Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Saratoga 2014: The John's Call Stakes - Day 17 of 40

Most years, the John's Call Stakes is the longest non-steeplechase stakes race offered at Saratoga Race Course.  This distinction has been taken away by tomorrow's Birdstone Stakes, which will be ran at an unusual 1 3/4 Miles.

Two of the last three John's Call Stakes winners have gone on to win graded stakes races.  Last year's winner, Hyper, went on to win the Bowling Green (G2) at Belmont Park in his next start.  Sanagras (2011) came away from a win in the John's Call to finish fourth in the Bowling Green, but bounced back to win the Sycamore (G3) and the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (G1) after.

In the 2014 edition, Winning Cause will have an easier go without the stable-mate Micromanage running in the race.  But that doesn't mean he'll be guaranteed a win - just keep in mind what happened with Palace Malice on Saturday.

So let's find out who, if any, could take away Winning Cause's trip to the winner's circle this afternoon.

Race 9: The John's Call Stakes - 3YO+ - 1 5/8M (T) - Purse: $100,000 - Post: 4:49PM
TRICKY HAT: When the person(s) who compile the comments for Equibase only report "no factor" for a horse's run, then you can tell that the horse had no interest whatsoever in the race.  That was the case for Tricky Hat, who finished last in the Monmouth Stakes (G2) back in June.  When he's on his game, as he was in the Laurel Turf Cup Stakes back in September, he hovers mid-pack and strikes in the far turn.

HORVAT CLAN: He dueled and faltered in his first stakes race, the Bowling Green Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park last month.  If he can escape with the pace, he can be a dangerous horse at a long distance, exhibited in his Allowance win at 1 1/2 Miles back in June.  Under new connections since getting claimed out of a claiming race at Belmont in early June, they have tried to develop him into a front runner.

BOHEMIAN DANCE: Bohemian Dance pushed the pace in the Justakiss Stakes at Delaware Park, but tired and finished 5th out of 6 horses.  He won an Allowance race at Gulfstream Park in May, but there he stayed behind the pace and passed tiring horses on his way to the winner's circle.  So it's not a sure thing what you're going to get with this horse. 

ALPHA: Scratched - but if that name looks familiar, it's because this is the horse that last year won the Woodward Stakes (G1), and two years ago was your Travers (G1) and Jim Dandy (G2) winner.  He's a horse that is suffering through some hard times, and needs a boost after a few rough finishes.  We'll see him again this meet, I'm sure.

MICROMANAGE: Scratched - He's been running dirt stakes lately, not turf stakes.  So he'd be a question mark had he run this race.  He's entered in tomorrow's Birdstone.

SETON HALL: Scratched - He last made it to the winner's circle in an Allowance race on the turf at Churchill Downs back in June 2013.  He's also entered in tomorrow's Birdstone.

MANCHURIAN HALL: After his 1/2 length win at 20-1 in an Allowance race at Pimlico, his connections thought big things.  But they thought too high, as he was a last place finisher in the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park.  The positive was that he was within 6 lengths in a tightly-packed finish.  

WINNING CAUSE: After four straight graded stakes races, the connections drop Winning Cause down to this level.  But his races haven't been bad - 4th in the United Nations (G1), 3rd in the Monmouth Stakes (G2) and 2nd in the Red Bank (G3).  His fourth, a 7th in the Ben Ali (G3), only came six days after running 2nd in an Allowance race.  Winning Cause is a horse that will stick around the mid-pack, important if there is a lot of front-end speed in this marathon.  And he might be a horse that will appreciate the quarter-mile between his last in the United Nations and this race.  

GRAND RAPPORT: Scratched - Could have been a come-from-behind threat in this race.

HOLIDAY STAR: He's going to need the pace to collapse if he's going to scoop up a win in the John's Call.  In fact, the outside post might help his running style.  He has distance experience on the turf, finishing third in the Cape Henlopen Stakes at Delaware Park.  
ANALYSIS: Pace makes everything in a race of this distance.  Go too fast, and you're going to have nothing left for the end.  Go too slow, and you could see a wire-to-wire in front of you.

Horvan Clan will be expected to be a early pace factor, but the question is how much will Bohemian Dance push things.  The first quarter's time will be key towards figuring out how this race will go.  Then there's the resume - which horses have the class and experience running a race like this?

Winning Cause is one of those horses, and should be bet heavily with the scratch of Micromanage.  But this can easily be a race that is upset.

My Picks: 2-8-1
Edit: Yeah, goofed up and put down the 7 here.  I meant the #8, Winning Cause.
Mythical Bankroll
Bankroll Entering Today: $65.07
$2 WIN, PLACE, SHOW - 2 ($6)
$1 EXA BOX - 2-8 ($2)
$1 TRI - 2/8-2/8-1 ($2)
Total Bets: $10.00
Remaining Bankroll: $55.07
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