Saratoga Horses in Focus for Sunday, August 14

RACE 2: BEAUTIFULNAVIGATOR (#2)

Towhead (#5) was a participant in that no-contest race last time, in which she was ridden to win while some others were eased, thinking the race was called off. She did benefit from a relatively slow early pace that day, but she could find herself in a similar position here. I’m not against her, and she should benefit from experience, but she’s pretty obvious this time. Another runner who experience who has a right to improve is Forever Dixie (#9). She showed some ability in her debut behind a runaway winner and there’s enough turf pedigree to suggest she might handle it. Yet there appear to be some talented first time starters in this field. Chad Brown has entered a pair, and I actually prefer the one who could be a bigger price. Conseillante (#7) is out of a dam who has produced 6 winning foals from as many to race, topped by G1 Santa Anita Oaks winner Paradise Woods. While that one was a dirt specialist, 4 of this dam’s other foals won on turf, including stakes winner Forest Chatter. She’s worked decently for this debut and seems well suited to this spot. My top pick is Beautifulnavigator (#2). She was purchased for $81k at the Goffs Orby sale in Ireland. A member of the first crop for BC Mile winner Expert Eye, she’s out of a dam who won once in 18 starts, sprinting on turf in England. She’s produced 4 overseas winners, topped by multiple listed stakes winner Tabarrak, who was best between 7F and 8F on turf. Ken McPeek has decent statistics in this situation. She looked best from the gate in that July 28 drill, and it seems like a good sign that Luis Saez is riding for this barn.

RACE 5: GLITTER UP (#4)

Mrs. Green (#2) is clearly the horse to beat after just missing by a nose at this level last time. She’s progressed with each start and seemed to benefit from the turnback in distance last time. That was arguably a tougher field than this one and she may just win by attrition, as many of her rivals in this spot have significant questions to answer. One of those is Sixth Street (#8), who turns back in distance as she makes her second start in this country for Brendan Walsh. She was more of a sprinter in Europe, and she just seemed like one who couldn’t finish going the mile last time. She actually traveled well into that race before stalling in the stretch, which leads me to believe that the turnback can work for her. Jorge Abreu has entered a couple of runners, but both seem hard to trust. Linear Thinking (#5) was once highly regarded, but she hasn’t raced in nearly 2 years and is a question going this short. I’m going in a different direction with Glitter Up (#4). This filly is bred to be more of a turf horse as a half-sister to turf specialists Sand Dancer and Shock Leader. I thought she took to grass pretty well in her lone attempt over it as a 2-year-old, setting the pace before getting run down in the final jumps. The filly that beat her, Lost My Sock, went on to run respectably against stakes company, flattering the form of that race. There’s some other speed in here, but she’s drawn well outside of them and should be a square price.

RACE 6: UPPER CASE (#4)

I’m taking a stand against possible favorite Chocolate Gelato (#8) as she makes her second start. She ran fine on debut, but there were some real expectations for her off an impressive series of workouts. I have some questions about the quality of that debut field she faced, and it feels like she’s stepping up into a tougher spot. Furthermore, Todd Pletcher is just 3 for 22 (14%, $0.78 ROI) with 2-year-old maiden second time starters in Saratoga dirt sprints over 5 years. I’m most interested in a couple of first time starters in a race that appears loaded with talent. One of those is Firing Bullets (#10), who has lived up to her name in recent weeks. This grey filly’s workouts for her debut have been very impressive. She was much the best from the gate in that July 27 drill, running well clear of a couple of overmatched workmates while showing real acceleration into the turn. She doesn’t have much pedigree, but she sold well after working a furlong in 9 4/5 at the 2-year-old sale. My top pick is another firster, Upper Case (#4). This $260k weanling purchase was subsequently an RNA for $725k as a yearling. The dam was unraced and her only foal to start is turf horse Ever Smart. The dam is a full-sister to G1 BC Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway ($1.5 million). Bill Mott doesn’t have great stats with firsters at Saratoga, but this filly could be an exception. She’s been working very well, looking best in company in each of her last two works while obviously wanting to do more. I think there’s real talent here.

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