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Key Races & Bets for Saturday August 5th, 2023

Lure Stakes – Race 7 at Saratoga – Post Time 3:51 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:
I get the sense the plan for Ocean Atlantique in the Grade 1 Manhattan on June 10 (his most recent race) was to go for the lead and see how far he could go, given that his best races had come when leading from the start, and because his stablemate Red Knight would need an honest pace to run into. However, when it was apparent Strong Quality would not yield, Saez took back to second, and from then there was no plan, not to mention Ocean Atlantique was not cut out for 10 furlongs, so he ended up beaten nearly 30 lengths when 10th and last. Saez stays aboard, which is a BIG sign given he and Maker are 11 for 32 at Saratoga in turf routes the past three years (with a +81% return on investment), so on the drop in class to a restricted stakes, on the cut back to a much shorter distance, and drawing the four post with NO “early” pace types in the first three positions in the gate, Ocean Atlantique can run as he did in February in the Dust Commander Stakes when establishing an easy lead and never looking back.

The two most logical horses to run Ocean Atlantique down late if the strategy does not work are Dakota Gold and Smokin’ T, who are both in good form. Dakota Gold goes for his third stakes win in a row but the first two were against NY breds only, so he is allowed to run at this stakes level for horses which haven’t won a graded stakes this year. Irad Ortiz, Jr. stays aboard and the colt has won on the inner turf at Saratoga previously. Smokin’ T returns from a short rest and won off a similar layoff in May with a nice kick and under John V who rides back. Those efforts cited are representative of that they can do here but they don’t offer the value for win bets as compared to Ocean Atlantique at 12 to 1, as they open at 5 to 2 and 7 to 2 respectively. There is value in using them on exacta tickets as well as on pick 3 and 4 tickets at one of the other low odds horses, Portfolio Company (7 to 2) doesn’t have much probability as compared to the three main contenders.

One more horse to consider for the exacta and multiple race bets is Chazzesmee, a European shipper for the Stack barn with Murphy riding, as these two combined to win the Belmont Oaks at 15 to 1 last month with a European shipper and as the gelding has been first or second in all of his three starts this year.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Ocean Atlantique to win at odds of 5 to 1 or more.

Exacta:
Ocean Atlantique over Smokin’ T, Dakota Gold, Chazzesmee
Smokin’ T, Dakota Gold, Chazzesmee over Ocean Atlantique

Doubles:
Race 7: Ocean Atlantique, Smokin’ T, Dakota Gold, Chazzesmee
Race 8: Jersey Pearl, Interpolate, Dorth Vader

Race 7: Ocean Atlantique, Chazzesmee
Race 8: Jersey Pearl, Interpolate, Dorth Vader, Maple Leaf Mel

The double strategy above is to maximize profit, so we are playing the highest paying combinations twice, and avoiding those combining the favorites in races 7 and 8.

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Test Stakes – Race 8 at Saratoga – Post Time 4:26 PM Eastern

Analysis and Contenders:
Maple Leaf Mel is undefeated in five races, BUT in all five she has won when leading from the start. She draws the eight post, which is good, BUT just inside her in the gate is Munnys Gold, who has led from the start in four of five races and who has led after a half-mile in all five. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides Munnys Gold and Joel Rosario rides Maple Leaf Mel and I can’t see Ortiz, Jr. relinquishing the lead to Rosario and giving Maple Leaf Mel any advantage. Theirs is also the fact Clearly Unhinged is in the race to consider, as she’s undefeated in two sprints, draw the two post and is very likely to want to be close up early if not in front. Although it is possible Maple Leaf Mel can clear and win her third graded stakes in a row (hence why she can be used on pick 3 and double tickets because of the higher odds horses also in those sequences), there is a strong case to be made that a couple of stalkers can win here, and at high odds.

Jersey Pearl and Interpolate are those horses, opening at 15/1 each. Jersey Pearl ships in from Kentucky on a two race streak and Saez was up for the first of the two wins and rides here. Although she led from start to finish in her most recent race, with Arrieta in the saddle, when Saez rode her she relaxed nicely in third then got up by a neck. She’s improving with every start, with an 86 Equibase Speed Figure three back, then 93, then 100. To put that 100 figure in perspective, it is HIGHER (faster) than the 99 Maple Leaf Mel earned winning the G3 Victory Ride Stakes last month on the same day and it is higher than the 94 figures Pretty Mischievous and Dorth Vader earned running one-two in the Acorn Stakes one day later. As such, it is entirely possible Jersey Pearl could be a perfect four for four on dirt when this race is over.

