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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


SARATOGA SPRINGS, August 28, 2022 — Will the “Graveyard” devour another champion? Seems possible in today’s renewal of the Ballerina at 7 furlongs. Keeping this short and sweet:

First, we’re forgiving the debacle that was Obligatory’s first Grade 1 effort in last year’s Test Stakes as she stumbled badly at the break, losing all chance. And her turnaround at 4 has been nothing less than sensational.

Bill Mott has freshened her so that she has excellent spacing into today’s fray, and by all appearances has made that transformation horsemen and fans like to see when horses develop from 3 to 4.

Finally, it’s that late turn of foot that is going to make the difference here as this is a race loaded with potential early pace. We say potentially because the New York colony can be overly non-aggressive at times.

So, hoping these fillies and mares cling to their best game, we hope the Mott trainee will run them down late. We’re taking Obligatory to win at 5-2 or greater and an exacta box with sprint champion Ce Ce.

Travers Day a Festival of Riches

The Travers Day Stakes card in an embarrassment of riches. Huge race programs are commonplace these days, but how many tracks can offer five Grade 1s and a Grade 2 on one afternoon?

Not hyperbole; fact. When you look at the five Grade 1s offered Saturday, this is what you’ll find:

Win or lose, the Forego will not affect Jackie’s Warrior’s status as a bona fide Saratoga legend. Rank him right up there with Fourstardave and John’s Call, only he has a singular distinction of winning Grade 1s at 2, 3 and 4.

The H Allen Jerkens offers a dual Grade 1 winner in Jack Christopher, who never has been beaten around one turn. And as a three-year-old, to win races named for Woody and The Chief, need to be faster than fast.

The Personal Ensign boasts two champions, Letruska and Malathaat, each with something to prove in 2022, and Clairere, having a better year than both defending titlists and would join that club if her present season continues.

The Sword Dancer performers lack the same kind of sizzle as those above, but boasts Grade 1 talent, nonetheless. European shipper Broome is a Group 1 winner seeking a free ride to the Breeders’ Cup Turf, hoping to atone for last year’s runnerup finish.

Add to his entry Tribhuvan, a rare frontrunning dual Grade 1 winner of turf marathons, and Gufo, defending last year’s Sword Dancer title and you have an excellent betting race.

And, of course, the lynchpin of any Saratoga meet, the Travers Stakes, which will be renewed for the 153rd time. At this posting, five of the eight entrants are eligible to be named the three-year-old champion.

Nest, the current divisional leader of the sophomore fillies, would need to step outside her comfort zone if she wants to stake a claim to the open three-year-old championship.

These issues will be settled Saturday on the racetrack. Until then, a handicapping look-in on the first two of six graded races:

G2 BALLSTON SPA           Race 4

The Skinny: When the fastest—or arguably co-fastest–horse in the race looms as possible lone speed, that’s the pre-race lean.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  Technical Analysis (1-1)

POTENTIAL VALUE PLAY:   Our Flash Drive (4-1)

STRAIGHT AND EXOTICA: Technical Analysis to win, no price restrictions. Exacta Box: Technical Analysis and Our Flash Drive

G1 FOREGO                    Race 5

The Skinny: No pressure for a handicapper, it’s all on Steve Asmussen and Joel Rosario

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  Jackie’s Warrior (1-2)

POSSIBLE VALUE PLAY:  Three Two Zone  (12-1)

EXOTICA and Saver Wager:  Exacta Key Box Jackie’s Warrior with Three Two Zone and Baby Yoda (8-1). Trifecta Key Jackie’s Warrior first over ‘Zone’ and ‘Yoda.’ Saver Win Wager: Three Two Zone at early line odds or greater

G1 H ALLEN JERKENS Race 8 (begins All-Grade-1 Pick 4)

The Skinny: 6-Jack Christopher (6-5) is 4-for-4 in one-turn races. 1-Conagher (7-2) might be just as talented sprinting; good matchup. 3-Howling Time (10-1) has bee pointing to this; he, too, comes out of the Haskell.



STRAIGHT WAGER and EXOTICA: Howling Time to win at 9-1 or greater. Exacta Box 1-3-6 and 1-6-9 (Accretive). Superfecta Key 6 // 1-3-8 (Gunite)-9. Superfecta Wheel 1-3-8-9 // 6 // 1-3-8-9 // 1-3-8-9.


