve gone deep enough. If my top choice doesn’t fire, it’s anyone’s race, and chances are winners will be rewarded handsomely.


The ticket:


R7: 1,2,4,5,12

R8: 5,7

R9: 1,3,6

R10: 3,5

R11: 5,6,7,8,11


300 Bets = $150.


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