I finally decided for the Weekend Handicap to focus on the Travers. What I like about this race is we have a rematch of the Haskell, a couple of shippers and a handful of lightly raced 3YO’s that have been coming along nicely. This mix usually spells an upset and what have they been calling Saratoga? “The Graveyard of Favorites”.
So let’s get started, going to look at three contenders, an outsider and the “Bombs Away” choice. When you look at this field you notice there is only one deep closer (JW Blue), one true speed horse (Shackleford) and the rest are pressers. That makes for an interesting pace scenario and when going this distance of a mile and quarter pace will be everything. It will be fun to see who goes with Shackleford, would be surprised if they let him take off.
1. #7 Coil ML 3/1: Seems to have gotten lost in the Stay Thirsty hoopla and the “how good” is Ruler on Ice and Shackleford debate. Baffert has one heck of a 3YO here and fits this spot nicely. Has won at the G1 and G3 level and near miss at the Swaps(G2). In the Haskell (G1) showed how tough he is coming off a bad start to take down the front running Shackleford. His Beyer’s have been three consecutive 96’s which is nice and his workouts tightened up. The only concern I have is there has been some grumbling from the Kentucky and West Coast trainers that their horses haven’t liked the Saratoga surface. Not sure if that is anecdotal or not but might be a factor. One thing for certain, Coil will be at the wire no matter what.
2. # 10 Shackleford ML 9/2: Here is the speed and we all know it. I’m not concerned about the distance that many are, this all comes down to the pace. If Castanon rides him like he did in the Haskell and Preakness he will have a good chance to win this race. What I really like is his form, notice he has developed a three step improvement pattern in his Beyer’s. This race would be the third race from his off number at the Belmont. Have a sneaky suspicion he may get it done today.
3. #9 Stay Thirsty ML 5/2: I know he won the Gotham(G3) and the Jim Dandy (G2) and is a Pletcher horse. Had a monster 106 last out and seems to be in a groove right now. What I see is a 3YO that has a pretty consistent bounce pattern in his Beyer’s, his two Graded wins were over horses of less caliber and when he has faced this bunch he has been beaten soundly (excluding the Belmont on a sloppy day). He will be in the hunt but don’t see him taking it from Coil or Shackleford. He might confirm the "Graveyard" hype.
1. #4 Ruler on Ice ML 6/1: Not sure what to make of him. 2 of his 3 wins have come over off tracks; his Beyer’s are high and low and show no pattern. Even his racing style is inconsistent. He can go the distance and has raced well against good company. The pace is going to determine if he is there at the end. He is a classic “what if” horse, if everything fall’s in place, and he sticks close, he might just swing by them all. Dangerous in the race but not sure he can cover the first three.
#6 Raison d’Etat ML 10/1: I admit I’m a sucker for lightly raced 3YO with great pedigrees stepping up in class. He may be way over his head today, but his Beyer’s are moving up nicely, workouts have been crisp and have to respect Bill Mott when brings a horse in to a field like this. I also like Eddie Castro in these races, and to that point he switched off Rattlesnake Bridge to stay with this one. Not sure if there was a prior commitment, but just an angle to think about.
Selection: 7 – 10 – 9
Tonight I will be blogging the selections for tonight’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick 4 at Balmoral. http://the-clocker.blogspot.com/