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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Saratoga Wednesday

In the 1st, Carlos Martin sends out first-timer Saint Arthur (7-2), and for a barn with a well-earned reputation for not scoring with debut runners - just six for 117 over the last five years - he's sure been live with them at Saratoga of late.  In fact, fully half of those six winners have occurred at the Spa during the last two meetings; two last year, and one - Fly Fly Pomeroy ($27) - at the current one.  Not only that, he's had five 2nds with first-timers during that time, for an overall record of 12-3-5-1.  So, while I don't like to officially "pick" first-time starters here, good chance this one will be live based on recent history; pending the usual tote and paddock check of course.  Saint Arthur sports a couple of bullet works, and he's by Invasor, out of an End Sweep mare who is also the dam of Shrewd One, who won for Phil Serpe here the other day.  His second dam is a half-sister to the versatile Precisionist, who I will always fondly recall as my first Breeders' Cup winning wager, at my first live Breeders' Cup.  And for all the changes we've seen at the Big A, you wouldn't know a thing, right down to the seagulls, just from watching this.  (Well, of course, little on the racing side has changed anyhoo.)

In the 3rd, Clear Pasaj (7-2) moves up to face winners for the red-hot Bruce Levine, four winners from his last seven starters, 5-4-0 with his last 13.  3yo daughter of Smoke Glacken obviously loves the dirt with two solid efforts after two poor grass efforts to start her career.  Pretty easy win in last, first time over the track, taking charge under little apparent urging by Ravi Maragh, and handily holding off Cinematize, who has run pretty well all three starts for A. Dutrow, who in turn was far in front of the rest of the field.  Need fair value when betting a horse moving up from maiden company, and I think two others will take the bulk of the action:  Victory Island (5-2) just missed this class first try this year, for Pletcher.  Problem is she's never run particularly fast except her debut in the slop.  Class Action Suit (2-1) did run fast in her last race, earning a figure far better than the rest of these; and she's two-for-two at the distance.  Likely crushes this field if she runs back to that number.  But she changes barns, loses Ramon, and goes first time over the track, and so a repeat performance is hardly guaranteed.

In the 6th, Knock Rock (8-1) turned things around two starts back when returning to Saratoga, where he ran a decent 4th as a maiden in a G2 stakes last summer, and switching to jockey Junior Alvarado.  In his first try against winners last out, he broke awkwardly, endured a very wide trip all around the second turn, rallied against the pace grain after turning for home five wide, and fought on doggedly at the end, barely missing the place spot.  Still managed to earn a good fig and can surely improve with some better fortune here for trainer Scott Schwartz, who moves the 3yo son of Corinthian up in class confidently.  Whether or not that would be good enough to make up the 3 1/4 lengths he finished behind King David (2-1), who had an absolute perfect pocket trip under Ramon (surprise), I'm not sure; but that one is stuck on the AE list.  So I'll play some exotics accordingly should he draw in first off the claim for Nick Canani (and with Ramon off).  Best of luck and have a great day!