Saratoga Horses in Focus for Thursday, September 1

RACE 3: RUN FOR COVER (#7)

A few of the main players in this auction-restricted 2-year-old maiden are exiting a race at the same level from Aug. 5. Sirius Light (#4) achieved the best result that day, improving significantly with the switch to turf. She got steadied soon after the start and found herself last of 10 runners moving down the backstretch. However, she got a very good trip after that, saving ground behind a fast pace before rallying well through the lane to get up for second. She’s the one to beat, but she figures to be favored here whereas she was 19-1 last time. Influentialous (#6) was one of those contesting the pace, so she obviously has a right to run better. My top pick is Run for Cover (#7), who finished a little farther back in the pack. However, this filly had to be used hard early breaking the rail that day. She rushed up to chase Influentialous before having to alter course around that rival on the far turn. She moved up menacingly at the top of the stretch but seemed to take an awkward step coming off the turn after faded thereafter. She had worked well into her debut and I think she’s capable of better. Mark Casse is 13 for 52 (25%, $2.55 ROI) with 2-year-old maiden second time starters in turf sprints over the past 5 years. There are also a couple of first time turfers that merit consideration. Numero Seis (#5) has damside pedigree, but I’m not a fan of Frosted as a sire. Bourbon and Honey (#8) is a little more interesting, as she exits a live race, and is by good turf sire Street Boss out of a dam who won 5 times on this surface.

RACE 6: BALSA (#5)

Inflation Nation (#6) is obviously the one to beat off his encouraging debut performance in July. Reserved off a fast pace in the early going, he made what seemed like a winning move to range up alongside leader Appraise in midstretch before getting turned away by that rival. Despite hanging a bit, he still earned a strong 102 TimeformUS Speed Figure for the performance, and a repeat of that effort will make him awfully tough to beat. Though, it is worth noting that Appraise did return to disappoint slightly in his next start against stakes company. I prefer another runner with experience who is actually switching surfaces. Balsa (#5) sprinted on dirt in his debut and showed plenty of speed before backing up through the stretch. He was a little chilly on the tote board that day and probably needed that experience. He’s now switching over a surface that he’s bred to handle, as he’s by excellent turf sire Street Boss out of a dam who won sprinting on grass. He’s worked well since the debut, accomplishing a nice team drill in company with Sanford winner Mo Strike a couple of weeks ago. I expect a much better performance this time. There are also a couple of first time starters who interest me. Listentothemusic (#4) has some grass pedigree and has trained well into his debut. Mo Saturdays (#7) also seems quite dangerous for Al Stall, who is 5 for 20 (25%, $5.20 ROI) with first time starters in turf sprints over 5 years. He has enough grass pedigree, and he’s trained very forwardly into this debut, going well in company with recent debut winner Gilcrease a few weeks ago.

RACE 7: OUR JESSICA (#7)

I suppose the public will default to Chad Brown and make Dream of Change (#9) the favorite in this conditioned claimer. She is dropping in for a tag for the first time, but I can’t say that I’m particularly encouraged by her form. She wasn’t facing the toughest allowance field at Monmouth last time and had her chance to win while just hanging between horses in the stretch. A repeat of that performance may put her in the winner’s circle here, but I didn’t want to pick her at a short price. Command Point (#4) may also attract some support as she makes her second start off the layoff for Rob Atras. She had earned superior speed figures when in George Weaver’s barn last year, but it’s unclear if she’s still capable of producing that form. She was against a slow pace in her return, but she saved all the ground and still didn’t have much of a response through the lane. I prefer Our Jessica (#7) from that Aug. 5 affair. She finished one spot behind Command Point, but undoubtedly had the tougher trip. For whatever reason, Jose Ortiz made no attempt to get her forward, grabbing her out of the gate and taking her immediately to last place. She predictably got rank under that restraint as the pace slowed down into the clubhouse turn and fought her rider while going wide into the bend. She proceeded in the 2 to 3-path for the rest of her trip, never put in a position to be effective. I think she’s capable of better and she appeared to be improving when she broke her maiden against weaker two back. I like the rider switch to John Velazquez, who should have her more forward this time. 

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