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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Saratoga Springs, August 10, 2022 — Feature race selections roll on. We will continue our trusted work routine: 1) Handicapping 101 X’s and O’s, class, race-shape, pace, etc., etc. 2) Thoro-Graph analysis 3) Race Replay Review, and will share the fruits of that labor.

A safe and speedy journey to us all as we race our way through life. And please, stay safe.


The Skinny: Lots of promising three year old fillies sprinting 5-1/2 furlongs on the Mellon Course is a wide open affair. Given the nature of the beast, this is no news flash. The first question to be answered is will Empress Tigress (5-2) remain undefeated in her third lifetime start.

The answer is yes–if she’s able to control the race flow as she did winning one of these earlier at the meet. Logically, she should be facing more pressure from a deeper field, including maiden Poppy Flower (5-1) who came very close to nailing her right at the line but ran out of ground.

We’re looking at a filly who has been consistently slower on performance figures but may be ready to explode. Breeze Easy (4-1) showed much improved early speed, setting a pressured pace going a mile at Belmont Park, the Euro import has tons of experience and her lines indicate she likes shorter trips.

We think that Christophe Clement would agree–he picked the spot after all, and she’ll need delicate handling–close enough to maintain contact but without either being hard used or left wit too much to do. New pilot Flavien Prat is good at managing problems like these. Alas, we shall see.

We’re taking her to win but–late scratches notwithstanding–require she maintain early line odds or higher for straight wagering. Exotically, we shall key-box some Dime Superfectas looking for a moon shot. We’ll include the two named earlier, of course, and add Have a Good Day (10-1), Makin My Move (10-1) and Derrynane (5-1) to the mix.


When you think there’s a reasonable chance to upset at Chad Brown-trained favorite, you take it. There were three viable choices but we landed on Mr Phil (3-1) who’s improved for the current connections, exits a key race, has a top figure that’s competitive enough, but mostly a horse for distance (4) 2-2-0, has speed, an outside post with Kendrick Carmouche in a small-field one-turn 7-furlongs. A square price would be somewhere around 5-2.

this is a live dairy to be updated throughout the week

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32 Responses

  1. John, have an enjoyable and profitable visit to the Spa. As for me, the HRI readers should appreciate the service I am providing. At 1 for 20 in the last 7 racing days, they can immediately eliminate the wagers I post. Any edge counts.

    SAR 2022: 12 for 46, minus $411, minus 45% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 05AUG2022 (Day 17)

    Race 3 – $20 to SHOW on DEVIL OR ANGEL
    Race 5 – $20 to SHOW on MY SWEET STORY
    Race 8 – $20 to WIN on READY TO PERFORM

  2. Every knock is a boost, Dan, no worries from me or the Faithful who understand the handicapping wars…

  3. Whitney card did not disappoint. Can Life is Good carry his speed for 9 furlongs against this Grade 1 field? I don’t see Olympiad or Hot Rod Charlie allowing him set slow early fractions. No easy pace for Life is Good here, I like Mott’s rising star to wear down the odds on favorite late today.

  4. August 6,2022
    The Spa
    9th race
    #1 Matareya (2-5) Stand alone in all your pic-3’s-pic 6’s.
    #3-Elm Drive(8-1)
    #5-November Rein(10-1)
    straight exacta’s underneath(I’m sure there will be a ton pushing the all button)

    10th race
    #4-Olympiad(2-1)- Today he’s the best horse
    #2-Hot Rod Charlie(9-2)-Charlie and Life is good should vie for the lead. Both are hard hitters.
    #5-Happy Saver(8-1)-If it were any other race.gets 6 pounds, Last 2 races came second to Olympiad and Flightline.Grade 1 winner and will probably float up from 8-1. Don’t lose this horse !!!!!!
    #6-Life is Good(6/5)-Everytime he runs a big one he bounce’s. He just ran a hole in the wind in last. Hmmm.

