Everfast

Exacta Bet of the Day for Saturday, August 24 at Saratoga

Exacta Box of the day for Saratoga

This Saturday at Saratoga is the biggest day of the biggest race meet of the summer season – Travers Day.

Saratoga’s Saturday program features a 13-race card headlined by “The Mid-Summer Derby,” the Travers Stakes (G1) for three-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles. While this year’s Travers is an unsatisfying race in the context of the overall three-year-old division due to the absence of Maximum Security, War of Will, Mr. Money, Game Winner, Omaha Beach and others, it nonetheless will have a full field of 12 horses and should be a good betting race for horseplayers as the centerpiece of one of the year’s best days of racing and wagering.

Will morning-line favorite Tacitus (#6) (5-2) emerge with the major Grade 1 win that has eluded him so far? Or will another sophomore, such as Code of Honor (#2) (4-1), step up to the plate on horse racing’s biggest summer stage and put themselves into the mix in the hunt to be 2019’s top three-year-old?  Will Chad Brown pull another rabbit out of his hat with one of his entrants, Highest Honors (#3) (10-1) or Looking at Bikinis (#9) (10-1)? Or can Bob Baffert ship in his West Coast-based Mucho Gusto (#7) (6-1) and make off with the top honors? Or could the winner be a longshot like Preakness Stakes (G1) runner-up Everfast (#5) (30-1), or Steve Asmussen’s Laughing Fox (#4) (30-1)?

Here are four horses to use in all of your Travers exotics plays:

SARATOGA RACE 11, TRAVERS STAKES EXOTICS PICKS:

CODE OF HONOR (#2) (4-1) has been hanging around the upper echelons of the three-year-old division with a win in Belmont’s Dwyer (G3) coming on the heels of his Fountain of Youth (G2) victory, and his third-place finish (2nd vis DQ) in the Kentucky Derby (G1). In this field, those credentials are enough to make Code of Honor the most likely exacta partner along with Tacitus with regular rider Johnny Velazquez riding for Shug McGaughey.

EVERFAST (#5) (30-1) is worth a flyer in this field as a 30-1 longshot who realistically could land in your exactas, just like he did at 29-1 odds in the Preakness behind War of Will at a distance just a tad shorter than this 1 1/4 miles. He was coming late in the Preakness, indicating this distance will be in his wheelhouse. No dice in the Travers, and then could not close last time in the Haskell on a Monmouth track unfriendly to come-from-behind horses. It’s too early to give up on this horse versus this kind of competition (a race lacking all of the stars of the division). Dale Romans’ son is the agent for jockey Martin Chuan, and that choice of rider is likely to ensure big odds.

TACITUS (#6) (5-2) owns by far the best credentials in the Travers field and is the horse to beat in the Travers based on his late-running second-place finish in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga in a paceless race that was not well-suited for his running style. Trained by Bill Mott, Tacitus is perhaps the only horse in the Travers who is by no means a second-rung player in the three-year-old division this season based on his wins in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2) and runner-up finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1). His three-quarter length loss in the Jim Dandy was a good effort in defeat in a shorter race with insufficient pace, but he Travers will offer him a longer distance to work with and a better pace to chase. Plus, the Jim Dandy was essentially a prep, because the goal for Bill Mott and Tacitus was never the Jim Dandy – it was the Travers all along. Blinkers on.

MUCHO GUSTO (#7) (6-1) makes a ton of sense in this race if you, like me, subscribe to the idea that Maximum Security is the best horse in this year’s three-year-old division. Finished second behind Maximum Security in the Haskell last time for trainer Bob Baffert, and has quietly pieced together a fantastic under-the-radar season this year with graded victories in the Robert Lewis (G3), the Laz Barrera (G3) and the Affirmed (G3) stakes all at Santa Anita. The Haskell effort proved he could run big outside of California, and the BRIS Speed figure he earned there is the best last-race figure earned by any of the horses in the Travers field. The big question he’ll need to answer here is the 1 1/4-mile distance, which may be too far for him but perhaps not too far to keep him out of the exotics.

Boxing these four top horses in the exotics gives you both the legitimate favorite in the race, Tacitus, as well as the horses in the field with the best chances of posting the upset, or at last rounding out the exactas and trifectas. Even though these bets include both the favorite and the second favorite, they should offer some value because the exclude two Chad Brown-trained horses, as well as the winner of the local Travers prep, the Jim Dandy.

Bet Code of Honor (#2), Everfast (#5), Tacitus (#6) and Mucho Gusto (#7) in the exotics, and you will have the potential for some solid returns. Best of luck!

TRAVERS (FOUR-HORSE) EXOTICS WAGERS:

$2 Exacta Box 2, 5, 6, 7 = $24
$1 Trifecta box 2, 4, 5, 6 = $24

PHOTO: Everfast running second in the Preakness Stakes (G1) (c) Horsephotos.com/Kathleen O’Leary

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Arlington Trip Notes and Horses to Watch (August 15-18)

The following are trip notes for horses who had tough trips the week of August 15-18 at Arlington, and/or who figure to improve in their next races. Add these runners to your horses to watch list, and bet them back next time out if they land in a reasonable spot.

