Saratoga Horses in Focus for Wednesday, August 26


The major players in this race exit the sixth race from July 30 at this level. The second and third-place finishers Kitten’s Romance and Checksandbalances figure to attract the most support after just missing in a photo finish. I didn’t think either one had a major excuse that day, as Kitten’s Romance stalked a moderate pace and just couldn’t forge past the gate-to-wire winner. Checksandbalances had to rally from just off the pace, but she had dead aim at the leaders in midstretch and just couldn’t quite quicken past in the late stages. They undoubtedly have landed in a softer spot here so they are deserving favorites. However, I think there’s another horse exiting that July 30 affair who deserves a look. Cherokee Song goes out for Randi Persaud, who has yet to send out a runner to hit the board in 25 starts at the current meet. Obviously it’s hard to take horses from this barn, but at least we’re going to get a square price on this filly. Unlike most runners from this stable, Cherokee Song is pretty consistent. She picked up minor awards behind decent rivals like Mr. Kringle and Lost Ticket last year. While she’s failed to finish in the money in both turf starts so far in 2020, she had legitimate excuses in each of those races. She got very rank on the backstretch two back and nothing left for the stretch drive. Then last time she was traveling well at the back of the pack around the far turn but was ridden directly into traffic just as she was commencing a rally at the quarter pole. She briefly had to steady and alter course outside, but still finished best of all once she got into the clear. I’d argue that she actually ran a better race than both of the favorites, and she’s going to offer superior value.

RACE 7: MAVEN (#8)

Turned Aside is the horse to beat as he attempts to win his second consecutive stakes after authoritatively taking down the Grade 3 Quick Call last month. This colt has obviously returned as an improved horse as a 3-year-old, taking a noticeable step forward out of his June 19 seasonal debut, in which he finished second to today’s rival Jack and Noah. Turned Aside has the tactical speed to work out another favorable trip, but I think last time was the opportunity to have him as the second choice, and now he’s likely to go off as the favorite in a tougher spot. Jack and Noah was somewhat compromised by a poor start in the Quick Call, but he still put in a poor effort, unable to keep pace with Turned Aside on the turn before backing up in the stretch. This colt appears to be at his best when he can secure a clear early advantage, and it’s hard to envision that happening here given the presence of Maven to his inside. Maven is my top pick as he ships in from Kentucky for Wesley Ward. This son of American Pharoah showed real promise as a 2-year-old, winning a fast debut race at Aqueduct on dirt before notching a Group 3 victory in France. He needed plenty of time to get back to the races following his overseas excursion, but he looked better than ever in his return at Keeneland last time, running some solid rivals off their feet. The Pace Projector indicates he’s quick enough to make the lead, and I believe he can take them all the way.


Blowout may go favored as she returns from a layoff and makes her 4-year-old debut for Chad Brown. She was originally schedule to race in the De La Rose last month but had to be withdrawn from that race due to a slight setback. Yet now she seems to be back on track and she will be difficult for this field to handle if she steps forward at all with natural maturity. I’m using her prominently, and I prefer her to the other Chad Brown trainee, Catch a Bid. This filly got a good trip stalking a moderate pace in the De La Rose but was pretty disappointing as she faded in the late stages. The horse I would rather take out of that race is Clara Peeters, who was held up in some light traffic at the quarter pole and couldn’t work her way into the clear until it was too late. I don’t think she was ever winning that race, but she may have finished closer had her rider elected to loop the field. The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, which seems a little optimistic given the way races are usually ridden on this circuit, but she does figure to get at least an honest setup. I’m not so concerned about the pace for my top pick Sweet Bye and Bye. This mare appears capable of utilizing any running style, and is versatile enough to compete over a variety of distances. She put forth a very strong effort in her return going just 5 1/2 furlongs last time, closing from mid-pack to just miss in a race where the pace held together. Looking at Trakus, she ran the fastest final quarter mile of anyone in that field (21.99 seconds). A mile looks like a perfect distance for her and she may get somewhat overlooked due to the fact that her capable trainer is winless on the year.

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