HANDICAP RECAP: Even perfect weather & track conditions couldn’t keep the racing gods from decimating Mr. Ed’s VSiN selections (which were made Friday afternoon). After scratches, the total amount of my wagers was cut in half from $136 to $70 … In Race 1, hat’s off to trainer-Fox TV analyst Tom Amoss who’s #3 Kevin’s Folly paid a generous $16.40 in winning debut … With most days showing an average Win payout of less than $10, it was only a matter of time before the bombs went off, i.e. Race 2 winner #4 Gateway Guardian returned $49.40. Early $2 3-4 Daily Double: $340 … A $17.60 Race 4 Win payoff for #6 Noble Conquest (Mr. Ed’s $5 WPS Price Play) helped set up a whopping $7,095 Pick 5 on a $0.50 ticket. Do you believe in miracles! … By far the biggest upset of the day occurred in Race 8, the Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap, when super-longshot #1 Lexitonian prevailed in stretch, paying $70 for $2 … Louis Saez got #5 Essential Quality up at the wire to capture the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at 1-5, punching his ticket to the $1.25 million Travers in four weeks … The day’s average Win ticket returned $20.27 … The $1 Pick 6 (Races 6-11), with a mixed bag of chalk and longshots, paid $149,038.50 for a dollar!
RIDERS, TRAINERS & SUNDAY AT THE SPA: Luis Saez (23 wins) and The Brothers Ortiz, Jose (22) & Irad Jr. (20), after two wins each on Saturday, lead the jockey standings … Conditioner Michael Maker (12), by capturing the final two races, continues to lead all trainers … Steve Asmussen (9,437), with runners in Races 3,9 & 10, enters the day within six victories of becoming the winningest trainer ever … The Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam (Race 9), a sprint for 3-year-olds, including favorites #2 Drain the Clock & #3 Jackie’s Warrior, highlights the 10-race card … While not in the current forecast, afternoon showers are always a possibility … Mr. Ed offers $117 of action, beginning with …
$1 SPECIAL PICK 3 (Races Nos. 1-3, 1:05 p.m. ET/10:05 a.m. PT)
Here’s an early chance to pad the bankroll
Race 1: 2,5
Race 2: 1,6
Race 3: 1,3,7 ($12)
BEST BET (Race No. 5, 3:21 p.m. ET, 12:21 p.m. PT)
Trainer-of-year Brad Cox teams up with Manny Franco for debut of #1 Whittington Park (7-2 morning line). Steady works point to big early effort in New York-bred sprint. Wager: $10 to Win & Place on #1. ($20)
EXACTA EXTRA (Race No. 6, 3:55 p.m. ET/12:55 p.m. PT)
Mr. Ed likes this quartet to play a winning tune: #1 New York Girl (5-2 morning line), #4 Sun Summers (8-1), #5 Miss Teheran (7-2) and #10 Amniarix (5-1). Wager: $1 Exacta Box on 1,4,5 &10 ($12)
$0.50 LATE PICK 4 (Race Nos. 7-10, 4:29 p.m. ET, 1:29 p.m. PT)
Race 7: ALL (1,2,3,4,5,6,7)
Race 8: 6,10,11
Race 9: 1,2,6
Race 10: 1,5 (cost $63)
PRICE PLAY (Race No. 9, 5:39 p.m. ET/2:39 p.m. PT)
Upstate conditioner Jeremiah Englehart sends out undefeated, late-blooming #1 River Dog (6-1 morning line) vs. top 3-year-old sprinters in Grade 2 Amsterdam. Jose Ortiz gets job done from just off pace. Wager: $5 to Win & Place on #1. ($10)
TOTAL WAGERS: $117
ASK MR. ED: If you had to sum up your approach to handicapping in one word, what would it be? CHANGE. To me horseplaying is a challenging game of finding variables and using them to identify potential winners. Here are some changes I look for (in no particular order) when attacking the past performances: rider, trainer, distance, surface, race conditions, track, ownership, restrictions, class, equipment, morning line, tote board (including probable daily double payoffs), travel, medications, trends — and changes of mind (intuition).
STAYING IN SARATOGA SPRINGS: During the day, the track is a great melting pot of regional cultures. Many day-trippers are from New York City (sporting Yankee & Mets shirts and hats), Boston (Patriots & Brady gear) & Albany (rabid hockey fans) — even Canada … Those who overnight from outside those cities have a wide variety, yet expensive, choice of accommodations. For the really deep-pocketed Spa visitor, rental homes are available for the entire meet. Houses within walking distance of the track might begin around $40,000 for the eight weeks … Some local residents I know pay their entire annual mortgage by staying with local friends and leasing their own property … Within five miles of the track, you’ll pay less -- but add expense of transportation and daily parking … A typical weekly rental price for a 4-bedroom house will run in $5K-$8K range … Hotels, depending on availability, cost about $350/night during the week, probably sold out months in advance at $500/night Friday or Saturday … Twenty years ago Mr. Ed rented a room in a private home for $250/week. Now? … The bottom line: The price of housing close to or in Saratoga Springs could exceed the amount of your gambling bankroll. Trust me, folks, it costs an arm and a hoof.