Saratoga Horse Racing Picks for Saturday, August 8, 2020

Ballerina Stakes – Race 7 at Saratoga – Post Time 3:42 PM Eastern

This race needs to go as drawn (no scratches) for this to work out because if both Serengeti Empress and Letruska both run, there’s little chance Serengeti Empress gets the early lead to herself she needs to win. So, I’m labeling Serengeti Empress as vulnerable and that makes the race very playable.

Pink Sands won the Inside Information Stakes in January, a seven furlong graded stakes just like this one and that was her second graded stakes win in a row. She was then off for five months and returned in the Phipps, also around one turn but at a mile and one-sixteenth. She ran poorly in that race without a “visible” excuse. I say “visible” because when a top trainer like McGaughey enters a horse in a grade 1 race off an effort like that, we have to toss it out. She came back to work exceptionally well six days ago at Saratoga, gets Irad Ortiz, Jr. and gets a pace to set up her late k ick beautifully so opening at 10/1 she’s a KEY bet on the day.

Also worth betting to win is Victim of Love, opening at 15/1, because if her last effort on 6/27 wasn’t a fluke she can win. She won the Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont at 27/1 with a 108 Equibase figure as good as the 108 Bellafina (who opens at 9/5) earned winning the Desert Stormer Stakes (also a grade 3 like the Vagrancy) in May. Lezcano was up for the first time and rides back and Victim of Love is very likely to be third or fourth early so she can get first run if the pace battle takes its toll on Serengeti Empress and Letruska as I think it will. This is a lightly raced four year old who is 5-for-15 and definitely will be underrated and underbet here.

Come Dancing and Bellafina have some shot to win so we’ll play them on some Pick 3 tickets and on some exactas but neither are standouts here.

Win: Bet Pinks Sands AND Victim of Love at odds of 2 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.

Pink Sands and Victim of Love over Pink Sands, Victim of Love, Cookie Dough, Bellafina and Come Dancing
Bellafina and Come Dancing over Pink Sands and Victim of Love

Race 7: Victim of Love, Bellafina, Pink Sands, Come Dancing
Race 8: Pulsate, Chewing Gum

Pick 3:
Race 7: Victim of Love, Bellafina, Pink Sands, Come Dancing
Race 8: Pulsate, Chewing Gum
Race 9: Mrs. Sippy, My Sister Nat, Olympic Games, Fools Gold

Troy Stakes – Race 8 at Saratoga – Post Time 4:22 PM Eastern

The pace scenario in this five and one-half furlong turf sprint is likely to be as hot, or hotter, than that in the Ballerina. American Sailor has had the lead after a quarter mile in every one of his last nine races. Pure Sensation has been first or second in his last 11 races and only has won when leading from the start. Pure Sensation opens at 3 to 1 and is vulnerable because of the likelihood he won’t get the lead he needs to win. Then there’s the 8 to 5 morning line favorite Imprimis. He’s finished sixth, fourth, third and sixth in his last four races and hasn’t run in nine months. He has been working well but is facing horses in the same form as he is when having raced who have raced much more recently, and he doesn’t have a class edge. The 5/2 second favorite Shekky Shebaz similarly has finished third, sixth and fourth in his last three races and I just don’t see him being a strong contender here.

That leaves a couple of closers who have run recently to get top honors. Chewing Gum opens at 5 to 1 and, gets a great outside post and Rosario rides, who rode him to a win from next to last one before last in a six furlong turf sprint. He managed third last out but had brushed the gate at the start and has every right to run back to his 6/12 winning effort.

Then there’s Pulsate, who opens at 15/1. He won a six furlong sprint in his last race of 2019, as strong of an effort as Chewing Gum put in on June 12. Then, following seven months off Pulsate finished fine for fourth in the same race Chewing Gum finished third. He was JUST A NOSE behind Chewing Gum but his odds are THREE TIMES higher and that doesn’t make sense.

Win Bets: Bet Chewing Gum and Pulsate to win at 5 to 2 or higher.

This is the kind of race where a “Dutching” tool like the free one at Amwager really comes in handy as it proportions your bets based on the odds so you don’t have to do the math for yourself.

