Player Quick Pick: Saratoga Pick 4 for 7/19/2014

Profile Picture: Molly Jo Rosen

Molly Jo Rosen

July 19th, 2014

Coming off an opening day that saw him give out an $89 Pick 4...

by Andrew Champagne

I had a goal coming into this assignment of 40 Pick Fours in 40 days. I wanted to go the entire Saratoga meet without once hitting the “ALL” button. It’s prudent sometimes, sure, but I don’t want to put together tickets that are overly expensive, nor do I want to take the easy way out.

That goal evaporated once I looked at Saturday’s card. The late Pick Four sequence is tough, but if you can master it, you’ll get your share of a pool that will, at a minimum, consist of $500,000. Here’s how I broke the races down.

$500k Guaranteed Pick 4 ($.50 minimum) starts at 4:42 pm ET

RACE #8: It certainly looks like the major players will line up outside in this two-turn route on the inner turf. I went three-deep in here, using #9 Tasmona (4-1), #10 Devilish Love (7/2), and #11 Weave (5-1). Tasmona’s a bit of a plodder and should relish longer distances, Devilish Love won for fun last out and is my top pick, and Weave is a proven closer who gets the benefit of Joel Rosario riding back for Graham Motion.

One could conceivably go much deeper here. Former professional maiden Stock Fund looks much better when you only consider races at a mile and longer, Da Mi Basia Mille is intriguing at a price off a long, LONG layoff, and also-eligible Neat Package is a threat if she draws in. Still, I took a stand with the three horses I like most, unlike…

RACE #9: This is the dreaded “ALL” race. You can make a case for all nine of the entrants in the field, and there’s not much separation between any of them. The 7/2 favorite is Hard Enough, and he’s a graded stakes-winner being dropped in for a $62,500 tag while boasting a VERY slow recent workout. He’s hardly a standout, and in fact, none of these horses are.

If I absolutely HAD to pick a horse on top, it would be 10-1 shot Shock Leader, who generally runs the same race every time out. There’s nothing wrong with losing to Hardest Core, a stakes-quality horse, and he’s won three of his last five outings. Fortunately, I don’t have to be bound to him, nor would I feel secure in that spot since this field is so evenly-matched. I’m hitting the “ALL” button and moving on.

RACE #10: Here we have the G1 Diana, and for a turf route, there’s a lot of early speed. Several horses here need the lead or need to be extremely close to the pace, meaning the horses to play are closers who will likely have a fast pace in front of them early.

As such, I’m using a trio of closers in #5 Strathnaver (10-1), #8 Alterite (3-1), and #9 Stephanie’s Kitten (6-1). Strathnaver did everything but win last out at Belmont, Alterite has a history of running well off the bench and ran a winning race in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and Stephanie’s Kitten wants nine furlongs and may be rounding back into form.

The class of the early speed horses is probably Emollient, who just missed in the Grade 1 Gamely last out. She always seems to grab a piece, but arguably her best race, the 2013 Spinster, was on a synthetic surface, and her second-best race was at 10 furlongs, where her plodding style is more effective. I’m not sure she’s fast enough early to stay with the likes of Somali Lemonade and Discreet Marq, and I’m not sure her turn of foot will be enough to hold off the three closers I’m using. If she beats me, she beats me, but at 7/2, I think she’s a slight underlay.

RACE #11: Thankfully, we end with a single I’m pretty confident in. #2 All Included (5/2) woke up in a big way in his first-ever start on turf. He drew off to win by more than four lengths in 1:33 and change for the one-mile distance while earning a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. If he repeats that race, he wins for fun, and if he improves, the rest may wind up in another zip code. He’s my best bet of the day, and if I could sign up for 5/2 odds right now, I’d take them in a heartbeat.

Even with the “ALL” leg in race #9, this ticket only costs $40.50 for a 50-cent wager. With a little luck, a longshot will come in in the ninth to make this pay, and given how wide-open that race appears to be on paper, that could very well happen.