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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Swiss Skydiver, the accomplished even-money favorite to win today’s storied Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, is a clear and deserving favorite.

However, three questions cloud that observation: Is this the coveted target, or a 1-1/4 mile prep for a 1-1/8 Kentucky Oaks three weeks from now? Is trainer Ken McPeek thinking about the daunting presence of Gamine in Louisville, SEP 4?

Further, we’re talking about a three year old filly that has logged close to 10,000 miles this year via land and air: Will it take a physical toll today? Why did McPeek also enter Envoulante?

Handicappers are compelled to take him at his word, that Envoulante, owned by a different group, has earned the right to run, will appreciate the added trip, and has been the regular workmate of Swiss Skywalker all along. So why not?

In this most unusual year, if Swiss Skywalker were to win both races-that’s–a particularly large two-letter word–combined with her easy Santa Anita Oaks score, her sophomore filly campaign would have to be considered among the best ever.

Parenthetically, she is not to be confused with a best three year old filly of-all-time discussion, just her accomplishments in the here-and-now, that’s all. And Alabama and Oaks turn-back in three weeks is the stuff of legends.

Whatever the context, today’s ask is a very big one, and we wish the game Blue Grass runnerup behind likely Kentucky Derby second choice Art Collector nothing but the best. She’s earned that respect, whatever happens later today.

Some weekend plays we’re serious about making, price and events-on-the-ground dependent:



Most Probable Winner: Decorated Invader (7-5)

The Bet: Key-Box Exactas–Decorated Invader with Gufo (9-2), Colonel Liam (7-2) and Bama Breeze (15-1). Also, saver win wager with HRI Horse to Watch Bama Breeze at 12-1 or more.

Exotica: Key Decorated Invader on top is super-exotics over Gufo, Colonel Liam, Bama Breeze, No Word (15-1) and Field Pass (6-1).


Most Probable Winner: Swiss Skydiver (1-1)

The Bet: Spice Is Nice (3-1) to win at 5-2 or greater. Exacta Box–Spice Is Nice, Swiss Skydiver and Harvey’s Lil Goil’ (10-1). Also, saver win wager Harvey’s Lil Goil’ at 6-1 or greater.

Exotica: Super-Exotics part wheel using the three exacta-box fillies above with each other, and with Envoulante (8-1) and Bonny South (8-1) third and fourth.



Most Probable Winner: Pneumatic (5-2)

The Bet: Pneumatic to win, no price restrictions. Key-Box Exacta Pneumatic with As Seen On T.V. (7-2) and Jesus’ Team (3-1)

Exotica: Key Pneumatic in super-exotics on top of As Seen On T.V. and Jesus’ Team, with ALL third; extra TRI ticket with ‘T.V.’ and ‘Team’ with each other.



Most Probable Winner: Mucho Unusual (6-5)

The Bet: Pulpit Rider (6-1) to win at 9-2 or greater, exacta box Mucho Unusual and Pulpit Rider.

Exotica: Key Mucho Unusual first in super-exotics with Pulpit Rider 2nd, with ALL 3rd.

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9 Responses

  1. 8th Race at Saratoga.

    Field pass has run five times this year and after a personal top backed up slightly in last. That makes a classic 0-2-X pattern. Not for me. Decorated Invader the favorite at morning odds at 7-5 could be interpreted as an 0-2-X also. I don’t think he has really run fast enough to deserve 7/5 in spite of his powerful record. No speed in a race with only two speed horses. your choice. No Word in the capable hands of Pletcher/Ortiz Has a night tight pattern and will probably move forward. Colonel Liam should sit the perfect trip, Domestic spending is slow and may be over bet with the combination of Brown/Ortiz Jr., Which takes us to Gufo. Grade 3 winner in last,Clement/Valazquez is formidable. Good pattern, Good number last time out, Has never gone backwards, 45 days off and bred for the distance. Hmm. your call.

