Mucciolo: Closing Spa meet in style in Late Pick 4
We have reached another closing day at Saratoga Race Course on Monday, putting the finishing touches on yet another fantastic season of racing. I am intrigued by the challenging late Pick-4 sequence on the Labor Day card and will take a shot at a potentially lucrative return.
Race 7: This Grade 2 turf test attracted nine and is a tough way to start the play. HEART TO HEART was a sharp winner in a lone prior run on this turf course and is well drawn on the rail as the one to catch. Brian Lynch trainee is consistently good and a must use in leg 1, a possible single on many tickets. But since the son of English Channel is using this race more as a prep run for bigger prizes in the near future, it might be a nice time to try and beat him at short odds.
I don’t see many throw outs in this field with PROJECTED, Grade 1 winner RING WEEKEND, the ever-improving DELTA PRINCE and Chad Brown’s hard-knocking TAKEOVER TARGET also in with a chance if the top pick falters.
Race 8: Second-level allowance on the yielding turf is nine-deep and these races are often very tough to narrow down, though I will try. Chad Brown’s STYLE DRIFT and Todd Pletcher’s DRIVEN BY SPEED are the two I will stand pat on. The former ran evenly in a first run since 2015 and has a ton of room for improvement in this one. Driven By Speed exits a pair of front-running scores for a surging barn and looks like a serious wire-to-wire threat under a hot-riding John Velazquez.
Race 9: The closing-day feature is the Hopeful S. (G1) for two-year-old runners, and it looks like a superb rendition of this race full of fine prospects. I am going to think outside the box in this dash in a race that almost surely will have a strong and contested early pace. I will focus solely on the runners who have proven capable of passing runners in the lane. FIRENZE FIRE, NATIONAL FLAG, GIVEMEAMINIT and FREE DROP BILLY are the ones I will include, while also acknowledging that any runner can easily win this storied event.
Race 10: In the finale, an off-the-turf sprint for Empire State-bred runners, the choice is AMANDA LANE, an Into Mischief filly who should relish wet conditions with her pedigree. I will also use a pair of first-time starters, Pletcher’s CONNIE A and IT AIN’T EASY from the barn of the deadly Linda Rice.
$.50-cent Pick 4 (races 7-10): 1,2,3,4,9 with 2,6 with 3,5,7,8 with 2,3,4 = $60