- I like Deputy Glitters (Deputy Commander) in Sunday’s Haskell. His trainer Tom Albertrani is still making excuses for the colt’s awful effort in the Belmont. But why? The mile and a half distance is excuse enough. Even I knew that, and yes, before the race, when I wrote here: He’ll be close to the pace if he’s running his race, but, being out of a daughter of sprint runner/sire Glitterman, he seems a bit light on pedigree for the Test of Champions and I doubt he’ll stick around for the finish.
If you throw out his one turn races, races on a sloppy track, ones in which he was 11 wide or ran far beyond his capabilities, his form is nearly flawless; that is, on fast tracks around two-turns less than ten furlongs. He moved forward to a lifetime best Beyer in taking the Ohio Derby in a stiff duel with Pletcher’s improved High Cotton, coming off two straight wins.
One thing that’s a bit odd is the way that Albertrani hasn’t done much with him at all since the Ohio Derby; he shows just one slow six furlong breeze since then. He showed far more speed working out for his prior race. Hopefully, the horse just didn't need the work. In any event, I think he presents good value here as the third betting choice.
Strong Contender (Maria's Mon) has been heavily hyped by John Ward, and he came through after two disappointing stakes tries with a smashing win in the Dwyer. But that was a one turn race. Plus, he had a kind trip and didn’t really beat all that much (the same reasoning I used to bet against Invasor today).
It’s time for this colt to put up or shut up on Sunday. He’s going two turns in a Grade 1 against a couple of horses that have proven to be pretty good; but not good enough so that he shouldn’t be able to handle them if he’s really the goods that Ward says he is. This trainer is one who is not backing down from Bernardini. Referring to the “Graveyard of Favorites” reputation that the track has, Ward told the Newark Star-Ledger:
"The track didn't get the reputation because of some spin doctor," the Kentucky-born horseman said. "It came by that reputation for a reason. I don't know why, but it is hard for horses to come up with a repeat performance at Saratoga.Tough talk, but he'll have to get past this test first.
"Bernardini is an extremely nice horse and he was on top of his game for the Jim Dandy. We'll watch and see if he can stay at the top of his game for the Travers."
Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat) delivered two solid efforts in the Derby and Belmont, and was possibly the best horse in the latter. But Todd Pletcher’s utopia has been jolted at Saratoga the last couple of days; he’s sent out four losing favorites in stakes races in the last two days. Not only have they lost, they’ve all done so miserably. Ready to Please was just an incongruous favorite in the Test, and she ran dead last out of 13. And Flower Alley was pretty ordinary at 3-2, costing me the last Pick Three.
So perhaps Pletcher is finally entering the dark side. Or even just a mini-slump! I mean, a guy just can't dominate this game the way he does! If Bluegrass Cat is the favorite here, as I think he may be with Johnny V flying down the shore, I think the trend could very well continue here. The nine post doesn’t help, and his figs put him in merely the middle of the pack here.
Praying for Cash (Songandaprayer) and Awfully Smart (Anees) are two colts on the improve. They come off graded stakes wins for high percentage outfits, and either or both could find their way into the money.
Flashy Bull (Holy Bull) finished less than two behind my top choice in Ohio, and draws well again. So I guess you gotta consider him, but I think only for the exotics.