How to bet the Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga

Profile Picture: Noel Michaels

Noel Michaels

July 26th, 2019

Race 10 on Saratoga's loaded Saturday card will be the $250,000 Bowling Green (G2) over 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf course. The race drew a wide-open and evenly-matched 13-horse field, and any number of logical contenders could emerge with the victory. With such a big field loaded with challengers, the race is likely to cause headaches for handicappers playing Saratoga's multi-race bets, such as the late Pick 4 and late Pick 5. Here's a brief look at this year's Bowling Green field: #1 ARKLOW (9-2) rolls into town off of back-to-back runner-up finishes in graded stakes at Belmont, including the super-long distance Belmont Gold Cup (G2) by a neck and the even more relevant Man o' War (G1) two races ago at this same distance when just a neck behind Channel Maker. Didn't run well in only prior Saratoga outing in the 2017 Hall of Fame (G2), but has been in the exacta in half of his 20 career outs and is dangerous based on good current form and high recent speed figures in races against today's type of competition. #2 SADLER'S JOY (6-1) just missed in this race both of the last two years when third by a half-length each time. Grade 1 winner on this course in the 2017 Sword Dancer at 1 1/2 miles so he likes the course and has the class to be considered versus these. The big difference this year as opposed to the last two seasons is that those years he was in mid-season form when he arrived at Saratoga, and this year he comes in off an eight-month layoff. #3 YA PRIMO (8-1) is a Chilean wonder horse who might be easy to discount in a spot like this if it weren't for the fact that he shows up here trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Jose Ortiz for the North American debut. Will remain an X-factor until we actually see what he can do here versus this competition on racing's biggest stage at Saratoga. #4 CATCHO EN DIE (50-1) has competed at the Grade 1 level in five of his last six races including both outings so far this year, but still needs to prove that he belongs at this level because he doesn't look good enough to actually challenge this caliber of horses for even a spot in the superfectas. #5 CHANNEL MAKER (7-2) is the defending champ in this race having dead-heated for the win last season over some of these same rivals, and also proved his affinity for this course last year with a second-place finish in the Sword Dancer. Won Belmont's Man o' War over Arklow two races ago at this distance, and then lost but remained in good form last time when losing the Manhattan (G1) to Chad Brown's first- and second-string turfers, Bricks and Mortar and Robert Bruce. Can win on firm turf, but also appears to like some cut in the ground as well. Did lose to Zulu Alpha earlier this year at this distance at Gulfstream, so he does need to work on his consistency, but there's no doubt he likes this turf course and is good enough to beat these or at least land in the exactas or trifectas. #6 HIGHLAND SKY (20-1) exits a run in the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup last time, which was his best recent races, but also has run well at this distance in the past. Has plenty of ability for trainer Barclay Tagg, but looks a notch or two below the top horses in this race and is often a long-odds also-ran when entered in graded stakes spots like this one. #7 ARGONNE (30-1) reeled off two wins in a row in his last two races against allowance type of competition, and is clearly in good form. However, he has yet to indicate he is ready for a step up against this level of competition. #8 ZULU ALPHA (10-1) comes out of a solid second in the United Nations at Monmouth, but while that race is still a Grade 1, it hardly attracted a Grade 1-caliber field this year. Multiple graded stakes winner has run with some of the best horses in this field in the past, including beating Channel Maker earlier this season at Gulfstream Park. However, most of his best races seem to come at Gulfstream and he rarely seems to be able to duplicate his Gulfstream form at other tracks. #9 RED KNIGHT (12-1) is a New York-bred who has been competitive when stepping out against graded stakes company in his last two races, including a second behind Bigger Picture two races ago at Keeneland in the Elkhorn (G2). Will have a tough assignment trying to win this race, but certainly can't be counted out for a spot in the trifectas or superfectas. #10 CHANNEL CAT (12-1) finished narrowly behind Zulu Alpha last time in the sub-par running of the United Nations and his other top efforts came in non-graded stakes wins last fall at Laurel and Kentucky Downs. Seems to lose to these horses when he has met them in various races this season. #11 OLYMPICO (10-1) made a splash in his U.S. debut when arriving from France to win the Fort Marcy (G3) at Belmont on a soft turf course two races ago for trainer Chad Brown, but then proved no match for Brown's top older male turfers last time in the Manhattan behind the likes of stable mates Bricks and Mortar, Robert Bruce and Raging Bull. Luckily for him he won't meet these kind of horses in this race, but must prove he is capable of running back to his big win in the Fort Marcy to be considered to have a chance versus these. Best chance would seem to be if the turf course comes up soft or yielding foe this race. #12 FOCUS GROUP (8-1) might actually be Chad Brown's best hope in this field based on his past affinity for this turf course, as displayed in back-to-back wins here last season, first in a 1 3/8-mile race at this distance and then at 1 5/8 miles in the John's Call. Tends to fall short against these rivals, as was the case in the last two races in the United Nations and in the Man o' War, but did prove to be up to the task against Grade 2 rivals three races ago in the Pan American at Gulfstream and seems to move up a notch or two on this turf course. Gets Brown's main man Irad Ortiz aboard and could offer rare value for the Chad Brown barn based on 8-1 odds on the morning line. #13 BIGGER PICTURE (10-1) won the Elkhorn at Keeneland in a good effort two races ago, but was not up to the task last time in the United Nations on a turf course he has loved throughout his career at Monmouth. Twelve-time turf winner of more that $1.6 million on the green draws post 13 for this. Might be past his prime. ANALYSIS So many of these horses are legitimate contenders, especially once you get down to the lower rungs of the trifectas and superfectas. Unless you have big money to invest in this race, you are going to need to find a few main contenders and take a stand with them. There will be many solid horses offering very solid odds in this race, so if you can even come up with the winning exacta, you should make a nice payday in this race. The most likely winners with the most positives in their favor with the least negatives include #1 Arklow, defending champ #5 Channel Maker, and perhaps the best value and most dangerous of the Chad Brown entrants, #12 Focus Group. Box those three in the exacta and the trifecta. WAGERS $2 Exacta Box 1, 5, 12 = $12 $1 Trifecta box 1, 5, 12 = $6   Focus Group photo (c) Adam Coglianese Photography