Saratoga Horses in Focus for Sunday, August 1


I have some reservations about both horses who could take the most money in this spot. Lookin for Loki will probably go favored as he makes his first start off the claim for Danny Gargan. It seems like a negative that this horse is returning for a $25k tag after getting claimed for $50 over two months ago. However, it should be noted that Gargan is 5 for 7 (71%, $2.89 ROI) first off the claim with a 50% tag drop. I still don’t totally trust a horse who has run his best dirt speed figures over sealed tracks in off-the-turf events, but he is the one to beat. I’m more skeptical of Megatap, who was facing fields of questionable quality when he achieved his best results on dirt at the start of his career. He seemed to badly lose interest midway through his only recent dirt start on June 4, and I’m skeptical that he’s up to competing at this level in his return to the main track. My top pick is Full Court Press. His last effort at Belmont suggests that he’s taken a step forward for Tom Morley. He was facing a slightly better field that day and did well to make up ground in a race that featured a fairly moderate pace. This colt was somewhat green at the start of his career, but he’s steadily moved forward and I think his last effort may have been a turning point. As long as Tyler Gaffalione can get him out of the gate this time, he figures to be tough for the aforementioned two to hold off.


New York Girl could go favored in this spot as she drops out of the Grade 1 Just a Game. She was always going to be a little overmatched there, and her rider basically just protected her once it was clear that she wasn’t going to be competitive at the quarter pole. All of her prior efforts in this country were pretty solid. She took a good late run at the talented Blowout going this distance at Churchill Downs two back and would be awfully difficult for this field to beat with a similar effort to that. Miss Teheran could be the second choice, but she’s lost her fair share of races at short prices. She was arguably supposed to win her last two attempts at this level, but failed to withstand the late surges by Christophe Clement rivals each time. This small, unassuming daughter of Teofilo does have some ability, but she needs everything to go her way and she’s going to take money given the human connections. My top pick is Enola Gay, who returns from a lengthy layoff to make her 4-year-old debut. She’s probably back at the right distance after trying a few different types of trips last year. She was just too headstrong to go 1 3/16 miles in the Saratoga Oaks last year, and I’m not going to hold her failure at Kentucky Downs against her. I think it’s important to note that she’s run her two best races when she was fresh, in her career debut and coming off a similar layoff last July. Furthermore, I like the rider switch to Joel Rosario given her temperamental nature, as he has a knack for getting the best out of horses like this. At a much bigger price I would also use Lake Lucerne, since she did have an excuse last time. I’m just a little concerned that she’s not quite talented enough to hang with these.


Town Classic is probably the horse to beat as he moves back up in class to contest this optional claimer. A repeat of that 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure will probably be good enough to win against this tougher field, but he’s a little hard to trust winning back-to-back races. This 8-year-old had developed quite the reputation as a hanger following that long string of second- and third-place finishes leading into that last start. Jose Ortiz made a smart move getting him to the front early in that race, which didn’t give him the opportunity to idle in the late stages. However, this time there are some other speeds signed on, so I’m a little concerned that his prior reluctance to pass horses will rear its head once again. I’m most interested in the two Kentucky shippers. Aloha West is perhaps the more logical of the two as he drops in class out of the Kelly’s Landing last time. That race did not feature a particularly quick early pace, so he did well to make a run into fourth after lagging behind in the early going. He was pretty impressive winning against allowance company two back, and will obviously be dangerous if some pace develops. My top pick, hopefully at a slightly better price, is Night Time. This horse showed some ability as a 3-year-old last year when running some nice speed figures in the second half of the season, including a win up here. I liked his 4-year-old debut at Churchill last time, as he got involved in a 4-way duel through the early part of that race before he was overhauled by the perfect trip winner Answer In. He figures to get a great outside stalking trip this time.

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