The historic $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) headlines a massive day of racing at Saratoga on Saturday. A total of four additional stakes races are on tap, with two of those coming in the graded form and led by the $500,000 Test Stakes (G1) for sophomore fillies.
But there are other fantastic wagering opportunities on the card, and I will take aim at padding my bankroll prior to the biggest events of the day. The Pick 3 starting in Race 1 has appeal to me and I think it could be a lucrative sequence. With a pair of races for two-year-olds bookending a competitive first-level allowance event, I expect some decent prices in each leg.
Juveniles will travel 1 1/16 miles on the turf in the opener in what appears to be a wide-open test. My top pick is Our Country (#8) (6-1) for conditioner George Weaver, who is long overdue for his first winner at the meeting. The Constitution colt ran quite well on debut over the course while encountering some traffic, and the Kentucky-bred gets Lasix for a second run.
But this field has too many well-bred prospects in the cast and I will also include a slew of others. Chad Brown’s duo of Policy Option (#2) (6-1) and Brewmeister (#5) (4-1), as well as Eternal Summer (#6) (9-2), U S Army Corps (#7) (8-1) and Shamrocket (#10) (12-1), make the ticket.
First-level allowance going nine furlongs is another tough one in leg 2. The Rock Says (#8) (3-1) was a fine third in a similar assignment on this strip last out and is the one to beat after earning a 103 BRIS Speed number. The Uncle Mo colt will add blinkers for conditioner Stanley Hough, but I do not think that the sophomore is a slam dunk in the field.
Hersh (#9) (8-1) broke his maiden in last-to-first fashion on the course last campaign, and the colt has faced some really good horses in swiftly run races in his brief career. The Jimmy Creed colt removes the blinkers, runs two turns for the initial time, and also retains John Velazquez. The price will be right for the chestnut in his third run off the layoff.
My theory for the better part of the last two decades has been: Big Day, Big Barn, Big Juvenile. And it has treated me well. This seven-furlong special weight dash for two-year-olds attracted a well-meant cast of 10, with three of particular interest to me.
Steve Asmussen’s Wayne O (#5) (5-2) is half-brother to Grade 1 heroine Restless Rider, who was very precocious and finished second in the Spinaway Stakes (G1) here in 2018. The $750,000 colt has been training locally since late June and figures to be a runner.
Glory Road (#9) (4-1) makes a debut for the Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez duo who have won a whole lot of baby races at Saratoga over the years. The $220,000 son of smart debut sire Commissioner has worked here since the end of May and should be fully fit for the assignment.
Phipps Stable’s homebred Amends (#10) (12-1) gets a tough draw while widest, but his :48.44 gate drill on this surface two back really catches the eye. His second and third dams were champions, and I love that Joel Rosario takes the reins.
$1 Early Pick 3: 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 with 8, 9 with 5, 9, 10 = $36
PHOTO: Saratoga starting gate (c) Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com