Stakes Analysis: Whitney, Yellow Ribbon and West Virginia Derby
SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 2018
It's a big day for stakes races! There are 14 Graded Stakes races with purse sizes of at least $100,000. That's 14 larger than normal betting pools and 14 opportunities to cash some nice tickets. We are going to focus on the fab-five, in our humble opinion.
Saratoga Race 9 - $1,200,000.00 Whitney H. (Grade 1)
Saratoga Race 8 - $500,000.00 Longines Test S. (Grade 1)
Mountaineer Park Race 7 - $200,000.00 West Virginia Governor's S. (Grade 3)
Mountaineer Park Race 8 - $500,000.00 West Virginia Derby (Grade 3)
Del Mar Race 8 - $200,000.00 Yellow Ribbon H. (Grade 2)
If it's got two-commas in the purse size, it's got to be a big race. The Whitney Handicap is definitely the BIGGEST of the day. As we mentioned in our recent Track Bias Article, Saratoga has a preferred running style of late. Roughly 40% of all winners went wire-to-wire last week. That number has fallen to 23% in the first three days of this week. However, most of the winners in the first three days of August were close to the front out of the gate. The eventual winner raced 1st, 2nd, or 3rd out of the gate in 16 of the 30 races run since Wednesday.
Morning line favorite DIVERSIFY (PP: 6 - M/L 7/5) is most likely to pop out of the gate first, hoping to never see a horse in front of him. The greatest threat to get in front of DIVERSIFY is BACKYARD HEAVEN (PP: 2 - M/L 9/2).
After that, it's anybody's guess how a bunch of horses who like to rate will line up. It's possible the two upfront stay that way around the track. As we put it in our bonus commentary, "Last year we had Gun Runner to lean on in this spot, but this year the race is much more wide open. BACKYARD HEAVEN makes sense at his morning line price of 9/2 as he should rebound from a poor effort last time out. Use him with DIVERSIFY and MIND YOUR BISCUITS on top. Both of those horses have question marks, but they are the most talented runners in the race." Depending on the quality of the track come race 9, definitely look for some value horses to round out your exotics. At 12-1, GOOD SAMARITAN may fit the bill. Our 7-page Whitney Handicap Wagering Guide goes into detail on each horse in the race and how to best play them.
The $500,000.00 Longines Test is 7-furlongs on the dirt for three-year-old fillies. Seven-furlongs is probably the only distance that hasn't seen a wire-to-wire winner at the Spa. Horses that run 2nd-5th out of the box tend to do the best. Except for a trio of front runners and the two morning line favorites, ALTER MOON (PP: 2 - M/L 4-1), CLASSY ACT (PP: 3 - M/L 7/2), and MIA MISCHIEF (PP: 7 - M/L 3-1), all the others like to run the rated race.
In our bonus commentary, we note "Pace will be the key to the race. MIA MISCHIEF is the class of the field, but was burnt up on the front end in her last race and finished off the board. She must be able to rate today or it could happen again as CLASSY ACT will be out in front and putting on the pressure. Those two horses are two to use, and the undefeated MINIT TO STARDOM will also be in the mix." This race is also featured in our Whitney Handicap Wagering Guide.
Moving south to the Mountaineer State, it's a day of races celebrating government offices, office holders, and the West Virginia Derby.
We'll start with Mountaineer Park Race 7, the $200K WV Governor. Like politicians reacting to poll data, front runners have fared well in West Virginia, wire-to-wire 41% meet-to-date and 50% last week. Anything that wins at 40% only requires odds of 3-2 to break even. Anything better than that, it's big money in the bank.
One of five Radar Horses running today, we've identified TERM OF ART at 10-1 odds that has as good a chance as any to get to the front and add to the speed bias. Our Radar pick "blazed around Ellis Park in his last outing and first effort following an extended break. Best speed rating after rest, ran up front... why not?"
Moving on to Mountaineer Park Race 8 - the $500,000.00 West Virginia Derby (Grade 3), it's possible that the west coast is coming to take over West Virginia. Two of the favorites in today's West Virginia Derby call California home: DRAFT PICK (PP: 2 - M/L 3-1) and ONCE ON WHISKEY (PP: 5 - M/L 5/2).
They duked it out at the Los Alamitos Derby on July 14th:
Will Saturday's race be a replay? It's possible, but we think RUGBYMAN will be a factor too as he "got squeezed and eased in his last start, should be fresh; with a clean ride near the lead ready to kick down the stretch."
We'll wrap up a long, fun day of racing in the setting California sun.
Del Mar Race 8 - the $200,000.00 Yellow Ribbon is a wide-open race with many contenders. It's the kind of race where big payouts are possible if you get the ticket lined up right. The morning line favorite is CAMBODIA (PP: 11 - M/L 7/2) in an 11-horse field. See what we mean?
We think the 8-horse at 8-1, SOPHIE P could continue her streak of improving race-by-race, finish on top and pay a handsome price. In our bonus commentary, we see it this way, "Sophie P has improved in every race since arriving from Great Britain. Her third off a layoff could be the recipe for her best. CAMBODIA has run her best with Drayden Van Dyke in the saddle and won 50% of her races at the distance (4 of 8) with three thirds."
Make sure you check out our social sites, as we'll be sharing observations for other tracks exclusively on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Best of luck!
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