Handicapping Saturday’s cross-country Pick 5
Five graded stakes races from Saratoga and Del Mar comprise today’s cross-country Pick 5 wager. Here are my thoughts on the sequence and a couple of tickets I will play: Leg 1, Lake Placid (Race 9 Saratoga) After showing solid class while still a maiden last year, Varenka (1) has won two of three starts in 2019. She didn’t receive a good trip in the lone setback, finishing third in the Regret (G3) at Churchill Downs, but rebounded nicely when capturing a salty allowance at the Spa on July 14. The Ghostzapper filly overcame a wide trip and slow pace to get up by a neck over the promising Catch a Bid from the Chad Brown stable last year and I like the progress Varenka has displayed for Graham Motion. She’ll earn her first stakes win today. I’ll use Brown’s pair, Blowout (4) and Regal Glory (5), and Feel Glorious (6) on my second ticket. Leg 2, Alabama (Race 10 Saratoga) Dunbar Road (1) appears built to relish longer distances and has easily disposed of the competition in three-of-four starts, notching her first stakes triumph with a 2 ½-length decision in the June 29 Mother Goose (G2) most recently. With her tactical speed, Dunbar Road figures to receive a plum trip behind a slow pace before offering her best. Ulele (6) could be lone speed after a tough rail draw in the Iowa Oaks and Point of Honor (7) brings commendable form to the race. I’ll save with both on the first ticket. Leg 3, Del Mar Handicap (Race 7 Del Mar) A solid field of nine has been assembled for the 1 3/8-mile turf affair and I’m giving a slight edge to United (5), who makes his second stakes attempt for Richard Mandella off a smart allowance tally earlier in the meet. The Great Day (6) scratched out of the Arlington Million (G1) in favor of this spot and should appreciate the added distance and softer company. A solid second last out, the Argentinean import makes his third start off the layoff for Arnaud Delacour. Acclimate (9) will be tested for class but I don’t see a lot of speed present. Like the addition of Florent Geroux and the Phil D’Amato-trained gelding recorded a pair of wire-to-wire wins before cutting back into a speed-filled race last time. Intriguing at 12-1 on the morning line. All three will be used. Leg 4, Del Mar Oaks (Race 9 Del Mar) Cambier Parc (1) is the one to beat off a fine third to Concrete Rose in the Belmont Oaks (G1). I like how the Brown trainee took advantage of a solid pace in the Wonder Again (G3) two back, rallying to win going away, and the Medaglia d’Oro filly should receive the proper set-up with John Velazquez. Hard Legacy (4) improved nicely when stretching out to today’s 1 1/8-mile distance last time, recording her first stakes tally with a 1 1/4-length decision in the Regret, and is eligible to carry her form forward for Norm Casse. Easy to envision the Hard Spun filly receiving a favorable trip just behind the early leaders and Hard Legacy should poised to strike turning for home. Two deep on Pick 5 tickets. Leg 5, Pacific Classic (Race 10 Del Mar) The 1 ¼-mile event lacks pace and Quip (2) can take advantage. After utilizing stalk-and-pounce tactics to capture the Oaklawn H. (G2) two back, the four-year-old colt contested the pace from the start of the Stephen Foster (G2) and grudgingly gave way late to finish a neck second to the late-running Seeking the Soul. I like the progress he’s making for Rodolphe Brisset, generating 104 and 116 BRIS Late Pace ratings in the last two starts as well as a career-best 104 Speed last time, and Quip should be able to save plenty for the latter stages here. I won’t be surprised to see him loose on the lead. The potential exists for an upset and I’ll include Tenfold (7), who never fired in the Foster but remains dangerous if he can sit closer in the early stages; and Mongolian Groom (9), who enters on the upswing following a runner-up in the San Diego (G2). Cross-Country Pick 5 Tickets I will keep the budget to $54 with the following tickets (50-cent denomination): Ticket 1: 1 with 1,6,7 with 5,6,9 with 1,4 with 2,7,9 ($27) Ticket 2: 4,5,6 with 1 with 5,6,9 with 1,4 with 2,7,9 ($27) Good luck!