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    Saratoga Picks for Saturday, September 4 ft. Jockey Club Gold Cup

    All the picks and analysis you need for the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Flower Bowl, the Saranac Stakes, the Prioress Stakes, and all the other races at Saratoga this Saturday.

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    Race 1

    Post time: 12:35 PM ET

    Distance: 5 ½ furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $85,000 

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: This one might just end up being a match race between the two favorites War Smoke (5-2) and Sheriff Blanco (3-1), who will set the pace and try to hold on, which is something he was unable to do last time out. I like War Smoke who ran a strong race in his maiden and should only improve with seasoning. Giramonte (5-1) is an incredibly consistent horse who loves coming in second but can’t seem to win. If you’re looking for value, Suit of Armor (6-1) and Brian’s Mission (12-1) are both horses who could improve from their first efforts to hit the board and enrich your exotic bets.

    Prediction: 5 (War Smoke) – 12 (Suit of Armor) – 7 (Giramonte) – 9 (Sheriff Blanco)

    Race 2

    Post time: 1:10 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/8 miles

    Type: $20,000 Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Speed vs. stamina is the name of the game in this one where Supreme Aura (2-1) has the superior speed but is stretching out and Grumps Little Tots (3-1) can do the distance but struggles with the top end pace and speed. However, I’ll go with the third choice, Ashaar (4-1), who can wire the field, and with Luis Saez aboard I like his chances. Ashaar can do the distance and Saez has been taking advantage of a lack of early speed among the New York jockey colony season, particularly in the early races on the card. Legit (12-1) might offer some nice value on the backend of trifectas or superfectas.

    Prediction: 8 (Ashaar) – 3 (Grumps Little Tots) – 5 (Legit) – 2 (Supreme Aura)

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    Race 3

    Post time: 1:43 PM ET

    Distance: 7 furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $100,000

    Age: 3-years-old and up 

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Another potential match race between Cody’s Wish (8-5) and Pipeline (2-1) but neither horse has won before despite posting huge speed figures and I’m not sure 7 furlongs is the best distance for Pipeline. Ubiquitous (6-1) provides strong value if you can continue to project improvement from his last effort. I don’t love the odds for North Carolina (5-1) given he’s more of a projection than Ubiquitous, but trainer Barclay Tagg has a strong ROI on first starts after claims. Meanwhile, Baltasar is worth a $2 show bet because he’s had some strong workouts leading up to the race and is still a bit of an unknown after losing his jockey in his maiden.

    Prediction: 6 (Cody’s Wish) – 4 (Ubiquitous) – 7 (Pipeline) – 5 (Baltasar)

    Race 4

    Post time: 2:16 PM ET

    Distance: 5 ½ furlongs

    Type: Allowance $103,000  

    Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies and mares)

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: Risky Mischief (8-5) seems to be the undisputed favorite, particularly since the second choice Screamin’ By (9-2) looks very beatable and may have run her best effort largely due to turf conditions. However, I’d look at Miss Domina (6-1) for some value as she’s been consistently improving and just a slight increase in speed numbers would be enough to win the race. She likes the distance and breaking from the outside should allow Manny Franco to place her in the perfect stalking position. Meanwhile, you can’t discount Meet the Beauty (8-1) who has Luis Saez aboard who has been crushing turf sprints all season.

    Prediction: 8 (Miss Domina) – 7 (Risky Mischief) – 9 (Meet the Beauty) – 4 (Fetching)

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    Race 5

    Post time: 2:47 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: Prioress Stakes

    Age: 3-years-old (fillies)

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: The first of four graded stakes races will be decided by pace and Oxana (3-1) has got plenty of that to spare. After a dubious maiden on turf, she switched to dirt and crushed her competition by a combined 28 lengths. She’s going to set the early pace and can wire the field. Souper Sensational might be the best horse in the field, but I think will come up just short with a driving effort because Oxana, unlike most rabbits, can keep up a blistering pace for 6 furlongs. Li’L Tootsie (12-1) is a horse I’d absolutely include on my exotic bets and she’s finally back to a distance in which she excels after being moved around on surface and distance for the last year.

    Prediction: 1 (Oxana) – 6 (Souper Sensational) – 2 (Edie Meeny Miny Mo) – 3 (Li’L Tootsie)

    Race 6

    Post time: 3:22 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $100,000

    Age: 2-year-olds

    Surface: Turf (inner)

    Overview: I do not typically like first-time starters competing against more experienced horses being morning-line favorites and that’s the position in which Annapolis (2-1) finds himself. I’m not a huge fan of Ohtwothreefive (3-1) who weakened at the same distance less than a month ago. However, Nyquist Nix (5-1) also weakened in the same race and most of the horses in the field have question marks on distance or a complete lack of speed. In these types of races, I’ll side with the connections I trust most and that would lead me back to Annapolis who is trained by Todd Pletcher and jockeyed by Irad Ortiz Jr. There is not another trainer in the country I trust more preparing a horse for distance than Pletcher and he’s had Annapolis working out at seven furlongs on the turf. I’ll Figure It Out (12-1) and Beloved Warrior (8-1) both provide good value based on workouts leading up to the race.

