Saratoga Wednesday: Shine Again Analysis and Selections
Steve Asmussen will likely be winningest trainer by week's end. Needing only 4 victories, he has 6 horses entered prior to Wednesday's Saratoga program.
Asmussen Chasing Record at Saratoga
Steve Asmussen comes from a long line of horsemen. He himself started in the industry very young and competed during his years as a jockey. At 6’6” his riding career was short lived, but in 1986 he pulled his first training license and began his rise to the top.
As of Tuesday, August 3, Asmussen sits at 9,442 wins. The late Dale Baird who currently holds the record amassed 9,445 in his career. While Asmussen has won many of the biggest races in the world with horses like Gun Runner, Curlin, Midnight Bisou, and Mitole, he also already holds a record he’d probably rather not.
Asmussen holds the record for most Kentucky Derby starters without ever winning the race. With a 6th and a 16th place finisher in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, the record stands at 23.
Record to Likely be Broken at Saratoga
After going 0-2 on Monday, it seems almost certain that the record breaking score will come at some point over this weekend at Saratoga. Asmussen has 2 runners on Wednesday’s card as well as a number of other probables throughout the 5 days of racing this weekend.
Stakes Action at Saratoga
As always this weekend is full of stakes action from “The Spa.” Here is the stakes schedule for Saratoga this week.
- New York Stallion Series (Statue of Liberty Division)
- Shine Again Stakes
- Birdstone Stakes
- Alydar Stakes
- National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (Grade 2- Turf)
- Troy Presented by Horse Racing Ireland (Grade 3- Turf)
- Fasig-Tipton Lure Stakes
- Glens Falls (Grade 2- Turf)
- Longines Test Stakes (Grade 1)
- Saratoga Derby Invitational (Grade 1 Turf)
- Whitney Stakes (Grade 1- Breeder’s Cup “Win and You’re In”)
- Adirondack Stakes (Grade 2)
- Fasig-Tipton De La Rose Stakes
- Saratoga Oaks Invitational (Grade 3- Turf)
Wednesday at Saratoga
As of the writing of this piece there appears to be no threat of rain during the week in Saratoga Springs. The weekend looks like it could have spotty showers, but overall it looks like it should be fast and firm for most of, if not all, races this week.
Selections listed in order of preference.
Post: 1:05 PM ET; Purse: $65k Allowance, 2 1/16 Miles on Hurdle; Entries: 7
In customary Saratoga fashion the day will start with a hurdle race. #4 Silver Crescent enters the race with the highest breeding rating on the surface. #3 Ritzy A.P. has the highest class rating entering the race. #1 Withoutdestination has a trainer and a jockey both winning at over 20% and has a win at the distance.
- Selections: 4-3-1
Post: 1:38 PM ET; Purse: $40k Maiden Claiming, 7 Furlongs on Dirt; Entries: 8
When looking for prices, these maiden claiming races can often be the place to get a little extra value. My top pick is the #5 Demuro at 10-1 for the aforementioned Steve Asmsussen. He is a front runner in a dirt sprint which has been the place to be at Saratoga.
The favorite #7 Cousin Andrew will also be formidable here and boasts the best early pace numbers. He also shares the best breeding rating with another entry in the race. That runner is #4 Leading West for Mike Maker who is on absolute fire right now. Leave him off the ticket at your own peril.
- Selections: 5-7-4-6
Post: 2:15 PM ET; Purse: $80k Maiden Special Weight, 5 1/2 Furlongs on Turf; Entries: 16
This race is extremely difficult to handicap. Although there are 16 runners entered, only 10 will go to the gate. Which combination of the entries will go depends on scratches and track condition. In these races I try not to focus too much on pace until the entrants are finalized on race day.
Without considering the pace scenario the #7 Leviosa displayed competitive speed on debut against tougher company. The second start could be the ticket here. #13 I’m So Sorry debuts for Bryan Lynch and is well bred for turf. Jose Ortiz aboard doesn’t hurt either, but she will need some help drawing into the field.
#2 Lockstep will be making her debut here, but Lezcano is an extremely underrated turf jockey and Nyquist throw precocious off spring which could be a winning combination.
#3 Take the Backroads is an old veteran in this field with 2 starts. The figures improved first to second time, but only incrementally. That being said both of her races would fit in this group.
