RACE 3: BREAKING THE RULES (#2)
Sacred Life is a deserving favorite as he drops out of stakes company into this optional claimer. He’s been thrown into some tough spots over the past year, and has acquitted himself well on a few occasions, even picking up a Grade 1 placing when third behind stablemate Raging Bull in the Makers Mark Mile earlier this year. Since then he’s been a little disappointing, but it’s not as if his form has been terrible. He was a little flat through the late stages of the Dinner Party and then was compromised by a slow pace in the Forbidden Apple. He should be good enough to win here with anything close to his top effort, but the lack of pace could compromise his chances. Chad Brown’s other runner Analyze It is a bit more difficult to gauge. After winning the first 3 races of his career in impressive fashion, he’s gone just 1 for 9 since then with a few long layoffs sprinkled in between those starts. His last effort was decent, but he didn’t have much excuse to get run down by stablemate Value Proposition. I’m taking a shot against this Chad Brown duo with Breaking the Rules. This classy horse returns from another layoff after finishing off the board in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup in January. His form prior to that had been solid, as he had finished a decent third in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale. Most importantly, he ran two of the best races of his career when making his comeback from another lengthy layoff last summer, winning both at Belmont and here at Saratoga. He obviously has it in him to beat a field like this, and I think he may run well off the break.
RACE 5: A MO REAY (#7)
Mommasgottarun has to be considered the horse to beat after finishing a strong second on debut earlier this month. She was asked to go 6 1/2 furlongs that day and did well, setting a strong pace before succumbing to the longshot Dream Lith in the lane. She still drew 5 lengths clear of the rest of the field to earn a solid 93 TimeformUS Speed Figure A repeat of that performance may be good enough to win here. Furthermore, Tom Amoss is 14 for 41 (34%, $2.73 ROI) with 2-year-old maiden second time starters in dirt sprints over the past 5 years. I’m not against her, but I am also interested in fellow experienced runner Gerrymander. This well-bred filly was a big disappointment in her debut, but she’s worked well since then and figures to show up with a better effort second time out. That said, there are some intriguing first time starters signed on. The one that I want most is A Mo Reay. This My Racehorse / Spendthrift-owned filly is a $400k yearling purchase. She’s by 14% juvenile debut sire Uncle Mo, and the dam achieved all of her success on the turf. Todd Pletcher is 16 for 88 (18%, $1.57 ROI) with 2-year-old firsters in Saratoga dirt sprints over 5 years, and he’s sent out 5 of those winner at this current meet. This filly has been working very well for the debut, posting some fast gate drills before recently going best in company with debut winner Goddess of Fire on Aug. 15, and with a couple of other mates on Aug. 22. She looks ready to fire despite the sketchy dam’s side pedigree. I would also use fellow firsters Run for the Hills for Mark Casse and Distinctlypossible for Chad Brown.
RACE 9: RANGER FOX (#1)
It’s hard to know where the public will settle in this wide open edition of the Better Talk Now. Sifting Sands figure to attract support going out for the powerful Chad Brown stable. He comes off a victory at the N1X level but he paid a shocking $58 to win that day, and now he’s going to be among the favorites. Horses like this are typically ones you don’t want to bet back, but he did beat a solid field last time and may just finally be putting it all together. Straw Into Gold was a little disappointed as the favorite when facing New York-bred allowance horses last time. That wasn’t the strongest field for the level and he never really picked up the pace, but it is worth remembering that race was run during a rainstorm just before they took the rest of the card off the turf. He ran better with a perfect trip in the Manila two back and is a contender with a similar effort. I want to go in a different direction with recent maiden winner Ranger Fox. I like the progression that this John Terranova trainee has made through his three turf starts. He got a good trip stalking a slow pace in his turf debut, but subsequently improved when just missing on June 5 after setting an honest pace. Yet his last race is what really impressed me, as Joel Rosario decided to rate him behind horses, and he did so willingly before still producing a strong stretch run. A mile is probably the farthest he’ll want to go, but he’s drawn well down towards the rail and can work out another stalking trip.