It is likely going to be a wet day at Saratoga Springs on August 3rd. The weather forecast for the day contains storms and high probability of rain.
One can hope that, for a Grade 2, the stewards keep the race on the turf and if so, it will be important to pick horses who have done well in the wet and deep surfaces.
One imports is used to this type of weather, but others have also demonstrated some talent on deep tracks too.
The likely favorites are not so appealing and longer odds horses might be better bets.
Analysis and picks for the 9th race at Saratoga on August 3rd 2018:
Number 1, GEMONTEER appears to be a one speed horse, having gone to the lead in all his starts. He won an open stake this way last month in powerful fashion and it seems that he can repel attacks pretty well. His trainer has two wins in the last seven days, so the stable is quite hot. Today GEMONTEER is stretching the distance a bit and will carry more weight and it remains to be seen if he can take on tougher opponents in this setting. Moreover, all winners have come from behind so far at Saratoga on Turf routes recently so there might be some track bias to overcome…
Number 2 MARAUD won a Grade 2 race on yielding turf earlier in the year and did that coming from behind and on this distance. The next two races have been less successful, but we can maybe excuse both considering that he was fighting the pace on the outside in one, and he was facing very tough foes and a poor post position in a Grade 1 in his last race. MARAUD rarely loses on the distance and has a win right here at the Saratoga racetrack under his belt. He gets a new jockey who knows the turf track inside out so that’s a plus on a tough racing day, weather-wise. The pace should be hot in front and that’s great news for this closer. MARAUD has a great chance today.
Number 3, GUNNISON has two wins on the distance coming from behind this year, but the class level was much lower. In his only Graded stake race attempt last month, he did not fare very well. It was a messy trip though, and maybe GUNNISON had some excuses. It is a pretty big step in class today however and GUNNISSON will need a much-improved performance to win it. The racing style should be favorable and a place on the podium is not out of the question.
Number 4, RAGING BULL lost his only stakes attempt last month but beat today’s opponent Westerland with a pretty nice finish in the slow pace of the race. It was an ideal trip, better than Westerland but RAGING BULL could not make up all the ground considering the tepid pace. The early fractions are likely to be much faster today so that should be better for RAGING BULL. But still, trying to win a Grade 2 race coming off a loss in an ungraded stakes is a tall order. RAGING BULL has European blood so that might come in handy on a wet track. But as one of the likely favorites in the race, one would prefer seeing better results in the past performances. At the morning line odds of 3-1, RAGING BULL is a pass for me.
Number 5 RIDE A COMET ran two good races in June at Woodbine winning both from behind, including a stakes win in easy fashion. He was given a bit of rest and shows some mild workouts since. It has been all or nothing for RIDE A COMET so far in his career and it is a bit of a gamble based on class today as he has never won or placed in Graded stakes company. At long enough odds, why not, but coming off a stakes win I expect that RIDE A COMET will be going out at a relatively short price. He seems to like the wet though and the come from behind style should work today. He has his place in Exotic bets.
Number 6, GIDU tried his luck in a Grade 1 race in the UK in June and did not embarrass himself. Combine that with a few ungraded stakes win and a near win in a Grade 3 earlier in the year and you get the sense that he is in the right race class-wise. There are some question marks on the ability to run on long distances though, and even more so on a wet track. Furthermore, GIDU likes to ride near the front and that looks to be a losing strategy this year at Saratoga so the pace scenario is not so favorable. Of course, he rides for a world-class trainer and shows terrific workouts leading to this one. But he will probably go out at very short odds and with so many question marks, it might be wise to play against the favorite today.
Number 7, COMBATANT tries the turf for only the second time, but he trained on the surface recently and showed some very good numbers. Maybe the turf is the surface he needs? The connections have a lot of confidence in him, having entered COMBATANT in 5 straight Graded stakes, which he all lost… The trainer is not especially known for success on the turf and with a wet day expected, it might be the wrong day for COMBATANT to try to win a Graded stakes on the 6th try.
Number 8, SAND DANCER has two wins at the distance in the last two starts. He makes a second start after a layoff and the last race was hard fought so one can wonder if it took a toll. In terms of class, this is a big step up too. SAND DANCER has early speed and will likely fight for the lead but that’s probably not going to be the best strategy today. With class in question and an unfavorable pace scenario, I think that SAND DANCER is a pass.
Number 9, HAVE AT IT won his last race pressing the pace but might have been helped by an inside post position on the Belmont Park inside turf track. Starting from the outside today and against much better opponents might not be as easy. HAVE AT IT will probably come from behind for this one but the step up in class is a concern. The tepid workouts since the last race are not particularly encouraging. With the running style, he might be able to grab a small purse but I doubt that he will be in the mix for the podium.
Number 10, BATTLE AT SEA will most likely fight for the lead but starting from the outside post position will not make his trip easy. He has a win in stakes company, on the distance, but that will be the first time he runs for so long on the grass. It looks like a high-class race to try that for the first time, in the rain to boot. I think that he will be in the mix in the early stages but will not take part in the final furlong.
Number 11, WESTERLAND makes a second start in America after a relatively disappointing attempt last month. It was not a very easy trip though, and maybe the second start after a long layoff will be better. The trainer is in form so that’s an encouraging sign for sure. Having raced in the UK in the first part of his career, WESTERLAND knows deep tracks and in the Saratoga rain, that will be a plus. The closing style will be useful too, but he has not raced successfully at this distance before. It is also a step up in class but, on the grass, a European import can be given a chance. With a soft surface expected, WESTERLAND has a chance, at least for a place and the morning line odds are pretty interesting
The two morning line odds favorites have big issues in my view. One has a racing style that should be hard to win with at Saratoga and the other goes up in distance on a rainy day after losing in easier class.
Taking low prices with question marks is not a good idea and therefore I prefer horses who have the right, come-from-behind, racing style, decent class and especially important some proven success on the distance or the in the rain.
MARAUD fits the bill pretty well. He comes down in class, gets an experienced jockey and has found success on deeper tracks. I like his chances today.
WESTERLAND ran mostly in the UK so he knows the rain and he has a few wins and places on softer grounds. He will make a second start after a very long layoff so we can expect a better race.
GUNNISON is going up in class, but he had a pretty bad trip last out on a longer distance than he maybe likes. Returning to the right distance and with hopefully a better trip, I think he can surprise at long odds.
RIDE A COMET has the right style, a winning spirit and experience in the rain so he has decent chances today for sure. I think he might be fancied by the betting public though and there is more value on Gunnison given the hidden bad trip information. It is close between the two though so if the odds get high on RIDE A COMET, it is worth including him.
JULY 21 SARATOGA RACETRACK RACE 9 BETTING PICKS:
Exacta Box 2-11-3 (-5)
Trifecta Box 2-11-3 (-5)
Superfecta Box 2-11-3-5