SaratogaBets Handicapping - Kevin Cox's Saratoga Selections & Analysis - 7/17


Nice opening day for us here yesterday, as we went 10:1-2-2-1 on the afternoon with the winner paying 42 clams, and we even had a $13 winner disqualified. 

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Today's Beatable Favorite(s): None

I'd like to leave this bit of info here for y'all. When we're using the DRF Formulator platform while writing our columns, if we say "Sprints", for the most part we mean any one turn race, and when we say "Routes", we mean any TWO turn race. ( For example, we consider a 1 1/8th mile race at Belmont an elongated sprint, and a 6 1/2 furlong race at a Charles Town a route. ) We feel this way, because in our eyes, it's the number of turns that necessitate more energy than being relaxed on a straightaway. Sometimes the sample size for our study can be too large to manually break down, so there may be a few from one category in another, but usually the end result is pretty much the same. Additionally, when it comes to layoffs, we consider more than 50 days in a dirt to dirt scenario a layoff, more than 58 days in D to T or T to D a layoff, and more than 67 days in a turf to turf deal a L/O.


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Saratoga - 7/17


Race  1

1.Value Engineering

2.Go Poke the Bear

3.Can'thelpbelieving ( Ire )

#6 VALUE ENGINEERING has essentially improved with each passing call to the post, culminating with a game win down at Elmont, N.Y. on the 11th of June. Lightly raced four year old has yet to miss the money, but with a dearth of speed signed on, Castellano would be well suited to stay as close to the pace as possible. #3 GO POKE THE BEAR had positively no excuse for the poor performance on Independence Day, but Maker charge found the line first in his lone "3rd off the layoff" foray, and deserves another chance. #2 CAN'THELPBELIEVING hasn't been seen since Hector was a pup, but the good news is that he owns a 4:2-2-0 ledger when returning off a 3+ month respite on firm ground, and won his lone try on the inner with Johnny V. a hundred years ago.  OFF TURF: 6-1(MTO)-2-3-7


Race  2



3.Apex Predator

#6 LORENZEN showed some decent early hoof in the second off the L/O spin, and although he was off the board that day, ended up posting a career best numero. Gelding makes his 3rd start off the break this afternoon, and in a race as bad as this, you either go with a sensible selection, or look for a bomb. We'll side with the former. #10 BRUNATE was a well beaten but well clear runner up in the most recent, and could improve with a tidier sojourn this afternoon. #3 APEX PREDATOR has partaken in the superfecta in four of five and sheds a sizable amount of tonnage. 


Race  3

1.First Rate

2.The Rock Says

3.Fried Rice King

You can go ahead and feel free to draw an upwards arrow next to the speed figures of #3 FIRST RATE, as this one seems to be figuring things out start after start. Grey gelding got the job done in his only "2nd off the shelf" jammie, and Saffie Joseph has performed "miracles" with dirt stayers who crashed the fiesta 30 days back, as he's a near perfect five of six in that regards ( $4 x 3, $7 & $10 ). #4 THE ROCK SAYS overcame a whole lot of trouble to lose by only a neck in his only try off of this kind of break, and is protected against the claim in his first race after being snagged. #7 FRIED RICE KING was visually impressive when besting cheapies by seven and a half a bit more than a month back, and sometimes when the light bulb comes on, it can stay on for a while. 


Race  4 


2.Pick Up the Phone

3.Lake Chicot

#1 CUSTOMEREXPERIENCE got up in time to best slightly weaker down in Hallandale Beach a touch more than three weeks in the rear, and although stepping up here, we're assuaged by the fact that the aforementioned 3rd race "wonder trainer" is a fat 13:8-0-2-1 w/ mid level dirt gals who scored less than three fortnights ago & are 10-1 or undah today ( sprints ). Joel gets the nod, & know that this lady is 2 for 2 when breaking from the innermost two slots ( 0-3 otherwise ). #4 PICK UP THE PHONE went coast to coast like butter and toast at GP on 5/22, and we see no reason to leave out of the mix today. #8 LAKE CHICOT completed the triple at big balloons in his only deal on the brown stuff, and may spice things up on the dropdown. 


Race  5



3.Sandro the Great

#2 VOLIERO came along decently to secure the place money last out, and returns in a near identical spot. Sensible if not spectacular selection in a heat that we have narrowed down to these three + 1. #7 SCUTTLEBUZZ was a mite tardy to the party on June 14th, but ended up splitting the triple in a blanket finish. It's a major misconception to believe that a closing sprinter will always appreciate added ground, but we'd be remiss in excluding. #10 SANDRO THE GREAT plodded along to a 5th place finish five weeks back, and improvement is always possible in the 2nd off the shelf go round.  OFF TURF: 5(MTO)-2-4-10-7  NOTE: AS OF 12:07, OUR AMENDED SELECTIONS WILL BE 2-5-10.


Race  6 

1.Big Thicket

2.Giant Shoes 

3.Vintage Hollywood

#8 BIG THICKET overcame a bit of a bottleneck to secure a nice chunk of the baccala on the 5th of July, and over the last 60 months, Rudy Rod has won with half of his locally based allowance dirt dashers who crashed the board last time out off of this kind of break ( 9-1 or less & ridden by Irad ). The return on investment for that sampling was $3.15, and 5YO goes from the inside to the outside. #4 GIANT SHOES undergoes a gamut of changes in this spot ( 2X to 1X, T to D, 2nd off a L/O, 1st time here, & an upgrade in the jockey department ) and would only need to find one of those agreeable to make an impression here. #7 VINTAGE HOLLYWOOD completed the exacta in his lone "3rd start off an absence" going short, & has hit the board in 66.666666666667% of his lifetime starts. 


