Thursday’s card at Saratoga is headlined by the $85,000 Union Avenue Handicap. The 7-furlong event makes up the fourth leg of a late Pick 5 sequence that also includes a trio of races over the lawn.

Race 6:

The pace should be honest in this 9-furlong affair over the main track given the presence of #2 Miss Marissa and #4 Foxtail. This should set things up for one of the favorites since they both do their best running late.

In terms of talent, I prefer #1 Risky Mandate to #5 Off Topic, but the 1 1/8-mile distance is a major question mark for the Tom Amoss trainee. The 4-year-old filly has never raced farther than 7-furlongs and her pedigree does not suggest the stretch out to 9-panels will benefit her.

On the other hand, Off Topic makes her second start of the year for hot training Todd Pletcher. The Paul Pompa Jr. filly has shown she can get a route of ground and should get the right setup in her first try in New York since last September. I will single the daughter of Street Sense to start the sequence.

Race 7:

#2 Thin White Duke is the deserving favorite in this 5 1/2-furlong dash over the grass after encountering traffic issues at the top of the lane on July 19. With a clear run he should get his picture taken. However, the son of Dominus draws the rail again and could easily encounter similar issues in this spot. Therefore, I will use a few others that will provide much greater separation if they can earn their first lifetime victory.

Race 8:

There does not appear to be much early zip signed on in this two-turn starter allowance event over the Inner Turf, so I will focus on runners that should be prominently placed.

#2 Turn of Events should make the lead in his first try versus winners for Mike Maker. The Hard Spun colt was competitive versus better, but was unable to get to the wire first. Maker dropped him in for $40K last time out where he stalked just off the early pace and got the job done as the lukewarm 3-1-top choice. I like his chances to make it two in a row.

I will also include #5 Battalion in his second start of the form cycle and #8 The Sinner is You in hopes of taking down the top two choices on oddsmaker David Aragona’s morning line, #3 Mandate and #6 Bray.

Race 9: Union Avenue H.

I lack a strong opinion in the Thursday feature other than being against 7-5-second choice # 6 Newly Minted. The five-time winner has not moved forward significantly since rattling off four of five victories to start her career. She has failed to get the job done as the odds-on favorite in two straight.  

#1 Ratajkowski is the likeliest winner, but will probably take more money than she deserves in the 2020 Union Avenue H. The rail draw with other speeds to her outside is a concern, so I will also include a few price options. #3 Mrs. Orb put forth a career best 94 Brisnet Speed rating last time out when just missing in the Critical Eye S. at Belmont Park. She appears to be an improving mare. #4 Collegeville Girl has a win in two tries over this racetrack and is far too big of a price at 15-1 on the line.

Race 10:

I will lean on a few lightly raced fillies in this state-bred special weight event over the sod since I have seen enough from those that have a number of races under their belt.

#3 Vivazano tries the green for the initial time after three competitive efforts sprinting over the main track. The surface switch and the stretch out to two turns should benefit her. #10 Data Analytics disappointed massively on debut last fall as the 7-5-favorite and has not been seen since. The daughter of Into Mischief should run much better in her first try in 2020. First-time starter #7 Chocolate Cookie debuts for Repole Stable and Pletcher. She is bred on both sides to like the grass and has the most upside in this group.

Suggested Wager:

  • 5 with 2,3,8,9 with 2,5,8 with 1,3,4 with 3,7,10

Ticket Cost: $54