Saratoga Horses in Focus for Friday, August 7

RACE 5: JENNEMILY (#6)

Kept True and Bridlewood Cat battled in the Correction back in March at Aqueduct. They both fell just short in a close finish, but they got very different trips. Bridlewood Cat had obvious trouble as she stumbled badly at the start and was forced to rally from the back of the pack. However, she did get a fast pace to close into, which helped her cause. Kept True, on the other hand, was chasing that fast pace and appeared to have the race won in midstretch before the closers swallowed her up late. It’s arguable as to which horse ran the better race, but now plenty of time has passed and both are landing in a tough spot off the layoff. I slightly prefer Kept True, who has generally been a bit more reliable, but I’m always a little concerned about this filly going a step beyond 6 furlongs. The Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring runners on or near the lead. While I don’t necessarily expect this race to feature a slow pace, forward position should be an advantage. Along those lines, I’m interested in Jennemily, who figures to sit a good stalking trip. I acknowledge that she looks a little cheaper than some of her main rivals, but she really improved over the winter since switching into the Steve Asmussen barn. She earned a legitimate 106 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that victory on Feb. 17, and I’m not convinced that she isn’t actually better going shorter distances. Her return victory at Laurel was solid, and I think it’s notable that the horse she dueled with in the early going returned to win at the same level with an improved speed figure.

RACE 6: ARMY WIFE (#8)

There’s a lot going on in this intriguing maiden event for two-year-old turf sprinters. The two runners with experience figure to attract plenty of support, as both have run well on turf. Mad Maddy is probably the horse to beat based on her second-place finish against males last time. However, that was her third consecutive runner-up finish, and now she’s being asked to come back on just 12 days’ rest. Royal Approval showed some promise in her Gulfstream debut behind the very talented Campanelle before she threw in a poor effort at Royal Ascot. Welsey Ward has an excellent record of bringing horses back from overseas, so I wouldn’t be concerned about the traveling. Over the past 5 years, he is 12 for 24 (50%, $2.60 ROI) with 2-year-old foreign shippers. I’m using both of these fillies, but there are some intriguing first time starters in the mix. Credit Enhancement goes out for Chad Brown and appears to be working decently on the dirt, though Main Track Only entrant Saratoga Commando has gotten the better of her. She figures to take money primarily due to the connections, but I won’t be surprised if she performs well. Yet the firster who interests me most is Army Wife. Mike Maker sends out this daughter of Declaration of War, whose progeny win 20% of their turf sprint starts. This filly doesn’t have any overwhelming turf pedigree on the dam’s side, but her dam is by Arch so there’s enough breeding there. I really liked this filly’s one-furlong workout in 10 1/5 seconds at the OBS Sale in June and it appears that she’s been working steadily for Mike Maker ever since then. Most recently she put forth an encouraging workout, going easier in company with 3-year-old turf stakes winner Bodecream on the dirt on August 1. Mike Maker’s runners sometimes need a start, but his runners have been firing at this meet and the fact that Jose Ortiz is named to ride is a good sign.

RACE 8: GIACOSA (#5)

Likely favorite Silky Blue showed that turf was clearly her preferred surface in that determined maiden victory last time. She got collared by Fresco in midstretch, but gamely battled back inside of that rival to get her nose down on the wire first. She was subsequently flattered when Fresco returned to win a NY-bred stakes with a 90 TimeformUS Speed Figure. She tries two turns and winners for the first time, but it’s not as if she has to improve much on that maiden effort to defeat this subpar field for the level. Plus, Jorge Duarte is 5 for 21 (24%, $4.48 ROI) with last-out maiden winners. She’s a deserving favorite, but I am interested in one of her rivals at a better price. Giacosa looked like a filly who would benefit from experience when she made her debut last year and that has proven to be the case. She has taken a step forward with each start so far this year, most recently just missing third against a better field at this level three weeks ago. She deserves extra credit for passing horses in the stretch that day, as the early pace was on the slow side. Her regular rider Manny Franco sides with Silky Blue instead, but Tyler Gaffalione is an ample replacement. She figures to be right there if she continues progressing at this rate and this race is supposed to feature some pace for her close into. The one other horse I’d throw in at a square price is Tatterazzi. It seemed like she really improved over the winter at Tampa Bay Downs and this is an easier field than she faced last time when pitted against males.

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