Saratoga Wednesday: Honorable Miss Picks and Analysis

Chris Adams

The Grade 2 Honorable Miss will be run on Wednesday at Saratoga. It is the first of 4 graded stakes races from “The Spa” this week.

Saratoga Outlook

Once again NYRA will be praying to mother nature to keep this weekend fast and firm. As it stands right now there is rain in the forecast for Tuesday afternoon, Thursday into Friday, and midday Sunday.

Depending on the timing and severity of the rainfall, the track conditions and complexion of the races could change dramatically between now and post time.

Stakes Races

This weekend features a total of 8 stakes races. There are 7 stakes for thoroughbreds and 1 over the hurdles. Four of the 7 thoroughbred stakes races carry a grade with them.


  • Honorable Miss Stakes (Grade 2)
  • Cab Calloway New York Stallion Series Stakes


  • A.P. Smithwick Memorial Stakes (Grade 1-Turf Steeplechase)
  • John Morrissey Stakes


  • Curlin Stakes


  • Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (Grade 1)
  • Bowling Green Stakes (Grade 2-Turf)
  • Jim Dandy Stakes (Grade 2)


  • Amsterdam Stakes (Grade 2)

Wednesday Saratoga Analysis and Selections

The following selections were made under the assumption that the track will be fast and firm. Horses are listed in order of preference. If a horse scratches out, the next horse in the picks can be elevated to the next position.

Race 1

Post Time: 1:05 PM ET; $75k Jonathan Kiser Novice S., 2 1/16 Mile Hurdle; Runners: 7

One of the most important aspects of any handicappers games is knowing what you are good at and what you do not know. Admittedly my only exposure to steeplechase is the first race at Saratoga throughout the meet. Players who know far more about it than I do recommended a couple tips for someone new to steeplechase.

  1. Look for the horse in the best form.
  2. Find horses with the best breeding.
  3. Check for jockeys who have successfully ridden the horse before.
  • Selections: 6-5-7

Race 2

Post Time: 1:38 PM ET; $66k Claiming, 6 Furlongs on Dirt; Runners: 6

#2 Yodel E. A. Who comes into the race as the slight favorite. However, all but one runner in the field are within 3 odds points of each other indicating that the race is wide open. On paper everyone looks like they prefer stalking trips which clouds the early pace. Along with the favorite, only #5 Rejected Again has ever won in wire to wire fashion, but that was a while ago.

Assuming the #5 takes the lead and the rest stalk the pace. It seems like any of the stalkers could get there. This includes the favored #2, #4 Rocking the Boat, #6 Clench, and #1 Fox Red. If the pace gets hot up front the race could set up for #3 Madison’s Luna.

Since this will be the first dirt race of the day, players will want to have lots of coverage in this race as there will be no way of knowing how the track is playing.

  • Selections: 2-4-6-1-3 (Wide Open Race)

Race 3

Post Time: 2:15 PM ET; $150k NY Stallion Series S., 1 Mile on Inner Turf; Runners: 9

This race is part of a series of races which require the horses to have sires standing in New York. This race brought together a field of 9 competitors with plenty of flaws to go around. My top selection in the race is the #4 Ocala Dream who beat some of the toughest in here last out. This horse could just be reaching the top of his potential.

Not far behind on the morning line is #6 Step Dancer who is also a logical horse to turn the tables this time out. The #8 Barrage is another top contender, but the outside post may present a challenge with so many stalkers in the group. That won’t be an issue for long shot #2 It’s Gravy who also has shown the ability to be forwardly placed and could be a factor in the number.

  • Selections: 4-6-8-2 (Live Longshot: #2)

Race 4

Post Time: 2:49 PM ET; $45k Claiming, 7 Furlongs on Dirt; Runners: 9

The morning line favorite is #6 Quasar. While he is a deserving favorite he doesn’t have a win in more than 10 starts. He switches to a new barn and gets the top jock at Saratoga, but can he break through here?

I will use him defensively, but I will take a chance against with a long shot in #9 Air Cavalry. Jose Ortiz has been riding aggressively and maybe this one has a chance to steal on the front end. #2 Hollywood Gina is still lightly raced compared to these and is another one in with a big shot against these types.

Some interesting underneath players include the #4 Sweet Larissa. Her form and pace leave something to be desired but if she can find her number from 2 back she could pop here at a price. Rounding out the top picks is the #5 in Miss Alex. With horses around this 8-1 price I always like to watch the board and see if they take any juice on the tote.

