Today, August 27, there is an excellent card at Saratoga with multiple GR 1 events, topped off by the GR 1 Travers at 1 ¼ Mile for 3YO’s. Deserved Morning Line favorite is Exaggerator who won the Preakness after a solid second in the Kentucky Derby, and most recently scored in the GR 1 Haskell at Monmouth. The field is full, with 14 scheduled starters as there are many lightly raced, improving 3YO’s set for battle. In post position order:
1. 10-1 Arrogate : 2.1 Best. Leaping Best. Here is the first of the Baffert runners, and he posted a rapid 2.1 Best in his last, tying him withExaggerator for fastest last race Number. I do take that Number with a grain of salt since it was only a 3 horse field. He is also stretching out in distance, stepping up in class, and shipping cross country. I do note that Bejarano remains on the other Baffert horse, with the excellent Mike Smith taking over the reins here. Appears bred for the distance. Asking a lot; however an improving, FAST, Baffert 3YO warrants respect!
2. 6-1 American Freedom: 3.6 Best. Marching pattern. Here is the second Baffert 3YO, and this is where top West Coast jockey Bejarano ends up. He duked it out all the way in the GR 1 Haskell at 1 1/8 Mile before being caught late by Exaggerator. He figures to push the early running again today, and if able to open a lead, he is a gate to wire threat. Excellent connections and strong route breeding, along with a very positive pattern make him Very Dangerous!
3. 20-1 My Man Sam: 6.8 Best. Rest then Best pattern. He posted that 6.8 Best, finishing 2nd in a 1 1/8 Mile Allowance event after a 2 1/2 month vacation. This is the first of 3 Chad Brown runners and solid jockey Franco takes the mount, as Irad Ortiz remains on Creator, the winner of the Belmont. He will need continued improvement, but I do like the step forward from the layoff, and runners from the Chad Brown barn always catch my eye. Interesting longshot!
4. 12-1 Governor Malibu: 7.5 Best. Even pattern. He has been competing with top 3YO’s, while not quite getting there. Excellent connections and solid distance breeding. He will need a big step forward.
5. 30-1 Forever d’Oro: 7.2 Best. Marching pattern. Decent recent improvement. Connections have fair stats, and his breeding indicates the distance is suitable. Will need much more.
6. 50-1 Anaximandros: 9.3 Best. One race regression. Well, a Maiden nearly won the Wood Memorial this year, so I suppose anything is possible. Connections have modest stats, and his Numbers are very slow for this group, although he is certainly bred for the route. Would shock me.
7. 3-1 Exaggerator: 2.1 Best. Marching pattern. After a poor effort in the Belmont, this guy returned strongly to win the Haskell after a 7 week break. This continued a very strong pattern. The Desormeaux connection has been very strong here, and he is already proven at the distance. I do find it noteworthy that best efforts seem to be on off tracks. The one to beat!
8. 10-1 Destin: 4.9 Best. Mild Marching pattern. He has run some bang-up races, and nearly scored in the Belmont, and shows steady improvement. Pletcher is excellent, and I do note that terrific jockey Castellano remains here. Bred to run all day. He will need another step forward.
9. 12-1 Gift Box: 4.4 Best. Rest then Best pattern. The second Chad Brown runner has actually run Rest then Best races in each of his last two. This guy has fair bloodlines for the distance and jockey Alvarado is solid, although I do see that Castellano remains with the Pletcher horse Destin. Longshot with a shot!
10. 4-1 Connect: 3.9 Best. Marching pattern. The third Chad Brown starter just edged stablemate Gift Box in his most recent, continuing a very positive pattern. Connections are excellent as top jockey Velazquez stays aboard. Bred for the distance. Very dangerous!
11. 30-1 Majesto: 7.9 Best. Mild Circle Back pattern. He posted an improving 8.4 in his latest after a sharp bounce. Connections have solid stats,and breeding appears suitable; however his Numbers are very slow for these. Will need a big step forward.
12. 15-1 Creator: 5.8 Best. One race regression. The Belmont hero bounced in his most recent, a dull 6th in the GR 2 Jim Dandy. Excellent connections, he is bred to run all day and is proven at an even longer distance. Will need to turn things around.
13. 15-1 Laoban: 5.9 Best. Marching pattern. This guy continues to improve as he took them gate to wire in the Jim Dandy. Jose Ortiz has excellent stats and trainer Guillot has modest stats. I love the steady improvement; however I expect the pace to be much quicker in here.Interesting, but will need another big step forward.
14. 10-1 Gun Runner: 5.0 Best. One race regression. Bounced in his most recent in the slop in the Haskell versus Exaggerator. If you are able to toss that race, due to the off track, he otherwise shows a very positive Marching pattern. Very good connections, and excellent route breeding.Leave him out at your own risk!
I stamp Exaggerator as the one to beat; however I am a bit concerned that most of his best races have come on off tracks. There are several others in here that warrant deep consideration. I especially look to the Baffert and Chad Brown horses. Good luck!