Thursday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Mischief Afoot a viable alternative to vulnerable favorite

Saratoga | Race 8 | Post Time 5:14 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
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If Texas Swing (#2) has progressed at all since the spring, he’s supposed to beat this field. He won a fast maiden race in February and then was hardly disgraced behind Kentucky Derby-bound King Guillermo in a fast Tampa Bay Derby. It would stand to reason that a 3-year-old who made just three starts over the winter would still have upside as he returns in the summer. Yet I’m a little skeptical we’re going to see such progression from this horse. His workouts leading up to this return have me a little concerned. He doesn’t appear to be particularly enthusiastic about his morning training and was undoubtedly outworked by his uncoupled stablemate One Eyed Jack in that most recent drill on Aug. 20. To my eye, he’s not going about his business with the same ease or vigor we saw prior to his races over the winter. He’ll be favored, but I have to take a shot against him at a short price.

I suppose it might be tempting to upgrade One Eyed Jack (#3) if he is indeed outworking Texas Swing, but I find this horse tough to endorse based on his form. He looked like one with potential for Chad Brown last year, but was extremely disappointing in two starts for Pletcher last winter.

The best alternative I can find is MISCHIEF AFOOT (#1). This horse showed some promise as a 2-year-old, finishing a close third in a salty October maiden race at Belmont before tailing off a bit at Aqueduct. After getting a prep on turf in his 3-year-old debut, he stepped forward last time at Monmouth, earning a solid 101 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his two-turn victory. I’m not concerned about the slight stretch-out to 1 1/8 miles given that he’s a half-brother to nine-furlong specialist Grumps Little Tots. I expect another good effort with hot-riding Luis Saez aboard.

THE PLAY

Win: 1
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 2,3,4,6
Trifecta: 1,2 with 1,2 with ALL

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