Three Opening-Day Value Plays at Saratoga

Profile Picture: James Scully

July 24th, 2015

Saratoga opens Friday with a 10-race program featuring mostly full fields and plenty of wagering opportunities.

Four turf routes will be offered, all with at least 12 horses entered, and I’ll mention a few turf prospects at enticing morning-line odds.

3RD race – Khaleesi Kat (#7, 6-1 morning line) clipped heels and lost her rider when making her debut May 17. Bet down to 6-1 versus a nice field of maiden special weight foes on July 5, she completely missed the break and spit the bit after rushing forward and checking repeatedly in heavy traffic during the opening stages.

Trainer Bill Mott put a quick half-mile work in her and brings her right back 19 days later. The Hall of Famer adds blinkers and Lasix, and the sophomore filly takes a significant class drop for a $40,000 claiming tag. By Afleet Alex, Khaleesi Kat is out of Saratoga turf stakes-winning mare. She drew better in post 7 than her two main rivals (Dacoma at the rail and Weekend Hottie on the far outside) and I’m expecting significant improvement.

7TH race – Lahinch Classics (#4, 10-1) established herself as a promising prospect overseas in 2014 before being shipped to the U.S. Returning from a lengthy layoff in her first attempt for Chad Brown, the four-year-old filly belatedly rallied for fourth in a stakes-quality allowance at Keeneland. She came back a month later in a Belmont allowance and didn’t settle willingly, with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. forcing her back off the pace before checking in traffic on the first turn.

She came up empty in the stretch drive but was flattered by the winning Queen’s Parade, who came back to post an excellent head second jumping straight to stakes company in the Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3) – that was a tough non-winners of one “other than” allowance last time.

Brown elected to regroup, freshening his charge 77 days with nine works during the interim, and may be rewarded with a more polished performance from Lahinch Classics, who has a significant class edge on these foes having placed a head second to Mango Diva in the 2014 Kilboy Estate (Ire-G2) at The Curragh.

9TH race -- Jellicle Ball (#3, 10-1) makes her U.S. bow in the Lake George and the Graham Motion-trained filly figures to receive the right set-up with five opponents (Feathered, Lady Zuzu, Cara Marie, Celestine and Robillard) displaying a preference for mixing it up on the front end.

A daughter of top European sire Invincible Spirit, Jellicle Ball has performed respectably against the likes of Lady of Dubai and Osaila – a pair of top-class sophomore fillies overseas -- in recent starts. None of today’s rivals are too imposing and Jellicle Ball gets in light at 115 pounds (eight pounds from Feathered). She should be rolling late with John Velasquez.