Early Pick 4 the focus on Saratoga’s Opening Day

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

July 19th, 2018

The much-anticipated meeting at Saratoga Race Course kicks off on Friday with a 10-race card, including a pair of Grade 3 affairs. I will try and get off on the right foot by tackling the early Pick-4.

I have long been a believer that many conditioners unveil their best juveniles early in the meeting at Saratoga. And, to my liking, this sequence is bookended with two-year-old races.

Race 2

Juvenile fillies bred in the Empire State will go 5 ½ panels on the turf in the opening leg. #2 WICKED WATERS (8-1), #4 DRYNACHAN (5-2), #5 SHADY SHADY SHADY (8-1), #9 MIKE’S GIRL (9-2) and #10 BANK EXAMINER (5-1) will all debut in this heat.

I will take my chances at least one of these first-time starters from strong barns runs big.

Race 3

Claiming event at six furlongs attracts eight. #2 STRONG SIDE (2-1), #3 COMEONCOMEONCAT (6-1), #6 MONTELEONE (5-2) and #8 FORTYTHREEOEIGHT N (8-1) all have appeal to me.

I will confidently go four-deep in the second leg.

Race 4

Turf maiden claiming races are not my preferred bag. In this race, though, playing the percentages with top barns and class droppers may prove to the right angle.

Using Graham Motion’s #1 TOP CZAR (10-1), the Chad Brown duo of #4 DOMINANT STRATEGY (4-1) and #6 AZZEDINE (5-2) and Brian Lynch’s #9 TERYN IT UP (3-1) should get me through.  

Race 5

Todd Pletcher owns juvenile races at Saratoga. He sent out 15 such winners in 2017 and looks to have a live one in today’s 5 ½-furlong dash. #1 BLAHNIK (2-1) brought $575,000 at OBS in March and has been training up here since late May.

Daughter of Bernardini has trained steadily without interruption on the Oklahoma training surface and will come out of the gate running under John Velazquez.

#6 Lyrical Lady is a legitimate fear for Asmussen. $625,000 two-year-old buy is bred to be an early one and will be super tough if she runs to her sales price. But I will ultimately stick with the Pletcher/Velazquez combo to close it out.  

50-cent Early Pick 4 Wager (races 2-5)

2,4,5,9,10 with 2,3,6,8 with 1,4,6,9 with 1 = $40