Paul Quigley's US Racing Preview

Paul has selections with analysis for Saturday night's stateside action from Saratoga and Woodbine, including six Grade 1's from Saratoga - live on Sky Sports Racing

PAUL'S ANALYSIS FROM Saratoga and Woodbine
Saturday 24 August 2019


It’s the highlight of The Saratoga meet on Saturday. Travers Stakes Day sees the upstate New York track host seven stakes, all but one of them Grade 1’s. The race the day is named after may lack some of the leading three year olds but it is still a very decent renewal. Leading players Code of Honor and Tacitus have been placed in legs of this year’s Triple Crown. Bob Baffert has entered the improving Mucho Gusto. He gave Kentucky Derby first past the post Maximum Security a race in The Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth last time. The action starts early with the first stake due off at 6.48pm. Watch all the action on live on Sky Sports Racing.


Saratoga Race 5 (6.48pm)
The Forego (Grade 1) – 3 year olds and upwards – 7 Furlongs - Dirt

Mitole (3) was carrying all before him and looked the best sprinter in America until being a well beaten third in The Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt here last month. The winner Imperial Hint freaked, breaking the track record but he ran below form losing by over seven lengths. Prior to that, he’d looked a monster taking The Grade 1 Met Mile and before that The Grade 1 Churchill Downs. He could bounce back to form but faces a formidable rival in Promises Fulfilled (1). He was beaten four lengths by Mitole in those Grade 1’s but ran better at Belmont last month. He was a wide margin winner of a Grade 2 with Killybegs Captain (4) back in third. The mount of Luis Saez has won both his previous starts at Saratoga. That includes a Grade 1 as a three year old in this card in 2018. His rail draw means he is likely to be gunned from the outset and he may clear old rival Mitole. It is very possible that if he gets clear, he won’t be for catching.

The market leaders are pace types so a destructive speed duel is not out of the question. The California based Air Strike (2) has a big finish in him. He may improve for a comeback run in The Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar. Bon Raison (5) is an improving four year old. He won a restricted stake earlier this month with a big effort. Firenze Fire (6) has the form to go close. However, he has finished well behind Mitole in his last two starts. He is a tough read.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Promises Fulfilled (1)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

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Saratoga Race 6 (7.23pm)
The Ballerina (Grade 1) – Fillies and Mares – 3 year olds and upwards – 7 Furlongs - Dirt

Dual Grade 1 winner Separationofpowers (4) is an improving four year old. Chad Brown’s filly had Dawn the Destroyer (7) well back in third when a near five length winner of a Grade 3 at Belmont in early June. Jose Ortiz had her on the lead that day but she can sit off the pace and run her race. She has not raced since but she’s proven fresh.

Come Dancing (2) is still looking for her first Grade 1. She slammed Pacific Gale (3) and Dawn the Destroyer (7) to win a Grade 3 at Aqueduct in April. A month later, she won a Grade 2 at Belmont by almost seven lengths. In The Grade 1 Ogden Phipps in June, she stumbled at the break and rushed up to make the lead. It may have cost her as she was run down by Midnight Bisou (who runs later on the card). Like Separationofpowers, she’s been absent since June. She has been working really well in the mornings.

Mia Mischief (5) won a Grade 1 at Churchill in May the last time she raced over seven furlongs. She hasn’t run quite as well since, particularly last month when she was beaten by Minit to Stardom (6). Both fillies could be part of a crowded front end in this event.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Separationofpowers (4)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

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Saratoga Race 7 (7.59pm)
The H. Allen Jerkens (Grade 1) - 3 year olds – 7 Furlongs - Dirt

Shancelot (1) put up one of the WOW performances of the year when winning the Grade 2 Amsterdam here last month, taking his record to three from three. Gulfstream Park based Venezuelan Emisael Jaramillo set super quick fractions that day and his mount drew off to win by a dozen lengths. In the process he earned the top Beyer figure ever reported for a sprinter since the Daily Racing Form started printing them in 1993! He switches sides in the starting gate and breaking from post 12 last time but it is difficult to argue too strongly against him, unless his Herculean effort has left an indelible mark.

