The first weekend of the Saratoga racing 2018 season continues, and today’s main race is a turf route for fillies, the Diana Grade 1 Stake.
A few European imports take on the local stock but thankfully, every horse in the field has some American experience which makes the handicapping easier.
We have few horses with early speed so the classier horses with come from behind style will have to work hard in the stretch.
Most of the field has won well in Grade 1 company so this is a pretty evenly matched class group even if recent races might obscure that.
There is hidden value in some horses and there are interesting plays to make on horses likely to be disregarded by the betting public.
Number 1, SISTERCHARLIE has made a bit of an impression since moving to the USA from Europe last year. She came very close twice in Graded stakes company and won a Grade 1 earlier this year. In her last race, she beat two horses who went on to do ok at G2 and G3 level. SUSTERCHARLIE had a pretty easy trip in that race and surely benefited from the very hot pace. For these reasons, the near win is not so impressive. The workout pattern is about similar to the one in her G1 win so that’s encouraging however. Distance is not a problem for her so she us certainly a threat but at these odds, not necessarily a good bet.
Number 2 PROCTOR’S LEDGE is unbeaten at the Saratoga Race Track and has won at this distance too. The wins were at the Grade 2 and Grade 3 stakes levels however and so far she has not been able to claim a victory at the very top of the racing class system. PROCTOR’S LEDGE was beaten by today’s A Raving Beauty and was trading blows with her all the way in their last race. They stayed close to the pace (which was mild) and that might be a benefitting strategy today again. PROCTOR’S LEDGE had a slightly easier trip on the inside but might have been hindered a bit in the stretch. Based off that race, I would say that the two are about equal in talent and on the lifetime record PROCTOR’S LEDGE would get the nod. The price should be pretty good on PROCTOR’S LEDGE comparatively, she gets one of the best jockeys on the Saratoga turf and the workouts are good too. I like her chances.
Number 3, NEW MONEY HONEY has some early speed, so we can expect her to go to the front early. She has won on the distance, pressing the pace, and has won at the Grade 1 level last year. She comes up in class and that might throw some people off the scent but those who look a bit more into it will see that the last race was an easy spot for NEW MONEY HONEY and she was not offered as a claimer in it. I think it was a warmup race to get the 2018 season started and we can see it as a glorified workout. Her trainer does well on the second start after layoff and NEW MONEY HONEY actually won last year in the same circumstances. She is not the classiest filly in the field but she is one of the few with early speed so she might be able to be close to the mix in the end and she is likely to go off at interesting odds due to the “fake” class jump.
Number 4, WAR CANOE on the other hand does a real class jump… she has never even competed at the Graded stakes level and was repeatedly running under a price tag in 2017. She was just doing ok many class levels below, works for a struggling trainer and has never run at the distance so it is a pretty easy pass.
Number 5 ULTRA BRAT comes up to the Grade 1 stakes racing scene for the first time after destroying a Grade 3 race two months ago. In that race ULTRA BRAT was certainly helped by the hot pace so maybe we should look back a few races and see that she did not always have such an easy time at the Grade 3 or lower stakes level… Class-wise, ULTRA BRAT is a notch below, but she has the ability to stay close to the pace, so she should be in an ok position in the stretch. The pace is not likely to be blazing hot so that going to be an advantage. The class is in question, but the pace might be favorable, so maybe ULTRA BRAT should be on the exotic bets tickets, but I prefer others.
Number 6, A RAVING BEAUTY is unbeaten in the USA after moving from Europe and she won a Grade 1 stakes race at Belmont Park last month. In that race, A RAVING BEAUTY ran along Proctor’s Ledge the whole way and had a bit longer trip, being on the outside of her. It was not really a bad trip though, so I don’t think that A RAVING BEAUTY has a major talent edge over Proctor’s Ledge. That race was also developing with a pretty favorable pace scenario, akin to today’s most likely, so it was not a ground-breaking Grade 1 win, but the repeat is possible based on it. Her career before moving to America was not so impressive and maybe she prefers shorter routes. Obviously, A RAVING BEAUTY has talent but at 2-1 morning line odds, I don’t think that she offers great value.
Number 7, HAWKSMOOR is likely to go for the lead or be close to it in the early goings, granted she can start without incident this time. She has never won at this class level or distance but came relatively close a couple of times and won wire to wire at lower graded stakes class levels. Today at Saratoga, there should not be a lot of fighting for the lead so maybe HAWKSMOOR can get to the lead from the outside post position without much pressure. She has performed well after being given a break and it is possible that her trainer had his sights set on this Grade 1 for a while. Class-wise, is seems difficult but the pace profile means that she might be able to hang on to a place on the podium.
There should be little opposition on the early pace so that might benefit horses who can stay close to the lead, or even take it from the early stages.
HAWKSMOOR should go for the lead and has been able to go wire to wire in the past, so she should be able to stay close to the podium today.
NEW MONEY HONEY is another one who should be able to show early speed and stay close to the action. There is hidden class in the past performances, so I think that she will add value to Exotic bets.
PROCTOR’S LEDGE will offer more value than her opponent of last month and might claim a first Grade 1 stakes win today
WIN BET at 4-1 or more on Number 2 PROCTOR’S LEDGE
Exacta Box 2-3-7
Trifect box 2-3-7