Saratoga | Race 9 | Post Time 5:40 p.m. (ET) | Go to the FREE TimeformUS PPs
There are a few short-priced horses in this race whom I don’t want to bet. One of those is Machtree (#7), who got a perfect trip stalking a glacial early pace in his maiden score and faces a totally different scenario this time. He has a right to improve second time out, but I expect him to represent bad value. I have similar feelings about Untamed Domain (#8), who was visually impressive when winning his maiden at this meet but did so against a woefully weak group in a slow race. The runner-up in that event, Another, returned to disappoint last weekend. Untamed Domain would have to greatly improve on that effort to win this race.
I also don’t want any of the horses coming out of the race won by Trumpi (#10). The winner got a perfect trip, setting a moderate pace along the rail, and has now drawn post 10 in a large field. The likelihood of him clearing off to the front early seems slim. His main rival out of that debut race, Seabhac (#11), is also stuck in the far-outside post position here after riding the rail for much of his debut. He, too, has a right to improve with racing, but I just don’t want horses who project to lose so much ground.
So, who’s left?
My top pick is MORRISON (#1), who makes his turf debut. This horse is by the solid turf influence The Factor and is out of a dam who produced a stakes-placed turf runner. He’s always been meant for turf, as he was entered for that surface in his debut before it got rained off the grass. He’s clearly the kind of high-striding runner who moves like he should be well suited to turf. The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, but I’m a little skeptical about that scenario actually playing out. Irad Ortiz knows that this horse ran well on the lead in his debut and should send this horse from the rail to secure the coveted ground down on the hedge. I think he can lead these all the way.
The other runner I want to use is EVALUATOR (#9). I know his debut came against New York-breds, but he ran a fast race despite missing the break. He lagged at the back of the pack for much of that event and launched a wide run around the far turn, carrying him to the lead by midstretch. That would have been a premature move for many inexperienced 2-year-olds, but he continued to stride out powerfully through the final furlong. Furthermore, the third-place finisher in that race returned to validate the effort with a win next time out. If the pace does heat up, I think he’s the most talented of the late runners and is a great bet at anything close to his 8-1 morning-line odds.
In addition to the aforementioned favorites, I want to use my two picks with Catholic Boy (#3). He was facing a weaker field at Gulfstream first time out, but he won that race in impressive fashion and gave the impression that he had more left in the tank. He’s another runner who figures to offer some value.
Exacta Key Box: 1,9 with 1,3,6,7,8,9,10,11
Trifecta: 1,3,9 with 1,3,9 with 1,3,6,7,8,9,10,11