Racing for the week of August 15-18 at Arlington was run under very nice weather conditions and with extremely firm turf, except on Sunday when Arlington was off the turf after heavy morning rains. The main track (Polytrack) favored speed horses from Thursday thru Saturday, with many front-runners winning or outrunning their odds. Perennial leading jockey Jose Valdivia, who had lost his lead in the standings the week before, reclaimed the top slot in the jockey standings with a blazing-hot week that included a pair of four-win days.

Arlington Trip Notes (August 15-18)

COUNTESS ST MICHEL: Nearly caught a lone speed leader, coming up just a neck short of catching that one while clear of the rest of the field.

DAME OF THRONES: Stayed in an off-the-turf race and was not a factor on the main track. Will return to form with a return to the turf.

DUMBMARK: Should have been the clear speed in the race but broke poorly and never even went for the lead, then chased for third, a head out of second. Just needs a clean start.

ENZOEXPRESS: Chased a wire-to-wire winning monster runaway even-money favorite and held on to be best of the rest in second when handling the local surface off a 70-day layoff. Looks good in next.

HERO OF THE HOUR: Chased far off a battle up front on a front-runner’s friendly firm turf course, and was the only horse to gain late for second. Usually finishes in the exacta.

KLASSY KARALYNN: Had no chance to catch a flat out loose lone speed winner, but did what she could to pass horses at 5 1/2 furlongs for second. Will benefit from that first race back off a seven-month layoff and should graduate in next.

KNOCKYOURBLOCKOFF: Percolated into a three-length-gap speed duel and held on strong to outrun 12-1 odds for second behind only a perfect set-up odds-on favorite.

OH SO TALL: Gave an odds-on favorite a run for his money to hold on for a clear second, nearly five lengths clear of third. Can find the right spot next time.

ROMEO O ROMEO: Got hooked and cooked in a six-length-gap speed duel, winning the battle but losing the war to fade for sixth. Fits well back in a Polytrack sprint.

TEMPLE FUR: Had to drop over to the rail in last from a far outside draw with a short run to the first turn, then couldn’t gain enough behind a slow pace. Too early to give up.

 

(c) Coady Photography

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Exacta Bet of the Day for Saturday, August 17 at Del Mar

This Saturday at Del Mar is the biggest day of the meet – Pacific Classic Day.

Del Mar’s Saturday program features an 11-race card headlined by two Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” races – the Pacific Classic (G1) and Del Mar Handicap (G2) – as well as other stakes and a slew of good races throughout the day.

The Pacific Classic is an obvious feeder into the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and the Del Mar Handicap, while lacking any realistic threat to finish anything but last in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), will make up for its lack of quality by being an excellent betting race offering handicappers an opportunity to beat the favorite(s).

The Del Mar Handicap will be run at 1 3/8 miles on the turf and drew a field of nine in what goes as Del Mar’s 7TH Race on Saturday. Among the favorites will be Itsinthepost (#7) (7-2), but he sports a career 0-for-11 record at Del Mar and has yet to find his best form so far in 2019. Acclimate (#9) (12-1) did his best against lesser rivals at 1 3/4 miles in the San Juan Capistrano (G3), a race which often takes a toll on horses in their subsequent races (this also pertains to Oscar Dominguez [#1] [12-1] in this spot). Therefore, this seems like a race that can be narrowed down to four prime exotics contenders.

Here are four horses to use in all of your Del Mar Handicap exotics.

DEL MAR RACE 7 DEL MAR HANDICAP EXOTICS PICKS:

RITZY A. P. (#2) (12-1) outran 30-1 odds to run third last out in the Eddie Read (G2) here at Del Mar, finishing just a head behind Marckie’s Water, so if you like that horse you’ve also gotta look at this guy too. Was allowed to set the pace last time and probably will do so again as the speediest of the pace horses entered in this race. In career-best form. Should get to the lead and can hold on for a spot in the exotics.

MARCKIE’S WATER (#4) (7-2) exits a solid second in the Eddie Read (G2) at Del Mar last out, and won Santa Anita’s Charlie Whittingham (G2) two races ago, finishing ahead of today’s challengers Ritzy A. P. and United in one race or the other. Has won at this distance on the Del Mar turf course, and his late-running stalking style seems perfectly suited to success at this 1 3/8-mile distance. Consistently high recent BRIS Speed figures all stack-up favorably against this competition.

UNITED (#5) (3-1) made his Del Mar debut a winning one last out and now jumps back into stakes company after having finishing second behind Marckie’s Water two races ago in the Charlie Whittingham (G2) at Santa Anita Park in a race where he clipped heels and suffered a tougher trip but was beaten less that a length. Has since handled this course with flying colors, gets 31% jockey Flavien Prat aboard, and has a suitable late-running/stalking style. Major win candidate and tough to leave off your ticket.

THE GREAT DAY (#6) (5-2) exits a second-place finish in the Arlington Handicap (G3) behind Bandua in a track record-setting 1 3/16-mile race at Arlington, and then Bandua flattered him when returning to run third in last weekend’s Arlington Million (G1). John Velazquez evidently sees the potential this horse showed at Arlington and picks up the mount for high-percentage trainer Arnaud Delacour, who ships in seeking an easy Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” spot.

