Key Races & Bets for Saturday August 27, 2022

H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes – Race 8 at Saratoga – Post Time 3:52 PM Eastern

This race is not as cut-and-dried as likely prohibitive favorite Jack Christopher winning, although he is one of five horses with some chance to win. The other four are Gunite, Howling Time and Accretive. The other three – not so much. That leaves one horse in this nine horse field, Conagher, who I think has a legitimate chance to beat the heavy favorite. The reason is ALL THREE of his last one-turn races have been HUGE efforts, wins by nearly seven lengths, by five lengths and four weeks ago by two lengths. In each he led by a wide margin in the stretch and cruised home. From the rail, Joe Rocco (who has been aboard for all four career wins) can get the lead and take the track away from Jack Christopher, who doesn’t need the lead to win BUT who may be disadvantaged by sitting second early to a horse as good, and as fast, as Conagher is. Those three sprint wins this year ALL earned 108 Equibase figures, not only consistent BUT when compared to Jack Christopher’s 100, 108 and 101 last three figures tell me the heavy favorite will have his work cut out for him.

Gunite, Howling Time and Accretive all have run very well in stakes races in their last two starts and some or all of the trio may end up going off at odds too high to ignore depending on if Jack Christopher becomes the heavy odds-on favorite as is expected.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Conagher at 9 to 5 or higher.

 

Exacta: Conagher over Howling Time, Gunite and Accretive

 

Trifecta: Conagher over Jack Christopher over Howling Time, Gunite and Accretive (This trifecta is going to pay better in terms of risk:reward as compared to the exacta of Conagher over Jack Christopher).

 

Doubles:

Race 8: Conagher

Race 9: Search Results

 

Race 8: Conagher, Howling Time, Jack Christopher, Gunite, Accretive

Race 9: Search Results

 

Pick 3:

Race 8: Conagher

Race 9: Search Results

Race 10: ALL

 

Pick 3:

Race 8: Conagher, Howling Time, Jack Christopher, Gunite, Accretive

Race 9: Search Results

Race 10: Mira Mission

Get up to $300 signup bonus and cashback rewards when you bet with AmWager.

Personal Ensign Stakes – Race 9 at Saratoga – Post Time 4:32 PM Eastern

Only five are entered but what a quintet they are. Together, they have earned NINE MILLION and four of the five are grade 1 winners. Taking a closer look, it’s not difficult to eliminate Letruska, returning from two months off and the second worst defeat of her career when fifth and beaten 35 lengths in the Ogden Phipps Stakes as the odds-on favorite. Malathaat has been beaten twice in a row by Clariere with no real excuse, and Crazy Beautiful is the one which has never won a grade 1 and who was a well-beaten third behind Clariere and Malathaat in the Shuvee.

That means the race boils down to Clariere, who opens at 6 to 5, and Search Results, who opens at 7 to 2, and the latter has a big shot to beat the former today based on her effort in the Molly Pitcher Stakes last month which earned a career-best 108 Equibase figure which is faster than the career-best 106 figure Clariere earned in the Shuvee the same weekend. Search Results is drawn inside Clariere and has more tactical speed anyway and with it likely Letruska will go for the lead, Search Results can sit behind or abreast of that one and in front of Clariere, then outkick her to the wire.

Handicapper Picks

Bets: Search Results to win at 3 to 2 or higher.
“IF” you played the pick 3 in the last race and “if” none of the five contenders in that leg won, you can consider doubles using Search Results and Clariere in this race with Mira Mission and Broome in race 10, then also Search Results with Adhamo, Rockemperor, Gufo, Soldier Rising and Channel Maker in race 10.

Pick 3:

Race 9: Search Results, Clariere

Race 10: ALL

Race 11: Cyberknife

Get up to $300 signup bonus and cashback rewards when you bet with AmWager.

Sword Dancer Stakes – Race 10 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:05 PM Eastern

Mira Mission opens at 12 to 1 so I am starting with him, a horse which has a very nice 5-2-1 record in 12 turf starts in his career. He’s still a four year old and has every right to improve, and his effort one before last when leading late and coming up a neck short to Santin in the Turf Classic, was phenomenal. Santin went on to win the Arlington Million two weeks ago and Mira Mission can rebound of his sixth place effort at a mile over this inner turf course in the Forbidden Apple Stakes last month in an effort I view as SOLELY A PREP for this following two months off. Leparoux rides him well and the 115 figure earned in the Turf Classic when nearly winning very similar grade 1 race would win this in an upset if repeated.

