2018 Saratoga Meet Predictions

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D.S. Williamson

July 7th, 2018

In less than 2 weeks, the 2018 Saratoga Meet kicks off with the Grade 3 Schuylerville and the Grade 3 Lake George. Saratoga, year in and year out, is the most anticipated meet on the east coast. What's likely to happen at this year's Saratoga Meet?

Check out my predictions!

2018 Saratoga Meet Predictions

A 3-Year-Old Will Rise to Challenge Justify

Justify, Bob Baffert's second Triple Crown winner in the past 3 years, most likely won't run in the Travers Stakes. The Travers is Saratoga's most important race of the meet.
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McKinzie winning the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita© Benoit Photo

The past couple of years, Baffert has unleashed the best 3-year-old of the year in the Travers Stakes. In 2016, he unleashed Arrogate. Last year, he unleashed West Coast.

Baffert has a legitimate threat to Justify in his own barn. McKinzie is no joke of a horse. He might be the one that Baffert runs in the Travers Stakes while he works Justify up to the Breeders' Cup Classic after the Haskell Invitational. If Baffert doesn't run McKinzie, there are other 3-year-olds that could show up in the Travers as legit contenders to Justify's reign:  Good Magic, Gronkowski, Vino Rosso, and Hofburg could all improve. That's not counting the 3-year-old late bloomers.

Justify is the 3-year-old of the year. That doesn't mean a 3-year-old can't rise to challenge Justify as the top sophomore to win the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Aidan O'Brien Will Solidify A Couple of Breeders' Cup Favorites

O'Brien has a strong contingent running at Belmont Park on July 7. That contingent of horses could stay
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in New York and transfer from Belmont Park to Saratoga. One of those horses, Mendelssohn, might emerge as the 3-year-old to take on Justify.

The other horses could end up Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf favorites. O'Brien might also send one of his turf stars from Europe, like Lancaster Bomber, over for one of the Grade 1 turf races the Fourstardave or the Sword Dancer. There's also a chance O'Brien sends a horse over the pond for a start in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa.

Abel Tasman Will Emerge as the Breeders' Cup Distaff Favorite

Bob Baffert ran Abel Tasman in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps where she romped. It's doubtful he sends her back to Del Mar to face rival Unique Bella. There's no reason for Abel Tasman to pass on the big older female races at Saratoga, the Grade 1 Personal Ensign being the most important, just to try and take down Jerry Hollendorfer's charge.

After winning the Personal Ensign, Abel Tasman will head to the Breeders' Cup as the clear BC Distaff favorite. Whether Hollendorfer decides to take on Abel Tasman with Unique Bella in the BC Distaff remains to be seen.