Pulsate and Chewing Gum over Pulsate, Chewing Gum, American Sailor and Lohntwist
Box Pulsate and Chewing Gum

Pulsate and Chewing Gum and Pulsate and Chewing Gum over ALL
Pulsate and Chewing Gum over ALL over Pulsate and Chewing Gum

Pick 3:
Race 8: Pulsate, Chewing Gum
Race 9: Mrs. Sippy, My Sister Nat, Olympic Games, Fools Gold
Race 10: Gamine

Race 8: Pulsate, Chewing Gum
Race 9: Mrs. Sippy, My Sister Nat, Olympic Games, Fools Gold

Waya Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:02 PM Eastern

Test Stakes – Race 10 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:37 PM Eastern

There’s not much to discuss about these two races. Four horses can win the Waya Stakes, but Fools Gold may be a good win bet opening at 5/1 as she’s part of an uncoupled Chad Brown entry with My Sister Nat (who opens at 2 to 1). Fools Gold won this race last year off a runner-up effort one month earlier in a non-graded stakes. This year she was off from November 3 until June 27, returning in the Grade 2 New York Stakes, a much tougher ask off the layoff. She finished fifth in the race and I think got enough out of it to repeat last year’s win, particularly as Castellano gets back on and rode her to the win in last year’s Waya. The other contenders are Mrs. Sippy and Olympic Games.

My Play in the Waya Stakes is a win bet on Fools Gold at 2 to 1 or more.

In the Test Stakes, likely prohibitive favorite Gamine has a big advantage in terms of how fast she’s run and in terms of being the fastest horse early in the race. In my opinion there’s no point in trying to beat her but by using her as the only horse in multi-race sequences cuts down the tickets and offers us a bigger profit than we might get betting her to win.

There’s also some profit potential in the exacta because I feel second betting choice Venetian Harbor is going to get tired chasing Gamine and can be passed late. Up in Smoke is the horse I feel can get up for second.

My play in the Test Stakes is an exacta of Gamine over Up in Smoke.

Travers Stakes – Race 11 at Saratoga – Post Time 6:15 PM Eastern

In terms of how fast he’s run, Tiz the Law stands out in this year’s Runhappy Travers Field. In his first start as a three year old in February, Tiz the Law earned a spectacular 117 Equibase Speed Figure which is unheard of for that time of year. Nearly two months later when dominating in the Florida Derby by four and one-quarter lengths, Tiz the Law earned a 112 figure, then following nearly three more months off he earned a 113 figure winning the Belmont Stakes. Not only did Tiz the Law dominate and beat a total of 23 other horses in those three races by an average of three and one-half lengths, he never gave any other horse a chance to win in the last eighth of a mile. Putting those figures in perspective, they amount to a “triple advantage,” as the lowest of the three figures is higher than the best figure of any of the other seven horses in this race. With the ability to relax in second or third in the early stages of his races then find another gear to drive by the field and coast home, Tiz the Law is likely to win the Travers Stakes as easily as he has won his other three races this year and enter the gate for the Kentucky Derby as the first prohibitive favorite in many years.

That being said, it is not totally out of the realm of possibility either Caracaro or Country Grammer could post the upset to win the Travers. Three weeks ago in the Peter Pan Stakes run at the slightly shorter distance of one mile and one-eighth at Saratoga, Country Grammer and Caracaro engaged in a stirring stretch battle, with Caracaro securing the advantage by a head with an eighth of a mile to go and Country Grammer asserting himself on the finish line by that same margin. They both earned 95 figures for the race, which isn’t even in the same area code as the 113 figure Tiz the Law earned a few weeks earlier winning the Belmont Stakes. Still, both colts had run better prior to that and have the breeding to run even better at this mile and one-quarter distance. Caracaro improved to a 103 figure in January in only the second start of his career, an 11 point improvement off his debut. As such, having been off from January until the Peter Pan six months later, improving another 11 points off the 95 figure effort puts him in line with the 117 figure effort Tiz the Law put forth in his best this year. Country Grammer had been off for three months before his June 4 prep for the Peter Pan in which he finished third with a 98 figure and he too could leap frog past that previous best to have a big say in the outcome of the Travers.

Although I would make a WIN BET on Caracaro or Country Grammer at odds of 4 to 1 or more, that’s not the main play to make money in this race.

The key to making any money at all in this race is trying to make more wagering exactas or trifectas using Tiz the Law on top compared to betting him to win.

Here are my plays to do just that, using Tiz the Law on top then using both Caracaro and Country Grammer in either second, or third, with a few others in the open slot:

Tiz the Law over Country Grammer and Caracaro over Country Grammer, Uncle Chuck, Shivaree, Caracaro and South Bend.

Tiz the Law over Country Grammer, Uncle Chuck, Shivaree, Caracaro and South Bend over Country Grammer and Caracaro.

Tiz the Law over Country Grammer and Caracaro over ALL.

Tiz the Law over ALL over Country Grammer and Caracaro.

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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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