Broome ships in from England for Aiden O’Brien and gets fairly regular rider Ryan Moore so you know they’re very serious about winning. The horse shipped over just once before, for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf, making the lead in mid-stretch after rallying from 10th of 14, drawing off then getting beaten near the wire by Yibir. That was a HUGE effort with a 117 figure which he duplicated winning the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes in England in June at the distance of the Sword Dancer. He should fire big as he usually does.

Adhamo, Rockemperor, Gufo, Solder Rising and Channel Maker all have credentials at the level and although I am including them on some double and pick 3 tickets (the one using ALL) in this race. I have little interest in betting them to win because Mira Mission offers such excellent value for win bets.

Handicapper Picks

Bets: Mira Mission at 3 to 1 or more.

Broome also has fair odds of 3 to 1 but may be lower odds near post time. In that case I’d substitute a win bet with an exacta consisting of Broome over Adhamo, Rockemperor, Gufo, Soldier Riding, Channel Maker and Mira Mission.

Get up to $300 signup bonus and cashback rewards when you bet with AmWager.

Runhappy Travers Stakes – Race 11 at Saratoga – Post Time 5:44 PM Eastern

Cyberknife, who is named for a cancer treatment his owner received, has now won five of seven races at one mile or longer. The two most recent of those efforts are the ones which make him one of the top contenders in this year’s Travers Stakes. Following a disappointing 18th place effort in this year’s Kentucky Derby after racing in fifth and sixth through the opening three-quarters of a mile, Cyberknife returned to Churchill Downs five weeks later to win the Matt Winn Stakes by a nose gamely after battling head-and-head for the final quarter of a mile. That effort earned the colt a career-best 104 Equibase Speed Figure which he then duplicated in the Haskell Invitational Stakes five weeks ago. In that race Cyberknife rallied from sixth of eight in the early stages to take the lead in the stretch after having to wait for room to run, once again prevailing by a narrow margin. There’s no doubt the colt can run as well at this mile and one-quarter distance as he did at one mile and one-eighth as he’s a son of Gun Runner, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic at the distance. Gun Runner is also the sire of Early Voting, who won the mile and three-sixteenths Preakness in May. Having avoided the other horses that ran in the Derby until now and getting the ground saving rail, Cyberknife appears more than capable of adding a win in this historic race to his resume.

Artorius is the most lightly raced horse in the field, having run just three times, but he is the perfect candidate as a fresh face in the top of the division to post the upset. He’s trained by Chad Brown, who also trains Early Voting and Zandon. Artorius debuted in a sprint in April, quite late to get onto the Road to the Derby, running on nicely from eighth to second. Stretched out to a mile (around one-turn) in June, the colt notched his first win and earned a 97 figure then improved markedly to 102 winning the Curlin Stakes four weeks ago at the end of July. In that eight horse field Artorius made a quick move from fourth on the turn to be in front by two lengths early in the stretch, extending his margin to nearly five lengths at the wire with speed to spare. It is well known Brown strategizes months ahead which races his horses may run in and points to those, as he did with Early Voting by pointing to the Preakness and skipping the Derby after missing by a neck in the Wood Memorial Stakes. That plan paid off handsomely, as I believe the plan for Artorius has been ever since he broke his maiden in June, which is to run in the Curlin and then the Travers. Considering the improvement the colt showed between his second and third start when going from a 97 figure effort to 102, with similar improvement, particularly with North American leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle, Artorius could reward Brown’s confidence and planning once again.

Epicenter could just as easily be the top contender here as the third contender and there’s very little if anything separating him and the other two in terms of probability to win this race. Discounting his debut last September in a sprint, Epicenter has run an “A” race in all eight races since by winning five and finishing second in the other three. He owns the top figure in the field earned by any horse in any race to date, 111 last month when winning the Jim Dandy, which also proved he likes the surface at Saratoga. He led at the mile and one-eighth mark in the Kentucky Derby and ran gamely to the wire even after passed by Rich Strike. He then lost by a length and one-quarter to Early Voting in the Preakness likely because he had run just two weeks earlier in the Derby while Early Voting had the benefit of six weeks between races. There’s not much more to add about how Epicenter is going to be at the top of his game both physically and mentally for this race and so he has every right to run well enough to win and to push his earnings to nearly $3 million if he succeeds.

Handicapper Picks

Win Bet: Cyberknife at 2 to 1 or more.

Exactas:
Box Cyberknife and Epicenter
Box Cyberknife, Artorius and Epicenter
Cyberknife, Artorius and Epicenter over Cyberknife, Ain’t Life Grand, Artorius, Epicenter, Zandon

Share This Story!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on pinterest
Share on email

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.

Related Posts