Player Quick Pick: Saratoga Late Pick Four for 8/16/14

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

August 16th, 2014

By Andrew Champagne

Another Saturday at The Spa brings another $500,000 guaranteed pool in the late Pick Four. Some of these races are tough, folks, and whittling this down to a $60 or $80 ticket was not an easy thing to do. Here's how I'm playing it.

RACE #8: If you want to hit the "ALL" button here, it'll cost you, but that may be the smartest thing to do. We have a field of 13 horses going seven furlongs, and while it was like pulling teeth, I somehow got it down to going just five-deep.

I'm using #4 Scam (8-1), #5 Surfing U S A (7/2), #8 All My Memories (6-1), #10 Financial Mogul (12-1), and #13 Waco (15-1). I actually like Scam best. His return off the bench was much better than it looks on paper, as he had traffic trouble. He was probably second-best that day behind a runaway winner (The Big Beast, who could be a really good sprinter), and the Phipps-McGaughey entrant has every right to improve and start us off on a good note.

RACE #9: Our second leg is a two-turn turf race for state-breds, and this one is no picnic, either. I'm going either three or four-deep, using #2 Orino (3-1), #9 Why Not Whiskey (6-1), #10 Glowing Ember (10-1), and, if he draws in, #14 Hear the Footsteps (2-1).

Orino draws the rail and hasn't won in a while, but he ran third behind Storm last out. Storm came back to win earlier in the meet, and he could be a stakes-caliber turf horse. Orino ran very well in a stakes race here last year, hitting the wire first before being DQ'd, and trainer H. James Bond has quietly had an excellent meet with a limited number of starters.

RACE #10: This is the Saturday feature, the Grade 1 Alabama. Nine 3-year-old fillies will go the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, and I'm going four-deep, using #6 Fortune Pearl (8-1), #7 Catch My Drift (12-1), #8 Stopchargingmaria (2-1), and #9 Size (5-1).

Stopchargingmaria isn't unbeatable, but she's a logical, improving favorite. Her race last out in the Coaching Club American Oaks was very, very good, and she loves Saratoga (two wins and a second in three starts at The Spa). The past two CCA Oaks winners (Questing and Princess of Sylmar) both went on to romp in this very race, and while Stopchargingmaria may not be quite that good, she benefits from the lack of Untapable and what could be a very favorable pace scenario.

RACE #11: Fortunately, we end with what could be the easiest leg of the sequence. It's a turf route for 3-year-olds, and I'm using both #4 Request (3-1) and #7 Smooth Daddy (5-1).

In his first start of 2014, Request ran second behind Give No Quarter, who came back to run third in a Grade 2. This effort came in his first start since a Grade 3 in December, and he showed a solid late turn of foot. He has every right to improve second off the layoff, and even a repeat of his last effort puts him right there.

If Hear the Footsteps scratches, this is a $60 ticket. If he runs, it gets bumped up to $80. This isn't a cheap ticket, and it's certainly steeper than I'd like to play, but with the guaranteed pool comes an improved chance at a big score. If you're playing this landmine-filled sequence, good luck!