- Selections: 7-13-2-3-6
Post: 2:49 PM ET; Purse: $90k Allowance, 1 1/8 Miles on Dirt; Entries: 7
#4 Coffee Bar will make her second start off the bench for Todd Pletcher. Pletcher started this horse in a sprint before she broke her maiden at a route. In her first race off the layoff she went short and stretches out again suggesting the last race was just a prep.
#1 Electric Youth will get her first chance to go long on the dirt and could surprise at a price with a hall of fame jockey in the saddle. #2 Ifihadachance comes in the race with the top class rating and having run the fastest last race. With Saez riding she’s a definite player.
- Selections: 4-1-2-6
Post: 3:21 PM ET; Purse: $150k NY Stallion Series S., 1 Mile on Inner Turf; Entries: 8
#1 Funwhileitlasted returns off of a layoff, but has the best speed at the distance. The inside post is an advantage on this course. If the race gets pulled from the Saratoga turf the #7 Shaker Shack will be crushed at the window and will likely win for fun.
Christophe Clement took the turf division by storm last year at Saratoga and while he is not quite as hot this year, #5 Sports Model looks like a really strong contender to bolster his record.
#8 Shesadirtydancer has improved in each of her turf starts. Continued progression makes her a definite player here at a better price than the others.
- Selections: 1-7-5-8 (Wide Open Race)
Post: 3:55 PM ET; Purse: $85k Maiden Special Weight, 6 Furlongs on Dirt; Entries: 7
After running incredibly well on dirt, #2 Empress of War flopped on turf. She returns to the Saratoga main track today and looks very formidable. Clement moved #4 Shamalamadingdong forward after 2 starts in the Linda Rice barn. If the horse runs back to the last number she’ll be tough to catch.
#1 Towering Orbit makes her 2nd career start which can lead to huge jumps forward. Rosario can be a streaky jockey, but he seems to be seeing the ball really well right now.
- Selections: 3-4-1-7-2
Post: 4:29 PM ET; Purse: $60k Starter Allowance, 5 1/2 Furlongs on Turf; Entries: 12
With Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard it seems hard to fathom we’re going to get the 8-5 morning line on #1 Montauk Daddy. While many other speed horses show up here, it seems like all of them are just a little light to keep up with this guy which may complicate things for realistic contenders hoping to pass from further back.
If the favorite falters, maybe #9 Wild William can get up for the win. His trainer is 19% off the layoff and 17% with horses making their 2nd start in his barn.
#12 Thing last won at Indiana Grand and moves up in class, but Saez is aggressive and could find the lead if everyone else is content to lope along early. Not likely, but worth a look.
- Selections: 1-9-12 (Best Bet: #1)
Post: 5:05 PM ET; Purse: $120k Shine Again S., 7 Furlongs on Dirt; Entries: 6
In 2021 the #1 Bayerness has never been more than 2 lengths behind the winner. #2 Aunt Kat comes off the layoff for Bill Mott and Junior Alvarado who are among the top connections in New York and her current numbers are just slightly above the rest.
#5 Honor Way and #4 Casual have numbers to be competitive but would have to reverse declining form to get back there. The latter is Steve Asmussen’s second and final entry on the card. If the pace gets hot #6 Whispering Pines could sneak her way up into the number with a good late kick.
- Selections: 1-2-5-4-6
Post: 5:39 PM ET; Purse: $110k Allowance OC, 1 1/8 Miles on Inner Turf; Entries: 9
Once again the inner post position looks logical on the inner turf. #1 En Wye Cee tops the group on speed figures and class. #7 Bodecream has been ultra impressive since going to the Maker barn never finishing worse than 4th in 8 starts.
The #8 Argonne has been running against tough company and while there are some salty runners in here, the whole of this field should provide at least a little relief.
- Selections: 1-7-8-6
Post: 6:13 PM ET; Purse: $60k Starter Allowance, 1 1/16 Miles on Turf; Entries: 16
#5 Kitten by the Sea will look to be on or near the lead and take these ones all the way around. Joel Rosario is one of the best timing riders in the country and will ride the #1 Come Storming for the first time.
Clement calls on Irad Ortiz, who wins 25% of turf starts, to ride #10 Ocean Air.
- Selections: 5-1-10-13-7 (Wide Open Race)
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