Player Quick Pick: Saratoga Pick 4 for 7/20/2014

Molly Jo Rosen

July 20th, 2014

by Andrew Champagne

Saratoga’s opening weekend concludes with 11 races on Sunday and a very, VERY tough late Pick Four sequence. However, if you hit it, you’ll get your share of a $500,000-guaranteed prize pool, so I’ll take my shot at it.

RACE #8: I thought this was a neat race for older state-breds. There are some classy, hard-knocking sorts in here, and I went four-deep.

I’m using the entry of #1 Cousin Michael and #1A Indy Tune (3-1), #6 Sir Leslie (4-1), #7 Beautyinthepulpit (5-1), and #8 Ultimate Empire (6-1). Sir Leslie is my top pick, since there’s ample speed and he’ll be coming late, but Ultimate Empire loves Saratoga and is the only horse with a win at the 1 1/8-mile distance, so he could easily spring up at a price.

I’m not using #5 Fiona’s Hero, the 7/2 second choice on the morning line. He won a starter allowance at Monmouth last out, but he sat a dream trip. The fractions weren’t fast, and they crawled home, finishing in just 1:38 4/5 for the mile over what’s usually a pretty fast track. He hasn’t run badly since moving to the Michelle Nevin barn, but betting him off his last race seems like a mistake.

RACE #9: This is another fun one. I went two-deep in this turf route and used horses at opposite ends of the racing spectrum.

My top pick is #11 Crown Queen (7/2). She’s a half to Royal Delta whose 2014 debut was easily her best race ever. She posted a bullet workout earlier this month at the Spa, and it sure seems like she’s getting better and better.

On the other hand, we have my longshot of the day. #4 Indian Starlight

(30-1) rarely gets bet. She’s gone off at single-digit odds just once in her last 12 outings, and she showed a little rust in her 2014 debut last month. However, she loves Saratoga, and ran two great races here last year. She probably needed her last race after a brief freshening, and if you throw out her races at Gulfstream, a much different surface than what she’ll see Sunday, 30-1 looks like an absolute steal.

RACE #10: This is the Coaching Club American Oaks, and nobody will benefit more from the absence of Untapable than #2 Unbridled Forever (9/5). She’s a consistent sort who always fires and has run third in back-to-back Grade 1 efforts. Untapable goes elsewhere, and she doesn’t have to face one-turn monster Sweet Reason at her preferred distance, either.

#1 Stopchargingmaria (8/5) has too much back class to leave out entirely, and I’m using her as well, but the horse who may spring the upset is #6 Taketheodds (8-1). She’s reeled off two wins in a row, has plenty of tactical speed in a race that’s not loaded with it, and Hernandez comes to New York to ride for Ian Wilkes. She should love the stretch-out, the race sets up for her, and if she’s 8-1, I may very well take the odds on Taketheodds.

RACE #11: What a mess. Here we have a full field of 12 state-bred maiden claimers going long on the grass, and if you want to hit the “ALL” button and have the bankroll to do so, go right ahead.

Me? I went with my top four horses. #3 Wake Up and Go (5-1) has been knocking on the door, #9 Rontos New York (6-1) may be the lone speed in the field, #10 Tsonga (12-1) is a Wesley Ward firster that draws world-class rider Frankie Dettori, and #11 Hushhushmushmush (3-1) will drop in for a tag for Chad Brown, who’s hitting at a 29% clip with first-time claimers like this one.

Ultimately, this ticket costs $48 for a 50-cent bet. It’s a really tough sequence to end the weekend on, for sure, but hopefully you can hit it and have some cash in your pocket for the work week ahead.