Player Quick Pick: Saratoga Pick 4 for 7/21/2014

Molly Jo Rosen

July 21st, 2014

Day four of the 2014 Saratoga meet is Monday, and we’ll go into the first dark day of the Spa season after a nine-race card. Just because the weekend is over, though, doesn't mean the late Pick Four sequence figures to be easier, as we've got some tricky races to navigate.

RACE #6: State-bred fillies and mares will go two turns on the inner turf course. The morning-line favorite is #3 Fire Ship (3-1), and I think she’s legitimate. She woke up a bit last out in her turf debut, where she set unsustainable early fractions yet was beaten only three lengths. No other horse in this field figures to go with her early, and lone speed types are always dangerous on the inner turf.

I’ll also use #4 Dixie Gem (6-1) and #8 Sweetdreamsaboutme (6-1). Dixie Gem drops in class and exits a few races at Belmont that weren't as bad as they may seem on paper, while Sweetdreamsaboutme closed like a freight train in her turf debut, which doubled as just her second career start. She adds Lasix for the first time, and she should be going in the right direction when it counts.

RACE #7: Ah, the ever-devilish turf sprints. There are three of them on this card, but this is the only one in the late Pick Four sequence. That’s a good thing, as I’m going five-deep here.

#10 Sandy’z Slew (5/2) isn't a bad favorite. He won at this route last year, and trainer Rick Schosberg has quietly been very effective gong short on the grass (4-for-12 with a $4.55 ROI). The lack of a recent win concerns me, though, which is why he’s far from a single.

I’m also using #5 Mr Rosenthal (7/2), #6 Western Tryst (6-1), #7 Sun Worshipper (15-1), and #9 Dreamsgonewild (8-1). It isn’t quite an “ALL” race, but it’s pretty evenly-matched, and of this secondary group, my top choice for an upset is actually the longest price. Sun Worshipper has never run a bad race sprinting on turf, and while he steps up in class, his best is certainly good enough to make him a major player.

RACE #8: What’s the Monday feature at Saratoga? Oh, just a $100,000 stakes race featuring #2 Grace Hall (9/5) and #4 My Miss Aurelia (2-1). No big deal.

This is why Saratoga is so great. Even Mondays, traditionally one of the slowest days on the calendar, can boast match-ups like these. Grace Hall is making her third start of the year after a long layoff, while My Miss Aurelia hasn’t been seen since March of 2013.

If you can get past these two horses, God bless you. Me? I’ll use those two, sit back, and watch two classy 5-year-old mares do their thing.

RACE #9: My best bet of the day is in this $40,000 claimer on turf, and it’s #4 Honor the Kitten (5/2). The Ramseys have several races every summer where they drop a horse down to get a win in the race for Saratoga’s owner’s title, and that’s what this looks like.

Honor the Kitten exits a tough allowance at Churchill where he was beaten less than five lengths off a layoff. He takes a drop into the $40,000 claiming ranks for trainer Mike Maker, who hits at a 27% clip with horses second off a freshening.  He’s simply been running (and running fairly well) against much better horses, and he looms large in this field.

I’ll give myself a little security with #3 Belly of the Whale (2-1). The morning-line favorite broke his maiden here last summer at first asking and really hasn't run a bad one in four lifetime outings. I’m not entirely sure he wants a mile, but the blinkers go on for the Christophe Clement trainee, and he’s another dropping down in class to run here.

These selections make for a $30 ticket. With large fields in three of the four races in this sequence, winning bettors may be rewarded handsomely, despite the smaller crowd and the lack of a guaranteed pool. Good luck!