This Saturday, there will be several great races. Zenyatta will attempt to continue her undefeated streak alive in the Clement L. Hirsch. Several great two year old races will be run, with the chance that a future star might emerge. But this blog will be paying the most attention to Saratoga. Why? Blame. Blame will be taking on the leader in the handicap division, Quality Road, and 4 others in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap. But first we will discuss race before (Race 9), the Grade 1 Test.
Test S. Grade 1 - 7 furlongs
#1 Pica Slew M R Cruz 118 7/2
#2 Buckleupbuttercup J R Leparoux 118 6/1
#3 Champagne d'Oro M Mena 122 8/1
#4 Bonnie Blue Flag J R Velazquez 116 6/1
#6 Lovely Lil A Garcia 116 20/1
#7 Belle of the Hall R A Dominguez 116 10/1
#8 Ash Zee R Maragh 116 10/1
#9 Christine Daae P Fragoso 116 15/1
#10 Tidal Pool C H Borel 116 15/1
One horse missing is #5 Franny Freud, who was the morning line favorite. I took her off the entry list because she has unfortunately been withdrawn, and subsequently retired, due to an injury. It is nothing serious, but it was enough to end her racing career. May she enjoy happiness in her new life as a broodmare.
The selection is #2 Buckleupbuttercup. This daughter of Najran (who is also the sire of blog favorite Wasted Tears) finished an onrushing 2nd last time out in the Grade 3 Azalea Stakes at Calder Race Course last time out, being beaten by #1 Pica Slew. "B-cup" gets another furlong to work with to unleash her stretch run. She has had two steady works in the interim and keeps Leparoux in the saddle, who was aboard last out and for her win in the G3 Eight Belles.
2nd choice is #7 Belle of the Hall. This undefeated daughter of Graeme Hall won the Jostle S. at Philadelphia Park last time out. She lured Ramon Dominguez from his base at Belmont to come out for the mount. She has had 6 steady works for her 1st start in 2 months. She will make her run from mid-pack.
The 3rd choice is #9 Christine Daae. This daughter of Giant's Causeway comes off a 5th place finish against the boys in the G3 Jersey Shore at Monmouth Park. When last seen against her own sex, she lost a photo in a 100k stake. Christine was consider a trendy pick for the Kentucky Oaks after her maiden and first-level allowance wins this winter at Gulfstream, but she was hooked in a speed duel in the G2 Bonnie Miss S and was on the shelf until that 100k stake. She has 2 fast works since her last race and should get a decent trip sitting just off the leaders.
Picks: #2 Buckleupbuttercup, #7 Belle of the Hall, #9 Christine Daae
Now the main event, the coup de grâce, the star of the card, the Grade 1 $750,000 Whitney Handicap.
#1 Mine That Bird C H Borel 118 12/1
#2 Blame G K Gomez 121 4/1
#3 Quality Road J R Velazquez 126 2/5
#4 Haynesfield R A Dominguez 116 12/1
#5 Jardim (BRZ) J R Leparoux 113 30/1
#6 Musket Man R Maragh 117 6/1
It will come to no shock to those who read this blog that the selection is #2 Blame . This son of Arch has had 6 steady works in the interim, including the last two over the surface. According to my sources, he is doing well and has taken to his upstate surroundings with ease. Blame is getting 5 pounds in the weights from Quality Road. (Which in this blog's eyes is not enough, but oh well) He should be sitting 3rd or 4th behind the two front-runners Quality Road and Haynesfield, with Jardim either right in front or right behind Blame. Blame will take over from a softened-up QR in deep stretch and win by 1/2 a length.
If #2 Quality Road can avoid being too eager to chase down Haynesfield, he probably will win by open lengths. Make no mistake: Quality Road at a mile and an eighth is a dangerous animal. Blame will have his work cut out, but this blog believes that he will be able to pull the upset.
This Saturday at Saratoga, The 3yo fillies will have a new leader among the sprinters, and the older males will have either a finer "Quality" to it or there will be someone to "Blame" for a clouded picture. Either way, it ought to be a great day of racing. Good luck everybody!