    11th race
    #4-Nation’s Pride(7/2)-Was best last time, Charlie doesn’t run for fun. Sends Buick along.
    #2-Grand Sonata(15-1)-Sneaky good race beaten a length in last against most of these. Absolutely love his pattern. Pletcher/Gaffalione. Make sure you put a little on his nose.
    #6-Annapolis(5/2)-Lightly raced, very fast, the fav every race. good pattern. Short price.
    #8-Sy Dog(12-1)-A tad slow but a good pattern going in and if somebody falters he can get a piece of this.

    Another day, another dollar, Go get dem bad guy’s,
    Vin O’

  5. SAR 2022: 13 for 49, minus $373, minus 38% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 06AUG2022 (Day 18)

    Race 8 – $20 to WIN on SAINT TAPIT
    Race 10 – $20 to WIN on OLYMPIAD
    Race 12 – $20 to SHOW on ACTION JACKSON

  6. SAR 2022: 15 for 52, minus $341, minus 33% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 07AUG2022 (Day 19)

    Race 3 – $20 to WIN on GOODNIGHT OLIVE
    Race 5 – $20 to WIN on WILL BE FAMOUS
    Race 5 – $20 to SHOW on WILL BE FAMOUS

    1. Dan, you’re beginning to turn the corner. Every day a new challenge but confidence is a badly needed alchemy for handicapping success… good job.

      1. John, wishing you a speedy recovery.

        Perhaps I have turned the corner, but 2 for 23 in 8 racing days makes for a deep hole to climb out of. What surprises me is that I am only losing about one-third of the amount I have wagered.

        I do not understand that maneuver Irad Ortiz made in the stretch on Life Is Good. Migliore has some interesting observations about it.

  7. hey john,
    here’s hoping you are feeling a lot better. just get your rest, and you will be okay sooner than you think.
    regards mutuel mitch. we need you well for big travers day card.

  8. Thanks much, Mitch! If up to it, get to break out of jail Wednesday. Don’t feel worse so maybe anti-viral working

    #fingers crossed

    1. My dad took the anti-viral when he got Covid. Definitely helped him a lot, although he kept the Covid cough for a couple of months after Covid cleared his system. Fingers crossed for all the best for you.

  9. Tony, Vin O,

    Junior Alvarado refused to blame the racetrack. No one knows Olympiad the way he does. Hope to speak with Mr Mott. Nobody wins all their races btu very, very rare when his horse does not show up at all. Todd said LIG had to overcome the racetrack. Although he doesn’t usually, seems like a big of a slow deal there; the wet, if anything, helped his guy. So did uber aggressive Irad.

    I concede Nation’s Pride was best on the day, but the wet ground did not help Annapolis at all; quite the opposite we believe…

    1. Looking at the replay a few times, I’m starting to wonder if Irad employed the intimidation tactics out of sheer necessity this time; I am really not sure LIG is interested in 9 or 10f, though the track was pretty obviously deep and tiring. I understand that they see a repeat effort in the BC Mile as a concession of failure, but perhaps the horse has been repeatedly telling Todd and Irad that 8f is enough for him.

      1. It’s a point to consider. Never let them see you sweat, right? Not sure I agree with you but not sure I disagree. But I will always believe the wet track helped him given his significant early pace advantage. WinStar will have a couple of players, and I’m sure they will attempt to max out their opportunities.

    2. (I’m assuming getting 9f at Gulfstream after a nearly 4 month rest and refreshing does in no way indicate that a horse wants 9f).

  10. John, very tough break getting hit with Covid. Just look what’s coming down the road at the Spa once you recover: Fourstardave, Jonathan Sheppard (formerly the New York Turf Writers Steeplechase), Alabama, Personal Ensign, Travers . . . all designed to cheer you up and line your pockets. Plus you’ll find a complete selection of simulcasting available for when you find a $20 claimer somewhere that looks appealing. Get well completely . . . and soon, too !!!

