Saratoga Horse Racing Picks for Saturday 7/31/21
As always, check the program for scratches and changes and monitor the weather and track conditions.
(I will reference Equibase's Speed Figure in selected races, which tells you how fast a horse has been running in each of its races -- adjusted for track, distances, and conditions.)
Special Reserve and Mischevious Alex, Race 8
FanDuel Racing Odds: 9/2 and 2/1
Race 8 is the $350K Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap sprint at 6 furlongs. numberFire's model projects favorite Mischevious Alex (2/1) to outduel Firenze Fire (3/1) and Whitmore (4/1).
Mischievous Alex is 3-for-3 in sprints since EPO trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. took over conditioning. Horse Racing Radar notes he has the top pedigree for the distance and surface. Leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides.
Whitmore owns the highest speed figure for the distance, according to Guaranteed Tip Sheet. He won the Breeders Cup Sprint last year and has a pair of runner-up finishes plus a third-place finish this year.
Firenze Fire has good early speed and some of the best late pace numbers in the field, per Horse Racing Radar.
Special Reserve (9/2) is one to include as a pace presser with value, according to Horse Racing Nation’s Super Screener. He’s won 4-of-5 starts this year, including a Grade 3 race, and his pace ratings and top conditioning suggest he’ll move forward again for EPO trainer Mike Maker. Top stretch rider Joel Rosario will likely look to get him moving early from the outside No. 9 post.
Essential Quality and Masqueparade , Race 9
FanDuel Racing Odds: 1/2 and 4/1
Race 9 is the $600K Jim Dandy Stakes. The Grade 2 race for three-year-olds drew just six runners, and it's going 1 1/8 miles. The heavy favorite and projected winner by numberFire is Essential Quality (1/2). He won the Belmont Stakes last race, and Luis Saez rides again for EPO trainer Brad Cox, shooting for the horse's seventh win in eight career starts. FanDuel Racing odds of 1/2 imply a 66.7% win probability.
Weyburn (6/1) should be running on the lead with Masqueparade (4/1) stalking and capable of challenging the favorite and moving forward off his career-best race and win in the Ohio Derby last month.
Keepmeinmind (6/1) finished a close third in the Ohio Derby. He’s a closer who has not moved forward as a three-year-old until that race, with one in-the-money finish in five starts this year. All those races have been graded stakes. including fourth in the Preakness.
Cross Border and Shamrocket, Race 10
FanDuel Racing Odds: 9/2 and 8/1
Race 10 is the 1 3/8 mile Bowling Green Stakes on the inner turf. The $250K Grade 2 turf marathon around three turns drew eight runners, and numberFire's algorithm likes favorite Channel Maker (5/2) to win. While he has back class, this is a very competitive field, and there are better options and value. That includes Moon Over Miami (9/2) for trainer Bill Mott, who has won this race several times and also trains Channel Maker and longshot Red Knight (12/1).
Guaranteed Tip Sheet picks Cross Border (9/2) and notes he has five wins and a second-place finish in six starts at Saratoga. The seven-year-old should be included, having also won this race last year for EPO trainer Mike Maker with top jockey Luis Saez riding.
Shamrocket (8/1) is an improving four-year-old for EPO trainer Todd Pletcher who has finished top-four in all 16 career starts and should do so again with Irad Ortiz, Jr riding. Include in exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagers for a bigger potential payoff.