Spa selections 2018: Saratoga August 25

by | Aug 24, 2018 | Breaking, Handicapping

Pret Say Eye

Pret Say Eye was antsy early, strong late for trainer Lacey Gaudet (left) at Saratoga in 2016. Photo by Teresa Genaro.

by Joseph Aiello

In Spa Selections, Saratoga on-site correspondent Joseph Aiello provides picks for a handful of key races at Saratoga, including all of the exciting stakes action on Travers Day!

Race 6 – Grade I H. Allen Jerkins Stakes

1. #8 Firenze Fire (5-2) – Dominant in the Grade III Dwyer last time against Mendelssohn, and will clearly prefer the shorter distance around one turn

2. #1 Promises Fulfilled (8-5) – Great in the Grade III Amsterdam a month ago, but might have trouble carrying similar fractions at this slightly longer distance

3. #7 Still Having Fun (6-1) – Engage may be a better play in the money, but this colt keeps Joel Rosario in the irons and is very dangerous at this distance and with some pace

Race 7 – Grade I Personal Ensign Stakes

1. #4 Wow Cat (4-1) – Gets her shot again at Farrell and her second try since being undefeated in Chile, and should get more pace to sit off of this time

2. #6 Elate (7-5) – Ran huge here last year in the Alabama, and despite losing to Abel Tasman last year, she should be clear of the front end speed that could dictate this race

3. #1 Abel Tasman (6-5) – Unlike She Takes Heart and Farrell, who will both likely try to get the lead early, this filly by Quality Road is just a bit more classy and versatile if things fall apart

Race 8 – Grade I Ketel One Ballerina Stakes

1. #2 Ivy Bell (5-1) – Has recently run well against Farrell and Abel Tasman, showing she can compete with some of the top fillies and will like the distance cut

2. #6 Lewis Bay (3-1) – Narrowly lost to Finley’sluckycharm three back, but is coming off a monster win and is a safe play in the money

3. #7 Marley’s Freedom (5-2) – This might be a race to consider long shots, most notably Still There who has won every try on the dirt, but Baffert sprinters with Mike Smith can’t be ignored

Race 9 – Grade I Forego Stakes

1. #3 Whitmore (4-1) – Some close losses by a neck to Limousine Liberal and Imperial Hint last time out means he is ready to pick up a win at the wire

2. #8 City of Light (9-5) – Distance was obviously an issue last time, so cutting back will make this likely favorite the top front-end speed in this race

3. #5 No Dozing (12-1) – Limousine Liberal is training well and will most likely come in the money, but still take this Delacour trainee if at a number

Race 10 – Grade I Sword Dancer Stakes

1. #6 Bigger Picture (8-1) – Good luck to anyone playing multi-race bets, as this race is nearly impossible; betting on jockeys at this distance is a good strategy with Irad riding this gelding

2. #3 Funtastic (9-2) – Unbelievable try last time in a Grade I, and with a bit more speed than Glorious Empire, Jose Ortiz could potentially take this colt wire to wire with good fractions

3. #4 Hi Happy (6-1) – Similar to Sadler’s Joy last year, this horse ran poorly in the Bowling Green, setting himself up for a bounce back effort in this race with John Velazquez

Race 11 – $1,250,000 Grade I Runhappy Travers Stakes

1. #3 Gronkowski (4-1) – Chad Brown has been winning everything this year, and with the top two entries in this race, he could add to his already impressive resume with this colt who might still be a bit green on the dirt, but was impressive enough in the Belmont that he should be involved here in the stretch

2. #9 Good Magic (2-1) – The other Brown trainee is the clear favorite and most likely, but Haskell winners have not fared well in the Travers in the past; still cannot leave him out of the mix in this wide-open race and will like the distance more than Tenfold

3. #5 Vino Rosso (10-1) – Could consider any number of longshot plays in exotics, but at good odds and likely to like the distance stretch more than others, play this Curlin colt over King Zachary, Wonder Gadot, and Bravazo since he seems very close to finally putting it all together

Race 12 – Grade II Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa

1. #1 A Raving Beauty (7-5) – Close to beating Sistercharlie in the Diana earlier this meet, keeps Irad Ortiz and is just a bit better than the others here

2. #5 Quidora (4-1) – Has her best chance of winning if she sits off of Hawksmoor rather than taking the lead early, then moving at the top of the stretch to hold off the closers at the wire

3. #3 Proctor’s Ledge (4-1) – In a bit better form than Off Limits who hasn’t been training particularly well, and with Hawksmoor likely to fade at the wire, take this closer to finish strong