Bet Ritzy A.P. (#2), Marckie’s Water (#4), United (#5) and The Great Day (#6) in the exotics, and you will have the potential for a solid trifecta. Best of luck!

DEL MAR (FOUR-HORSE) EXOTICS WAGERS:

$1 Trifecta box 2, 4, 5, 6 = $24

PHOTO: Marckie’s Water © BENOIT PHOTO

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Take note of hot and cold jockeys/trainers at Saratoga

Racing at Saratoga is great, in part because the best horsemen are involved, well-meant horses are coming from everywhere, everyone is trying, and good prices and prime betting opportunities can be found day-by-day and race-by-race on good horses. When you can pair up the best jockeys and trainers with the best horses, you will have the recipe for success. Here are some examples of some hot and cold jockeys and trainers at The Spa meet so far in 2019.

The trainers’ standings through August 15 at Saratoga contain very few surprises. Chad Brown is running away with the title at present with 20 wins from 111 starters for 19%. It’s a long way back to Todd Pletcher in second with 9 wins and a surprisingly low (for him) 13% win percentage. His slower than usual meet has also affected Johnny Velazquez’s numbers. Steve Asmussen has 9 winners from only 44 starters, making his win percentage better at 20%. Bill Mott, Christophe Clement, Jason Servis and Jeremiah Englehart each have 8 wins and all are dangerous. Of that quartet, Clement (23%) and Servis (22%) are winning at particularly high win percentages. Both do great in turf sprints, among other spots.

The other standout trainer to bet at Saratoga this season has been Danny Gargan, who had 7 wins from his first 25 starters and is among the leaders in terms of ROI and winning percentage at 28%. Another trainer you’ve gotta bet pretty much whenever you see him entered is Robertino Diodoro, who owns 5 wins from his first 17 starters at the meet (28%). With fewer starters, you can also put Jorge Navarro (4-for-11, 36%) and Rusty Arnold (3-for-10) into the “hot” category.

It should also be noted that H. James Bond, who is based year-round at Saratoga, has been loaded this season and it shows with his 6-for-24 record (25%). Finally, Mark Casse, who normally starts slow and finishes fast up at The Spa, has already reached 7 wins from his first 40 starters (18%) and is only expected to improve further upon those numbers has his horses make their second and third starts of the meet.

Trainers to steer clear of betting who really struggled the first month of the 2019 Saratoga meet include George Weaver (1-for-19, 5%); Gary Contessa, who had a couple early winners but now is 2-for-52 for 6%; and David Donk, who is just 2-for-32 for 6%.

In the jock’s room, the first couple weeks at the Saratoga meet were notable because of the ice-cold start that perennial leading rider contender Irad Ortiz Jr. had at the meet. However, after a losing July, Irad Ortiz has gone on a tear in August and has quickly made up ground on the upper echelons of the jockey standings to be in hot pursuit of Jose Ortiz for top honors. Currently, Irad Ortiz is second in the jockey race with 31 wins from 150 starters for 21% to trail only Jose Ortiz, who leads with 36 wins from 162 mounts and a 22% win percentage.

It’s a long way back to third place in the jock’s standings where Javier Castellano has passed Luis Saez with 22 victories over 21 for Saez thanks to a very good 20% win percentage (plus 57% ITM). Aside from the Ortiz brothers and Castellano, no other rider is even approaching the 20% mark. The next tier of riders who have more than 10 wins, as of August 15, all have winning percentages between 13%-16% including Saez (13%) and Joel Rosario (18 wins, 13%), Jose Lezcano (16 wins, 16%), Junior Alvarado (15 wins, 16%) and Ricardo Santana (13 wins for 13%).

The Ortiz brothers and Castellano are all riding the Chad Brown wave and generally have the choice of the plumb mounts for other barns, as well. Junior Alvarado benefits from Bill Mott having a strong meet, and of course, as Steve Asmussen goes, so goes Santana who rides his first call.

Jockeys having tough meets at Saratoga in 2019 include Manny Franco (9-for-151, 6%); Tyler Gaffalione who has not yet cut it in NY with a record of just 9-for-104 (9%); Dylan Davis, who is 4-for-102 (4%); and Rajiv Maragh, who is 3-for-52 (6%).

Julien Leparoux, who has perennially struggled mightily at Saratoga throughout his career, is 2-for-32 for this typical type of Spa 6% win percentage. Another rider surprisingly having a tough 2019 Spa meet is John Velazquez, who has only 9 wins from his first 82 mounts for 11%. Other than blue chip Todd Pletcher runners, Johnny V. really hasn’t done much so far this season.

PHOTO: Saratoga scenic (c) NYRA/Coglianese Photography

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Arlington Trip Notes and Horses to Watch (August 8-11)

The following are trip notes for horses who had tough trips the week of August 8-11 at Arlington, and/or who figure to improve in their next races. Add these runners to your horses to watch list, and bet them back next time out if they land in a reasonable spot.

