Friday, September 2, 2016

The Nomination Is In: The Woodward Stakes Grade 1 at Saratoga

Frosted winning The Whitney; Photo Adam Coglianese

Welcome friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.  Today I'm writing this blog entry on The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga for both my hard core readers  and the Thorofan Handicapper's Corner.

Frosted!  Did you see the Met Mile and The Whitney? I've never been that high on horses returning from Dubai, but wow did this horse blow up that stereotype of me.

He checks every box for me:  13 of 17 in the money lifetime, 9 of 13 in the money the last two years with 5 wins. 5 of 5 in the money with 3 wins at the distance.  12 of 16 with 6 wins on fast dirt. Trainer McLaughlin and Jockey Rosario are 45% winners at Saratoga.  Class breeding and premier barn and connections.

I can try and be a wiseguy but that's not me.  My handicapping, perhaps old school in this day of analytics, is based on class, pace, past performance and conditions.  I'm not going to waste too much time making a case while Frosted will lose and instead focus on who I think will be able to hit the ticket.  Bet construction will focus on some exactas with Frosted singled and then maybe one Trifecta with Frosted in place and my Win and Show horses boxed in both spots.

Let's get after this!

Who other than Frosted can win? I see two possible candidates in Bradester and Mubtaahij.
Bradester is the modestly bred, with a Classic's pedigree, six year old son of Lion Heart.  9 wins in 22 starts on fast dirt, 16 of 22 in the money on fast dirt, 18 of 24 in the money lifetime.  1 win in 3 starts at the distance and only one appearance at Saratoga, a Place in 2013.  Three straight wins, including the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap and the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup over slop.

Trainer Kenneally keep Jock Bravo, up.  Expect him to be on the lead all the way.  My base handicap assumes Frosted catches him.

Mubtaahij (Ire) returned from Dubai and got one tuneup in the G2 Suburban.

Five straight published workouts at SAR since the Suburban, all at 4f, all about :49 even.  Trainer McLaughlin enters him and hard to tell what the expectation is other than a tracking trip.  I think he'll be close and could win if Frosted falters.

Shaman Ghost and Breaking Lucky are the others I'm considering for the Trifecta ticket and I'm tossing Samraat at my own peril from the top three.  It's fairly rare for me to talk about two horses at a Saratoga race that previously competed at my home track of Fort Erie, but these two did in the 2015 Princess of Wales Stakes as both are Ontario bred.

Shaman Ghost ran a bullet :48 4/5ths, top of 61 horses on 28 August.  He exited the Suburban too where he tracked wide most of the trip and fell off.  He's on Lasix for the first time today, an angle Trainer Jerkens has done 23 times this year, winning a paltry 4%.  Jerkens and Castellano are winless in six tries at SAR.

Breaking Lucky, the 4 YO son of Looking at Lucky (I feel old suddenly!) is slower than most here and in a speed battle I don't think he can win but i think he's game enough to be in the jet stream.

Game, yes.  Tactical speed, a bit with a late 2f burst of  :23 and 4/5ths.  Still looked wonky to me near the finish in Grade 3 company.

I don't feel too much concern tossing Catholic Cowboy (love the name, Mrs. Turk would pick em'), Tapin Mojo or Tale of Verve.  They will all be long prices which is a good thing/bad thing.  I'm not interested in bet construction that hopes for an incredible fluky finish but someone is and they will have a good day at the track if it happens.  My long term ROI is built on avoiding "scratch off ticket" styles of bets.  Samraat at least belongs in the conversation of this race, especially off his spring Belmont campaign for Trainer Violette.  You can cover alot of horses and overbet or you can make tough choices.  I'm making a tough choice and tossing him at my own peril.

My suggested bets are along these lines:

$2 Exacta:  3 OVER 4-1-2 for $6

$2 Tri:  3 OVER 4 -9-1-2 OVER 4-9-1-2 for $24

And/Or (I think OR)

$2 Tri: 4-9-1 OVER 3-2-4-9-1 OVER 3-2-4-1  for $60

I like the Exacta and the Tri with Frosted on top, while the $60 lottery ticket offers the most reasonable pizzazz.

Whatever you do, keep your bets reasonable and enjoy the races.

Turk Out!

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