How to Bet the Lake George Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

July 18th, 2018

The wait is over! The much-anticipated 2018 Saratoga summer meet kicks off on Friday, with the feature race of the afternoon being the $150,000 Lake George Stakes (gr. III) for three-year-old fillies going 8.5 furlongs on the Mellon turf course.

The Lake George is a fitting way to start the meet since it’s a deep and competitive race with the potential for very rewarding payoffs… if you can identify the winner. The only problem is that North America’s top three-year-old grass fillies have been taking turns beating each other all year long, and certainly no filly in the Lake George jumps out as being clearly superior to her rivals.

That’s why I’m going to go outside the box with #1 Punked, an Irish-bred daughter of the Australian superstar So You Think. As a two-year-old, Punked started her career in Ireland under the care of trainer Anthony Mullins, finishing sixth behind future Group 1 winner Happily in her debut at the Curragh before winning a maiden race over the same course three starts later.

Subsequently brought to the U.S. and transferred to the barn of Chad Brown, Punked kicked off 2018 by finishing fourth behind the future graded stakes winners Toinette and La Signare in a Keeneland allowance race, but rebounded sharply to win a similar race at Belmont by a neck. That effort warranted a jump in class for the one-mile Wild Applause Stakes at Belmont, a race in which Punked was compromised by a slow pace in a small field, but nevertheless rallied well to finish second behind Penn Oaks winner Got Stormy, running her final quarter in a good :22.86 seconds.

Besides her solid form lines and promising late rallies, what I like about Punked is that she’s still relatively inexperienced in North America and has not really established her ideal class level, whereas many of her Lake George rivals seem to have hit a ceiling as Grade 3 types. Best of all, how often do you get a chance to play a Chad Brown turf filly at a bit of a price?

The consistent #3 Daddy Is a Legend, fourth with a poor pace setup in the Wonder Again Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont last month; and #5 Goodthingstaketime, a close third in the Penn Oaks behind Got Stormy, loom as two of the other main players in the Lake George. Punked’s Brown-trained stablemate #7 Altea could also contend after finishing fifth in the Wonder Again while attempting to rally from far back into a slow pace.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$4 exacta: 1 with 3,5,7 ($12) $4 exacta: 3,5,7 with 1 ($12) $1 trifecta: 3,5,7 with 3,5,7 with 1 ($6)

Good luck!