Racing for the week of August 8-11 at Arlington was run under very nice weather conditions, with extremely firm turf due to the lack of rain. Due to the baked rock-hard course, speed horses and front-runners on the turf tended to enjoy an advantage. Many front-runners won or ran on for in-the-money finishes, even at big odds all week long, particularly on Friday and Saturday (Aug. 9-10).

ANDRONIKOS: Needed the lead, but stumbled, veered out and got bumped hard out of the gate and couldn’t get to the front and then packed it in. Try again as a live overlay.

FACE OF VICTORY: Invaded from out of town with good-looking form but got hooked in a four-length-gap battle for the lead. Put away the challenger but just missed holding off the stalkers to settle for third, beaten just a head and a neck.

IN THE CHAMBER: Sent for the lead but got hooked and percolated into a six-length-gap speed duel until tiring due to those efforts. Can shake loose up front.

LIVELY SPELL: Speed horse blew the break and got off to a disastrous start to lose all chance. Toss out the last-place finish and try again.

MYSTERIOUSLY: Godolphin first starter needed a race just like all Eoin Harty trainees, and then he stumbled badly out of the gate and lost all chance. Will be cranked up for second start and just needs a clean start to win.

READY’S MISSION: One of the fastest horses on the grounds never gets bet, in part because of jockey Nick Meza, but this horse won wire-to-wire and will repeat at five furlongs and perhaps 5 1/2 furlongs too.

ROOM TO FINISH: Made a good stretch rally to pass horses behind a slow pace on a speed-favoring firm turf to get up for second. Looks ready to win.

RUN YOUR RACE: Made a run at catching a horse that shook loose up front in the stretch at five furlongs and narrowly came up short in a solid effort. In fine form at present.

SAKONNET: Hit the gate at the break and was squeezed back at the start, but then recovered to outrun 16-1 odds for third and just needs a clean start.

SMOKEY ROW MAC: Pressed the pace and was the only speed horse still around at the finish in a race where closers/stalkers finished 1-3-4-5.

 

(c) Coady Photography

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How to Bet Saturday’s Secretariat Stakes at Arlington

The Secretariat Stakes (G1) will be the first of Arlington’s three Grade 1 races run on the loaded Saturday, August 10 Arlington Million Day card. The Secretariat for three-year-olds has been shortened this year and will be run at one mile with a purse of $500,000. The race drew a nine-horse field this year and unlike the Arlington Million (G1) and Beverly D. Stakes (G1) which will both feature heavy favorites, the Secretariat looks like a wide-open field that is up for grabs. Any of the nine horses could win. The good-sized field and lack of a single standout favorite will make the Secretariat an excellent betting race.

ANALYSIS

The Secretariat is such a wide-open race that you easily could find yourself hitting the all-button in your multi-race wagers, especially if you plan on singling in other legs of the Pick 5, Pick 4 and Pick 3 in the Beverly D. and Secretariat. If you are not so inclined to use “all” in this race, then Chad Brown seems like a logical place to start narrowing down the field with Fog of War looking like the real deal, and his Valid Point keeping Javier Castellano aboard. Of the two foreign Aidan O’Brien options, Never No More seems to have the most upside. The final horse to use in your exotics would be longshot Clint Maroon, because it is still far too early to give up on that horse based on excuses in the recent losses.

WAGERS

$2 Exacta Box 1, 3, 6, 7 = $24
$1 Trifecta Box 1, 3, 6, 7 = $24

Here’s a brief look at this year’s Secretariat field:

CLINT MAROON (#1) (20-1) may be the forgotten contender in the race at 20-1 on the morning-line, and has enough tactical speed to be in the thick of the race throughout for new trainer Wayne Catalano. Was riding high on a three-race winning streak earlier this year and the bandwagon has been prematurely abandoned after two straight losses, both times with excuses. Tired at 1 1/8 miles two races ago in the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) and then got off to a bad start last time which prevented him from flashing any early speed en route to a loss in the Manilla. Now gets back to one mile, which is probably his best distance, and just needs a clean trip to be speed from the rail with a definite upset chance.

VAN BEETHOVEN (#2) (8-1) has been keeping good company coming out of three straight European Grade 1 races, but was not competitive in any of those spots and now will try his fourth different country in four races for trainer Aidan O’Brien. Form perhaps has tailed off this year, or else he’s just plain not suited for this class level. Very firm turf is expected Saturday, and it’s unclear if that’s what he prefers.

NEVER NO MORE (#3) (6-1) is the more lightly-raced but up-and-coming Aidan O’Brien entrant in this race, and has looked good on the track since arriving at Arlington. Comes out of back-to-back wins and wins in three of his last four, all in Ireland and adds first-time Lasix for this U.S. debut. Never been in this tough and gets the class test here, but O’Brien sees enough in this colt to ship him across the pond and puts go-to rider Ryan Moore aboard. Guy feeling says it would an extreme mistake to overlook and/or underestimate this guy. Should be stalking the pace from midpack and based on his running style he may even improve with the stretch to this one-mile distance.

