Saturday, September 3, 2011

Weekend Handicapping: Another walk in the Park for Harve de Grace

Why is Saratoga such a difficult track to handicap?  I‘ve struggled finding that rhythm with this track, Del Mar and Monmouth I have a feel for those surfaces, but something about Saratoga just haunts me.  Not one to back away from a challenge, I’m going to take on the Woodward (G1) today at Saratoga.   This race is for 3YO’s and up, going over the dirt for a mile and a eighth, with a purse of $750,000.   As of this writing there have been no scratches.  What makes this an interesting race is having Havre de Grace take on the boys, along with some fine horses coming back from the Whitney.  So here we go …


#6  Havre de Grace ML 8/5:  Without a doubt she will be favorite and the question is from a betting standpoint do you lay or play her?  This Larry Jones filly has won at every Graded level, at this distance and is 12 for 12 ITM, with a 50% win rate.  She’s had a nice rest since that close call to Blind Luck at Delaware.  She can handle the Saratoga dirt and looks perfect for this race.  It looks like Rule and Mambo Meister will gun to the front and she will sit on their hip and take them out.

#8 Giant Oak ML 8/1:  I know this is a bit of a stretch here, but feel he is rounding back into form.  Was a distant third in the Whitney to Tizway and Flat Out, but posted a nice Beyer in that race and if you notice every time Bridgmohan has been in the saddle he has been close.  He has won at this level and might surprise the front runners down the stretch.     

#7 Flat Out ML 5/2:  Had that big win in the Suburban and then got bogged down in a nice effort in the Whitney.  There are no questions about distance or class level, it comes down to how does Solis ride this lightly raced 5YO?  Looking at the race shape, I’d say he has to stay close to Havre de Grace, if he slips back like in the Whitney it will be tough sledding trying to catch her.  He has the speed and form to get it done, but will need a near perfect trip.

Dark Horses:

#4 Rule ML 5/1:  Many will have him picked to win this race. He has the ability but seems to be an in and outer, never knowing which Rule will show up.  Had a strong 2YO campaign but has been really inconsistent since, with only one win last out since turning 4.  He posted a big Beyer and had to crank it up to win that race, workouts suggest he is ready, but just not buying it.  Could be wrong here but thinking Saratoga will swallow him up today.

#3 Mission Impazible ML 10/1:  This is the Pletcher horse that I believe is dangerous in this race.  Not one to win consistently but is always near at the end.  He didn’t run his race in the Whitney and would look for him to be up near the front.  The big change is Johnny V riding him and that could make all the difference.  Looks like a bouncer with his speed fig’s so that would suggest today might be a big day if you like to play form cycle angles. 

“Bombs Away”:

#10 Mambo Meister ML 10/1:  The oldest one in the field at 6, is a top winner at the stakes level and has won 3 in a row.  He is one of those hard knocking Calder horses that show up and can steal the show.  Interesting Beyer pattern of three strong efforts and then flattens, so today would suggest a flat day, but the pace might work to his advantage.  He will lay in the middle and if the others burn themselves up he could have that window to take it.  Has won at the G3 level and gut feel on this one.


6 - 8 - 7

Will be posting the Guaranteed $20,000 Pick 4 Selections at Balmoral tonight later today at

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