Player Quick Pick: Saratoga Late Pick Four for 8/20/14

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

August 20th, 2014

By Andrew Champagne

Don't look now, but we've got less than two weeks left in the 2014 Saratoga meet. As such, we're running out of opportunities to make some serious dough in upstate New York. That isn't lost on your fearless handicapper, and hopefully we can score a few times between now and Labor Day. Here's how I'll play Wednesday's late Pick Four sequence.

RACE #7: We start off with a turf route for fillies who have yet to defeat winners. It drew a field of 10, and I'm going four-deep, using #2 Valseuse (5-1), #5 Almurra (12-1), #8 Kenzadargent (2-1), and #9 Miss Melinda (6-1).

Kenzadargent is a deserving favorite. She's a stakes-winner in her native France, and she's placed in a number of Group 2 and Group 3 events as well. She adds Lasix for Chad Brown in her first stateside start, and if she runs to any of her races earlier this year, she probably wins.

RACE #8: Our second leg is a turf sprint for 2-year-olds. I'm going two-deep, as #2 Banana Thief (4-1) and #4 Watergate (3-1) are on my ticket.

Banana Thief is my top pick. His connections tried to run the son of Kitten's Joy on grass earlier this year, but the race was rained off the turf. He ran an OK second in the slop instead, but this is a horse bred top and bottom for grass (his dam is out of Johar, another stellar turf runner). This is the surface he wants, and 4-1 is a very juicy price.

RACE #9: The Wednesday feature is the inaugural running of the Better Talk Now Stakes. It drew a field of seven, and I'm using three of them: #2 Heart to Heart (10-1), #5 Craftsman (4-1), and #6 Storming Inti (8/5).

Storming Inti should win. He's been running against much better horses, and he's a deserving favorite. However, he has not won since January, and if he's got a case of seconditis, look out for Heart to Heart. The colt's connections thought enough of him to run him in the Queen's Plate two back, and his race on turf last out at Woodbine was solid. Brian Lynch's horses have run well at Saratoga so far this meet, and 10-1 is certainly a juicy number.

RACE #10: The payoff leg for this wager is, um…interesting. It's a $16,000 claimer for older horses going long on dirt, and the favorite (who I'm using) was last seen being eased and not finishing a race at Belmont Park. I'm holding my nose and going five-deep, using #1 Battle Hardened (5/2), #4 Mr. Espresso (12-1), #6 Chairman Now (5-1), #7 Le Deluge (7/2), and #9 Bedouin Now (10-1).

Battle Hardened is probably favored because of the steep class drop and the presence of new trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who is 31% with new claims. He could win, I guess, but Mr. Espresso is intriguing. Toss his last race, and his dirt races since being claimed by Gary Sciacca really aren't bad. There is some early speed in this race, which could set things up for his closing kick. I like the rider switch, and it wouldn't shock me if Mr. Espresso came running late. If he does while this ticket is still alive, it'll make the wager pay.

This ticket costs $60 for a 50-cent bet. It's not a cheap play, but with the big fields and some of the prices involved in the ticket, we could be looking at a sequence that'll pay out handsomely. Good luck!