Five runners in this field faced off against each other in the July 30 race at this level. Winter Pool (#5) achieved the best result of those. He took all the money in that spot, as he was coming off a trip in his prior start at Churchill Downs. He did show some improvement, making a strong bid in mid-stretch before getting turned away by the eventual winner Runnin’ Ray. He defeated four of today’s rivals in that spot, so he’s clearly the one to beat as he takes another crack at this level. Winter Pool has the tactical speed to work out the right trip and he appears to have gotten over some of the quirks that derailed him early in his career. He’s a deserving favorite, but I’m most interested in a runner who finished behind him last time.
HOMBRAZO (#4) showed marked improvement first off the claim for Joe Sharp at Churchill Downs in June, sailing clear of an overmatched group through the lane to win by over 4 lengths. He moved up in class for his Saratoga debut last time in that common July 30 race. He was getting a good ground-saving trip into the stretch, at which point Irad tried to nudge his way out. Het his Sharp-trained stablemate Runnin’ Ray refused to let him out of the pocket, so he had to wait for room before finishing mildly for fifth. He arguably could have finished closer if that trip had worked out. Joe Sharp is one of the few trainers who ships in to Saratoga who has a positive ROI at the Spa over the past 5 years, and he has a strong contender in this spot.
Exacta: 4 with 2,5,7,8
Trifecta: 4 with 5 with 2,7,8