Saratoga Opening Day Horse Racing Picks, Predictions, & Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/17/2014
I've been to the Breeders' Cup and the Kentucky Derby two times each. I've been to major meets across North America and in Europe. I say this not to brag, but only to say that if I could only ever see racing at one place, it would unquestionably be Saratoga. It's not even close. The town is amazing, and it's all about horse racing. The track is an institution. You feel like you are in the midst of something very special just by being there - whether it is a major stakes day or just a regular day of racing. It is heaven on earth.
The greatest of all race meets opens for another year on Friday. As always, the meet will feature the best horses on the east coast vying for supremacy. On opening day there are two solid stakes races and some intriguing value on the undercard. Here is what stands out on the opening day at Saratoga with some horse racing picks and predictions. After I write about each race I will give a $10 recommended bet:
Race 3 - Schuylerville Stakes
The first stakes race of the year at Saratoga features a compact field of just five horses. Of those, the heavy favorite Fashion Alert at 3/5. She is a very nice horse, but at those odds I just have to look to beat her. After all, she's only a two-year-old filly, so it's hard to trust her yet despite her strong start to her career. The horse I prefer in this spot is Tulira's Star at 5/2. That filly won her only start when she triumphed by more than three lengths at Arlington in early June. The horse that was second there went on to win a nice stakes in California next time out. Both this horse and Fashion Alert had the same speed rating in their last race, so this horse should be competitive - and at a much better price.
$10 bet - Tulira's Star to win.
Race 6 - Maiden Special Weight
This is a deep field of youngsters, with many making their racing debut. Of those, one that stands out at the right price is Graeme Crackers at 5/1. His connections of Rick Violette training and Jose Ortiz riding instill confidence. So does his breeding - by Macho Uno out of a Graeme Hall mare. He has been training very well, and his price is right. In many cases these debut maiden races are just a stab in the dark, but this horse is worth the gamble.
$10 bet - Graeme Crackers to win.
Race 9 - Sir Cat Stakes
This, the second stakes of the day is for three year olds that haven't won a graded stakes, and it is run on the turf. Triple Crown fans will recognize a couple of minor players from the spring here. Pablo Del Monte, who didn't run in the Derby though he could have as an also-eligible, and then was a non-threatening sixth in the Preakness, would likely be favored if he starts in this race. He is only entered if it is taken off the turf and run on the dirt, though, and given the forecast that isn't likely to happen. Ring Weekend also gave up a chance to run in the Derby to try the Preakness, where he wound up fifth. He may not be getting quite enough respect in this race at 10/1, but he is not proven on turf, and he pulled up in his last race. As much as I love the Triple Crown, I will look beyond these two. To me, the horse that really stands out here is the second choice, Storming Inti, at 9/5. He has had two near misses in good graded stakes races. He has two wins in races very similar to this one, and he has more than enough class to shine in this one.
$10 bet - Storming Inti to win.
Race 10 - Maiden Special Weight
We have a race full of older maidens here. The one that stands out is the one with the most intriguing connections. Wesley Ward, more than any other current American trainer, has worked hard to have a presence in European racing as well. For the first few days of this meet he has brought over one of the greats from Europe as Frankie Dettori is riding for him. You can't help but be curious how this will work out. In this spot I like the chances. The two have a horse, Jet Majesty, that has two starts, but none since last November. He has been brought back very patiently and has clearly been aimed at this spot for a long time. Ward should have him ready, and Dettori will be eager to prove himself.
$10 bet - Jet Majesty to win.
Best Bet - Storming Inti to win Race 9.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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