The Skinny: There are two champions in this field of five, 1-Letruska and 5-Malathaat. At this posting, 3-Clairiere has taken charge of this division.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: 3-Clairiere (6-5)

EARLY LINE VALUE: 5-Malathaat (5-2)

STRAIGHT WAGER and EXOTICA: Malathaat to win at 2-1 or greater. Exacta Box: (Search Results) 2-3-5. Trifecta Key: 5 with (Letruska) 1-2-3. Trifecta Wheel 1-2-3 // 5 // 1-2-3


The Skinny: The Euro is here, only one as defending Turf Champion Yibir is sidelined by injury. Will one be enough?



STRAIGHT WAGER AND EXOTICA: Broome to win at 2-1 or greater. Exacta Box 3-6. Exacta Box 3-6-9 (Channel Maker, 8-1). Trifecta Wheel: 3-6 // 3-5-6-9 // 3-5-6-7 (Tribhuvan, 5-1)-9. Superfecta Key 3 // 5-6-7-9


The Skinny: Is Epicenter the best three-year-old colt in America? We think so, but he must prove it by winning the Derby of Midsummer. No excuses. Horses with the best upset chance are 1-Cyberknife (7-2) and 8-Zandon. Exotic finishers are 2-Rich Strike (10-1), 5-Artorius (9-2) and, to a lesser extent, 7-Early Voting (8-1).

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: 6-Epicenter (7-5)

EARLY LINE VALUE: 8-Zandon (5-1)

STRAIGHT WAGER and EXOTICA: Epicenter to win at 6-5 or greater. Exacta Key Box: 6 with 1 and 8. Extra Exacta 6 over 1-8. Trifecta and Superfecta Wheel: 6 // 1-8 // 1-2-5-7-8 // 1-2-5-7-8. Trifecta Wheel: 6 // 2-5-7 // 1-8

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⚠ Before you comment

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24 Responses

  1. SAR 2022: 28 for 91, minus $356, minus 20% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 26AUG2022 (Day 32)

    Race 3 – $20 to WIN on PRICE DISCIPLINE
    Race 7 – $20 to WIN on DONEGAL SURGES
    Race 10 – $20 to SHOW on THERAPIST

    1. Hmmmmm I dunno.

      Amazed that I still have 80% of the money wagered. The 20% lost can be rationalized as a reasonable entertainment expense. 🙂

  2. Got another rationale for you. Takeout included, you’re down 3% How do you like that lemonade?

  3. Interesting how your picks align EXACTLY with Lisa’s Dirty Hore Club picks AGAIN for another major race, this time the Travers………. why not just give her the credit for her hard work. It’s just amazing you post her picks as yours minutes after logging out off her site.

    1. But Bart. I waited at least overnight before doing so. In case you are interested, I started as a handicapper for Newsday in 1977. I have some idea of how to look at a set of PPs. BTW, I am a huge Lisa fan and she knows it. She has taken dosage study to a new level. So let’s just say ‘great minds’ and leave it at that. Enjoy the race…

  4. Stop John……you were on Lisa’s site for 40 minutes on her Travers page, and then your write up went live literally 2 minutes later after leaving. Lisa’s too nice to point it out, I’m not. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to call you out on this either. It’s not about being a fan of hers or not, it’s about using her material as your own.

  5. SAR 2022: 28 for 93, minus $396, minus 21% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 27AUG2022 (Day 33)

    Race 4 – $20 to WIN on TECHNICAL ANALYSIS
    Race 5 – $20 to WIN on JACKIE’S WARRIOR
    Race 6 – $20 to WIN on LIFE CHANGER
    Race 13 – $20 to WIN on PARNAC

  6. Believe what you will. I make no apologies. Only regret Lisa didn’t analyze the other five stakes. Would have saved me much of my Thursday and Friday afternoons…

  7. I’m running late so here goes.

    4th race-Technical analysis, If you want use the 1,3
    5th race-Cmon? I’ll take both Mott horses underneath

    8th race-Cmon? put him on top of the 1,8,9
    9th race-Letruska, Toughest race of the day.Lone speed I’ll take my chances
    10th race-Broome, O’Brien takes Moore. 2nd in last years breeder’s cup. Gufo is getting blinker’s so he will be closer. Tribhuvan is lone speed which is always dangerous and Mira’s Mission is in with a chance.

    11th race-Cyberknife and Zandon are getting good at the right time. They are the top 2. Early Voting is lone speed (can hang on)
    To fill out third and forth Epicenter, Rich Strike and Ain’t life good. My lean on the top 2 is Cyberknife.
    Let’s go get them bad guy’s, Vin O’

    1. Hope you cashed something in the Sword Dancer. I couldn’t pull the trigger but you did on Mira Mission at a huge price, good call!

