That good looking colt in the Terence Dulay photo is none other then the 2007 King's Bishop Winner, Hard Spun. That was one heck of a hard knocking, hard charging horse, and you have to wonder when handicapping which one of today's King's Bishop contenders has the kind of guts needed to run flat out for seven furlongs.
The weather at race time looks iffy. Right now the track is already listed as sloppy, so don't expect a miracle dry out between now and post.
Race 11 at Saratoga, Post Time 5:10 ET: The King's Bishop Grade I; 7 Furlongs on sloppy dirt for 3 YOs.
The Turk has had great success handicapping Turf races at Saratoga this meet and I've been so-so on the main track. You should never lie to yourself. When I visited Saratoga last week I decided to watch the races closely and handicap but not bet. After each race I ripped apart the trip and my handicap and I worked out a few kinks. I'd love to say that I had a satori, a sudden awakening, that will instantly improve my Saratoga dirt ROI, but no.
I did have two sloppy track days to just sit and watch from the clubhouse. One thing that struck me was how fast the main track played while still listed as sloppy. The other thing that an off track teaches you is that quality horses win under almost all conditions. The Turk's basic philosophy is to build my base handicap regardless of track condition and then factor track condition into the shading between horses. It's a factor, yes, but does it dominate all thinking, no.
Post position is another factor, but not an overriding consideration, much less significant then say, current race conditioning. Many people will tell you that Big Drama won the race before the race, and with Coa up and breaking from the 8 spot, he will have the best view coming out out of the top of the stretch. Mrs. Turk clearly feels that way as she's backing Big Drama. There is lots to like, especially the 2 for 3 at this distance and a BSF of 108. I don't like that 5 of 6 career wins were as a 2 YO and that the horse has never raced on a wet or sloppy track. Will he like mud in his face? On the outside, will he eagerly move inside and come off the pace? I dunno. What I do know is I think the horse has the quality to be somewhere in the top three.
I'm backing Capt. Candyman Can in my top spot. I don't think he's better then either Big Drama or Munnings, but this is gambling and I think he loves this distance, is coming off a big effort against Quality Road and has won on an off track before. There's nothing in either Trainer Wilkes or Jock Catellano's stats that make me feel strongly, but there are no major negatives either. The horse is a Grade II and Grade III winner and this son of Candy Ride is a quality runner who likes to break late and may find two fast, superior horses tiring from the slop.
Munnings is a big favorite of mine. I love the speed of this very classy Speightstown son very much. He has run a 108 BSF on an off track and a 111 BSF at this distance. To me he is the best horse in this field and could easily win and has no excuse for not being in the top three.
A few intriguing horses lurk outside the top three. Despite the Odds is mid pack from gate 5, is training very well and has run very well and fast on a sloppy track. Vineyard Haven is a Godolphin runner I loved last fall and I don't have any feel for how he will respond to his first action since February. Everyday Heroes and Flat Bold are solid Grade III runners and could sneak into the exotic tickets.
I'm on the hunt for a trifecta as super's are not on the menu for this race. I'm going to place a few straight trifecta and exact bets and we'll see what happens.
Have fun. Turk Out!