H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga – Post Time 4:12PM Eastern

Following Sea won the second and third starts of his career this past April and June, the latter after shipping to New York and leaving Bob Baffert for Todd Pletcher. Both efforts were runaway wins by an average of six lengths with 110 and 105 Equibase Speed Figures. Stretching out from one turn to try two-turns for the first time in the Haskell last month, Following Sea was still very well regarded at 7 to 2 BUT was the victim of horse falling in the race and he had to nearly completely stop to avoid falling. We can easily draw a line through that race and now with John Velazquez getting on and the colt returning to one turn, Following Sea is the one to beat as he should run even better (faster) than he did in those last two sprints. Best of all he opens at 5 to 1.

 

Now, about the likely odds-on favorite Jackies Warrior, who just won the Amsterdam Stakes over the track. That was over a very sloppy track so I’d consider it less relevant than when coming up a neck shy of winning the Woody Stephens in June at this seven furlong trip. Those were his BEST two efforts, yet when trying to measure those against others in the field we must pay attention to the 101 and 99 figures which are INFERIOR to those of Following Sea, as well as Life is Good (110) and even Judge N Jury (108). As such, Jackie’s Warrior in my opinion is ONLY to be used on one of the two pick 3 tickets below and otherwise we can and should try to beat him. Drain the Clock beat Jackies Warrior at this trip in the Woody Stephens then was second to that one in the shorter Amsterdam over a sloppy track. He’s not as fast as Following Sea and Life is Good but he opens at 6/1 and that make a difference when deciding to use him or no on pick 3 tickets. Judge N Jury may have freaked last month when winning by eight lengths with a  stakes quality 108 figure BUT it was at Saratoga and we can’t take a chance it was not a fluke so at 15/1 he must be considered particularly with RED HOT Luis Saez riding again. Life is Good returns from nearly six months off, last seen winning the San Felipe Stakes in California for Baffert. We know how Following Sea improved when going from Baffert to Pletcher so this colt also has a big shot to keep his perfect record, now three-for-three, intact, and he’s likely to be the one the other five will have to run down to win.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Following Sea to win at 3 to 2 or more, a true low odds overlay win bet.

Pick 3 (Two tickets):

Race 9: Following Sea

Race 10: ALL eight horses

Race 11: Tribhuvan, Gufo, Rockemperor, Japan

Race 9: Drain the Clock, Jackies Warrior, Following Sea, Judge N Jury, Life is Good

Race 10: As Time Goes By

Race 11: Tribhuvan, Gufo, Rockemperor, Japan

Get up to $500 signup bonus and cashback rewards when you bet with AmWager.

I’m Ready To Bet Now!

Personal Ensign Stakes – Race 10 at Saratoga – Post Time 4:47 Eastern

As you can tell from the pick 3 tickets above, I have a strong leaning towards As Time Goes By, opening at 6/1, even with Letruska opening at 6 to 5. As time Goes By has done NOTHING wrong in her career if you rightfully ignore the Clement Hirsch Stakes four weeks ago at Del Mar when she stumbled badly and didn’t get the early close-up position she needs to succeed. Before that As Time Goes By won the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes and the Grade 2 Santa Margarita stakes, the former with a VERY strong 107 figure and the latter at the nine furlong trip of the Personal Ensign. Shipping out of California for Baffert, she brings along Mike Smith, up for those two wins, and her last two workouts since the Hirsch were sensational and tell us she’s in tip-top shape.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: As Time Goes By to win at 2 to 1 or more, a true low odds overlay win bet.

Pick 3:

Race 10: As Time Goes By

Race 11: Tribhuvan, Gufo, Rockemperor, Japan

Race 12: Masqueparade, Essential Quality

Race 10: ALL eight horses

Race 11: Tribhuvan, Japan

Race 12: Essential Quality, Keepmeinmind, Masqueparade, King Fury

Get up to $500 signup bonus and cashback rewards when you bet with AmWager.

I’m Ready To Bet Now!

Sword Dancer Stakes – Race 11 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:25 PM Eastern

Japan ships in from Europe with trainer Aiden O’Brien’s #1 jockey Ryan Moore, who rode the horse to victories in the Ormonde Stakes in May and to the Meld Stakes last month. There is LITTLE DOUBT in my mind O’Brien is getting the horse ready for the Breeders’ Cup Turf and with a very strong seven for 18 record (and $2.1 million in earnings) as well as two wins (for $1.2 million) at this 12 furlong trip he could be very tough to beat because no matter how good the local horses are, it’s been proven time and again this summer the Europeans are even better.

