The stars are out on Saturday at the Spa, including the return of Stephen Foster (G2) winner Tom’s d’Etat. The son of Smart Strike looks to make it five straight with a victory in the featured $750,000 Whitney S. (G1) The 9-furlong event over the main track is the first leg of an all-stakes late Pick 4.

Race 9: Whitney (G1)

I am all in on the aforementioned #5 Tom’s d’Etat. The 11-time winner posted a career best 112 Brisnet Speed rating last time out dominating #1 By My Standards and several others in the Foster. He has proven form over the Saratoga main track and has shown that he can stalk just off the early leaders or sit a bit further off of the pace like I expect him to do in this spot. The Al Stall runner is the best horse in the older male division and will prove it on Saturday afternoon.

Race 10: H. Allen Jerkens (G1)

This 7-furlong dash is the most competitive event in the sequence and a great race to wager on vertically on TwinSpires. It also could provide some separation in the late Pick 4.

#6 No Parole was dominant in his wire-to-wire score in the Woody Stephens (G1), but the Louisiana-bred was able to dictate the early tempo as lone speed under Luis Saez. The son of Violence is likely to be on the engine again, but I expect him to take pressure from #2 Eight Rings and #5 Mischievous Alex. This makes him vulnerable as the 9-5-top choice in his attempt to make it back-to-back Grade 1 scores.

#11 Tap It To Win exits a speed-and-fade effort in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and draws favorably to the far outside. I am concerned that he may have peaked during an impressive start to his 3-year-old campaign, but he should get a beautiful stalking trip on Saturday making him tough to leave off your tickets.

#8 Three Technique has not been seen since a fourth-place effort to Nadal in the Rebel (G2) in mid-March. The Mr Speaker colt tried hard that day around two turns, much like he did in the Smarty Jones S. in late January, but his game is sprinting. The Jeremiah Englehart trainee ran extremely well in his two starts at Saratoga as a 2-year-old and should get a great trip under Jose Ortiz. I like his chances to run a big one. I will key him in the top two spots in vertical wagers and of course include him in the late Pick 4.

#4 Echo Town and Mischievous Alex were both dominated by No Parole at Belmont Park, but they are better than what they showed that afternoon. I expect much better efforts in the Jerkens.

If the race collapses, #7 Shoplifted could be the one that benefits. The pricey Into Mischief colt had to move too early last time in the Woody Stephens. With a more favorable race shape he is not without a chance at a big price.

Race 11: Bowling Green (G2)

#5 Channel Maker and #6 Sadler’s Joy have both earned over $2 million dollars in their career with most of their success coming in these marathon events over the turf. I have tremendous respect for their accomplishments, but it appears they have tailed off in 2020.

Channel Maker has failed to hit the board in all four starts and has posted Brisnet Speed ratings in the low 90s in three straight. Sadler’s Joy has not finished better than third yet this year and his last Brisnet Speed ratings have been his slowest since September of 2018. I will play against the classy veterans since they both are likely to take plenty of support.

My top choice is #4 Dot Matrix. The 7-year-old gelding was probably best two-back in the Tiller, but could not get by longshot Paret. He has run well over this turf course and appears poised for a big effort in his third start of the form cycle.

Race 12: Caress S.

There does not appear to be much speed signed on in this 5 1/2-furlong sprint over the lawn, so I will lean on a trio of runners that should get the jump on 3-1-morning line favorite # 7 Dalika.

#5 Jakarta should control things in the early going. The six-time winner tired badly in her last two tries, but one came over the dirt and the other was at 7 panels over a yielding turf course against the likes of Newspaperofrecord and Significant Form in the Intercontiental (G3). The drop into a non-graded stakes field and the ability to set a moderate early tempo gives this Three Diamonds Farm mare a chance to steal this on the front end.

If Jakarta fails to take advantage of the race shape, #2 I’llhandalthecash and #9 Cariba should get first run on their rivals and have enough to hold off the closers.

Suggested Wager: (50-cent Pick 4)

  • R9: 5
  • R10: 4+5+7+8+11
  • R11: 2+4+7
  • R12: 2+5+9

Suggested Ticket = $22.50