Race  7

1.Blowout ( GB )

2.Vuadera ( GB ) 

3.Passing Out

Eight signed on for this restricted stakes, and Chad Brown has four of them. Sighhhhhh......   #9 BLOWOUT (GB) is the clear speed ( and class ) of this deal ) & is but a neck & a half short of a two fer two mark on this course. 3:2-1-0 record at the dist. only adds to the allure, and grab her by the tail to get the glory. #6 VIADERA (GB) displayed a baby "Z" pattern in the initial U.S overture ( lost 3 1/2 lengths from the quarter to the top of the lane before regaining three from that point to the line. Gal got up by a honkah in her lone left turn try at a mile, and there ain't no Newspaperofrecord in here. #3 PASSING OUT went from zero to hero in a thrilling effort ( $19 ) the only time she set hooves on the inner, and it turned out to be her only 3rd off the sabbatical start as well.  OFF TURF: 3-1-4-9-2  NOTE: AS OF 11:36, DUE TO A LATE SCRATCH THE #4 WILL BE OUR 3RD SELECTION.


Race  8 

1.Turf War 

2.Lost Ticket

3.Lady Worthington

#6 TURF WAR has been a part of the superfecta in three of four N.A. outings to date, which includes a solid length defeat right here ( after a hibernation ). C-Squared & Junior had a couple of nice winners up here back in '19, and filly can pose a late threat with some pace in front of her. #4 LOST TICKET lit up the totalizator board with a 10-1 flourish at the finish down in BEL last month, and as Alvarado is aboard our top selection, Johnny lands here. #5 LADY WORTHINGTON rounds out the tri.  OFF TURF: 3-4-2-1-6


Race  9 

1.Please Flatter Me

2.Indian Pride

3.Risky Mandate

#10 PLEASE FLATTER ME is second off the layoff today, and went all the way in her only other attempt doing such a bit over a year ago. Four returnees from the most recent heat have come back to ring up a cumulative 4:2-1-0 ledger in their subsequent engagements, with an average BSF improvement of 5.8 points. Included in that sampling is Guarana, who just won the G-1 Madison in extremely gutsy fashion. The As-Man ( 20% on the norm ) is a snazzy 7 come 11 with 2nd off the break Saratoga dirt runners ridden by Santana ( 13-1 or less ), and there's a sub category of 3 for 4 when going short. #5 INDIAN PRIDE got her mojo back with a sharp allowance tally in the return, and shedrow is a delightful 8:6-1-1 with second off the L/O ungraded dirt stock who most recently scored ( $10 x 3, $9, $2 & $13 ). #2 RISKY MANDATE has yet to finish off the board ( including a win & a showing right here ) and should be right there. 


Race  10




#4 YOUSAIDHELLO had excuses in the first two forays, and was flat off the break before displaying improved early hoof in this race 200 miles southward. Meeeeeekest of selections in a very wide open nitecap. #10 GOLCONDA is 3:M-1-1-1 in her 2nd off the layoff spins, and goes from an apprentice to a journeyman here -- something to never take lightly. #6 OPERATIVE takes the biggest drop in the game and is second time eye cups here.  OFF TURF: 14(MTO)-1-10-12-5   NOTE: AS OF 12:24, #'S 15 & 9 WILL BE OUR 2ND & 3RD CHOICES RESPECTIVELY.


Saratoga         ( Current ):       1-10      ( $41.60 )  Beatable   Favorites   1-1   ( 100% )    Favorites Win %          3-10   ( 30% )

Belmont               ( Final ):     30-249     ( $278.60 ) Beatable  Favorites  7-19  ( 36.8% )    Favorites Win %      92-249 ( 36.9% )

Gulfstream           ( Final ):     58-468    ( $865.50 )  Beatable  Favorites  2-22  ( 9.1% )      Favorites Win %    161-468 ( 34.4% )

Aqueduct Winter  ( Final ):     65-427    ( $615.10 )  Beatable  Favorites  8-18  ( 44.4% )    Favorites Win %:   174-427 ( 40.8% ) 

Graded Stakes ( Current ):       3-22        ( $35.60 )  Beatable Favorites    N/A   (  N/A )      Favorites Win %:     8-22     ( 36.4% )

All Triple Crown, Breeders' Cup, Selected Grade 1's and Travers full days  ( These are also counted in the "Dirt Tracks" category ):

( 2013-2020 Final ) 64-411  ( $581.30 ) Beatable Favorites: 18-56 ( 32.1% ) Favorite's Win %: 139-411 (33.8%)  +/-: -29.2% against a 16.8% takeout  

Poly Tracks2013-16  (All Final): 85-568          ( $819.20 )  Beatable Favorites : 15-68      ( 22.1% )Favorite's Win %: 163-587      ( 27.7% ) +/-: -27.6%  against a 15.6% takeout

Dirt Tracks  2013-20 (All Final):2599-13167 ($22,277.40) Beatable Favorites : 352-1263( 27.9% )Favorite's Win %: 5006-13250 ( 37.8% ) +/-: -15.4%  against a 16.8% takeout

Cumulative Stats    (All Final): 2684-13735 ($23,096.60)  Beatable Favorites : 367-1331( 27.6% )Favorite's Win %: 5188-13837 ( 37.5% ) +/-: -15.9%  against a 16.7% takeout