Saturday's slate of graded stakes races across the country is a solid one – in theory.
Time will tell, but many of the graded stakes races taking place from coast-to-coast this weekend feature at least one or two runners that look to tower over their competition, creating rather unappealing wagering opportunities.
Nonetheless, below you will find horses to consider in three graded stakes happening on Saturday, with each of them likely being best used as “keys” in exotic wagers as opposed to outright win bets.
After thirty weeks, here is the results tally (records reflective of $2 WIN / $2 WPS):
WIN: 14-87 (16.1%, -$63.40)
WPS: 46-87 (52.9%, -$136.80)
3:01 ET – CHURCHILL DOWNS R5 – G1 BEVERLY D. – 1 1/8 MILES – TURF
A five-horse field in a grade one is hardly interesting, but there's a European entrant that is very tempting in this year's Beverly D. (the first year the race is being held away from Arlington Park). LILY POND (5) goes out for all-world trainer Aidan O'Brien, and as the lone three-year-old filly in the race she's allowed to carry less weight than her competition (120 pounds v. 125 pounds for the other four). The lightly raced daughter of Galileo has never been considered among O'Brien's best (which is why she's here), but her most recent victory in the G2 Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland was gutsy. After sitting just off her stablemate, Lily Pond took over and repelled multiple bids from her competitors, eventually prevailing by a half-length. The early foot she's displayed throughout her career is atypical for most Europeans that come to the U.S., and that could be the difference maker for her on Saturday. In a race where the pace scenario is murky at best, Lily Pond's ability to be forwardly placed could give her a leg up on the field.
THE PLAY: 5) LILY POND TO WIN at odds of 9/5 or greater
6:13 ET – SARATOGA R10 – G1 FOURSTARDAVE – 1 MILE – TURF
She may be the lone filly taking on the boys on Saturday, but REGAL GLORY (3) is strictly the horse to beat in the G1 Fourstardave at Saratoga. Trained by Chad Brown, the six-year-old mare has taken her game to a new level over the past ten months, demonstrating an ability to adapt to any pace scenario thrown at her and still be capable of delivering an “A” performance. The pace scenario in the Fourstardave is an interesting one, as Get Smokin is a pure speed type, Front Run the Fed won't be far off the pace on the stretch-out in distance, and Masen (the other Chad Brown entrant) has been close to the front in all three of his U.S. starts to date. Regal Glory has been forward in races that lacked pace, so the fact that there are at least a couple that would like to figure prominently throughout leads me to believe jockey Jose Ortiz will take the daughter of Animal Kingdom off the pace and commence his bid as the field rounds the far turn. She may not offer a great deal of value on the win end, however she is without question the most likely winner of Saturday's Fourstardave.
THE PLAY: 3) REGAL GLORY TO WIN at odds of even-money or greater
9:03 ET – DEL MAR R9 – G2 SORRENTO – 6 FURLONGS – DIRT
The most conventional way of handicapping a horse race is via speed figures, whether they be Beyer Speed Figures, some other commercially available “figs”, or one's own speed figures. Another method involves calculating the feet-per-second a horse travels over a specific length, with the higher the number the better. In the G2 Sorrento at Del Mar for two-year-old fillies on Saturday, PROCRASTINATION (1) is a standout in terms of feet-per-second metrics (also known as velocity ratings). Trained by Michael McCarthy, the two-year-old daughter of Not This Time flashed speed in her career debut from an inside post before taking heat throughout the opening 3/8ths of the race at Los Alamitos on July 4. Once the field hit the top of the lane, however, Procrastination decimated her competition, drawing off to win by an emphatic eight-lengths. She'll need to hustle breaking from the rail on Saturday, but assuming she breaks well she'll be tough to run down in the Sorrento – and with another big performance, Procrastination could begin putting herself on the short list of contenders for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland in November.
THE PLAY: 1) PROCRASTINATION TO WIN at odds of 4/5 or greater