There is a chance that Call Paul (2) will match strides early but that wouldn’t help his cause late, although deep closers Mind Control (6) and Hog Creek Hustle (9) could mop up the minor money. Mind Control won the Grade 3 Bayshore at Aqueduct in April but lost all chance next time out with a stumbling start in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day. Hog Creek Hustle (9) took the spoils that day with Nitrous (5) and Barracho (4) in the exacta and trifecta slots. Mind Control had an even worse trip last time out but may be worth taking a chance for an exacta play or each way at, or around, the morning line price.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Shancelot (1)
EXOTIC BETS
Reversed Exacta (2 Bets) Shancelot (1) and Mind Control (6)

BET ON US RACING
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Saratoga Race 8 (8.35pm)
The Ballston Spa (Grade 2) - Fillies and Mares – 3 year olds and upwards – 1 1/16 Miles - Turf

Ed Walker ships Indian Blessing (5) across the pond and his charge can be given a major chance in this race. In 2018 she ran in three stateside turf stakes, all graded and she took home the show dough on all three occasions, including in this contest last year. She arrives this time round with exactly the same Timeform rating as last, but the opposition this time around doesn’t look as strong as last year and she is one I’d be getting involved in at the morning line price.

Chad Brown runs two and they can both be given a chance – now there’s a surprise! Fifty Five (2) has been mopping up state bred prize money in the last couple of years – most of it for first place. She won an open minor stake in April and followed that with a second placing in a Grade 3 at Parx last time out. I’d put her in the solid but not spectacular box on what we have seen so far.

I’d be more interested in his other runner Mascha (9). She made her first start for her new handler at the end of last month following a lay-off approaching a year. That resulted in a routine success in an entry level allowance and, although her speed figure wasn’t spectacular, she should be capable of much better, based on her European form in 2018.

Secret Message (3) and Starship Jubilee (8) were first and second in a Grade 2 at Woodbine at the end of May. There was ¾ length between them on that occasion and by the analysis of weights and measures we use over here, they should finish together in this. Both of them have run once since and each of them put up good performances and neither can be ruled out.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Indian Blessing (5)
EXOTIC BETS
Reversed Exacta (2 Bets) Indian Blessing (5) and Mascha (9)

BET ON US RACING
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Saratoga Race 9 (9.12pm)
The Personal Ensign (Grade 1) - Fillies and Mares – 3 year olds and upwards – 1 1/8 Miles - Dirt

Six fillies and mares have been entered for this top grade contest but it looks like it could develop into a classic head to head battle between a pair of them.

Midnight Bisou (1) had an excellent three-year-old season last year picking up a couple of Grade 1 events, one of them in the Steward’s Room. She wasn’t out of the frame in any of her nine starts, including when finishing 3rd as favourite in the Kentucky Oaks. However, this year she has come back in even better form and arrives at The Spa with a perfect five from five record in 2019, the latter three successes all coming in top level events at three parks, Oaklawn Belmont and Monmouth. She’s the marginal favourite on the morning line and she is the most likely winner.

Elate (4) started her season at Oaklawn Park chasing Midnight Bisou (1) home in a pair of graded contests before getting her head in front in a Grade 2 at Churchill Downs in the middle of June. She improved on that effort when romping away with the Delaware Handicap last time in the facile manner expected of a 3-10 favourite! She was second in this last year and may have to settle for runner up money again.

Although the top two in the market look like the main contenders, Wow Cat (5) can’t be discounted. Her best effort came when splitting Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last November and although she was a well beaten third in this last year, her form improved after that.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Midnight Bisou (1)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
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Saratoga Race 10 (9.49pm)
The Sword Dancer (Grade 1) – 4 year olds and upwards – 1 ½ Miles - Turf

Nine runners are scheduled to face the starter but there looks to be a fair bit of dead wood in here, particularly towards the inside of the starting gate.

There is the almost obligatory multiple entry from Chad Brown’s barn with Annals of Time (7) having been installed as 5-2 morning line favourite. That’s quite a price for a six-year-old with only seven runs on his CV. Three years ago he won the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on the last of his four starts that year. He won his only race, a second level allowance in the middle of September 2017, before going MIA until June this year. A runner up in a third level allowance was followed by a win in the same grade. His works since do little to dissuade his supporters but this is where he gets his first proper test as a grown up.

The Brown trio is complete by Primo Reserves (1) who, in truth, would be an eye-popping winner and Ya Primo (6) who finished 2nd Grade 2 here last month. That was Ya Primo’s first run in the US after a very successful career in Chile where he closed out his campaign with a couple of Grade 1 victories. He can be expected to improve off that effort but will have to.

