There's a bunch of races today that reek of blahness, and a bunch that are quite interesting. Falling squarely into the "interesting" category are the 2nd and 9th races, but since I'm well aware of my limitations when it comes to handicapping and analyzing 2yo races, I'll pass on those for now. Our newest member of the blogosphere, Sir Steven Crist, has already done a fine job with the 5th race, so while I disagree with his conclusions (I like Borobudur), I won't repeat his analysis. (BTW, congrats to Alan for the well-deserved shout-out on the DRF blog.) And while I like the 3rd race more than a little, especially since I think once again Deadly Dealer is a bet-against at a short price, I'm going to say let's look at today's 8th as the Race of the Day, since it comes square in the middle of the late Pick-everythings.
The race marks the, um, return for Incriminate, who won impressively first time out on Travers Day last year for Godolphin, and followed that up with a pair of uninspiring 4th place finishes in graded stakes. Freshened for Saratoga by resting for 10 months, he's back at the site of his best race, and he's coupled with the interesting Blue Sky God, who ran his last in Dubai. The jockeys are notable here, Luzzi is riding Blue Sky God, which strikes me as the oddest pairing we'll see on opening day, and Velazquez is on Incriminate, and not Garifine. I realize Pletcher's gotten the services of Gomez on Garifine, but you have to question the horse's ability when even Velazquez jumps off him to ride a steed that hasn't been out for 3/4 of a year and has never ridden before. I'll play against Pletcher partially on that theory, and partially because I'm always wary of big Beyers in maiden races earned by front-runners---often that doesn't reveal that the horse is a speed champ, it just means he got the race his own way, especially when there's no proof of any other races in that echelon.
Baby Rusch is an elder against 3yos here, but I feel like his best is going to be on an uncontested lead, which he won't get here. And while the horse may be quick, Joseph DeMola needs to start winning races before I'm going to bet someone like Jamaica Kev. Mr. Rowdy will take some action based on being a beaten favorite twice in a row, despite not showing much in his last two and getting the estimable Shaun Bridgmohan in the irons. Color me unimpressed.
So for a price play, why not Minister's Appeal, who's 15-1 on the morning line and has superb connections in Mott and Prado? His last two races are almost total toss-outs; his previous was on the turf, and he got a hideous start in his last race, both of which may have cost him any chance. This slightly goes against what I said earlier about betting a horse who's earned a huge Beyer front-running in a maiden race; however, the 81 he ran the race before that indicates to me that he may have just move forward in his last.
So the play for me is a strong wni bet on Minister's Appeal if he's double-digits (I think he will be), and using him in exactas both ways with the Godolphin entry, Irish Ace, who broke his maiden here, and Pauillac, who should be flying late. Hopefully the prices will be solid.
Enjoy opening day! It's possibly the best day at Saratoga each year, as it's ripe with the promise of great racing and a lucrative August. It isn't usually until the Alabama that we realize the latter isn't in the cards, once again.