Tribhuvan has about the same probability to win. He imported last March (2020) and three races later won the Grade 2 Fort Marcy and finished second Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes, both after returning from a July 2020 to May 2021 layoff. He then won the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes last month with Prat aboard for the first time, who comes in from California to ride again. The only difference between Tribhuvan and Japan is the former opens at 2 to 1 compared to 9 to 2 for Japan so he’s a much better bet to win if those odds hold up.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Japan at odds of 2 to 1 or higher

Tribhuvan to win at odds of 2 to 1 or higher (unlikely)

Exactas: Tribhuvan and Japan over Tribhuvan, Japan, Gufo and Rockemperor

Tribhuvan, Japan, Gufo and Rockemperor over Tribhuvan and Japan

Get up to $500 signup bonus and cashback rewards when you bet with AmWager.

I’m Ready To Bet Now!

Travers Stakes – Race 12 at Saratoga – Post Time 6:12 PM Eastern

Masqueparade could have an edge in this seven horse field as a lone front runner due to the fact none of the others have truly shown a desire to lead early in a race. Starting with his runner-up effort at a mile and one-sixteenth in March, a race he might have won if not bumped by the original winner before being place first when that one was disqualified, Masqueparade has been in front or very close the lead from shortly after the start in four straight races. When winning one of those races on May 1, Masqueparade earned a stellar 108 Equibase Speed Figure which just one point shy of the 109 figures Essential Quality has earned in three of his last four races. Considering Essential Quality will go to post as the prohibitive betting favorite, Masqueparade offers much better value for any bets we make involving this race because he has as much of a chance to win as Essential Quality if both repeat their best recent efforts. Although Masqueparade was no match for Essential Quality last month in the Jim Dandy Stakes when third, there was a different early pace scenario that day as another horse led and Masqueparade stalked that pacesetter before making the lead with a quarter mile to go before being passed by Essential Quality and Keepmeinmind. In this situation it could be Masqueparade who dictates the early tempo and as such he has a shot to relax on the lead and get very brave to post the upset win.

Essential Quality has now won seven of eight career starts for a bankroll of $3.5 million. His only poor effort came at the distance of the Travers when he finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, but jockey Luis Saez hasn’t made the same mistake of getting Essential Quality hung wide throughout the race, resulting in two strong wins in a row. The first of the two came in the Belmont Stakes with a 109 figure, followed by a similarly strong effort in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga one month ago in which the colt earned a 107 figure. As such, if Masqueparade can’t lead from start to finish the horse most likely to pass late to win the Travers is Essential Quality.

King Fury and Keepmeinmind both have slight chances to win and big chances to finish second or third to complete any exacta or trifecta tickets played. King Fury came up slightly ill right before the Derby and had to skip the race, then closed very well from last of nine to get second behind Masqueparade in the Ohio Derby, earning a career-best 105 figure in the process. Not finding a race to run in after that in order to prep for the Travers, King Fury was entered in the Saratoga Derby Invitational three weeks ago on turf, a surface he had never run over previously. Finishing 10th of 11 in that race, the only thing that proved was he is much more well suited to dirt and so on the return to dirt and based on his effort in the Ohio Derby, King Fury could be a factor in the Travers. Similarly, Keepmeinmind missed by a half-length to Masqueparade in the Ohio Derby in June then by a similar margin to Essential Quality in the Jim Dandy, earning 105 then 106 figure not far enough afield from the likely favorite to discount Keepmeinmind’s chances completely. Particularly the Travers being his second start of the Saratoga meeting, Keepmeinmind running as well or better as he did one month ago shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Masqueparade to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

Essential Quality is very likely to be the prohibitive betting choice so cannot be bet to win.

Exactas:

Masqueparade and Essential Quality over Masqueparade, Essential Quality, King Fury and Keepmeinmind

Trifectas: Masqueparade and Essential Quality over Masqueparade, Essential Quality, King Fury and Keepmeinmind over Masqueparade, Essential Quality, King Fury and Keepmeinmind