Just three weeks away

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By Shawn Rychling


It’s seems hard-to-believe and too-good-to-be-true, but the 40-day Saratoga Race Course meet is just around the corner.


The seemingly cooler-than-normal spring has caused the summer to sneak up on us.


Sunday is July 1, and Saratoga is set to open on Friday, July 20.


It all starts with a 4-day weekend and then is followed by six consecutive six-day weeks.  Full weeks of racing are a rare commodity around NYRA these days! The 40-day Spa meet is the oasis of this horseplayer, and features 69 stakes worth $18.8 million in purses, will run through Labor Day, Monday, September 3.


The centerpiece of the meet, the 149th Travers Stakes will be held Saturday, Aug. 25 along with a full lineup of other stakes races. Perhaps we’ll see Justify – the second time in four years a Triple-Crown winner would start in the Midsummer Derby.


NYRA schedules so many events and special days around Saratoga now that it can make your head spin. Don’t let the racing get lost in all the fanfare. And even though the racing is the star, make it a point to go to breakfast and then stay until the sun goes down as the beginning and end of the day at Saratoga are the most relaxing hours of the entire year!


NYRA made a splash this week by announcing the four admission giveaways for this year. They are a baseball cap July 22; umbrella Aug. 6; blanket Aug. 20; and windbreaker Sept. 2.  These look like nice items, but we miss the good old days when giveaways were on six Sundays. Every one but the day after Travers!
Back to the city, where starting Saturday, there are still 12 days of racing left at Belmont Park. The feature on the 9-race card is the Mother Goose for 3-year-old fillies, which is usually a prep for bigger stakes at Saratoga.

It’s an interesting race with Midnight Bisou coming in after flopping a bit in the Kentucky Oaks and emerging form that race to join the Steve Asmussen barn.  She had won three stakes in a row prior to the Oaks. There are also three other Grade 2 winners entered as well as an interesting Pletcher longshot.


Here is our Late Pick 4 analysis for Saturday which includes the Mother Goose as Race 8


6th race: 5-Nantucket Red moved forward in second start and similar improvement may be enough to win this race. 2-Coexistence was much better in second try on the surface switch and it’s hard to bet against this barn. 1-Plans to Prosper posted a career-best speed fig last time. 7-Agreeable seems to be moving in the right direction and may be overlooked while shipping in.

7th race: 2-Five Star Bunt has stepped up his game last two starts and may be sitting on a career-best effort. 1-Colonel Tom seems like a better horse than the one we saw last time. Perhaps the 7-month layoff and overland trip had something to do with that poor result. 5-D’yer Mak’er competed in the fall, but will have to overcome the layoff. 6-Shiraz is contender off last three tries. 7-Nutzforboltz likes this turf at Belmont.


8th race: 2-Midnight Bisou is tough to bet against in this spot.  She won three in a row before the Ky Oaks where she ran third behind excellent rivals. Asmussen wins a lot with horses making first start for him 6-Road to Victory is 3 for 3 in short career, including a win over the Oaks winner. 4-Gio Game is solid and that best-of-53 bullet in preps for this was impressive. 7-My Miss Lilly should appreciate return to New York. 3-Mo Smart will have to move forward, but is worth a look on two romps and presence of Pletcher.


9th race: 8-Reflected Star looks like horse to beat off win at this level last time. 1-Sawyer’s Hill and 1a-and Red Rifle are both taking big drops, but also have back class. 7- Neoclassic is 4 for 7 over the Belmont turf. 4-Blarp figures to improve second off a layoff.


The Grid A B C
Race 6 2, 5 1 7
Race 7 2, 6 1, 7 5
Race 8 2 3, 6 4, 7
Race 9 8 1, 7 4





Hot List picks and analysis for Belmont are available on the MyWinners site by clicking here.