Saratoga's significance for handicappers
Saratoga is the highlight of the summer racing calendar on the East Coast. Beginning in late July, the 40-day meet runs through Labor Day and serves as challenging handicapping exercise with terrific betting opportunities. Along with New York-based runners, horses from all over North America, as well as international shippers, will point toward the strong racing fare.
And coupled with enormous daily handle and large fields, Saratoga often offers value for horseplayers with the right opinion.
Tools: Ultimate Past Performances from TwinSpires and Brisnet feature BRIS Class, Pace and Speed Ratings that can be a valuable tool when handicapping races. Additional data, including trainer, jockey, track bias and pedigree stats, allow further inspection into key details and Ultimate PPs also contain a predictive Prime Power Rating for every horse that’s started. Ultimate PPs are free to TwinSpires.com players when they wager on the track and day of the product purchased.
Late Pace numbers in turf routes: BRIS Late Pace Ratings are arguably most important in turf routes, with horses waiting until the latter stages to offer their best. Saratoga features two turf courses and horses with triple-digit Late Pace numbers can have an edge in two-turn events. More races were held on turf than dirt races during the 2016 meet.
Horse-for-the-course angle: Fourstardave and Quick Call aren’t remembered for their exploits at other tracks, but they’re memorialized with stakes races at Saratoga after displaying a tremendous affinity for the venue. Individual records (track, distance etc) are listed in the Ultimate PPs and it’s prudent to be aware of horses that have run well locally because they can display dramatic improvement from recent efforts elsewhere. The same applies to horses with little previous success as they can prove vulnerable if entering with good form from Belmont or another track.
Different dimensions: One-turn specialists can be exposed at Saratoga given that Belmont Park runs most its dirt routes – races at a mile, 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles -- at one turn. Saratoga doesn’t offer any one-mile or 1 1/16-mile races – dirt routes are held around two turns at distances of 1 1/8 miles or longer – and handicappers can take advantage by locating horses who have run well at two-turn distances previously.
Identifying best bets is important because successful horseplayers will leverage their strongest opinions on a program instead of wagering the same amount on every race.
Developing a game plan is simple: determine your best bets on the program and attack accordingly. Best bets can be “singled” in multi-race wagers like the Pick 3 and Pick 4, where stringing together winners is of critical importance. Singling allows you to utilize more horses in other contentious races.
TwinSpires.com is the place to bet races from Saratoga and horseplayers can rely on a wealth of reports, including Daily Selections and Workout Reports from Brisnet.com, to help take the guesswork out of selections.
Saratoga Summer Stakes Schedule
The 2017 Saratoga summer meet will kick things off with an Opening Day Celebration on July 21 and it will end on September 4. The 40-day meet features 69 stakes races worth a combined record-setting $18.8 million in purses, with the highlights of the meet being the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes (G1) and the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1).
The summer meet at Saratoga will begin with a bang during an opening weekend slate of races that will feature five graded stakes events each worth at least $150,000 from Friday, July 21 through Sunday, July 24. They are the $150,000 Lake George Stakes (G3), the $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes (G3), the $500,000 Diana Stakes (G1), the $150,000 Sanford Stakes, and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1).
The 90th annual running of the $1.2 million Whitney Stakes is the highlight of an August 5th card that features three graded stakes, two of which are grade one events (Whitney and The Longines Test). The Whitney Stakes reels in the top older horses in the industry and was won by Frosted last year.
Almost three weeks later will be the Travers Day card on August 25. This year it will be host to the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1), as well as six other grade one races, most notably the $1 million Sword Dancer Stakes (G1), and four “Win and You're In” Breeders’ Cup races. In total, the card will be worth a combined $4.55 million in purses. Last year’s Travers Stakes turned out to be an easy victory for the Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate, who won by 12 lengths in a record-setting time of :59.36.
Storylines to watch at this year’s Saratoga summer meet include a duel for leading trainer title between Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown, and top jockey honors between brothers Irad Ortiz Jr. and Jose Ortiz. Brown won last year’s trainer title with a record 40 wins, while Pletcher has won the title 12 times before. Jose beat his brother 65-57 last year; Irad won the title in 2015.
Racing at the Saratoga summer meet will take place six days a week, from Wednesday through Monday.