    9th race at the spa

    Swiss Skydiver is a deserved even money favorite with her resume. There are some minus’s coming into this race. ^ race’s this year, lot’s of travel, Oaks on deck and others have run almost or faster albeit against lesser. Ripe for upset ? Envoutante the other McPeek has paired last two, Grade one placed and last was on a dead rail. Food for thought. Crystal Ball is young, lightly raced, Will take money and questionable at the distance. Hard to use, Hard to lose. If you drew a line through Harvey’s lil Goil’s Fantasy She has the look of a nice long shot. Ran a hole in the wind in the Busanda and looks like she is coming back around. My pick here is Spice is Nice. Million dollar Kee. purchase ran a fast allow. race off 97 day layoff. A pair puts her right there and Pletcher horse’s seem to hold there form off layoffs. 43 day’s away, Back to lifetime top,Curlin top and Bernardini bottom says one mile and a quarter should be no problem, Should sit a good trip, Never worst than second with Valaquez, Had a work at Saratoga with a previous bullet at Belmont. Pointed for this race. Let’s go get the bad guy’s.

  2. Can’t disagree with anything you said, Vincent, good Thoro-Graph reads as well. Gufo is probably on the best line, agreed. If you’re right about ‘Liam’ sitting a perfect trip, he will be very hard to beat. Very impressive visually winning turf debut and Todd generally not overaggressive.

    ‘Goil’ is live and if price is right, I’m there. I also picked Spice Is Nice, as above, but it will take her very best. She has the tools but must step up; I don’t completely trust any of these fillies. Will use fave defensively and try to get ‘Bama’ in the number.

  3. Hi John! Sorry I’ve been scarce, but I haven’t been feeling well (just recovering from dental work).

    If you get a chance, watch HAP’s work – now THAT is more like it. You know I think the colt loves to run and needs some fast works sprinkled in among the slower ones in order to keep his head in the game. I didn’t realize that until seeing his works prior to the SB. Mike clearly makes a difference (in silks no less, perhaps because HAP’s owners were there)……. HAP looked phenomenal – and he worked up a good sweat, which he needed. I believe Mike worked him past where the 5 furlong work actually ended, so it looks like this is how they will build up a good foundation for him.

    Swiss Skydiver is amazing – I did only see the last part, admittedly.

    1. Bets, will do, you’re my HAP whisperer. Think I mentioned previously that you should not have taken his last race too seriously–certainly Mr Shirreffs didn’t. In terms of works, it’s become fashionable for all outfits with good horses to work past the wire; all are looking for the strong gallop out these days.

      I have no problem with that but the gallop out time should be posted in the PPs somewhere. It helps bettors to determine present condition; tired of winning trainers telling bettors post race how well their horse was training.

      ‘Skydiver’ was amazing; more on her tomorrow…

      Feel better!

  4. LOL maybe I could get a job with JS, lol …I could use one!

    I stopped taking the SB seriously after the shock wore off, although I admit that I had worries about how much he got out of it. On a positive note, the colt certainly experienced some adversity, which I firmly believe will help him in KY.

    Oh, that’s a good idea…! Horses can work “slowly” and still be doing well, assuming that was the trainer’s goal, but bettors are going to look at those works and wonder about them. Why not publish the gallop put times in parentheses after the official work?

    1. I cannot believe the price! How did that happen in such a short field, and it’s not like the fave was 1-10 or anything.

  5. The G1 female dirt division is so good that I’m at a loss for words in giving some comparison. The potential BC Distaff field is so sick if they all go that it probably would belong after the Classic on the program!

    There have been some incredible Distaff fields in the past, but this one is gonna stack up with any of them if things continue as it looks (aka if horses like Bisou don’t go in the Classic).

    That field that Inside Information pounded was great. Heavenly Prize, Inside Information, Lakeway, Mariah’s Storm, Borodislew, Serena’s Song, Top Rung. When you incorporate a field class rating in, along with the figs for the actual race, I can’t even imagine what Inside information’s number would be. And the 13 1/2 length win was not an illusion based on underperforming competition; Every fraction was faster than Cigar ran later that day in the Classic.

    1. Great observations re this class, Doc! And when I have some time, will go back and try to find that Distaff and You Tube; I had forgotten how loaded that field was and I covered the event! That was the thing about Breeders’ Cup; so much going on that some races had to get shorter shrift.

      Same scenario perhaps Derby weekend. The Derby is the Derby and Tiz the Law might be the best male in America of any age. But Swiss Skyrider v Gamine, and throw in a little Speech, wow!

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