Key Races & Bets for Saturday, August 3

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Fasig -Tipton Lure Stakes – Race 7 at Saratoga- Post Time 4:31 PM Eastern

Lukewarm morning line favorite Lucullan (3/1) could be very tough here as he returned from a 14 month layoff last month to win a turf route as if he’d never been away, beating graded stakes winner Noble Indy pretty easily. Saez was up for the first time for the win and we can expect even better second off the layoff for this lightly raced five year old who is four for eight on grass and who missed by a neck to Yoshida (seen later today in the Whitney Stakes) in the fall of 2017 in a stakes on turf at Belmont. The 113 Equibase figure is the best ANY horse in the field has earned, ever, so repeating or improving upon the effort, particularly if no other horse improves markedly, means Lucullan is going to be tough to beat.

That doesn’t make the race unplayable, because for exactas, as well as for a small win bet at decent odds, we have Say the Word, who is an improving four year old dropping out of the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at the end of June where he ran a respectable third behind Synchrony. Prior to that, Say the Word took blinkers off for the first time and that resulted in a very nice seventh to first rallying win on the Belmont turf. Alvarado was up for both races and rides back. The 106 figure Say the Word earned last out was a career-best and although short of the 113 effort Lucullan put forth there’s potential for it to be improved upon as the horse is in the best form of his life. Considering he opens at 12/1 he has potential to help make a profit.

Projected and Ticonderoga are horses to use on a “b” pick 3 ticket we can start here, as well as in exactas as they do have some chance to run well. Projected finished second in this race last year as the 2 to 1 favorite and drops from Grade 2 stakes. Before that he missed by a head in a stakes similar to this one. Ticonderoga won in March following seven months off then was overmatched in the Grade 1 Turf Classic. Last time out in the Poker Stakes at Belmont he lost nearly all chance at the start when he stumbled but was closing fast late and was beaten under two lengths by the winner.

Bets: Lucullan to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
For a smaller amount, Say the Word to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Lucullan over Say the Word, Projected and Ticonderoga.
For $1 box Say the Word, Projected and Ticonderoga.
For $1 also play Say the Word, Projected and Ticonderoga over Lucullan.

Pick 3: (two tickets)
Race 7 Lucullan
Race 8 ALL seven horses
Race 9 Vino Rosso, McKinzie, Yoshida

Race 7 Lucullan, Say the Word, Projected and Ticonderoga.
Race 8 Covfefe
Race 9 Vino Rosso, McKinzie, Yoshida

West Virginia Governor’s Stakes – Race 7 at Mountaineer – Post Time 4:55 PM Eastern

Although drawing 12 horses, this race quickly boils down to two win contenders in my opinion – Sir Anthony and Silver Dust. Sir Anthony opens at higher odds (5/1) so I’ll start with this tough knocking colt who won four of nine last year including the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at this distance last December. He was zero for three this year before taking the Grade 3 Cornhusker Stakes last month in a career- best tying effort with a 107 Equibase Figure. Cotto was the key as he got back on after four races with other jockeys and had ridden Sir Anthony to a win last November, the only other time he was in the saddle. Sir Anthony does come from far back so will need to avoid trouble but Cotto took him four wide last out and in spite of that the horse did his thing, as he can again today to earn his sixth career win on conventional dirt in his 11th start on the surface.

Silver Dust battled head-and-head the entire length of the stretch last month, coming up a head short of the very tough Pioneer Spirit in a non-graded stakes at Indiana Grand. Earlier this year the gelding proved he belonged in graded stakes by winning the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap and coming up three-quarters of a length short when second in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap. He went off form for one race but the rebound last out shows he will be as tough as nails here and as he’s been first or second in 10 of 21 career races he’s almost a shoe-in for the exacta if he doesn’t win. Note also he worked four furlongs at Churchill Downs on July 26 in preparation for the race, the same date and distance West Virginia Derby favorite Mr. Money worked, who is also trained by Bret Calhoun. It’s pretty likely they worked in company and so Calhoun has potential to get a stakes double on the card.

Bets: Sir Anthony to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more. “IF” Silver Dust is 2 to 1 or higher near post time he can be bet as well.

Since Mr. Money in the West Virginia Derby (Race 8) is a free square in my opinion, we can play a very inexpensive double to make some money.

Double: Sir Anthony and Silver Dust in race 7 with Mr. Money in race 8.

