Saratoga Horses in Focus for Wednesday, August 3

RACE 2: LAUGHTER (#2)

The runners with dirt form in this NY-bred maiden claimer are not particularly compelling. I suppose #1A Glittering Prize is the filly to beat off her two recent results in similar spots. However, she’s needed plenty of time between her races and is going to take money based on the rider upgrade to Luis Saez. She can obviously win, but I wanted to search for better value. I have similar issues with #7 Darn That Song, who has plenty of back races that make her a solid fit at this level. However, she’s tailed off recently and now has to get back on track for a new barn. She’s also picking up Irad Ortiz, which knocks down her price. #6 Frosty Invasion is a little more appealing, since she’s dropping from the maiden special weight level. I’m a little concerned that 6 furlongs is on the short side for her, but she’s run reasonably well in all of her recent dirt starts and seems like a solid fit here. Yet I’m going in a different direction with my top pick. #2 Laughter has never raced on dirt, which some may take as a bad sign. Yet she has a pedigree that suggests she should handle it. She’s by Lookin at Lucky from a female family of primarily dirt horses. Her dam did produce a turf winner by Vancouver, but the dam herself is a half-sister to a dirt stakes winner. This filly has also really picked it up in her recent workouts. That 47-flat bullet last week was the fastest of the day by well over a second. 

RACE 5: TRIUMPHANT ROAD (#4)

I suppose #1 Java Buzz is the horse to beat as he makes his second start off a layoff for Linda Rice, who has solid stats with this move. However, I can’t say that I’ve been thrilled with any of his prior runs. He was off a step slowly and was in tight quarters for part of the stretch drive. However, I thought he had his chance to pick up a better placing and just never really seized the opportunity. I’m also not convinced of the overall quality of that last field and think there are more interesting horses in this spot. I have no problem with #5 Sosua Summer’s form, other than the fact he’s had more chances than the rest. His lone turf sprint at Gulfstream in February was actually a pretty strong effort, as both horses who finished ahead of him are stakes quality performers. I won’t be surprised when this turnback suits him, but it’s hard to pick him on top at a short price. There are a couple of interesting first time turfers in this field. #2 Upper Level makes some sense off his debut, and his dam was a stakes-placed turf performer. Yet I prefer #4 Triumphant Road at a better price. I was a little surprised when the connections debuted this horse on dirt last summer because he just looked like such a turf horse. He sold for a hefty sum at the two-year-old sale after working a furlong in 10 1/5, looking very turf-meant in that drill. His dam was a multiple graded stakes winner on turf. Three of her 6 foals to try this surface are winners over it, including stakes winner Curlin’s Fox. The layoff is obviously an obstacle, but he figures to be a square price.

RACE 8: MUST BE LOVE (#2)

This $50k claimer for 3-year-olds is one of the most competitive races of the day. #5 Dot’s Dollar figures to take some money as he drops back into the claiming ranks for Tom Morley. He was in great form when initially claimed by these connections, but I wasn’t thrilled with his last performance at Monmouth and have questions about him getting 7 furlongs in a race that features other speed. #3 Buckingham Prince and #9 Swift Tap are the two logical alternatives, both shipping in from Churchill Downs. The former was a game second at this level last time when beaten by a solid rival in Stellar Tap. A repeat of that performances makes him a contender here. Swift Tap also owns strong recent form in Kentucky, having finished third against a better field of older rivals last time out. He’s actually getting class relief here and is drawn well on the outside. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, which seems plausible given the amount of speed signed on, so I want a runner that can pass rivals. #2 Must Be Love fits the bill and should be a square price in this spot. He’s making his first start for Gustavo Rodriguez off a private purchase and trainer switch following his last race. He ran a race that would make him competitive here when breaking his maiden back in March. Since then he’s tried different surfaces and distances with mixed results. Yet I thought he ran better than it appears two back at Delaware and just seemed to get exposed by the distance at Laurel last time. I think it’s interesting that he’s being moved up to this $50k level for his NYRA debut, and he picks up the crafty Joel Rosario, who can work out a trip from off the pace.

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