Saratoga Horses in Focus for Thursday, August 13

RACE 5: FRENCHIE FROU FROU (#7)

Dream Chasing figures to go favored in this spot. She did finish second at this level last time, but there was no discernable excuse for her to get run down by longtime maiden Magical Romance after setting a moderate pace. She can obviously win, but I’d be reticent to accept a short price on her. Two of the most appealing alternatives will be trying turf for the first time – New York Supreme and Robin Sparkles. The former has the superior pedigree for this surface switch, by solid grass sire Consitution and out of the same dam who produced Fled, a turf sprint winner over this course last year. However, New York Supreme has had trouble getting out of the gate in some recent starts and could get outrun to the lead by the fleet Robin Sparkles. This Bruce Brown trainee doesn’t have much obvious turf pedigree, but she possesses a ton of speed and was taking money in a maiden special weight race at this level two weeks ago before getting scratched at the gate. I’ll use them all, but my top pick is Frenchie Frou Frou. I thought she ran pretty well in her lone turf sprint start at Belmont two back, and certainly no worse than favorite Dream Chasing’s last start. I’m willing to throw out her last race when she never got involved routing. This turnback figures to benefit her and I like the rider switch to Tyler Gaffalione.

RACE 8: TURN OF EVENTS (#2)

Mandate and Bray, who finished second and first, respectively, in a claiming race in early July at Belmont, figure to vie for favoritism in this spot. Yet they went in different directions following that common race. Bray was claimed away from the Clement barn by Rudy Rodriguez, who is just 4 for 56 (7%, $0.51 ROI) first off the claim on the turf over the past 5 years. He figures to contend here if merely maintaining his form, but it appears that his main rival Mandate may have taken a step forward since they last met. Mandate improved last time when beating a tougher N2L claiming field, running a far more professional race than he did in his matchup with Bray. Todd Pletcher’s runners have all been firing at this meet, so I’d regard him as the horse to beat this time. Yet both could find themselves up against it from a pace standpoint. There’s little early speed signed on, and the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting that Turn of Events will be out in front on a solo early lead. This colt needed plenty of starts to break out of the maiden ranks, but it appeared that he turned a corner last time. He was aggressively sent up to contest an honest pace, briefly idled in upper stretch but then gamely dug in to fend off a late challenge. This horse has always had quality, but he appeared to have hit a plateau through the first half of this year. Based on that last effort, Mike Maker once again has him heading in the right direction. He loses Jose Ortiz to Mandate but finds an ample replacement in Luis Saez, who figures to exploit his mount’s glaring pace advantage.

RACE 10: DATA ANALYTICS (#10)

Powered by the fruitful combination of trainer Christophe Clement and jockey Joel Rosario, Gaelic Gold would be a deserving favorite in this race, likely to win if merely repeating her last effort at this level. Yet she is stuck on the also-eligible list, needing one scratch to draw into this field. If she is excluded, it becomes a wide-open wagering affair with no clear standout. Among those with turf experience, Two Cent Tootsie sports the strongest overall résumé. Yet she’s already had eight chances to break her maiden and has too often squandered favorable trips while settling for minor awards. I’m instead inclined to consider some fillies who will be making their turf debuts, and the one who intrigues me most is Data Analytics. This Chad Brown trainee made her career debut last October sprinting on dirt. Despite getting bet to 3-2 favoritism she failed to deliver, fading badly in the stretch after chasing the pace. Now she will be trying the turf for the first time upon her return. While her sire Into Mischief is best known for his prowess with precocious dirt runners, his progeny have had their fair share of turf success, winning at a solid 14% rate on that surface. Her dam was unraced and has yet to make her mark as a producer, but she is out of multiple turf winner Forty Gran, making her a half-sister to multi-surface specialist Square Eddie as well as some capable turf runners. Furthermore, trainer Chad Brown has won with an impressive 5 of 14 (36%, $3.54 ROI) maidens trying turf for the first time at Saratoga over the past 5 years. I expect to see a better effort out of her, but there are certainly others to consider. First time starter Chocolate Cookie appears to be working well over the Oklahoma turf course and is sent out by current leading trainer Todd Pletcher. I would even give a look to Masterof the Tunes at a generous price, as she possesses one of the most convincing damside turf pedigrees in this field.

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