Player Quick Pick: Saratoga Late Pick Four for 8/22/14

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

August 22nd, 2014

By Andrew Champagne

Mother Nature is taking her best shot at Saratoga, and for the second straight day, we’re off the turf at The Spa. That throws a monkey wrench into the late Pick Four, where the final two legs were ravaged by scratches. Here’s how I’ll play it.

RACE #8: This is a stakes-type race for older horses going long on dirt. I’m going three-deep, using #4 Sinistra (3-1), #7 Perfect Title (10-1), and #9 Away Game (6-1).

Sinistra won a restricted stakes at this route earlier in the meet, and that came in muddy conditions to boot. His last three races have all been pretty good, and while the scratches of Mr. Viber and Crushing don’t help as far as the early pace scenario is concerned, a repeat of his last race makes him very dangerous.

RACE #9: Rain can’t dampen the enthusiasm for our Friday feature, the Grade 1 Personal Ensign. A number of top-flight fillies have signed on for this one, and I’ll use the top three finishers from June’s Ogden Phipps: #1 Antipathy (5-1), #6 Close Hatches (8/5), and #7 Princess of Sylmar (9/5).

With apologies to Beholder, I think Close Hatches is the top older filly or mare in training right now. She’s 3-for-3 this year, won the Ogden Phipps, and has been working lights-out for this race since June. I think she’s ready to fire a huge race here, and 8/5 actually seems like a bit of an overlay since Princess of Sylmar could be a hair off-form.

RACE #10: This is our first off-the-turf race, but thankfully, the field sizes aren’t totally decimated. I thought this was still pretty wide-open, so I’m going three-deep, using #5 Ithastobegeorge (8-1), #9 Gaining Ground (8-1), and #10 Steve (12-1).

Gaining Ground is the lone main-track-only entry in the field. His connections thought highly enough of him to try him in two stakes races, and while those didn’t go so well, this turned out to be a massive class drop. I doubt you’ll get 8-1 on him, and while he doesn’t tower over the field, MTO entrants in these races usually run well once they draw in.

RACE #11: The payoff leg, however, WAS crushed by scratches. I’ll go two-deep, using #8 Pecorino (5-1) and #11 Giant Fox (3-1).

Pecorino’s five starts have all been pretty good. They all came on dirt, and last out, he graduated in the slop at The Spa. He was claimed that day by Linda Rice, who wanted to try grass, but it may be fortuitous that the race got rained off. He’s bred to love the mud, and he’s run several sharp races at Saratoga. You won’t get 5-1 on him, unfortunately, but he seems to be the most logical winner.

This wound up being a pretty affordable ticket at $27. Here’s hoping we hit it and go into Travers Day with a little bit of a bankroll. Good luck!