Saturday, Saratoga, Race 10, 5:45 PM EDT
The Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap, One Mile, Three-Year Olds And Up, Inner Turf
If this race were not being run under handicap conditions, we’d concede it to Wise Dan (3-5 morning line). He’s simply open-lengths better than the rest of this group. However, 129 pounds is a lofty impost, and he must concede double-digit weight spreads all around. Devotees of weight adjustments will tell you that he’s giving away a three-to-four-length handicap to his competition in the Fourstardave.
We believe two horses who project for ground-saving, covered-up trips have a chance to upset Wise Dan if the weight concession is really as big a factor as we hope. Za Approval (8-1) exploded to a career-best 118 TimeformUS speed figure when he was second in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park.
The other horse who might present a challenge to Wise Dan is Mr. Commons (10-1). For a short time, Mr. Commons was regarded as the best miler in Southern California. He hasn’t been disgraced in two recent outings against Wise Dan, being defeated by three lengths on both occasions. Mr. Commons was the victim of a wide trip and ran a “better than looked” performance in his most recent race. He gets a 12-pound break in weights and projects for a covered-up trip.
The speed horses will target Wise Dan, and they will try to race-ride him just as they did last time. Look for John Velazquez to maneuver Wise Dan off the rail and possibly use up a little energy to get an outside stalking position. If Wise Dan gets beat, it will probably be by a rival that gets a perfect trip in behind him and makes good of the handicap. Still, it’s hard to imagine Wise Dan finishing any worse than second.
Betting strategy: Exacta Key: Za Approval and Mr. Commons on top of Wise Dan.