Brown import the key in Late Pick 4 at Saratoga
by John Mucciola
An intriguing late sequence on the Thursday card at Saratoga has me thinking Pick 4. A pair of juvenile races, led by the P.G. Johnson Stakes, help comprise the last four events. And with a bit of luck, I think it could pay well.
Juvenile maiden special weight dash for Empire State-bred runners kicks things off. Nice field will go postward and the top pick is Linda Rice’s POPPY’S DESTINY (#5) (9-2). Filly received three works over the surface and Irad Ortiz Jr. riding is a boost.
But I have to use a few other debuting types, also. Rick Violette Jr.’s GRAMMI DANCE (#2) (3-1), TRUE GOLD (#3) (5-1) and PRINCE OF NEW YORK (#7) (5-1), who has put in a pair of sharp half-mile drills in advance of this one, get included.
Big field for a first-level allowance on the lawn is another race I will spread in. LULU’S POM POM (#1) (4-1), MERLINS MUSE (#2) (12-1), SCORPION BOWL (#5) (8-1), ELEGANT GEM (#9) (10-1), STONEFACTOR (#12) (7-2) and HANNAH’S SMILE (#13) (9-5), make the ticket in a demanding race.
P. G. Johnson Stakes often attracts fine prospects and this year could unveil another. Juvenile fillies take to the lawn and an import will be my single. Irish-bred MINTD (#7) (5-2) receives Lasix for her U.S. debut and shows five morning drills for this endeavor.
Trainer Chad Brown ripped off a trio of wins in succession in this race from 2012-2014, and I think he will get it done once again. The field came up somewhat light in comparison to recent seasons, as well.
Special weight event on the dirt closes out the sequence. New York-bred runners will vie in this 6 1/2-furlong test. And this is a tough field to break down.
LIGHT THE POSSE (#1) (4-1) has been sharp while runner-up in both lifetime outings and is a must use. Charlton Baker pupil is part of a strong entry with READY TO ESCAPE (#1A) and either can win the finale.
DARK OPS (#2) (8-1) makes a yearly debut for Jeremiah Englehart and the conditioner has had them ready at Saratoga. Bernardini colt was third in his debut on this course while favored in 2017. SUAS (#7) (7-2) has put in a trio of fine tries to start his career and will have blinkers on for the assignment. Rudy Rodriguez charge will be forwardly placed throughout.
Trainer Bruce Levine has saddled 23 runners at the meeting, with 14 of those finishing first or second. I can’t omit a hot barn and will use LEM ME TEL YA (#8) (15-1) at a big price.
Suggested 50-cent Pick 4
2, 3, 5, 7 with 1, 2, 5, 9, 12, 13 with 7 with 1(1A), 2, 7, 8 = $48