THE LAST ZIP (#4) (6-1) nearly made the successful leap from maiden winner to stakes winner last time out when finishing in a dead-heat for second in a three-way win photo in the local prep race the American Derby (G3). Had actually run faster figures in the Belmont maiden win at one mile two races ago, so we’ll see if the slight cutback in distance moves him up. Nevertheless, this assignment will be considerably tougher than in the prep race last time, and he had every chance in the stretch to get the job done last time and didn’t.

RY’S THE GUY (#5) (15-1) had been knocking around the maiden ranks for several tries until finally graduating in the slop at Churchill Downs two races ago, but then looked like a completely new horse last time out when switching surfaces to the turf for the first time and easily beating Churchill allowance horses in a grass mile with a speed figure that is amongst the highest among this field. Quickly makes the jump not only up into a stakes, but into a Grade 1 stakes race today, but this horse appears to be coming around quickly now and three-year-olds that suddenly start getting good at this time of the year are always dangerous, at least for the exotics.

FOG OF WAR (#6) (3-1) invades from New York for trainer Chad Brown and actually ran his best race in defeat last time out when second d in Belmont’s Manilla Stakes behind the tour-de-force career turf debut victory performance of Win Win Win that day. This horse finished second, a head ahead of third-place finisher Casa Creed, who came back to win the Hall of Fame stakes (G2) at Saratoga in his next outing. Irad Ortiz picks up the mount. You’ve gotta like how the improvement last time out seemed to coincide with the addition of first-time blinkers, which apparently moved this horse up several notches. Tough to go against anything Chad Brown sends out in these races, and this horse certainly is among the ones to beat.

VALID POINT (#7) (5-1) also goes out for all-world trainer Chad Brown, which adds to the appeal, as it does with Fog of War. Jockey Javier Castellano had been riding both Chad Brown horses in their prior races, and he evidently chooses to stay aboard this horse while Ortiz goes to the stablemate. Valid Point has started his career in style with two wins in two races, both times as the well-bet favorite. Untried and untested so far against stakes competition, but it would be no surprise if this horse is bound to win a stakes, today and/or in the future.

FARAWAY KITTEN (#8) (9-2) is a winner of two stakes in a row for Mike Maker, including the $200k Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury and the local prep for this in the American Derby (G3) at Arlington. He was available for a $50k claiming tag as recently as four races ago, and now he’s a multiple stakes winner with a realistic shot in a Grade 1. Beat some of these contenders in a close finish last time when up late in the American Derby, and has been able to close in time to win at a mile despite a tough trip when blocked against some solid horses. John Velazquez sees enough to pick up the mount.

CRAFTY DADDY (#9) (5-1) is another of the horses in here that were involved in the close three-way finish in the American Derby (G3) when dead heating with The Last Zip just a neck behind Faraway Kitten. The loss in the American Derby ended his three-race winning streak including races at Fair Grounds, Keeneland, and Churchill, but it didn’t end his stretch of good efforts because he just missed. Draws outside again (post 9 today, post 10 last time), but is one of several in this race with a legit chance.

PHOTO: Fog of War (c) WEG/Michael Burns Photography

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How to Bet Saturday’s Bruce D. Memorial at Arlington

Saturday’s stakes action at Arlington kicks off on Arlington Million Day with one of the best betting races on the card, the $75,000 Bruce D. Memorial at one-mile on the all-weather main track for three-years-olds. The Bruce D. is the only of Arlington’s five Saturday stakes races on the Polytrack, and it drew a competitive 11-horse field going as Race 8. The Bruce D. is the start of the 50-centall-stakes Late Pick 5 at Arlington, and serves as a juicy undercard affair for handicappers to sink their teeth into.

ANALYSIS

There are plenty of contenders in this race, but they’re all running for second if Dabo does what he does and runs past ‘em all with his signature “Arazi move” from off the pace. Key Dabo and use the other prime contenders behind him including Can’t Hide From Me, Big Drink of Water, Betwithbothhands, Manny Wah and Lexitonian.

WAGERS

$4 Exacta key 11 / 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 = $20
$1 Trifecta key 11 / 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 / 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 = $20

Here’s a brief look at this year’s Bruce D. Memorial field:

SOVEREIGN IMPACT (#1) (20-1) invades from races out of town at Indiana Grand, Belterra and Churchill Downs which were all run on either turf or dirt. This will be this horse’s Polytrack debut outing, and even more importantly it will be the horse’s first test beyond six furlongs. This horse’s form looks lesser than some of the principals in this field, and if the synthetic track doesn’t prove to be his downfall, the distance of this race likely will be.

DAZZLING TRUTHS (#2) (20-1) has three recent races on synthetic racetracks and none of those efforts seem to suggest he’ll be a contender in this spot against this level of competition. Did finish fourth on synthetic in a small stakes race at Presque Isle Downs three races ago, and then seemed to handle one mile in a dirt race at Prairie Meadows two races ago when running late for third. The maiden win came on this track, but the best career effort came right after that on dirt at Churchill Downs, and if anything it is dirt, not Polytrack, that seems to be this horse’s best surface.