Be careful with your bets with Channel Cat (4) and Channel Maker (8) in the field.

Channel Cat (4) is trainer by Todd Pletcher and has thrived this year getting his first win last time out after three decent efforts. That score came in a Grade 2 here last month where he numbered Ya Primo (6), Channel Maker (8) and Sadler’s Joy (9) among his victims. I suspect he somewhat stole that off the front and may not get such a favourable set up here.

Bill Mott trainee Channel Maker (8) was 2nd in the 2018 running of the Sword Dancer before taking the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Belmont. That saw him go into the Breeders’ Cup Turf as one of the leading American contenders, only to run a complete clunker on the big day. He’s been a little frustrating this year but a repeat of the form he showed when winning the Grade 1 Man O’ War at Belmont in May would put him right in the mix.

Sadler’s Joy (9) won this back in 2017 but in eleven runs since then has only managed to add one Grade 2 success He more than pays his way for his owners but isn’t generally ‘win’ material.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Ya Primo (6)
EXOTIC BETS
Reversed Exacta (2 Bets) Ya Primo (6) and Channel Maker (8)

BET ON US RACING
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Woodbine Race 9 (10.28pm)
The Play The King (Grade 2) – 3 year olds and upwards – 7 Furlongs - Turf

Curlin's Honor (6) was a fine runner up in a Grade 2 over a mile last time out in late June. Four weeks earlier, he ran third to El Tormenta (1) in a Grade 2 over today’s course and distance. He is 6lbs better off at the weights today.

El Tormenta (1) was one of a trio in here that ran in a allowance prep for this race last month. Silent Poet (2) made all and beat the rail drawn runner by half a length. Sable Island (3) who ran second in a Grade 2 on Tapeta last time may be a step or two quicker than him early on so he may have to resort to the role of stalker. .

Admiralty Pier (5) ran fourth in that allowance contest on by Silent Poet. He had his run blocked in the straight and would have finished closer. He’d been absent since running a pair of fine races at Tampa at the turn of the year. He could improve markedly for the run. Interestingly, Luis Contreras the regular rider of El Tormenta now takes the ride.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Admiralty Pier (5)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
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Saratoga Race 11 (10.44pm)
The Travers (Grade 1) – 3 year olds – 1 ¼ Miles - Dirt

To be honest this doesn’t look to be the strongest field ever assembled for the Midsummer Derby and a number of the major contenders seem to be on a bit of a retrieval mission.

That certainly applies to Code of Honour (2) from the barn of Shug McGaughey. He won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park in early March but he regressed slightly in the Florida Derby where he finished 3rd. He took the same position in the Kentucky Derby after being promoted a spot on the controversial disqualification of Maximum Security, his nemesis in Florida. Taken off the Triple Crown trail after that he returned with an entirely satisfactory win in the Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont at the beginning of July. I think he could be sitting on a big run.

Owendale (1) also has a 3rd placing in a Triple Crown on his record race courtesy of his run in the Preakness where he had Everfast (5) in front of him in 2nd. He then won the Grade 3 Ohio Derby in June but, overall, I’d be surprised whether he is classy enough for this and I think his morning line price overrates his PPs.

Tacitus (6) had been pretty frustrating latterly. Early in 2019, he won the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby straight of his maiden win and followed up with a win in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial. He finished well to take 4th place in the Kentucky Derby but could not justify favouritism in the Belmont and, last time, out he was sent to post as favourite in the Jim Dandy here last month but a bad step leading to a stumble put paid to that attempt.

Bob Baffert ships Mucho Gusto (7) east again after his recent foray to New Jersey for a tilt at the Grade 1 Haskell. He found only Maximum Security too good on that occasion but he looks a progressive sort and his trainer doesn’t waste too much stable ammo firing at unhittable targets.

Tax (12) was the one who benefitted the most from the misfortune of Tacitus (6) in the Jim Dandy, stalking the early pace bore grinding out a ¾ length score. Things pretty much fell into his lap on that day and I doubt whether Dame Fortune will smile on him again.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Code of Honour (2)
EXOTIC BETS
Reversed Exacta (2 Bets) Code of Honour (2) and Mucho Gusto (7)

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
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Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets


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