    Prediction: 6 (Annapolis) – 8 (Nyquist Nix) – 2 (I’ll Figure it Out) – 9 (Ohtwoohthreefive)

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    Race 7

    Post time: 3:53 PM ET

    Distance: 7 furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $100,000

    Age: 2-years-old

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: With so few previous performances in the field, handicapping the race comes down to trusting trainers, workout figures, or pedigree…or all three. Misbehaved (7-2) has a great pedigree (Into Mischief) and trainer (Todd Pletcher) as does Gait (4-1) who is the progeny of Medaglia d’Oro and has Bill Mott training him. However, I’ll go with Ten Gauge (5-1) who had a solid first outing at 5 ½ furlongs on a muddy track at Monmouth and is under the guidance of all-time winning trainer Steve Asmussen. Additionally, he’s a progeny of Gun Runner who has produced an outstanding first crop of two-year-olds so I’ll bet on that streak continuing. Meanwhile, I think Brigadier General (5-1) will have a bounce-back performance, but this is the last chance I’ll give him to hit the board.

    Prediction: 3 (Ten Gauge) – 4 (Misbehaved) – 10 (Brigadier General) – 2 (Classic Causeway)

    Race 8

    Post time: 4:27 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Saranac Stakes

    Age: 3-years-old

    Surface: Turf (inner)

    Overview: The Saranac Stakes is going to come down to rides and quite simply, I don’t trust Irad Ortiz Jr. to give Public Sector (7-5) the type of ride he needs. Public Sector always seems to get moved too late and Ortiz Jr. has developed an annoying habit of falling too far back in races and giving his horses some mind-numbing rides this season. On the other hand, Never Surprised (8-5) has the perfect jockey (Luis Saez) to place him in the right position to capitalize on the pace in the race. From a value perspective, I like Founder (4-1) to hit the board as he’s been consistently improving since switching to turf and can run big in this type of race. Mohs (12-1) is probably the liveliest long shot in the field, but I’d be hesitant to put him on another more than a superfecta.

    Prediction: 4 (Never Surprised) – 5 (Founder) – 1 (Public Sector) – 6 (Mohs)

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    Race 9

    Post time: 5:01 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Allowance $90,000

    Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: Favorite English Breeze (5-2) hasn’t won yet this year and feels like a very beatable favorite. None of the horses particularly stand out, but Cara’s Dreamer (3-1) is consistent while Golden Oldie (10-1) put up a career-best number last time out and we’ll see if she can back it up with a repeat performance. Freedom Machine (8-1) feels like just a cut below the favorites, but not enough to be over twice the odds, so I like the value there.

    Prediction: 1 (Cara’s Dreamer) – 7 (Freedom Machine) – 5 (Golden Oldie) – 10 (English Breeze)

    Race 10

    Post time: 5:37 PM ET

    Distance: 6 ½ furlongs

    Type: Allowance $103,000

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: I can already tell you that my dad is all-in on Baby Yoda (6-1) partially for the name and partially to stick it to NYRA’s Andy Serling who was belligerent about the horse’s chances last time out and then he promptly wired the field. Always fun to watch Andy hem and haw after getting a race completely wrong. However, I’m not my dad, so I’d lean more toward Ducale (5-2) who looked incredible last time out, or Hometown (4-1) who has been putting up consistent numbers the last several races. Not to mention Crowded Trade (5-1) who has faced the best class of horses in the field, by far. Oh, who am I kidding? Put it all on Baby Yoda and get ready to watch Andy Serling squirm.

    Prediction: 8 (Baby Yoda) – 10 (Hometown) – 9 (Crowded Trade) – 3 (Ducale)

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    Race 11

    Post time: 6:11 PM ET

    Distance: 1 3/8 miles

    Type: Flower Bowl Stakes

    Age: 4-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

    Surface: Turf (inner)

    Overview: I love the value of La Signare (5-1) in this race after a game showing in The Diana. War Like Goddess (4-5) is a deep closer, but the lack of an obvious frontrunner and early speed might make it more challenging for her. My Sister Nat (5-1) is consistent but isn’t delivering the sort of performances like La Signare at the same price. I believe you can find value with American Bridge (12-1), which is a horse making her American debut and typically European horses don’t get bet on by American race fans until they have a proven track record in the United States. While American Bridge won’t be confused with Santa Barbara, Althiqa, or Summer Romance, she is good enough to get on the board.

    Prediction: 3 (War Like Goddess) – 1 (La Signare) – 2 (American Bridge) – 4 (My Sister Nat)

    Race 12

    Post time: 6:46 PM ET

    Distance: 1 ¼ mile

    Type: Jockey Club Cup Gold Stakes

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Favorite Forza Di Oro (6-5) is stepping up in distance, which I don’t like to see against this level of competition. Last time out, Max Player (5-2) beat Happy Saver (8-5) and while some might attribute that to a sloppy track, I think Max Player is a horse that is finally rounding into last year’s form after being lightly raced in 2021. Speaking of continuing to get better, Night Ops (5-1) is a steal at his current value, especially considering he came in a game second to Art Collector last time out who just crushed the field at the Grade III Charles Town Classic.  

    Prediction: 2 (Max Player) – 4 (Happy Saver) – 5 (Night Ops) – 1 (Forza Di Oro)

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