The Paulick Report in conjunction with NYRA Bets is pleased to bring back Weekend Play at Saratoga, our weekly handicapping feature for the Spa's summer meet. Each week, one of our editors will focus on a single wager – could be a Pick 4, Pick 5, exacta, tri or whatever else they might fancy.
With Mother Nature wreaking havoc on the Whitney Day card's turf races (including the cancellation of two stakes, the Grade 3 Waya and Lure, which will be run next weekend), we'll focus on a single race this week: the G1 Test for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs on the main track. I'm playing a four-horse trifecta box that will cost $12 ($.50 base).
8th Race, The Test, 3-year-old fillies, 7 Furlongs
The Test is that rare Saratoga race that has not been dominated by the Spa's leading trainers. Chad Brown, for instance, has never won the Test. Steve Asmussen has just one victory, that coming 15 years ago with Lady Tak. Todd Pletcher has two wins in the Test but none since back-to-back victories with Jersey Girl and Marley Vale in 1998-'99. Brown and Asmussen figure big in this year's renewal (Pletcher doesn't have a runner).
The key race is the G3 Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park July 8, with five of the Test's nine runners coming out of that contest. Winner Dixie Serenade, who is not in the Test, snuck up the rail to beat #4 CLASSY ACT in the Victory Ride, a very unlucky loss for the latter, who had battled on the lead throughout with #7 MIA MISCHIEF, who tired to be fifth, beaten two lengths. MIA MISCHIEF was the 6-5 favorite that day and really had no excuse, in my mind, so she is a toss as the tepid morning line favorite.
The filly who had a major excuse was 2017 G1 Frizette winner #6 SEPARATIONOFPOWERS, a Chad Brown-trained daughter of Candy Ride who was making her first start since a fourth-place finish in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar last November. She stumbled badly coming out of the gate from the rail post in the Victory Ride, was far back early and made a good sustained run to get fourth and will improve dramatically in this spot.
Two fillies not in the Victory Ride are #3 ALTER MOON and #9 KELLY's HUMOR. ALTER MOON is making her first start for Brown after being bought privately by Peter Brant following a good win June 30 over much easier rivals in a minor stakes at Gulfstream Park for trainer Jose Velez. She tried hard against G2 company at Gulfstream going long last winter but only got hot and dirty for the effort and is back at what appears her best distance. KELLY'S HUMOR is dropping back in distance for Brad Cox and seems better suited to seven furlongs, having chased home CLASSY ACT while second in an allowance race at Churchill Downs at seven furlongs June 1. At 15-1 on the morning line, I think she will get a share of this.
The Play: $.50 trifecta box with #3 ALTER MOON, #4 CLASSY ACT, #6 SEPARATIONOFPOWERS, #9 KELLY'S HUMOR (Total $12)
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