TeamBetAmerica Battle Royale: Saratoga

Molly Jo Rosen

August 2nd, 2014

Since we had so much fun with the first one - where we gave a $1300 Pick 4 - we're doing this again!

Actually, to be more specific, I received a text message from my good friend Andrew Champagne that politely pointed out the $750k Guaranteed Pick 4 pool that ends Saratoga's Saturday card... which he promptly followed with several trash talking tweets.


Since this filly doesn't back down from a fight, I had no choice but to oblige.

Or - as Andrew says in an email titled "You're Going Down." (punctuation his): When Molly Jo Rosen and I last went head-to-head in selecting a late Pick Four at Saratoga, it was the most one-sided fight since Mike Tyson knocked Michael Spinks into the front row of Trump Plaza. She gave out a $1,300 winner, while I was knocked out in the first leg. Like every good villain ever, though, I’ve come back rested and ready to go. Saturday’s all-stakes sequence boasts a $750,000 guaranteed pool, and I couldn’t resist throwing out another challenge. Here’s how I’ll attack it.

After a quick check of the weather - a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 7am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 79. Calm wind becoming south around 6 mph in the afternoon - let the games begin... 

$750k Guaranteed Pick 4 starts at 4:42 pm ET

Saratoga race 8 | G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Hcp for 3&up going 6f

MJR: This is never an easy race... 1-Palace is freaky good at 6f, 5-Happy My Way is ultra consistent & looking for his 5th win in last 6 outs, and 8-Bakken is too consistent to leave off the ticket; exotic key: 6-Capo Bastone on the cut-back at 15-1 M/L (a good Pletcher sprinter at 15-1 in a G1?!?)

AC: #1 Palace: The former claimer has turned into a win machine and one of New York’s top sprinters. #2 Falling Sky: He’s cross-entered in a stakes at Mountaineer, but if he goes here, he could be the main speed. #4 Bahamian Squall: The hard-knocker may have needed his last race. A repeat of his second-place finish in this race last year makes him a threat. #5 Happy My Way: If Falling Sky scratches, he’s a threat to wire the field. He’s won three straight, including a romp last out at Pimlico. #8 Bakken: There was nothing wrong with his 2014 debut in the True North. A step forward is logical, and that would make him a likely winner.

Saratoga race 9 | G1 Test Stakes for 3yo F going 7f

MJR: Usually I'd say 'single the Baffert,' but since he doesn't have one in here... 3-Sweet Whiskey is thisclose to multiple graded stakes wins this year, 5-Southern Honey is looking for her 4th straight win, 7-Sweet Reason cuts back & loves a muddy track; exotic keys: 2-Fiftyshadesofgold has the speed if she can hold on, and 10-Red Velvet steps up but (same as Capo) if you're getting 12-1 on a Pletcher, bet it!

AC: #2 Fiftyshadesofgold: A mile may just be a bit too far. Her worktab since the Acorn is exceptional, and she’s 2-for-2 at seven furlongs. #3 Sweet Whiskey: She’s never really run a bad race, yet almost captured the Acorn at 32-1. She’s got speed, but doesn’t need the lead. #7 Sweet Reason: She’s 2-for-2 at Saratoga, won a Grade 1 at this route last year, and comes off a great performance in the Acorn. #9 Tea Time: Everything Michael Matz sends out seems to be firing. This is a class test, but her last two have been REALLY good. #10 Red Velvet: She may just be the speed of the speed at a huge price. It’s interesting that Paco Lopez gets the mount after coming north for the afternoon.

Saratoga race 10 | G1 Whitney Hcp for 3&up going 1-1/8 mi.

MJR: This race took me - no joke - an hour to handicap because it's such a good field... 1-Will Take Charge is one of my favorite horses in training for his consistency & I think Wayne did the right thing giving him a bit of time to recover off two sub-par efforts, and I'm guessing 4-Itsmyluckyday should sit just off 5-Palace Malice's hip and the pair will duel from the quarter pole home with 'Will in the mix late; exotic keys: 2-Prayer for Relief and 8-Golden Ticket because both are the kind of consistent prices that will spoil your supers if you happen to leave them off. And I'm hoping I have some idea what to do with 6-Departing before the gates break open because that horse just leaves me confused in this spot: use him - I just don't know where.

AC: #1 Will Take Charge: The post is a killer, but he loves Saratoga and won the Travers here last year. #3 Moreno: If pace makes the race, then Moreno, who could be the race’s lone true early speed, may be tough to beat. He’s been training lights-out here, and I liked his run in the Suburban. #5 Palace Malice: He’s done everything right this year and is very much the horse to beat.

Saratoga race 11 | Lure Stakes for 4&up going 1-1/16 mi. (T)

MJR: This is a full field of 14, but given the amount of Main Track Only entrants (aka MTOs), it feels like the general consensus is this thing's coming off the turf. I handicapped it both ways... If we're on: 2-Swift Warrior is always around at the wire, though I don't love using 4-Big Blue Kitten it's hard to knock his being 2-for-2 here & never off the board at the distance, 5-Legendary has done very little wrong since shipping stateside, 8-Villandry is the lesser known rockstar in the Lopresti barn behind Wise Dan but he's just about as consistent, and 12-Kharafa has 3rd-itis but gets back to his best distance here If we're off: 1-Alpha is a mud-loving freak and especially here, 2-Swift Warrior for consistency, 5-Legendary for the record, and 13-Integrity for the MTO and the speed

AC: If we're on: #4 Big Blue Kitten (5/2): This screams, “PREP RACE!,” and he probably wants longer, but he’s a multiple Grade 1 winner, and if he’s right, he’ll be very tough to beat. #6 Plainview (5-1): If anyone beats Big Blue Kitten, I think it’s this one. This speedball is 3-for-3 at Saratoga and making his third start off a layoff. #8 Villandry (6-1): He was beaten less than two lengths by Silver Max in a Grade 2 last out. He should be coming late. #12 Kharafa (9/2): If he repeats his win two back in stakes company, where he ran a mile in 1:32 and change, he could be tough, even from an outside post.

If we're off: #1 Alpha (2-1): If expected showers move this race off the turf, Saratoga lover Alpha looks intimidating. He’s won three graded races on this track, and may use this as a prep for a title defense in the Woodward. #14 Dawly (4-1): One of my favorite horses on the New York circuit, he’s been in the money in 24 of 33 career starts. Toss his last outing (where he blew the break), and he suddenly looks like a major player if the race gets moved to dirt.

Molly Jo Rosen's Picks: 1,5,8 / 3,5,7 / 1,4,5 / 2,4,5,8,12 or 1,2,5,13 ... either $67.5 or $54 Andrew Champagne's Picks: 1,2,4,5,8 / 2,3,7,9,10 / 1,3,5 / 4,6,8,12 or 1,14 ... either $150 or $75