The GR 1 Woodward Stakes is today’s feature at Saratoga. Frosted is the odds-on 1-2 morning line favorite and deservedly so, although his pattern is a bit perplexing. In post position order:
1. 12-1 Shaman Ghost : 7.1 Best. Even pattern. He has been competing in top company, and scored nicely one back in the GR 2 Brooklyn at 1 ½ mile. Excellent connections; however his Numbers are slow for this group. Will need a big step forward.
2. 20-1 Breaking Lucky: 4.4 Best. Marching pattern. Nice Marching pattern as he scored in a GR 3 at Woodbine in his most recent. Connections have decent stats, and his breeding seems well suited for the ½ furlong stretch out. I expect another good effort from this longshot, although he will need it!
3. 1-2 Frosted: -3.8 Best. One race regression. His race in the Met Mile was nothing short of incredible. He did return to take them gate to wire in the Whitney, as his Number regressed to 0.1. That is still very fast, and a repeat of that last race Number would still make Frosted formidable in here. I do note that he grabbed an uncontested lead, and even though the fractions were fast, I think it is doubtful that he will be all alone on the engine in the Woodward. I expect Rosario to rate him just off of Bradester and maybe Samraat; however we shall see. Clearly the one to beat once again!!!
4. 6-1 Bradester: -0.1. Best. Leaped to his Best. He joined the elite less than 0.0 club with his gate to wire score in a GR 2 at Monmouth going a 1 1/16 Mile in the slop. Connections have very good stats, and he just recently scored in a GR 1 at Churchill at 1 1/8 Mile, so his ability to get the distance seems clear. Although I expect him to set the pace, I also expect he will be pressured. I am concerned about a possible bounce, early pressure, and the stretch out. Figures to lead them for a long way.
5. 20-1 Catholic Cowboy: 6.9 Best. Fading pattern. His Numbers are fading and his Best is slow for these. Trainer Zito has been having a rough meet; while jockey Saez has solid stats. Hard to recommend.
6. 10-1 Samraat: 5.3 Best. Marching pattern. Heart breaking loss in his most recent, as he duked it all the way in a neck loss in the GR 2 Suburban at 1 1/4. Trainer Violette does not have good recent stats; however rider JL Ortiz has excellent stats. I expect him to be forwardly placed and I do love the cut back in distance. Longshot worth a long look.
7. 30-1 Tale of Verve: 5.2 Best (on Extended Card). Long Circle Back pattern. Although his Numbers are improving, he has never run well enough to win a race like this. Primo JR Velazquez takes over the mount, and trainer Stewart has modest stats. Would be a surprise.
8. 50-1 Tapin Mojo: 9.6 Best (on Extended Card). Long Circle Back pattern. Very slow Numbers for this group. Trainer has poor recent stats, while jockey Franco has decent stats. Would stun me.
9. 5-1 Mubtaahij: 4.4 Best. Rest then Best pattern. Here is the second fave, and based on accomplishments, he is the most likely to threatenFrosted. Returned from a 2 ½ month freshening to post his 4.4 Best behind Samraat in the 1 ¼ Mile Suburban. Of note is that he did finish in front of Frosted one race back in Dubai. Connections are stellar, he is bred to run all day, Rest then Best pattern, gets a 6 pound weight advantage from Frosted, cutting back in distance, and he figures to be picking them up late if the pace is hot. If the top one falters, Mubtaahij is Very Dangerous!
Clearly this is Frosted’s race to lose. I expect Mubtaahij to run well, and I would not totally ignore Samraat or Bradester.