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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

SPA SATURDAY FEATURES FOUR GRADED STAKES; FLORIDA BABIES STAR AT GULFSTREAM

This year, the penultimate Saturday of the Saratoga race meet would feature the session’s lynchpin, the Travers ‘Midsummer Derby’ Stakes. But it’s 2020: Been there, Tiz the Law won that.

Good news and bad news as we survey today’s highlighted tracks. Weather handicappers say there’s an actual chance it might not rain in Hallandale Beach. Regrettably the Spa is another matter: Thunderstorms predicted from 2 am to 10 am.

On paper, the G3 Saranac is unlikely to get a very high rating from GradedStakesRaces.com unless something extraordinary happens on the turf course–if indeed it remains there. (If any turf race survives the scrutiny, it likely would be the G1 Sword Dancer).

Todd Pletcher, who began Friday with a one-win lead over Chad Brown, has entered Ima Pharoah (4-1) Main-Track-Only. A maiden winner last out, he impressed with a fast seven furlong score in fast time in his first start here.

Early favorite Vannzy (7-2) would mind the surface switch as he is that rare animal that has won on three surfaces in a nine race career; dirt, turf and synth. He owns a listed stakes win and a Grade 3 money finish.

Interesting Saranac horses, in post order, are the Graham Motion paid of Bye Bye Melvin (12-1), Irish Mias (12-1) and Embolden (8-1). We’ll have a suggest plan of attack tomorrow a.m.

Six three-year-olds are lining up for the G2 Amsterdam, n always interesting Saratoga sprint. Half of them can win: Basin (7-2), Yaupon (8-5) and Long Weekend (9-5).

Basin goes first time for Pletcher, last year’s Hopeful winner, turning back in distance following the transfer from the Asmussen barn.

Yaupon, a very eye-pleasing winner on Spa debut, is one of the meeting’s buzz horses and Long Weekend, from Team Serengeti Empress, is a very fast colt.

The Grade 1 Forego is an 11-horse beauty. My Heart, and my exactas, will be rooting for cool old pro Whitmore (7-2). But we will be shopping for value in this spot among Lexitonian (10-1), Mind Control (6-1) and the Chad uncoupled pair Complexity (4-1) and Fortin Hill (6-1). Deeper dive required.

The Grade 1 Sword Dancer is another heart vs. head matchup. Seven-year-old Sadler’s Joy (5-2) is an honest sort and personal favorite and was unlucky in last, proving best in the Bowling Green but justly disqualified for compromising two rivals in deep stretch.

Grass maven Mike Maker has three in here and Aquaphobia seems the most forward on the three and perhaps all other rivals, too. He was a good trip winner of the G1 United Nations and might benefit from similar dynamics here.

We’ll see if Irad Ortiz Jr. takes the reins as scheduled after taking off his mounts the last two days with continued wrist pain, the result of a gate incident late Wednesday afternoon.

Babies on Parade in South Florida

Always a highly anticipated racing day for Florida-based connections, the biggest races being the Susans Girl for fillies at seven furlongs and the Affirmed for colts and geldings, each by Florida-based sires.

The Susans Girl drew only six and principally is a rematch between Go Jo Jo Go (8-5) and Princess Secret (9-5). ‘Jo Jo’ ran her rival down to win the Desert Vixen, breaking maiden in the process after ‘Princess’ was hounded on the lead throughout.

The question is what happens if this time ‘Princess’ shakes loose without undue pressure and what do we expect from the Arindel team of Lyrical (10-1) and Freak (7-2) if given fast footing this trip?

The Affirmed drew nine entrant at this same trip with juveniule whiz Ralph Nicks entering three including undefeated Breeze On By (6-5), 2-for-2 one on a fast track, the other in the slop.

Check back Saturday at 10 a.m. for suggested wagers at both venues

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