Horse-for-course angle in Saratoga opening-day Late Pick 4

Profile Picture: James Scully

July 21st, 2017

Saratoga opens Friday with a 10-race program featuring a pair of graded stakes. The Late Pick 4 sequence starts with a turf allowance (race 7) and I like a horse for the course who is exiting a better-than-it-looks effort at Belmont Park.

#6 Red Rifle has run his best races on Saratoga’s turf, winning the Bowling Green (G2) by open lengths and finishing a clear second to Flintshire in the Sword Dancer (G1), and his most recent outing, a June 15 allowance, could throw off bettors. The Todd Pletcher-trained gelding was screaming out for running room through the Belmont stretch, caught behind traffic before winding up fifth, beaten only 1 ¼ lengths, and he’s eligible to show much more today off the troubled performance.

Red Rifle will be singled on my main Pick 4 ticket and I will save on a smaller back-up with a trio of runners.

In the Schuylerville (G3) (race 8), I am using three fillies on both tickets.  #9 Stainless won impressively at first asking for Pletcher and is eligible to fire a big one from just off the pace. #8 Snowfire offered a terrific turn of foot to capture her first outing going away for Mark Casse and shows a quick work over the track. #5 Limited View could be the speed of the speed, invading from Laurel off a strong debut win and rates as an intriguing upset contender.

In the third leg (race 9), the Lake George (G3), # 4 Chubby Star is a longshot play who I expect to improve upon a fourth in the Regret (G3) at Churchill Downs. Post 12 did her no favors last time and Malibu Moon filly may have regressed off a commendable second versus males in the James Murphy. On the plus side, Chubby Star has held her own against top contenders Fifty Five, Proctor’s Ledge, Sweeping Paddy and Dream Dancing this year. And unlike those rivals, she figures to be overlooked in the wagering (15-1 morning line). The chestnut is eligible to receive a ground-saving trip before finishing powerfully, registering a 104 BRIS Late Pace Rating two starts back.

It’s a contentious race and I will spread eight-deep on the main ticket, but Chubby Star will be singled on the back-up.

The sequence concludes with a turf maiden claiming (race 10) and I’ve narrowed it down to a trio. #9 Dynamic War missed the break last time and could improve significantly the second time on turf as she drops in for a tag for George Weaver. Won’t leave out #8 Sweet Connie Girl – Chad Brown wins at a 38% clip going from maiden to maiden claiming – and #6 Sunday Gravy is an intriguing longshot (20-1) with a recent 5-furlong bullet work. The latter displayed plenty of speed setting the pace last time and could try to steal it.

50-cent Pick 4 tickets (races 7-10)

6 with 5,8,9 with 1,2,3,4,8,9,10,11 with 6,8,9 ($36)

1,2,5 with 5,8,9 with 4 with 6,8,9 ($13.50)

Total: $49.50

Good luck on Saratoga’s opening day!