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Homeracing

Stakes nominations lists can yield clues on Saratoga juveniles

Profile Picture: Dick Powell

July 2nd, 2019

I was one of the big proponents of stretching the 40 days of Saratoga to eight weeks with only five days of racing per week. Six days of racing per week is tough on everyone and the attendance and betting on Monday was down significantly. With only one day to "rest," the old schedule was too grueling for all of us. Thus, Saratoga begins a week from this Thursday on July 11, and I am not ready to say the least. But, life goes on whether we are ready or not so it is time to get to work. Here is an "Old School" handicapping angle that still works, and with all the two-year-old racing up here, it pays to use if you are not doing so already. This is how it works. There are two juvenile stakes races scheduled on the first Thursday and Saturday. The 101st running of the $150,000 Schuylerville (G3) for fillies will be run on Thursday over the main track going six furlongs. The early nominations closed on June 29 with 20 fillies paying the early nomination fee of $150. We can assume that the connections of these stakes-nominated juvenile fillies are fairly confident of their ability, but obviously all 20 are not going to run. We can break up the juvenile fillies nominated to the Schuylerville into three groups. First are the ones that have already won a race. Fifteen of the 20 have already won a race and many did at short odds, so those are probably primed to go in the Schuylerville. Second are the ones that have raced but did not win – only two have started without winning. Third are the first time starters – three of them have yet to begin their careers. You can expect that most of the winners will show up in the Schuylerville on Opening Day. For the five that have raced but not won or haven't raced yet at all, there is a $90,000 Maiden Special Weight on Friday going 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt. The 105th running of the $150,000 Sanford (G3) on Saturday at six furlongs on the main track has attracted 22 nominated runners. Thirteen have already won, eight have started but have not won and one is a first-time starter. For those that have raced but not won or haven't raced at all, there is a $90,000 maiden special weight on Saturday. Luckily at most tracks, when you go to the "Horsemen" section on their web site, past performances are available for all the nominated horses. From here, you can start doing your basic research on how the races stack up. Fifteen winning juvenile fillies need to be sorted out, and pay attention to which circumstance they won under. You will have lots of time to do your pedigree research and get as familiar as you can with these young horses. Do this for all the juvenile stakes races and print out the nominations. Later, when you are handicapping, refer to the nominations and see if the starters in a juvenile race had been stakes nominated. It is not the definitive vote of confidence, but it shows that just recently the connections had high hopes, especially for the first-time starters.   (c) Adam Coglianese Photography

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