Between Saratoga and Del Mar on Saturday, the picture for the 2022 Breeders' Cup Classic will either become crystal clear or become as clear as mud.
Each venue will host G1 races contested on dirt over the Classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, making both the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Saratoga) and Pacific Classic (Del Mar) critical data points for handicapping November's Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland.
Along with these two races, both Saratoga and Del Mar will have multiple other graded stakes races, however there's an unfortunate reality in at least two of the events: there are favorites that are extremely likely winners but will go off at prices that aren't playable, making the races unbettable (from a win perspective).
Both Flightline in the Pacific Classic and War Like Goddess in the Flower Bowl at Saratoga will be in the 1/5 or 2/5 odds range, but they're each such likely winners that it's not worth taking shots against them.
There are three graded stakes between these two tracks that are worth considering, though: the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, the G2 Del Mar Mile, and the G2 Del Mar Handicap.
After thirty-three weeks, here is the results tally (records reflective of $2 WIN / $2 WPS):
WIN: 14-96 (14.6%, -$81.40)
WPS: 51-96 (53.1%, -$162.00)
5:45 ET – SARATOGA R11 – G1 JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP – 1 1/4 MILES – DIRT
The two most likely winners of this year's Jockey Club Gold Cup are the 1-2 finishers from July's Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs, Olympiad and Americanrevolution. Of the two, I'm more interested in AMERICANREVOLUTION (5). One of four entered by trainer Todd Pletcher, it's always been my belief that the son of Constitution wants every bit of the ten-furlongs he'll get to work with at Saratoga on Saturday, and, despite losing on the square to Olympiad in Louisville in July, there's reason to believe Americanrevolution can flip the script on his rival Saturday. The four-year-old colt was making just his second start of the season in the Foster compared to Olympiad's fifth, and following the Foster, Olympiad proceeded to throw in a rare clunker in August's Whitney at Saratoga. Americanrevolution was scratched from that race in favor of this spot, largely because he is owned by the same group who owns Life Is Good – who won the Whitney. The move to Joel Rosario is certainly not a bad thing on Saturday, and I'm hopeful Americanrevolution receives a rather aggressive ride from the gate, establishing forward position as the field enters the first turn.
THE PLAY: 5) AMERICANREVOLUTION TO WIN at odds of 5/2 or greater
7:10 ET – DEL MAR R7 – G2 DEL MAR MILE – 1 MILE – TURF
Trainer Phil D'Amato has a strong hand in this year's Del Mar Mile between Hong Kong Harry and Cathkin Peak, but I wanted to shop around for a horse that figures to be a price yet fits on speed figures. Many bettors will scoff at the notion of taking a horse at 1/5th the price they were last out, suggesting that “last time was the time” to have them. Perhaps his last two efforts were fool's gold or the rail-skimming trip he received from jockey Hector Berrios in July's Wickerr Stakes was too good to be true, but IRIDEO (3) has the look of a runner that's simply rounding into form. Trained by Marcelo Polanco, the six-year-old gelding made his U.S. debut at Santa Anita in April. That race marked his first start since December of 2020 in his native Argentina, so some rust was to be expected. Following two dull efforts, Irideo took a significant step forward sprinting at Santa Anita when finishing second on June 12. That effort was a harbinger of things to come, as he shocked the world at 31-1 winning the Wickerr at Del Mar on July 24 beneath Berrios, who rides him again here. The most intriguing aspect of his victory at the beginning of the meet was the fact that Irideo was the only horse making up ground in that event, suggesting the effort may be slightly better than it appears at face value. He'll be another square price in this spot, and with a bit of pace to run at, Irideo intrigues.
THE PLAY: 3) IRIDEO TO WIN at odds of 6/1 or greater
9:20 ET – DEL MAR R11 – G2 DEL MAR HANDICAP – 1 3/8 MILES – TURF
Many of the favorites in this year's Del Mar Handicap either enter on the heels of races that were run to suit or, specifically regarding Tizamagician, need to prove they're as effective on grass as they are on dirt. One of the horses that was compromised by the fast pace in July's Eddie Read at Del Mar was TANGO TANGO TANGO (5), who made an early move into the hottest part of the race before flattening late. Trained by Jack Sisterson, the four-year-old colt was making his first start off a short layoff, making the trip he pulled in the Read that much more taxing. Now, with a race and some fitness under his belt, the son of Tourist should be prepared to move forward in his second start off the bench. A more favorable trip should be coming Tango Tango Tango's way, too, making him an appealing play at a longer price – particularly in exotic wagers.
THE PLAY: 5) TANGO TANGO TANGO TO WIN at odds of 8/1 or greater