Closers look to have the advantage in speed-laden Lucky Coin
The first Monday program of the Saratoga meet will be highlighted by the $100,000 Lucky Coin, a turf dash for older horses conveniently held over 5 1/2 furlongs. Convenient, that is, because it's the same distance over which the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) will be held at Keeneland in October.
This and the $100,000 Troy on August 22 are the two main turf sprints of the Saratoga meet, but don't be surprised to see some of the leading lights in the Lucky Coin skip the Troy for the $300,000 Turf Monster H. (G3) at Parx on Labor Day.
Speaking of the Turf Monster, Sharp Sensation is likely using this as a prep for his title defense in that event. After winning the Turf Monster last fall, he was a narrowly beaten third in the Woodford (G3), skipped the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita and instead won the Bet On Sunshine at Churchill Downs on the dirt, and finished up his season with a second in the Kennedy Road (G2) on Woodbine's Polytrack.
Sharp Sensation was out of action from late November until July 5, when he was a tiring fifth in the six-furlong Highlander (G2) back at Woodbine. He figures to be much sharper second off the layoff.
Coming off an upset victory in the July 11 Parx Dash (G3) is Tightend Touchdown, who tends to run his very best over that course. Sent off at odds of 12-1 that day, he might be overbet off that win here. Unplaced in his first two attempts at Saratoga, he did run a sharp one here two years when a close second in the $100,000 Fiddlers Patriot.
Amelia's Wild Ride did not have the best of trips breaking from post 10 in the Parx Dash, but prevailed in a three-way photo two back in the $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup at Penn National. Jose Lezcano, who rode him to victory in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint earlier this year, is back aboard.
Another talented sort who likes to come from slightly off the pace is Dreamsgonewild, who's posted wins in the $100,000 Laurel Dash and $62,000 James McSorley over his past four starts. Despite a solid 4-2-0-2 record over the Saratoga turf, he's stuck in the unfavorable post 11 here if all start.
There is obviously plenty of pace elements in this race, with Brewing and Bold Thunder break from posts 2 and 3, respectively. The latter has placed in several big ones, but seems a bit suspect to last stepping up from five furlongs. Spring to the Sky has won two of five on the Spa, including last year's Lucky Coin as the odds-on choice. He's breaking outside the other speed and should appreciate the cut back in distance after fading late in three longer races earlier in the year.
Photo of Sharp Sensation edging Ben's Cat in the Turf Monster, courtesy of Bill Denver/Equi-Photo.