DONNELS DREEK (#3) (20-1) comes out of the maiden win and wastes no time rising straight up into this stakes assignment. Before you count this horse out, it should be noted that he was super impressive in the maiden win which came on this track with a solid BRIS Speed figure in an effort that looks even better now that the runner-up who finished behind him, Gate Crew, came back to break his maiden in fine fashion at Arlington in his next race. The hottest rider in the country the last two weeks, Mitchell Murrell, has the mount.

CAN’T HIDE FROM ME (#4) (7-2) enters this race with a perfect three-for-three record so far, all on a synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs and all in sprint races. Arrives locally in the barn of Arlington’s perennial leading trainer Larry Rivelli, and attracts Irad Ortiz Jr. for the mount. You can’t argue with perfection, especially when it shows up for the meet’s top trainer, but he’s trying to do something he’s never done before, which is stretch out to one mile, and that could be the one big hurdle that keeps him from achieving his fourth straight win today. Additionally, this will be his first stakes try, and it is doubtful he’s ever seen a rival the likes of Dabo before thus far in his career.

FORLOVEOFCOUNTRY (#5) (15-1) has been placed in several stakes spot on the grass early in his career with no success after a maiden win on the grass way back at Del Mar last summer. Since then his lone victory was on the dirt, and his stakes tries have resulted in fourth-, ninth- and eighth-place finishes.

HERO TIGER (#6) (12-1) is an iron horse who is evidentially trying to set a record now, already making his 18th start of 2019. Often hits the board on Polytrack, and even hit the board last time on turf, but those races were against much much softer competition. Tried stakes types in the Indiana Derby on dirt and was far back. A similar finish is predicted against these.

BIG DRINK OF WATER (#7) (5-2) stretches out beyond seven furlongs for the first time, but won that lone seven-furlong attempt which came last season on this track with a win in the Arlington Washington Futurity. Four-time multiple stakes winner as a two-year-old took an eight-month layoff and came back last time out needing a race in the return from the sidelines. Finished third out of four in a Woodbine stakes, and now returns to his home track ready to roll in the second race off the layoff with Florent Geroux aboard.

BETWITHBOTHHANDS (#8) (15-1) is a horse on a four-race winning streak coming into this race at 15-1 odds on the morning line, so if that sounds good to you then Betwithbothhands is a longshot you should have on your tickets. The last two wins were big open-lengths victories, including last time when the horse went first out for trainer Steve Manley off the claim away from Larry Rivelli. If anything, Betwithbothhands improved in that race, so why not take a shot in this spot two races after this horse got claimed for $12,500. Has a chance to become the “horse of the meet: with a win, and based on his four straight it would be a mistake to count him out.

MANNY WAH (#9) (10-1) comes off a short layoff for trainer Wayne Catalano and while a lot of these horses are optimistically stepping up in class into this spot, this horse is getting some class relief coming out of outings in the Pat Day Mile (G3), the Risen Star (G2) and the Lecomte Stakes (G3). Should find this company more to his liking, and owns a Polytrack maiden win on this course which shows he handles this surface.

LEXITONIAN (#10) (9-2) makes his first ever start on a synthetic racing surface, but look out if he can handle it because this horse can run. Won two of his last three outs in Maryland stakes races including the Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico and last time out in the Concern at Laurel. Now he has two things to prove. First, can he win at one mile, and second, can he handle the Polytrack. Those are two big question marks, but at least we know this horse has talent and is already a multiple stakes winner.

DABO (#11) (5-1) has been a man among boys every time he has stepped onto the Arlington main track so far in his career, and this true horse for the course should not be beat by the likes of these on this track. A mere mortal elsewhere, Dabo is a monster and a beast here at Arlington. He broke his maiden at first asking at AP with a last-to-first Silky Sullivan move at six furlongs, and then was just as dominant when he returned at Arlington on opening day this year with another off-the-pace victory, that time around two turns with another last-to-first move in a race that was never in doubt. Added an Illinois-bred stakes win last time when he crushed three good rivals in the Springfield with Arlington ace Jose Valdivia aboard. If this race were run elsewhere then Dabo might lose, but at Arlington, based on his three efforts there so far, they shouldn’t beat him.

PHOTO: Dabo (c) Coady Photography/Arlington Park

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Exacta Bet of the Day for Saturday, August 10 at Arlington

Exacta Box of the day for Arlington

This Saturday at Arlington is the biggest day of the meet – Arlington Million Day.

Million Day at Arlington features a 12-race card headlined by a trio of Grade 1 grass stakes – the Arlington Million, Beverly D. and Secretariat – as well as two other stakes and a slew of big fields throughout the day. The Arlington Million is run at 1 1/4 miles and goes as Race 11.

Many races throughout the day offer excellent opportunities for multi-horse exacta bets, plus plays in the other exotics. Perhaps the best of the exotics races of the day will be the big one, the Arlington Million, which will feature a 10-horse field topped by the defending champion Robert Bruce, perhaps the country’s top turf horse, Bricks and Mortar.

Here are four horses to use in all of your Arlington Million exotics.