Longines Test Stakes – Race 8 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:06 PM Eastern

Covfefe is the fastest horse in the field on many levels, having zipped 107.6 for six furlongs at Pimlico on Preakness weekend while destroying a good field by eight lengths with gas left in the tank. She faced OLDER fillies last time out and was beaten three-quarters of a length and now returns to her own age group ready to rumble with a scintillating 1:11 six furlong workout on 7/19 followed by a half-mile in 47.8. She has earned all three wins leading from start to finish, the same as the last four wins for Serengeti Empress, who is drawn inside, and the same for Please Flatter Me, but Please Flatter Me was the one eight lengths behind Covfefe in the Miss Preakness Stakes in May and with Serengeti Empress coming out of longer races, even with fast workouts, I think it’s pretty probable Covfefe runs the rest off their feet early and duplicates her big win.

With that in mind and with Covfefe opening at 5 to 2 the question is how to make money in the race. The morning line favorite is Bellafina, not seen since finishing fifth in the Kentucky Oaks. She has won at seven furlongs, that win coming in January with a 102 figure which wouldn’t hold a candle to Covfefe if both repeated their best efforts to date, and she may be prepping for two turns where she won the Santa Anita Oaks in April so may not be asked 100% if push comes to shove. If Bellafina ends up as the favorite, then a win bet on Covfefe at her 5 to 2 morning line odds is an overlay win bet in my opinion. Otherwise, we have the pick 3’s we started in the last race and the pick 3 we can start here to make some profit with her winning, and in case she doesn’t win, if Lucullan won the last race we can sit back and root for the longest shot on the board to win since we played “ALL” on one ticket in this leg of the pick 3.

Bets: Covfefe to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Pick 3:
Race 8 Covfefe
Race 9 Vino Rosso, McKinzie, Yoshida
Race 10 Desert Isle, Got Stormy, Capla Temptress
(Optionally, use “ALL” in the 10th race)

Whitney Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:46 PM Eastern

I think Yoshida (JPN) can post the upset win just as he did last year when victorious in the Woodward Stakes over the track. That was his first start on dirt in his 11th career start and it was a thing of beauty as he rallied from 10th of 15 to earn a career-best 116 Equibase figure. Two months later in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Yoshida put in another big rally as he was 13th of 14 with a quarter mile to go, but the rally fell just a bit short as he finished fourth, a neck from Thunder Snow and two lengths from the winner. The key here is the jockey change to Joel Rosario, who had never ridden the horse prior to the Woodward last year and who has not ridden the horse in four races since then. Mott has the horse ready to run big in my opinion and in his second start off the return from Dubai I feel Yoshida can repeat his effort at Saratoga last year and earn a trip to the Classic for the second year in a row.

McKinzie is a tough competitor who has only finished worse than second one time in 11 races, that poor effort coming in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. Since then, McKinzie has won the Malibu Stakes and the Alysheba Stakes while placing in three other graded stakes, most recently in the Metropolitan Mile with a 117 figure. That effort in the Met Mile came in spite of traffic trouble and I believe he might have won without the issues he encountered. Smith usually doesn’t make the same mistake twice so McKinzie should be considered a very strong contender to win the Whitney, albeit at short odds.

Vino Rosso is an improving four year old who tied his career-best 114 figure winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita at the end of May. Not seen since then, Vino Rosso has been in steady training for this race at Saratoga. Winner of the 2018 Wood Memorial Stakes at the distance of the Whitney, Vino Rosso may only need to step up his game the slightest bit to be very competitive in this race, which is certainly possible as he’s a four year old and still not fully mature.

Thunder Snow does not have the probability to win, in my opinion, of the three previously mentioned horses, but he could easily run well enough to be part of the exacta or trifecta as he’s been in his last five races. Thunder Snow missed by a head last fall in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and in his most recent race, following this year’s World Cup win, he finished third in the Met Mile, beaten a neck by McKinzie with the same 117 figure.

For the exacta I’ll throw in Monongahela for second as an improving type coming off one of the best efforts of his career when winning the Iselin Stakes at Monmouth in June. I’ll take a stand against Preservationist, who I adored last time out, because this is a much tougher group and his career best 110 figure doesn’t figure to be improved upon and isn’t good enough to beat either of the three win contenders.

Bets: Yoshida to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
A smaller win bet on Vino Rosso is warranted at 7 to 2 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exacta: Yoshida, McKinzie and Vino Rosso over Yoshida, McKinzie, Vino Rosso, Thunder Snow and Monongahela.

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Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

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