Race 1: $25k Claiming N2L, 5 ½ furlongs, 3&up, Fillies and Mares
The first race of the day seems like a good opportunity to take down a morning line favorite in the shape of 2-Flying Sappho (2/1), a seven year old mare by A. P. Jet that missed by a neck in her last start at Belmont Park. Flying Sappho can run a solid race on occasion and has a decent amount of tactical speed in her corner but she is a brutal 31-1-6-5 in her career. It's a tough ask to back a 1-for-31 mare at 2/1.
I found my upset play in this spot with 9-Pea Stone (12/1), a four year old daughter of Smart Strike. Pea Stone's PP lines are fairly volatile over the last ten races of her career, however, when you filter out some of the noise her merits begin to stand out. First, I think we can draw a line through her last three dirt races, two of which were scheduled for the lawn but switched to the main track. If you gray out those three races, her form looks much, much better. Second, her last race, a $25k conditioned claimer, has seen the winner and the show horse win at next asking. Hey Babe took down an open company $40k claiming at Belmont on July 9th, while Loyal Shadow won against N2L $25k's on July 11th at Belmont. Third, her only attempt at running at 5 ½ furlongs on the lawn produced the best performance of her career, and it took place over this same turf course.
Race 2: N1X Allowance, 6 furlongs, 3&up, New York-bred
3-Strategic Move (3/1) won his last effort in gate-to-wire fashion but he displayed an ability to come from off the pace in his debut effort last October and he'll probably need to use that running style in this race. His last two races have been extremely solid and if he runs to that level in this spot he'd be tough to beat.Race 4: Maiden Special Weight, 6 ½ furlongs, 3&up, Fillies and Mares, New York-bred
I was surprised to see 10-Dixie Rocks (6/1) so low on the morning line as her sire, Rock Hard Ten, hasn't seen too many first time winners and this filly has a glaring gap in her morning work tab from July 20th to August 2nd. It seems highly doubtful that Dixie Rocks is ready to win at first asking.
6-She's an Outlaw (15/1) has the ability to run a decent first quarter mile, something that is absent from many of the fillies in this race. If she can grab an easy lead, the Finger Lakes shipper might be able to score a nice upset at generous odds. A razor-sharp work at Finger Lakes on Sunday indicates she is ready to fire out of the gate.
Race 6: $25k Maiden Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs (Turf), 3&up
Jockey Julien Leparoux has won thirteen races at the current Saratoga meet, ten of which have been on the lawn. 3-Humilarity (10/1) has excellent gate speed, is and is by a sire (Distorted Humor) that has produced some decent runners on the lawn. There's a bit of concern with Zito first timers on the lawn as he's only 1-for-81 with that move over the last five years. A win bet might be too much of a hurdle but perhaps this colt can hold on for a top three finish.
There is a good amount of speed in this turf dash which should create a perfect set-up for Wesley Ward's 4-Mission Mike Clark (3/1), a second time starter by North Light (IRE) out of a Gilded Time mare. Coa is in the irons and....ah, good lord, you would think I'd have learned my lesson by now with Coa. I suppose I'm just a glutton for punishment, but I'm going to go with Mission Mike Clark to win and pray that Coa doesn't once again drive me towards a bottle of scotch.