Shapiro's Saturday early Pick 5 analysis at Saratoga
A big day of racing in upstate New York gets started with an early Pick 5 that includes two strong maiden special weight events, a pair of races over the turf, and the Personal Ensign (G1).
Let's put together a ticket for this quality sequence.
I love the chances of #4 Windcracker in his second start for trainer Tom Amoss. The son of Super Saver debuted in a live maiden event at Churchill Downs and finished third, behind the well-meant first-time starter Whiskey Double.
The runner-up in that June 27 maiden special weight event in Louisville, Medicine Tail, also came back and won impressively in his third try at Ellis Park.
Windcracker, a son of Super Saver, has the experience edge over most of his rivals in the Saturday opener and should be tough to beat, if he can get out of the gate cleanly.
The pace in this high-level optional claimer at a mile over the inner turf should be contentious, given the presence of #3 Dream Friend and #5 Hidden Scroll, so I will look to runners who should benefit from the setup.
#1 Fog of War has not been seen since a sixth-place finish to stablemate Valid Point in last year’s Secretariat (G1). The son of War Front appears to be training forwardly for his 4-year-old debut.
#2 Spirit Animal will move up in class, after he dominated a field of conditional claimers at Belmont Park. He should get a great trip under Javier Castellano.
#4 En Wye Cee will try the turf for the initial time for trainer Todd Pletcher. Pedigree suggests he should appreciate the surface switch.
#9 Regal Speaker is listed at 9-5 on the morning line in this state-bred maiden claimer over the grass, after he finished fourth against open-company maiden special weight foes at Delaware Park earlier this month.
The addition of blinkers and Lasix, as well as the class drop, make the son of Mr. Speaker tough to ignore, but I do not fully trust the Arnaud Delacour trainee.
I will use a few others, including #4 No Salt. The Tonalist colt broke awkwardly and went over the temporary rail in his first try of 2020 late last month at Belmont Park. The fact that trainer Bill Mott has brought him back in just more than a month makes me believe he is doing well and should relish the drop into this much softer spot.
I am against morning-line favorite #3 Dreams of Tomorrow in this 7-furlong dash for maidens.
The Phipps Stable runner debuted in one of the more disappointing maiden special weight events of 2020. The winner of that race at Gulfstream Park, Basquiat, has failed to hit the board in two tries versus winners. The runner-up, Ashiham, has lost as the public’s top choice in three consecutive starts. The pacesetter from that race, Chasing Anna, is also winless in four starts, including a loss as the favorite on a drop in for $40,000 in late April.
Dreams of Tomorrow added himself to the list of beaten favorites when he failed at 3-5 in early June at Belmont. I am expect him to be overbet.
#5 Ima Pharoah will also take his fair share of support, after four straight second-place finishes to start his career, but I am willing to let him beat me, as well.
#2 Searing Chase is my top choice. He took a brief lead at the top of the lane in his first start last month at Keeneland and faded in the stretch. The Uncle Mo gelding should move forward in his second try, but I will include a few others, in an attempt to take down the two favorites on oddsmaker David Aragona’s morning line.
Champion mare #3 Midnight Bisou will be an extremely heavy favorite in the first Grade 1 event of the day at the Spa, and deservingly so.
The daughter of Midnight Lute made an electrifying move in her 8 1/4-length romp in the Fleur De Lis (G2) and appears to be better than ever in her 5-year-old campaign.
Look for her to race in mid-pack early and take control when they turn for home under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., who will take over riding duties for regular jockey Mike Smith.