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Homeracing

How to play Saturday's Late Pick 4 at Saratoga

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TwinSpires Staff

July 20th, 2018

by SCOTT SHAPIRO

The first Saturday afternoon card of the 2018 Saratoga meet is a strong one and as usual includes a Pick 4 over the final four races. The sequence includes the Sanford (G3) and the Diana (G1) and kicks off with a 5 1/2-furlong dash over the sod.

Here are my thoughts:

Race 8

Outside speed in these turf sprints is often a good thing and #10 Battle Joined makes her third start of the form cycle for trainer Mark Hennig. The daughter of War Front battled early through brisk fractions in a maiden special weight event and still had enough left late to get the job done. If she can avoid regression off of that hard-trying win last month, she can make it two straight. She is my lukewarm top choice, but I will include a couple others to kick things off.

Race 9: Sanford

The $150,000 event for two-year-olds of course is represented by a pair of Todd Pletcher runners, but I prefer a pair of colts that I saw debut in Kentucky over the past couple of months.

#7 Bano Solo and #8 Strike Silver both impressed on first asking at Churchill Downs in June. Hopefully they can translate that form to the Spa.

Bano Solo did not run as fast in terms of BRIS speed ratings as Strike Silver, but he did it well for trainer Steve Asmussen. The $400,000 OBS March 2018 purchase broke well from his inside draw and won without really being asked by jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. The move to an outside draw should give Santana options from the gate in this one. I expect a strong performance.

Strike Silver earned a field high 88 BRIS speed rating in his maiden breaking effort on June 14th where he beat well-meant Asmussen colt, Nitrous by a neck. The son of Violence led from start to finish that day and showed some fight hanging on late under jockey Julien Leparoux. He has worked three times since the win, including a four-furlong bullet drill at Keeneland in 47.2 on July 6. He has a big shot to make it two in a row to start his career.

Race 10: Diana

The first Grade 1 event of the meeting drew a compact group of seven for the $500,000 nine-furlong event over the sod.

As expected Chad Brown holds a strong hand in this spot with #1 Sistercharlie, #3 New Money Honey and Just a Game (G1) winner #6 A Raving Beauty. Of the three I much prefer Sistercharlie. She should get an honest pace to run into given the presence of New Money Honey, #5 Ultra Brat and #7 Hawksmoor. Look for Johnny V. to save ground from his inside draw and come with another ferocious late charge.

I also give a significant chance to #2 Proctor's Ledge who should sit a perfect mid-pack trip under Jose Ortiz. The daughter of Ghostzapper has won both of her starts over the Saratoga lawn and should appreciate stretching out to a mile and an eighth for the first time since March. She could get the jump on Sistercharlie and could hold off the Irish-bred late.

Race 11

The late Pick 4 concludes with an open $50K claimer at a mile over the inner turf. I lack a strong opinion, but will try to close things out with four veteran turf milers all whom I hope will be prominently placed in the early going.

Suggested Wager: ($1 Pick 4)

2,6,10 with 7,8 with 1,2 with 2,9,10,11 = $48

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