Arlington Race 11 Arlington Million Exotics Picks:

ROBERT BRUCE (#1) (7-2) is the defending Arlington Million champion after topping a softer bunch last year, but nevertheless turning in a career-best effort in the process. Obviously loved this course and seems clearly at his best at the Arlington Million’s 1 1/4-mile distance. Comes in attempting to become the first horse in history to win back-to-back Millions, and catches another break in terms of the course conditions, which will be extremely firm just the way he likes it. Javier Castellano picks up the mount for the country’s leading turf trainer, Chad Brown, who also will saddle favored Bricks and Mortar.

BRICKS AND MORTAR (#3) (8-5) will be the big favorite and horse to beat in the Arlington Million for trainer Chad Brown. Bricks and Mortar has blossomed into the country’s top turf horse in his five-year-old season so far, rattling off four consecutive Grade 1 or Grade 2 victories in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) at Gulfstream, Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2) at Fair Grounds, Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill and Manhattan (G1) at Belmont. Owns graded wins on five different courses so he clearly takes his track with him, and also wins on any kind of footing from yielding to good to firm. Doesn’t win by big flashy margins, but reliably gets the job done, and this 1 1/4-mile distance looks squarely in his wheelhouse with regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard.

INTELLOGENT (#9) (12-1) is a 12-1 Euro invader on the morning line who can really bump up the value of your Arlington Million exotics. Euro horses in this race trained by Aidan O’Brien (Magic Wand and Hunting Horn) may attract more attention, but Intellogent ships into this race looking for firm turf and gets his wish with rock-hard course conditions currently prevailing at Arlington. Firm turf is right up his alley based on his Grade 1 win last summer in the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville. Finished less than two lengths behind prominent turfer Zabeel Prince last out in a Longchamp Group 1, and this horse should not be overlooked despite the fact that he is likely to be.

BANDUA (#10) (6-1) won the local prep for the Million last month in the Arlington Handicap (G3) against a much softer field. It was not who he beat, but rather, how he beat them that mattered the most. Bandua served notice he is ready to take the leap up into Grade 1 company when he won the Arlington Handicap in course record time of 1:53 for the 1 3/16 miles on this surface. Also ran third here last year as a three-year-old in the Secretariat, and should once again land in the trifectas again today. Has the speed to be on or close to the lead, and may get away with a moderate pace.

ARLINGTON MILLION (FOUR-HORSE) EXOTICS WAGERS:

Box the above four horses in the exotics, and key Bricks and Mortar in the exactas, you will be covering the speed (Bandua), the defending champion (Robert Bruce), the favorite (Bricks and Mortar) and the live longshot who should have an affinity for the rock-hard turf course conditions currently prevailing at Arlington (Intellogent). You will have the makings of a winning exacta, plus a big chance at the trifecta and superfecta. Best of luck!

$5 Exacta key 3 / 1, 9, 10  = $15
$1 Trifecta box 1, 3, 9, 10 = $24
10-cent Superfecta box 1, 3, 9, 10 = $2.40

PHOTO: Robert Bruce (c) Coady Photography/Arlington Park

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Arlington Trip Notes and Horses to Watch (August 1-4)

The following are trip notes for horses who had tough trips the week of August 1-4 at Arlington Park, and/or who figure to improve in their next races. Add these runners to your horses to watch list, and bet them back next time out if they land in a reasonable spot.

Racing for the week of August 1-4 at Arlington was run under very nice weather conditions, with firm turf. Without any rain, storms, or changing weather occurrences, the main track played fair throughout the week/weekend.

The horses listed below exit races run at Arlington during the week of August 1-4, and all of them have good chances to run well, outrun their odds, and/or win in their subsequent starts.

Arlington Trip Notes (August 1-4)

ANDREAS: Had to come from last in a tough 12-horse race after a rough start, but was the only closer in the race to make a dent to close late for fourth. Worth another try.

BRENTLEY’S DREAM: Had to close from last in a five-furlong race without much pace in first race back from an eight-month layoff and surged late to almost make it in time. Lost by a head on the wire and shouldn’t be denied in next.

BRILLIANT ONE: Improved a bunch to be competitive vs. maiden claimers at a mile on the turf after getting a bad start and getting pinched back in traffic in the early going.

FIFTYSHADESOFGRAYCE: Three-time turf sprint front-running winner got off to a slow start and then couldn’t make the lead to lose best chance. Can rebound with a good start.

GRAY OWL: Broke awkwardly when wanting to show speed, then had to be hustled to battle up front and gamely held on to the wire for a near miss third-place finish. Can go all the way with a better break.

IMPRESSED: Maiden lost to a good one, but ran a solid effort in his own right to be second, nearly five lengths clear of third. His turn to graduate next time.

KARATE HOTTIE: Came from off a slow pace to win anyway despite a troubled trip. Scored only by a neck, but was five ahead of third and was much the best and is ready to repeat up at the next level.

LAUNCH AWAY: Was by far the best but settled for third, second via DQ, after getting checked hard with no room to go between horses in mid-stretch. Just needs a clean trip.

MILK CHOCOLATE: Turf sprint invader ran well to close for second but had no chance to catch a loose lone speed runaway Larry Rivelli speedster. Just needs pace to chase.

