Monmouth Park and Saratoga are in the spotlight Saturday, and handicapper Tim Holland has multiple picks for both venues. He also has a spot play for Ellis Park, Woodbine, and Ruidoso Downs.
#1 Domestic Spending (7-2) impressed winning both career starts for Chad Brown, most recently when rallying from off the pace to win over a mile at Belmont last month. Son of excellent European sire Kingman is from a good female turf family and Brown wins with 24% of his runners in graded stakes. 3-year-old can be running late under Irad Ortiz, who has won with 30% of his rides for the barn in the past two months.
Trainer Cox wins with 27% of his runners second off a layoff and saddles #6 Set Piece (8-5), who made his North American debut a winning one when closing over a mile at Churchill last month. Son of Dansili finished third in the Craven (G3) at Newmarket before joining Cox, who has won with 24% of his runners this year. Gelding can be along late under Rosario, who has won with three of his last 12 rides for the barn.
Fillies and mares going 9-furlongs in the Matchmaker (G3) include #4 Varenka (6-1), who flattened out to finish unplaced in the Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill in late May, her first outing since October. Trainer Motion wins with 17% of his runners that have not raced for 46-90 days and daughter of Ghostzapper won the Lake Placid (G2) at Saratoga last August. 4-year-old has won 3-of-10 career starts and rider McCarthy has won with three of his last 10 rides for Motion.
Another turf runner from the Motion barn is #2 Standard Deviation (7-2), who made some progress to finish sixth at this distance in the Tiller S. at Belmont early last month in his first start since February. Son of Curlin won both of his previous starts on this turf and Motion has won with 18% of his starters this year. Colt can be along late with McCarthy riding.
Maidens over 6-furlongs include #8 Jess Mo (15-1), a debuting son of 15% first out sire Uncle Mo, who is out of a mare by Malibu Moon. 3-year-old is a half-brother to four winners and has been working well for Pat Huffman, who wins with 13% of his first-time starters. Bay appears ready for a good first outing with Bejarano in the irons.
#2 Tiz Affair (3-1) tries an all-weather surface for the first time off a fading unplaced effort over a mile on grass at Gulfstream in late May in her second outing. Daughter of Tiznow is a half-sister to Yorkton, who won with Bold Venture (G3) on this oval. Trainer Casse wins with 20% of his runners making this surface change and filly can show more here with Husbands riding.
Trainer Lambert wins with 12% of his claimers and saddles #9 Shangroyal (4-1), who weakened late to finish second after vying for the early lead over the track and distance last month in his first outing since February. Barn has not had much luck at this meet, but bay has a record of 6-2-1-1 at this distance and can be on or near the lead from the start with Fuentes up.