An impressive first day card to kick off the 2010 meet at historic Saratoga Race Course in New York; seven of the ten races on the card drew ten or more horses to the entry box.
Entries: Saratoga Day 1 (July 23, 2010)
Let's jump right in and take a look at some of the races on the first day card.
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/16 miles (Turf), 3&up, Fillies & Mares
3-Kathern's Kitten is eligible to put up a much better performance in her second career start after having to slug through a sloppy and sealed track at Churchill Downs in a race taken off the lawn for her debut effort. Toss in the fact that she broke towards the inside leaving the starting gate and you've got a filly that should run much better today.
Trainer Michael Maker is solid with 1st time turfers over the last five years (16%, $1.40 ROI), but his numbers are a little less impressive when you isolate the population for three year old fillies (11%, $0.67 ROI). His fillies that run well in this spot usually take some action at the windows so if Kathern's Kitten is cold on the board I'll lean elsewhere.
Todd Pletcher's second time starter, 9-Holy Place (6/1), finished third in a MdSpWt at Belmont that saw the winner (Shirley She Can) come right back and post a win against N1X company at Delaware Park. There should be a bit more pace on the front end of this event and perhaps that will be enough to propel Holy Place to the win.
Race 5: Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile (Inner Turf), 3&up, New York-bred
I like a bit of a price in this spot in the 9-Beth's Kitten (8/1), a second time starter that had bit of a rough go of it in her debut effort against $50k Maiden Claimers at Churchill Downs. She'll get the blinkers today and, quite honestly, I think she's in a bit of a softer spot even though she's moving from a maiden claiming race to a maiden special. The switch to Julien Leparoux only makes her more attractive of a bet as Maker and Leparoux have been a good match the last five years (151-for-550, 27%, $2.11 ROI).
Race 7: Maiden Special Weight, 5 ½ furlongs, 2yo, Fillies
Anytime there is a Maiden Special Weight for juveniles at a big time meet (Saratoga, Del Mar, Keeneland), there is a possibility to seeing some really expensive horse flesh in the starting gate. The seventh race today contains several fillies that cost their owners a fairly large chunk of change.
1-Playing Pirates, a $325,000 purchase at the 2009 Keeneland September sale, didn't show much of anything in her debut effort at Churchill downs in early June, finishing ten lengths back of the winner. It's tough to get a read on her true talent level from that race due to the fact that she reared up at the start and gave the rest of the field about five lengths before she got going. A better start in this race would at least give her a fighting chance.
Trainer Chad Brown is only 3-for-46 with first time starters in Maiden Special Weights over the last five years (7%, $1.01 ROI); numbers like that make it difficult to get behind 2-Too Clever by Half (8/1) with any enthusiasm.
The Pletcher/Velazquez filly, 8-With the Current (5/1), goes off for a trainer that does well with juveniles and a jockey that has done a lot of winning for the barn. My concern with this filly, however, is the gap between her workout at Monmouth on May 9th and the next morning move on June 16th at Saratgoa. It appears to me that this filly might have had some type of minor injury that caused her to miss a bit of training time. With the Current has worked well since returning to the track in mid-June but I wonder if she's a bit behind in terms of fitness.
Race 9: Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes, 6 furlongs, 2yo, Fillies
The feature race on the opening day card probably isn't a spot to bring home a huge chunk of change, but it is a good spot to watch some very talented juvenile fillies compete.
The Schuylerville isn't just filled with a bunch of juvenile fillies that are coming right out of the maiden ranks; it's filled with fillies that blew away the competition in the maiden ranks. 1a-Final Mesa (2/1) is the queen of this field after winning the first three starts of her career by 7 ½, 4 ¾, and 7 ¾ lengths, respectively. In her last race, the listed My Dear stakes at Woodbine, she simply destroyed the field after cruising through the opening fractions. She is a much deserved morning line favorite.
The Richard Dutrow trained 3-Le Mi Geaux (6/1) doesn't have the speed figures of many of the fillies in this race but she was flying out of the gate in her last start at Churchill Downs en route to a 7 ¼ length maiden breaking score. Not only did she win that race after dueling with the 3/5 favorite through an opening quarter of 21.85, but she looked a bit green in the stretch which indicates to me that this filly still has some room to improve going forward. I don't know that she'll improve enough to make sense as a win bet in this race, but I think she's a worthwhile play in the exotics.