Thursday marks Opening Day at beautiful Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York. The 40-day meeting gets rolling with a 10-race card co-headlined by the Schuylerville (G3) for 2-year-old fillies and the Peter Pan (G3) which awards 50-points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby to the winner. The two graded stakes events are part of a late Pick 5 that is bookended by a pair of turf sprints.

Race 6:

#9 Propensity looks like a standout in this $40K maiden claimer over the sod. The son of Twirling Candy drops into the claiming ranks for the initial time and will be tough to deny if he can replicate his effort on June 5 in a race that fell apart late. The last effort on June 27 is slightly concerning, but it came over a course that had moisture in it despite being listed as firm. The 4-year-old gelding should be prominent throughout under Hall of Famer John Velazquez.

Race 7:

2-1-morning line favorite #1 Astoria Kitten should be loose on the lead in this state-bred first level allowance event over the inner turf, but the Kitten’s Joy filly is likely to get over bet off of a disappointing third place effort at Belmont Park last month. I will use her defensively, but do not trust her. #2 Noble Jewel and #6 Ava K’s Girl are both interesting price options stretching out to a route of ground after going 6-furlongs off the bench.  They could take a big step forward in their second start of 2020. #9 Summer At the Spa is the likeliest to run them down late if the pace is hotter than it looks on paper.

Race 8: Schuylerville S.

I am not creative in the first stakes event of the summer at Saratoga. #3 Beautiful Memories dominated a field at Churchill Downs in late May and has been training forwardly for her initial try versus winners. She is the deserving 6-5-favorite, but there are others in here that should give her much more of a challenge than what she faced on debut.

#8 Hopeful Princess was purchased out of her debut victory by Stonestreet Stables and now is in the hands of Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen. She draws favorably to the outside for her new connections. #6 Queen Arella came from well off the pace to beat #2 Hara and seven other rivals back in late May at Gulfstream Park. She picks up Joel Rosario and should be rolling late at solid price.

Race 9: Peter Pan S.

The Peter Pan is usually a prep for the Belmont Stakes (G1), but was pushed back to July this year due to the impact of COVID-19.

A number of the runners in this 9-furlong event over the main track should appreciate the stretch out to two turns, including 5-2-top choice #6 Mystic Guide. The Ghostzapper colt never truly settled when chasing the hot pace of Tap It to Win on June 4 over one-turn at Belmont Park. The Godolphin runner is bred to route and should be able to get the best of this bunch with a clean voyage on Friday afternoon.

The wild card is #7 Caracaro. The son of Uncle Mo has not been seen since a six-length romp versus special weight competition in mid-January in South Florida. The Gustavo Delgado trainee posted a 98 Brisnet Speed rating in that maiden breaking score. If he is ready to fire fresh, he is capable of scoring the upset. I will use them both.

Race 10:

I am against the top two choices on the morning line in the finale. #1 Secure Connection is the class of the race, but takes a somewhat suspicious drop in class into the claiming ranks after a third-place effort versus allowance foes on July 4 at Laurel Park. She is likely to have too much to do late cutting back to 5.5 furlongs. #2 Doll has burnt a ton of money in nine career starts. In fact, she has lost eight times at 3-1 or lower with her lone victory being in the slop at 5. The daughter of Verrazano got a perfect voyage under Manny Franco in her first start of the form cycle on June 21, but was unable to get the job done. I will let her beat me.

Suggested Wager: (50 cent Pick 5)

  • 9 with 1,2,6,9 with 3,6,8 with 6,7 with 4,5,6,7,8 = $60

Good luck on Opening Day at the Spa!