HANDICAP RECAP: With the lone exception of Knicks Go’s ($4.20) front-end, dominating performance in The Whitney, the week was not kind to Mr. Ed. The fickle gods of racing will do that. Just when I was beginning to hit my stride last week, two days knocked the wind out of my selection sails … Sunday’s highlights included a Jose Ortiz riding triple and another stakes win by out-of-towner Favien Prat in the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational aboard #5 Con Lima ($8.10) for newly minted Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher. Look for Prat to return before meet’s end … Mr. Ed got excited when he had the first three legs of the Late Pick 4, only to be grounded by #2 Danzigwiththestars ($23.80). The average Win ticket, inflated by a $75 bomb, returned $15.90. The $0.50 Pick 5 paid $21,495 (no one went 6-for-6 in the Pick 6, so we have a carryover of $187,640 on Wednesday).
MONEY MATTERS: It’s never fun to lose money, but I (for one) am enjoying the challenges of an initial foray into public handicapping here for VSiN. As the immortal NY Yankee, All Star catcher once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” … As Mr. Ed reaches the half-way meet milepost (today is Day 20 of 40), there are a few things I’ve learned by watching: For instance, over the past 10 days, ace jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has been struggling mightily to find the Winner’s Circle, while talented Luis Saez continues to have the meet of a lifetime; Trainer Michael Maker surprisingly is getting the most out of his low-key barn; chalky daily Win prices reflect the combined wagering sophistication of Saratoga fans, whether at the track, at an OTB or by computer/Internet resources … The 19-day bottom line: Mr. Ed has posted wagers (after scratches) of $1,392 and cashed tickets totaling $1,017, for net loss of $375. Broken down further, the average per-day handle was (about) $73. The average per-day return was (about) $53 … In even simpler terms, had you wagered cash on all of my posted plays (as I have), you would have lost $20 a day, or the equivalent of, in today’s inflated economy: a large, home-delivered pizza (including tip); two Tuesday matinee movie tickets or an official Saratoga baseball cap, of which, Mr. Ed has several. A small price to play.
BETTOR DAYS AHEAD: At the start of the meet my goal was to (1) entertain VSiN readers, (2) inform bettors and (3) return a reasonable profit. Mr. Ed’s pledge to you: starting today, for the next 21 racing cards, I promise to work harder on No. 3, while not abandoning Nos. 1 & 2. Be patient, folks. Mr. Ed, try as he may, hasn’t yet begun sharing winners — and isn’t cashing tickets what it’s all about!
JOCKEYS & TRAINERS: As the meet nears the half-way mark, Luis Saez (35 wins) has opened up a seven-victory margin over Jose Ortiz (28) with brother Irad (26) in third place. Note: West Coast invader Flavien Prat garnered three wins from only eight starts over the weekend … In the contest for leading trainer, Michael Maker (16) tops Chad Brown (14), Todd Pletcher (11) and Steve Asmussen (11). Mr. Ed would be surprised if both rankings don’t change between now and Labor Day.
WEDNESDAY AT THE SPA: Two minor stakes highlight today’s 10-race card: Race No. 3, the $100,000 Evan Shipman Handicap, a route for NY breds, and Race No. 9, the $120,000 Mahony, a turf sprint for 3-year-olds … Mandaloun, a 3-year-old standout, has a sore foot and will be sidelined until early next year, according to DRF … Mr. Ed starts today’s wagering with a traditional …
DAILY DOUBLE (Race Nos. 1 & 2, 1:05 p.m.ET/10:05 a.m. PT)
Experience in maiden contests counts, so I’ll start with #5 Castle Leoch (3-1 morning line) for Wesley Ward and parlay him with #1 Extra Effort (2-1) for Rob Atras. Wager: $6 Daily Double of 5 & 1. ($6)
BEST BET (Race No. 3, 2:15 p.m. ET/11:15 a.m. PT)
Winner of nearly $1.4 million, #2 Mr. Buff (7-5 morning line) is a short-priced standout among these. Mr. Ed will bet the money and count on fresh gelding to get the job done. Wager: $20 to Win on 2. ($20)
EXACTA EXTRA (Race No. 4, 2:49 p.m. ET/11:49 a.m. PT)
Take these three: #4 Gotta Go Mo (7-5 morning line), #6 Secure Connection (6-1); and #8 Too Sexy (4-1). Head directly to the cashier’s window. Don’t pass Go. Wager: $5 Exacta Box of 4,6 & 8. ($30)
PRICE PLAY (Race No. 7, 4:29 p.m. ET/1:29 p.m. PT)
Due-for-a-winner trainer Brian Lynch sends out late-blooming 3-year-old filly #11 Town Avenger (7-2 morning line). Stretch out suits her. Javier Castellano rides. Wager: $10 to Win & Place on 11. ($20)
$1 LATE PICK 4 (Race Nos. 7-10, 4:29 p.m. ET/1:29 p.m. PT)
Race 7: 2,6,10,11
Race 8: 2
Race 9: 1,4,7
Race 10: 4,10 ($24)
TOTAL WAGERS: $100