Another stakes doubleheader for the first Saturday of Saratoga 152 but neither drew overwhelming support at the entry box.
The Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks drew a field of six, but what it lacks in number is compensated for in drama. Four of the six can win:
From the rail out, Tonalist’s Shape (9-5), Antoinette (8-1), Altaf (5-1) and Paris Lights (2-1).
Ability at the trip plus pedigree? Paris Lights (2-1). A filly who broke maiden with an Arazi-style turn move? Altaf (5-1). Bill Mott going turf to dirt? Antoinette (8-1).
We’re taking Tonalist’s Shape to win, no price restrictions. The combination of classy accomplishment, tactical speed and kick, pole position, Irad and brilliant works in blinkers may be too much for her rivals to overcome.
The G2 Hall of Fame always attracts top turf colts and this year Christophe Clement will saddle two of them; the favorite and second favorite. Gufo (5-2) is 4-for-5, only loss in her debut when he came with a belated run.
However, we believe Decorated Warrior (1-1) is not only the turf division’s leader but is among the top three year olds in the country. Like his mate, he will shoulder 124 highweight, but has done so successfully.
The price will be prohibitive so we will use him an an exacta key over his mate and Moon Over Miami, who finished strongly to win his last despite a very soft early pace.
Taking Todd to Double His Pleasure at the Shore
When last seen Authentic (4-5) suffered his first defeat at the hooves of Honor A. P. America’s second ranked three year old; no disgrace there. But the waters don’t get that much easier in the Grade 1 Haskell.
A speed/stalker type, he rates to get plenty of company on the front end with sprinter types and a presser, Ny Traffic, who has closely shadowed some accomplished runners.
He hasn’t beaten them but they knew he was there. With Paco Lopez in the boot, that’s likely to be the case once more. These factors make the favorite vulnerable.
When last seen, Dr Post had Tiz the Law to beat in the Belmont Stakes and couldn’t do it, but it was a strong effort in a strongly run race in which he lost ground while spotting the divisional leader position. Today, he’ll sit the pocket with Jersey Joe Bravo.
The other Grade 1 on the card is the storied United Nations, a terrific prelude to Monmouth’s biggest dance and Current (4-1) is the kind of developing four year old who is beginning to catch up to the rest of the turf divisional.
His last at Belmont was a bridge to this as he showed very little from an outside post and finished up like a horse short of condition.
That won’t be the case here as Pletcher has put him on the fence in the morning. He will be much fitter, sharper and appears well spotted to break through here, getting a chance to amend for a tough loss at 37-1 in the G2 Pan American.
Linda, Chad and Jose en fuego
After two days of racing, Linda Rice and Chad Brown top the trainer standings with four wins each, Brown sweeping both Friday stakes. And after a triple opening day, Jose Ortiz used all his strength to win the Friday nightcap for Rice.
Michael Trombetta is next in line, saddling a winner each day. Six jockeys have ridden two winners to trail Ortiz… Favorites have won eight of the first 20 races, the main track has played fairly both days and the turf has been a little tiring…
The stewards are 3-for-3 at the meet, in our view, two could have gone the other way but we thought they got both correct…
Business is booming. Thursday $19 million opener was followed up yesterday as $17.2 million went into the pools. No Del Mar but it will be interesting to see how it will compare with Monmouth Park’s Haskell Saturday.