Monday, July 28, 2014

Saratoga 2014: The Honorable Miss - Day 10 of 40

If you were at Saratoga yesterday, or watching the races from afar, you saw several instances of front-runners or those stalking the pace running away with the race, drawing away from their competitors in the stretch.

After some more rain fell overnight, it's looking like today might play the same way.  NYRA has already announced that all of Monday's turf races will be switched to the dirt, which is rated sloppy.

Monday's feature is the Grade 2 Honorable Miss, a handicap for Fillies and Mares three years old and up, and has regularly served as a prep race for the Grade 1 Ballerina, this year on Travers Day, August 23rd.

The New York bred La Verdad is the morning line favorite for trainer Linda Rice and jockey Jose Ortiz.  In all, seven six horses will take to the dirt in this Monday feature after the scratch of Red Velvet.  Let's take a look:

Race 8: The Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) - 3YO+ F&M - Purse: $200,000 - Post: 4:42PM


LA VERDAD: Winner of 9 of 11 races, including four stakes victories, La Verdad last raced in the Dancin Renee Stakes where she led throughout in a field of four horses.  She fought a larger field in the Critical Eye Stakes, finishing a half-length ahead of Hot Stones, yesterday's third place finisher in the Shuvee.  She's a front-runner, which could play in her favor given the way the track has been playing the last 24 hours.

SPEEDINTHRUTHECITY: Winner of three of her last four, and five of her last seven, Speedinthruthecity stalked the pace and fired in the stretch to win the Roxelana Stakes at Churchill Downs last time out, bouncing back from a fifth place finish in the Humana Distaff Stakes where she was overmatched against Grade 1 competition.  She'll need to hang close to the pace if she wants to have a shot on the slop today.

R FREE ROLL: She did it in the U Can Do It Handicap at Calder back in May, going wire-to-wire as the 2-5 favorite.  Any concerns that she was running too hard with a six length lead at the half was reversed when she started to expand a three length lead from second place Centrique in the stretch to win.  Outside of a race at Charles Town in West Virginia, all of her races have been in the Sunshine State.

RED VELVET: You have to be weary of any horse that comes with the John Velazquez/Todd Pletcher connections, and this is no exception.  With Irad Ortiz in the saddle last time out, she drove the early pace but tired out as the favorite in the Victory Ride at Belmont Park.  That came after a 5 3/4 length romp in the ungraded Jersey Girl Stakes, winning wire-to-wire.  She'll be expected to run the early pace with La Verdad, and the difference on which one wins could be who wins the stamina battle. 
Red Velvet has been scratched from the race.

MERRY MEADOW: She fought gamely with Hot Stones in the Bed o'Roses Handicap, losing in the closing yards by a nose.  She won her first Graded Stakes with a win in the Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park, hanging behind the pace before Rajiv Maragh moved her up to first in the far turn, driving away to win by 3 3/4 lengths.  She's won on the Saratoga surface before, winning a Starter Optional Claiming race with Javier Castellano on board back in August last year.

CALISTOGA: Calistoga has yet to win a stakes race, with two tries under her belt.  She finished third behind Merry Meadow and Hot Stones in the Bed o'Roses Handicap, and finished fourth in the Eight Belles Stakes on Derby Day at Churchill Downs.  She has a sloppy track win to her credit, winning an Allowance Optional Claiming at Belmont Park.

MY WANDY'S GIRL: Winner of numerous graded stakes races at Camarero in Puerto Rico, My Wandy's Girl has one graded stakes win in the states, coming in the Barbara Fritchie Stakes at Laurel Park back in February.  Since coming to the states in November 2012, she has raced only seven times, the last coming in May in the Ruffian Stakes at Belmont Park, where she finished third to Grace Hall and Fiftyshadesofhay
ANALYSIS: Unless the track changes with the new moisture that fell overnight, the track is playing well to those in or near the lead entering the stretch, which will play well to horses like La Verdad and Red Velvet. The battle between those two horses could come down to who handles the slop and the pace best.  

Well, with Red Velvet scratched, this race plays more into the favor of La Verdad, who might be able to scoop away with an easy early lead.  R Free Roll might attempt to push the pace, but I think La Verdad will use her back-class to push aside any early pressure.  

The change doesn't change the fact that the track is playing well towards the front-runners, which plays more into La Verdad's favor.  Careful watching of the first seven races will be essential.

My Picks: 1-2-5
Mythical Bet
Current Bankroll: $81.37
Today's Bets
$1 TRI BOX 1-2-5 ($6)
$2 WIN 1
$2 SHOW 5
$1 SUPER 1-2-5-3
Total Bets: $11.00
Remaining Bankroll: $70.37

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