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.
WIN: #4 Upper Case, at 5-2 or greater