Saratoga meet preview
Editor’s Note: VSiN handicapper Ed Sehon, aka Mr. Ed (a regular contributor to Team Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes every Saturday), is a recovering journalist, a recreational sports gambler and a life-long horseplayer. A veteran of annual visits to Saratoga Race Course since 1981, he resides in Winston-Salem, N.C., with his wife and two feline freeloaders, J.J. and Texas Pete.
JOY TO THE RACING WORLD: Beginning today, join me as I eagerly anticipate the next six weeks of thoroughbred action at Saratoga Race Course. While racing will be conducted Wednesday-Sunday each week, after today’s opening card, I’ll be posting my top selections here on VSiN.com/horse-racing/ every Friday and Saturday, concluding with special get-out-of-town-money posts on Sunday, Sept. 3, and Labor Day/Monday, Sept. 4. Each day’s selections and suggested wagers, highlighted by a PLAY OF THE DAY and a multi-race bet, would cost a player somewhere in the $100-$200 range (or adjust for your own bankroll).
HORSES WORTH WATCHING (in no particular order): Sugar Treat, Wine on Tap, Closing Act, Cody’s Wish, Forte, National Treasure, Maple Leaf Mel, Far Bridge, Next, Disarm, Extra Anejo, Echo Zulu, Clairiere, Casa Creed, Battle of Normandy, Tapit Trice, Charge It, West Will Power, Search Results, Mage, Arcangelo, Taxed, Modern Games, In Italian and Caravel.
TOP TRAINERS: While the competition among many of the nation’s elite conditioners will be fierce as always, I believe several barns merit player attention: Chad Brown, Brad Cox, Bill Mott, Todd Pletcher, Linda Rice, Steve Asmussen and Christophe Clement. Other stables I’ll be watching include those of upstart Ray Handal, NYer Jeremiah Englehart, sharp Danny Gargan and local fan favorite David Donk.
HOT JOCKS: Count on standout brothers Ortiz (Irad and Jose) to continue their sibling rivalry for meet supremacy. Others I’ll be betting include perennial stalwarts Javiar Castellano, Johnny Velazquez, Joel Rosario, Tyler Gaffalione and Luis Saez, who returns to the Spa after primarily riding in Kentucky last summer. Meanwhile, Manny Franco, Flavien Prat and youngster Katie Davis are my personal favorites and should receive special attention.
WHAT MR. ED KNOWS: Aggressive ticket-punching during the first dozen race days can severely cripple one’s bankroll. As Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by watching.” Early on, I suggest players watch, learn and make notes … In past Spa seasons, I’ve concentrated on turning a profit. This year I’ll focus more on picking and posting winners (cashing tickets), regardless of odds … If I post enough winners, profits will follow … In addition to studying DRF Past Performances, Mr. Ed’s daily homework regimen includes: listening to Steve Byk’s “Day at the Races;” watching Capital OTB’s “Handicappers’ Report,” hosted by Seth Morrow direct from the Spa backstretch and enjoying Andy Serling on NYRA’s “Talking Horses.” … When Saratoga ends, the NFL returns …. And remember, folks, a rainy day at the Spa beats a sun bath anywhere else.
ON TAP THURSDAY: The Grade 3, $175,000 Schuylerville Stakes (Race 9) for 2-year-old fillies headlines the 10-race opening-day card. With 11 promising young gals entered in the 6-furlong sprint. I’ll pass this one in favor of these top selections:
Mr. Ed's Best Bets on Thursday's opening day
Race No. 1 (1:10 p.m. ET/10:10 a.m. PT)
MR. ED’S PLAY OF THE DAY: Superior trainer Chad Brown sends out #1 VIRTUAL REALITY (3-1 morning line) in mile-and-an-eighth test for 3-year-old fillies. Making her second start following debut sprint score at Belmont, expensive daughter of Cloud Computing should sit a perfect trip from inside post. Manny Franco and recent fast work enhance appeal. Superstar in the making. Wager: $10 to Win on 1 and box her in $5 Exactas with 5 and 6. ($20)
Photo by Ed Sehon
Race No. 3 (2:20 p.m. ET/11:20 a.m. PT)
Deep closer #9 LINARITE (5-1 morning line) is my choice. Well-bred 4-year-old filly has necessary late kick to track down early speeders in turf sprint. Under-rated trainer David Donk retains Belmont leading rider Jose Ortiz to repeat recent victory. Wager: $5 to Win and Place. ($10)
Races Nos. 6-8 (4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT)
Mr. Ed likes a $1 Pick 3
Race 6: 4,7,12
Race 7: 5,8,9,10
Race 8: 2,4,6,12 ($48)
Race 8 (5:10 p.m. ET/2:10 p.m. PT)
I like #2 BORN A GAMBLER (6-1 morning line). Trained by always-loaded Michael Maker and ridden again by Manny Franco, ultra-consistent 4-year-old looks to repeat winning effort in classy starter allowance. Gelding sports a string of excellent morning drills. He’ll be charging down the lane as he cuts back to mile on turf. Mr. Ed willing to take a shot here. Wager: $5 Win, Place and Show ($15)
TOTAL WAGERS: $93