  8. Incidentally, I was on DRF for an hour yesterday, How many of my picks do you think I’ve stolen? We all look for information everywhere. It’s unavoidable if you want to be successful. I don’t know Lisa and I’m sure she is very nice, I wonder how many winners she had since 1977? Bart, if you would best kind to provide us with all your winners today maybe all of us at HRI can make some real money. Who do you like?LOL. Forgive me John, as you know I never comment but that remark is so dumb I couldn’t help myself. Now I’m done.

    1. Thanks for your confidence and trust, Vin. I know you’re a pedigree guy. Check out her site; informative and entertaining It’s free..

    2. This is Not like a stand up comedian using someone else`s material, the Travers ! Basic logic ,# s, and ML point to the two horses,6 and 1 and as far as the others ,I used 2,5 and 8 hoping for the lightly raced horse,#5,to keep on improving.Also, maybe it is time to let Rich Strike be handled by another, more aggressive rider .Good Saturday card and profits, BUT, did not play on that lousy Friday card full of scratches since only ONE race qualified for me. Sunday was not good to me…,Minus 4 races while anxiously for Wednesday … on a clear day only. Never liked playing on wet tracks. They mess everything up .Rarely believed “mudders” or ,automatically, betting A. E. outside horses. PS; Anybody knows anything interesting about Mark Cramer`s handicapping books ,newsletters of the past ? Seems to be the only ‘name’ that I never checked out. { Not a big loss ,I`m certain ! } Dylan Davis ,What`s Up ? Competition must be tough when top jocks are in the same colony… The Bug, Gomez, keeps on bringing double digit winners: Not many but good ones. Good prospect .
      Congrats, JV. on your 1000 Saratoga win ! J Castellano keeps on surprising by taking the early lead and going away on turf. Cannot teach such veterans ,like JV and JC, anything new; They know when to move, where and how. Respectfully….

  9. . BTW, Bart, spoke with Lisa. We had a good laugh. “Have you seen anybody pick anything but the three favorites today?” she asked. Actually no, I haven’t. And we’re good.

  10. All I can add to the verse Vin is that in a battle of racing wits, matched vs Lisa and John, well I finish well up the track in the Also Ran group. You can add Wendell and Vin to placement before me as well. The only guy I suspect I may ever out run is the guy from Eastport. He’s so busy with his lyrics, I just might outlast him.

    Anyhoot, I must say that Lisa’s analysis this go has added an aspect that I have never before ever considered. “Clay added.” It gives a new handicapping twist indeed. All I know is all I know, and who knows anything about just how much clay was added anyway. I know they have tons of it to spare in Georgia, but that’s it. Anyhoot, if I get beat, I hope it is the readers at both HRI and Dirty Horse that takes down the SF, even if I have to share it. A good safe journey to all. Keeping my good friend and Peace Maker Indulto in mind today. Life is short. I enjoy reading what everyone has to say and I think there’s enough room for all of us. So who do you like in Races 12 and 13? Riders Up!

    1. Thanks for always having my back from the beginning, McD. You’ve been most loyal–and you haven’t ignored a single Congressional subpoena. Amazing!

  11. Got my 7/2 call home first in Race 12. Sharing in on the Traver’s Tri & SF calls as well. Thanks John and Lisa! One more to go.

  12. 23 wagers remaining. There’s still time to pull this out of the fire. Possible, but not probable. As frustratingly bad as its been, only a 19% loss.

    SAR 2022: 30 for 97, minus $377, minus 19% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 28AUG2022 (Day 34)

    Race 1 – $20 to WIN on LA VITA SOFIA
    Race 2 – $20 to WIN on CRYO
    Race 9 – $20 to WIN on OBLIGATORY

  13. SAR 2022: 31 for 100, minus $366, minus 18% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 31AUG2022 (Day 35)

    Race 4 – $20 to WIN on SECRET TIME
    Race 7 – $20 to WIN on XY SPEED
    Race 10 – $20 to WIN on BEACH BOY AL

  14. SAR 2022: 31 for 103, minus $426, minus 21% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 01SEP2022 (Day 36)

    Race 6 – $20 to WIN on CLUBHOUSE
    Race 7 – $20 to WIN on ROSEMARY POTATOES
    Race 11 – $20 to WIN on ONCE A GIANT

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