THOUGHTLESS: Got off to a bad start when she landed in a very tough turf sprint spot at five-furlong. Needs a return to the main track for an instant rebound.

WICKED VALENTINE: Turf routing first starter two-year-old ran big for Michael Stidham for second, and Stidham usually doesn’t usually crank up his maidens until their second start. Won’t remain a maiden for long.

PHOTO: Arlington Park (c) Coady Photography/Arlington Park

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Saratoga Stakes Spot Plays for Sunday, August 4

Sunday rounds out a remarkable weekend of racing and wagering at Saratoga with another high-quality 11-race card. Sunday’s races at The Spa are headlined by four stakes races including two graded stakes plus another race worth $1 million. Here are some spot plays for the quartet of stakes races to be run Sunday at Saratoga.

RACE 3 – John Morrissey Stakes

Sunday’s Saratoga stakes action starts early in Race 3 with the running of the John Morrissey Stakes for New York-breds sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs.

The horse to beat is the Chad Brown-trained Build to Suit (#4) (3-1), who is somewhat of a curiosity after returning from more than a 1 1/2-year layoff last out to crush open allowance horses this January at Aqueduct with a blazing BRIS Speed figure at this distance. Since then he’s taken another six months off but won’t be beat if able to repeat that last effort. He’s two-for-two in his career at The Spa.

If you are looking for a horse who is more time-tested and proven in stakes competition, the likely favorite is Gold for the King (#6) (2-1), who certainly is a contender, but no standout. If the track is wet, all bets are off on everyone else except Eye Luv Lulu (#7) (5-2), a monster all throughout his career on off tracks.

RACE 5 – Waya Stakes (G3)

The 1 1/2-mile Waya Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares on the grass drew only a six-horse field and therefore gets placed early on the card in Race 5 to round out Saratoga’s early Pick 5 on Sunday. No major surprises expected here, with the favorite, Santa Monica (#4) (1-1) looking very tough for leading trainer Chad Brown coming off of back-to-back 1 3/8-mile wins in Gulfstream Park’s Orchid Stakes (G3) and Belmont Park’s Sheepshead Bay (G2).

The best upset chance belongs to Gentle Ruler (#6) (5-2), who comes into this race riding high on a four-race win streak beginning with her maiden win at Gulfstream Park in March, followed by a meteoric rise with allowance, stakes and graded victories at Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Delaware Park, respectively. The 1 1/2-mile distance in this one is right in her wheelhouse for trainer Ian Wilkes.

Race 9 – Saratoga Derby Invitational

This new race has been staked with a $1 million purse and is meant to keep the best three-year-old turf horses home in New York instead of shipping to the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington, which now has been cut back in distance to one mile. This race is run at 1 3/16 miles and has successfully drawn a field of 11, including two invaders for trainer Aidan O’Brien and the top five finishers from the corresponding Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) –Henley’s Joy (#1) (4-1), Social Paranoia (#2) (6-1), Rockemperor (#4) (7-2), Digital Age (#8) (9-2) and Seismic Wave (#9) (6-1).

Of that quintet, Digital Age and Rockemperor had the disadvantage of posts 13 and 14, respectively, and were closing fast from way too far back off the pace. Both should threaten from better posts this time around.

The distance of the Saratoga Derby is slightly shorter than the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Derby. That could help pacepresser Henley’s Joy score a repeat win, or enable likely front runner A Thread of Blue a chance to go wire-to-wire. Focus your betting on those four horses – Henley’s Joy, A Thread of Blue, Rockemperor and Digital Age – in the exotics, such as trifectas.

RACE 10 – Adirondack Stakes (G2)

Two-year-old fillies take center stage in the $200,000 Adirondack Stakes (G2) going 6 1/2 furlongs as a prep for Saratoga’s Spinaway Stakes (G1) later in the meet. These horses are still developing and mostly are coming in off their maiden wins.

The two notable exceptions are favored Magic Dance (#8) (7-5), trained by Steve Asmussen, who has begun her career two-for-two at Churchill Downs including a win at 1-5 odds in the Debutante Stakes on June 29; and the Mark Casse-trained Perfect Alibi (#3) (9-2), who destroyed Churchill Downs maidens and then ran a close second in Belmont Park’s Astoria Stakes last out in her second race.

The horse to beat, however, might very well turn out to be impressive Churchill Downs maiden winner Frank’s Rockette (#2) (2-1), who pressed the pace and crushed the field at five furlongs at first asking for trainer Bill Mott, who usually doesn’t even fully crank up his first-time starters. You can bet she’ll be ready for this stakes debut with first-time Lasix.

For exactas, along with Magic Dance and Frank’s Rockette, one legit sleeper candidate is Miss Peppina (#6) (8-1), who won her career debut at 5 1/2 furlongs by rallying past rivals from far off the pace to win going away for trainer Gary Gullo. When a two-year-old first starter passes seven foes en route to victory at first asking, you should take notice, especially when the horse returns at a furlong farther in his/her next start.

Enjoy a loaded Sunday card of racing and wagering at The Spa! Best of luck and I hope you win big at Saratoga.

PHOTO: Saratoga scenic (c) NYRA/Coglianese Photography

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