Below is the Pick 4 ticket for Opening Day, July 22nd at Saratoga. As always, the ticket is $20 or less.
Anna Rae (#1, 6-1) makes her third start off a layoff and is the pace play in this race. She won her debut on this track by over eleven lengths. Anna Rae was forced to close into :46 and change opening halves in her last two races, but she should be licking her chops behind :44 and change fractions in this race.
Apologynotaccepted (#5, 2-1) has failed to live up to her sparkling debut, but is the filly to beat while turning back to a sprint. Her two sprints are likely good enough to win this race. After losing back-to-back races at odds-on, she certainly is not a single, but this mare is the speed horse worth using in a race full of early pace.
Delicate Lady (#4, 8-1) also will benefit from the hot expected pace in this race. It is rare to find Pletcher and Castellano at 8-1 at Saratoga and this filly could be sneaky in this spot. She was laid off after a poor effort on the turf, but returns to dirt, returns to a sprint and is proven fresh. Pletcher is 35% off layoffs of over 180 days. Delicate Lady is the value play of this race.
Race 8 :
Fun (#8, 20-1) accomplished something many of these runners did not in their first start: winning from off the pace. She made up over 7 and a half lengths to win in a professional debut for Ian Wilkes who is not known for cranking runners up first time out. Her debut win came back on the slower side, which is why she is 20-1, but two-year old fillies can seemingly improve overnight. She gets an extra half furlong to work with and adds lasix as well. While many of these fillies will be faltering in the lane, she will be coming at a big price.
Olive Branch (#1, 3-1) was very visually impressive while breaking her maiden at Belmont Park. According to DRF, her trainer, Richard Violette, is 4 for 8 over the past five years in dirt sprints with juveniles making their second career start following a win. Look for her to sit just off the early pace and finish with gusto.
Made Me Shiver (#5, 5-2) flashed tremendous early speed in her debut and drew clear to win impressively in a fast time. Her sire, Maclean's Music, has been a very precocious sire thus far. She could be a future star or she could be a filly that needs a clear lead to prosper. With other speed signed on, we will find out today if this filly is the real deal.
Diamond Fields (#3, 6-1) looks ultra tough while making her U.S. debut in the Lake George. She ran 2nd in her last start to Persuasive in a 21 horse field at Ascot. The race before beating Diamond Fields, Persuasive beat Barleysugar. Barleysugar romped in her U.S. debut last weekend at Del Mar. Diamond Fields has also faced males and older females in her past performances. She has kept top company and has shown a preference for firm turf. Her trainer, Tommy Stack, won with the last foreigner he shipped to America for a stakes race at 22-1. This filly looks plenty live and is my single in the sequence.
Arch Contender (#2, 6-1) has been his own worst enemy and should win with a clean trip. He broke slow and was cut off in the lane in his last start off a layoff. He drops a touch in class, but he does not catch an easy field in this grass grab bag.
Dark Gemini (#12, 9-2) drops from straight maiden and shortens up from a mile and a half after making a nice middle move. This first-time gelding should be plenty fit, but he must work out a trip from post 12.
Market Strength (#5, 5-2) has had his chances and has burned plenty of money. This colt just missed last time and will break through this condition sooner rather than later. He will be in the mix and leaving off a Chad Brown contender on Opening Day at Saratoga seems rather foolish.
Brotherly (#7, 15-1) would be a throw out at a short price, but at 15-1 he is worth including. This first-time starter is by Blame, who is 20% with debut turf runners and is a sibling to Grade 1 winner Regally Ready. Florent Geroux takes the call for Michael Stidham and they are 31% when they team up. That is all great, but this $335,000 purchase shows up for $40,000 in his debut, which is a terrible sign. At 15-1 he provides value because of his breeding, but he is not running for a tag for nothing.
$0.50 Pick 4 Ticket: 1,4,5 / 1,5,8 / 3 / 2,5,7,12 = $18