Interpolate was 5 to 1 in the Victory Ride, compared to 5 to 2 for Maple Leaf Mel, so she wasn’t disregarded. However, she bobbled after the start and lost a lot of position, beginning last of 8. She rallied for fourth but had no shot. One before that in the Grade 2 Beaumont, at this seven furlong trip, she began fifth and missed by a neck with a 96 figure, an improvement off the 89 figure earned in her start previous to that. If she improves as expected here and likes the pace, she can post the upset as well and although I don’t expect her 15 to 1 odds to hold up because she’s trained by Chad Brown, she still will offer a lot of value.

Pretty Mischievous. Dorth Vader and Maple Leaf Mel can be considered for exactas and doubles.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Both Jersey Pearl and Interpolate can be bet to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

Remembering last week in the San Diego Stakes, where we had multiple potential bets, and won with Senor Buscador at $29, the following advice comes into play again:

As we may be considering win bets on more than one horse, this is a great race to take advantage of the mathematical edge provided by a “Dutching” tool, which prorates wagers for the best value. There’s a free dutching tool at Amwager.com, where you can set the amount you want to bet in total and the math is done for you to help achieve the best edge. This is just one of many tools, and perks, for bettors at Amwager.com

Exactas:
Jersey Pearl and Interpolate over Pretty Mischievous, Jersey Pearl, Interpolate, Dorth Vader, Maple Leaf Mel
Pretty Mischievous, Jersey Pearl, Interpolate, Dorth Vader, Maple Leaf Mel over Jersey Pearl and Interpolate

Doubles:
Race 8: Pretty Mischievous, Jersey Pearl, Interpolate, Dorth Vader, Maple Leaf Mel
Race 9: The Franchise, Webslinger, Lion of War

Race 8: Jersey Pearl, Interpolate, Dorth Vader
Race 9: Far Bridge

By playing these two tickets we are avoiding the lowest paying combinations and trying to maximize profit.

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Saratoga Derby Invitational – Race 9 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:01 PM Eastern

Analysis and main contenders:
There’s little doubt Far Bridge and Webslinger just ran the best races of their careers when first and fourth, respectively, in the similar Belmont Derby last month, earning career best Equibase figures of 110 and 108, respectively. As three year olds they still have room to improve, but it’s interesting to me that their strong efforts just prior to the Belmont Derby, with Far Bridge second in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge Stakes and with Webslinger winning the Audubon Stakes, earned 96 figures each. When thinking about three year olds at this time of year this demonstrates how much improvement an occur from one race to the next and that’s why, in addition to Far Bridge and Webslinger, I’m going to strongly consider The Franchise in this race, opening at 30 to 1.

First, the colt has done nothing wrong recently, finishing fourth in this 2023 debut in May, then second of 14 in June, before winning in a field of 11 at a mile and one-eighth last month. This mile and three-sixteenths trip is virtually the same, and his last three efforts yielded figures of 96, 96 and 95, identical to the races both Far Bridge and Webslinger ran before their one-two finish in the identical Belmont Derby last month. Better still, The Franchise is trainer by Joseph O’Brien, who won the Belmont Gold Cup in 2021 with a European Shipper and who won the 2021 edition of this race at 21 to 1 with a European shipper. Luis Saez (and his agent Kiaran McLaughlin) see fit to ride, and 30 to 1 is way too high to pass up for a well bred colt in form.

One more horse we can consider, at least for exactas, is Lion of War. He’s another European shipper, one which has finished second in two straight, the last in a field of 15 in a handicap at Ascot worth $127,000, and with a strong 97 figure similar to the figures The Franchise has earned.

Handicapper Picks

Win: The Franchise to win at 4 to 1 or more. Lion of War at odds of 6 to 1 or more.

If we consider betting both The Franchise and Lion of War for win bets, this is another very appropriate use of a Dutching tool like the one which is free and easy to use at Amwager, to help us get the best value we can from our wagers.

Exactas: Box The Franchise and Far Bridge, Box The Franchise and Webslinger, Box The Franchise and Lion of War, Box The Lion of War and Far Bridge, Box The Lion of War and Webslinger

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Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

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