  11. SAR 2022: 16 for 55, minus $374, minus 34% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 10AUG2022 (Day 20)

    Race 5 – $20 to SHOW on WRITEITONTHEICE
    Race 9 – $20 to SHOW on MR. KRINGLE
    Race 10 – $20 to SHOW on REMOTE

      1. 0 for 3 is an appropriate ending to my first half. 16 for 58, minus $434, minus 37% ROI. Amazing that I lost only 37 percent of what I have wagered. Seems like a reasonable entertainment expense from that perspective.

        Wishing everyone a great 2nd half of the Saratoga meet.

        1. Dan, always remember: “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”

          You’ve protected your bankroll through a terrible streak. that’s the positive takeaway.

          Hang in, You do you!

  12. I didn’t see Doc, I was not at the races. Was there an incident in the feature?

    I made a selection, the horse ran third, went to watch the replay and the screen messaged: “Video for this race not available.”

    Tell me what happened, please.

    1. If that happened to you on Race 7, the reason the replay might not be up is that a horse went down after clipping heels with the winner – who was DQd. The horse and jockey (Cancel) both got up and ended up seeming to be fine fortunately, but it was ugly looking in real time.

  13. In Race 3, the 5.5f turf sprint, Irad was on the outside horse in an 8 horse field, The gate opens and he comes out and cuts off more than half the field gunning his horse to get to the 2 path. The head on replay is pretty damning, with Irad sort of trying to make it appear like he was just trying to straighten out a horse that veered in on his own, but not really coming off too convincing. He ended up getting beaten, but they left him up for 2nd for some reason. Migliore went off on him after they watched the head on a couple of times and it seemed justified to be that upset. You will want to check out the replays of Race 3 to form your own opinion.

    Side note: I have a feeling that there have been jockeys in the room that have griped about Irad to Migliore off the record since confronting him directly and dealing with Irad holding a grudge sounds like a bad idea for everyone’s safety.

    I have nothing against him otherwise; he is an absolutely elite Hall Of Fame level jockey; probably as good as there is in this country, but he has become super comfortable pushing it past Angel Cordero levels at times.

  14. Dan, I believe your take was on the money. However, I can’t completely hang him on this one. Migliore would know a lot more of what could have been done in this case, and it did appear that Irad could have done more.

    Seemingly, he allowed his mount to cross over several strides before trying to correct him. He did, of course, tugging on the right rein, turning the horses head outward. But it could be argued it was too little and too late.

    I have seen Irad do things willfully and have written about it often. Indeed, I might have been the first to write about last year’s Remsen. I mention that because anyone else reading this might think I condone his race riding tactics. I do not and I will, and have, criticized him.

    But this is a tough call for me because I would have had to be inside his head. Maybe he was doing his best and maybe he was not. I’ll use the football term in regards to my opinion: Inconclusive. I think letting the result stand was the right call.

    In the meanwhile, Paco probably would have gotten days. You are right. Irad is an elite, Hall of Fame jockey, belongs in the conversation with the all-time greats. Migliore is right, too; Irad doesn’t need to do this at virtually any/every opportunity.

    1. Fair enough; I can see a case for giving him some benefit of the doubt. And one more thing in his corner is that he was aboard a 2yo 2nd time starter – any number of things could have gotten in the colt’s head in the leadup to the race. I suspect that Irad took full advantage of a situation where his mount was bearing in anyhow to take his time in getting him leveled off, but lots of incidents out of the gate really are judgement calls. He may very well be the best jockey I have seen in my race watching life, so I really just want to be able to continue seeing him compete and not have something happen on the track to curtail it all.

  15. Your intentions are good sir and agree that he took full advantage of the situation, that’s the unknown known. Indeed, he did take his time, as you noted, and the irony is that generally horses from the extreme outside will run to space–but certainly not in yesterday’s third…

  16. SAR 2022: 16 for 58, minus $434, minus 37% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 11AUG2022 (Day 21)

    Race 4 – $20 to SHOW on BARRAGE
    Race 9 – $20 to WIN on HAVE A GOOD DAY
    Race 9 – $20 to SHOW on HAVE A GOOD DAY

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