WEEKEND REVIEW: Mr. Ed salutes Malathaat for easily romping home to capture the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes on Saturday. It was a wonderful win against a solid field of 3-year-old gals. But any talk of her running against the boys this fall is pure folly. I saw Rachel Alexander, Zenyatta, Rags to Riches, Genuine Risk and Winning Colors all race and win vs. males, but Essential Quality could spot Malathaat 10 lengths — and still beat her by a furlong. Forgetaboutit! … Wet weather continued to dominate wagering action at the Spa with numerous scratches and surface changes reducing field sizes — and subsequently payoffs. On Sunday, the average Win ticket paid $7.10, less than 2-1 odds. The $1 Pick 6 returned an undersized $3,286.
MONEY MATTER$: Time to face the music — and the underwater tune is not a joyful one. After 29 days of floundering, Mr. Ed has grown tired of swimming, not sleeping yet, with the fishes. The ledger shows $2,153 in wagers and $1,527 in cashed tickets for a net loss of $626. The numbers equate to a daily loss of $21.59. On a wagering average of (about) $100 a day, that might be a somewhat reasonable loss. But, the combination of making my VSiN selections nearly a day prior to post time and unpredictable weather disrupting track conditions and fields — my daily wagers are averaging below an estimated $62. So, losing close to 1/3 of my bankroll each day is unacceptable … Where does Mr. Ed go from here? I’ll be right here at VSiN calling on all my handicapping capabilities to generate a profit not only for the final 11 days but for the entire meet. I’ve done it before elsewhere — and I fully intend to do it again, right here and now.
TRAINERS: With 11 racing days remaining between now and Labor Day closing, only the partners in the imaginary law firm of Maker, Brown & Pletcher have a legitimate chance at capturing the trainer title. Michael Maker, with 23 wins and $1.7 million in earnings, continues atop the standings, followed closely by Chad Brown (22/$2.3 million) and Todd Pletcher (21/$2.2 million) Note: The ceremonial trainer title is determined by total wins without regard for purse money won … Reliable backstretch source says Brown barn is loaded up for big stretch run.
JOCKEYS: Thus far, resourceful Luis Saez, with 49 wins and $4.1 million in purse money, is putting on a one-man riding clinic for his competitors. The secret to his elevated success may be popular former trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who took over as Saez’s agent in 2019. Since joining forces, Saez has been riding superior horses with renewed confidence … Trailing Saez are Bros. Ortiz — Jose (39/$3.5 million) & Irad Jr. (36/$3.5 million). See daily Irad Index below … While also out of title contention, two other riders merit kudos from Mr. Ed. Neither young Tyler Gaffalione (28/$2.4 million) nor aggressive Ricardo Santana (21/$2 million) belong to the high-quality, year-round NYRA jockey colony — yet are earning high marks for their ability to compete against the very best at the very best venue. Once the meet is over, Gaffalione is expected to return to South Florida and Santana to Kentucky-Arkansas where they regularly capture riding titles in their respective regions.
IRAD INDEX: Say what you will about premiere rider’s subpar performance thus far at Spa, Irad Ortiz Jr. sure knows how to bring home the Canadian bacon. Sunday, north of the border at Woodbine, he won the $1 million Queen’s Plate aboard Safe Conduct ($8). Rounding out the profitable payday he also had a Place and two Show finishes … Since I began scoring his performance at the Spa, his record is four wins from 22 starts with for a loss of $22.40 based on a $2 Win bet on each of his mounts … Before scratches and changes, he has mounts in nine of 10 races on today’s program … Mr. Ed believes his successful Canadian expedition will be the spark that reignites Irad’s return to winning ways at Saratoga. Stay tuned.
WEDNESDAY AT THE SPA: The $200,000 John’s Call Stakes (Race No. 9, 5:39 p.m. ET/2:39 p.m. PT) highlights a challenging Wednesday card kicking off Travers Week (see more below) … First post is 1:05 p.m. ET/10:05 a.m. PT. Mr. Ed’s selections:
EXACTA EXTRA (Race No. 2, 1:41 p.m. ET/10:41 a.m. PT)
The key is #2 Casala (6-1 morning line) for trainer Peter Walder, who ships up from Gulfstream and attracts top rider Luis Saez. Look for improved efforts from either/or #1 Extreme Force (4-1) and #3 Quick Return (2-1) to complete the deal. Wager: $2 Exacta Box 1,2 & 3. ($12)
BEST BET (Race No. 5, 3:21 p.m. ET/12:21 p.m. PT)
If race stays on turf, #1 Digital Future (6-5 morning line) towers over group of underachieving 3-year-old maidens. Chad Brown retains Irad Ortiz Jr. to guide turf sprinter to victory. Mr. Ed sees score in future. Wager: $20 to Win on 1. ($20)
$0.50 LATE PICK 4 (Race No. 7, 4:29 p.m. ET/1:29 p.m. PT)
Race 7: 3,5,6,7
Race 8: 4,5,7
Race 9: 3,4,8
Race 10: 5,11,14 ($54)
PRICE PLAY (Race No. 8, 5:05 p.m. ET/2:05 p.m. PT)
Kelly Breen sends improving #7 Top Gun Tommy (4-1 morning line), son of Mineshaft, out in starter allowance route. Meet’s top young rider Tyler Gaffalione takes reins. He’ll have Tommy gunning from the get-go. Wager: $10 to Win & Place on 7. ($20)
SPECIAL DAILY DOUBLES (Races Nos. 8-9) 5:05 p.m. ET/2:05 p.m. PT)
$10 Daily Double: #7 Top Gun Tommy (4-1 morning line) in first race with #8 Serve the King (3-1) in second leg. Also, $5 Daily Double: #4 Hombrazo (7-2) & #5 Winter Pool (2-1) in first race and #8 Serve the King in second leg. Wager: $10 & $5 Daily Doubles. ($20)
TOTAL WAGERS: $126
THIS & THAT: A tip of Mr. Ed’s red Saratoga cap to talented, fellow public handicapper Nick Tammaro for being named track announcer at Sam Houston Race Park. Bravo! … Spa leading jockey, Luis Saez, who is listed to ride 10 races here on Friday, plans to hop a flight to West Virginia that evening, ride Art Collector in the $800,000 Charles Town Classic — and be back at Spa in plenty of time to pilot prohibitive favorite Essential Quality in the $1.25 million Travers, according to the Daily Racing Form.
TRAVERS WEEK: In addition to the John’s Call today, there are 15, count ‘em 15, more stakes at the Spa between now and Sunday: the Riskaverse on Thursday, followed by six on Friday, seven on Saturday (Travers Day) and one on Sunday.