  • Selections: 9-6-2-4-5 (Live Long Shot: #4)

Race 5

Post Time: 3:21 PM ET; $85k Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/16 Miles on Turf; Runners: 14

This race presents an interesting challenge as handicappers will often look for horses with experience over those with none. The problem here is that everyone is trying something new for the first time except for the Main Track Only entered #13 Bointheback and #14 Spettro.

With very little else to go on, I will be watching the tote board on #3 Timbuktu. To be named the favorite on the morning line, this horse must be getting some backside buzz. If he sits chilly when betting opens, he might be best to move off of.

Two players who come in with some big upside are the #4 Resilient Courage and #7 Heart of Savino. The former will be making his 2nd start which can often lead to big jumps forward. Heart of Savino boasts the highest breeding ratings for the horses in this race. This angle can often lead to big upsets in these 2 year old races.

  • Selections: 13-3-4-14-7 (Wide Open Race)

Race 6

Post Time: 3:55 PM ET; $100k Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/8 Miles on Dirt; Runners: 9

#6 Cody’s Wish ran a great figure on debut and sports the royal blue silks of the hottest ownership group in the United States, Godolphin. While Mott is often known for having horses improve in their 2nd start, a jump would be required to match some of the others in here.

#2 Absolute Courage makes his 4th start for “Shug” McGaughey . His trainer is notorious for letting the horses improve at their own pace so this one could be ready to improve now. If he does he may be unbeatable on the front end.

Luis Saez will hop on the #1 I Am The Law. The horse did his best running when sitting closer and the new jock should have him there again.

  • Selections: 2-6-1-9-3

Race 7

Post Time: 4:29 PM ET; $110k Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 Miles on Inner Turf; Runners: 9

This race goes through #6 Tamahere. If she doesn’t fire #5 Passing Out may get the same perfect trip.

#1 Foxtail is a man track only and has to be respected if the race gets moved to the Saratoga dirt.

  • Selections: 6-5-1-2-8

Race 8

Post Time: 5:05 PM ET; $103k Allowance, 5 1/2 Furlongs on Turf; Runners: 15

Races that have 15 entries are always difficult to handicap in advance. The #9, #13, #14, and #15 will only run if the race switches to the main track. In that case there would be a number of scratches. With so many unknowns the best idea for a handicapper is to start with an idea, but be ready to pivot after scratches.

My top selection is #3 Big Package. If it weren’t for his come from behind running style in a turf sprint, he would be a lock in this field. Other contenders who will be closer to the pace are #4 Yes and Yes and #10 Unitedandresolute.

  • Selections: 3-4-13-10-15 (Best Bet: #3)

Race 9

Post Time: 5:39 PM ET; $200k Honorable Miss H., 6 Furlongs on Dirt; Runners: 9

The marquee race on the Saratoga card looks on paper to be a really competitive event. With that in mind I am taking the sampler approach.

#4 Lake Avenue could be in a great stalking position and will top my tickets. If the pace collapses #9 Bell’s the One is the one I want and if speed is holding I want #3 Sadie Lady on my side at a nice price.

Between these three I feel I have a majority of pace scenarios covered and feel good about moving on in horizontal wagers.

  • Selections: 4-9-3-1-6

Race 10

Post Time: 6:13 PM ET; $50k Maiden Claiming, 1 1/16 Miles on Turf; Runners: 16

A packed field of 16 is entered here but will be cut down to no more than 12 by race time. If the races get moved off the Saratoga turf then the MTO’s look to have the race in the bag. However, the race stays on grass this is a wide open and difficult affair.

I landed on the #6 Prayer Book and # 10 Bunker Hill as my top selections. Both runners are dropping out of Maiden Special Weight and into easier company here.

#3 Caribbean Gold likes to run on the front end and with proven losers sometimes you can win by default when no horse wants to pass. Rounding out my selections is #5 Centurion. Cancel has had this horse close in his last three and maybe today is the day.

  • Selections: 16-14-6-10-3-5

More From Saratoga

To watch the action live from Saratoga on Wednesday and through the weekend, check local listings for Saratoga Live on the Fox family of networks.

Betting News will continue to cover the Saratoga meeting including picks and analysis on Saturday’s card featuring 3 graded stakes races.

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