Saturday, August 8, 2020

Thoughts on Travers Day Pick 5

Five days into a power outage, you find creative ways to stay entertained. I'm fortunate (or not, depending on how I do) to have downloaded Saturday's mandatory payout Pick 5 past performances at Saratoga, and have thoughts on playing what looks like a chalky sequence but see some plausible outsiders to spice things up. Hopefully this comes across eloquently, writing by phone.

I'm only putting $50 into four tickets, singling 2-3 where I perceive a lock, and mostly buying the middle race -- turf marathon -- with just 6 runners. Those, to me, are equivalent to claiming races but with horses of fancier pedigree. 

Here's my take on each race.

Race 7, Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes: #6 Pink Sands (10-1). A trainer-intent angle. Part of me thinks Shug McGaughey used the June 13 Ogden Phipps as a prep for today's at the horse's preferred distance. I think she's a middle distance sprinter and notice Irad Ortiz taking the mount. She'll be off the heels of my second choice, #1 Serengeti Empress (5-2), who's a speed ball but may wilt late. Using 1 and 6 prominently on 3 of 4 tickets, and the other 5 runners on one "saver" ticket.

Race 8, Grade 3 Troy Stakes: I relish 5.5 furlong turf sprints but the field looks like dressed up claimers. I'll take favorite Imprimis (8-5), even off a 9-month rest. Just the classiest IMHO. Training progression seems positive and saving ground along the rail should help. I just think the others are blazing 5 furlong types and Imprimis picks up the pieces as the early pace tires. Using #7 Chewing Gum (9-2), #5 Pure Sensation and #3 Lonhtwist (20-1) as outsiders.

Race 9, Grade 3 Waya Stakes: I'm buying the race. Only 6 runners, and these turf marathons are so unpredictable. If ready, #1 Mrs. Sippy (6-5) is best, but another off since November's Breeders Cup isn't an angle I love. Using ALL on one ticket and think #2 Beau Belle (10-1, only 2 lifetime wins, both at Saratoga), #4 My Sister Nat (2-1) and #7 Fools Gold (5-1) have a shot.

Race 10, Grade 1 Test Stakes: Almost impossible to look past 3-5 favorite Gamine. Crushed in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont last month and I'm not super high on second-choice #6 Venetian Harbor (8-5) to beat her. Just doesn't seem as fast but will use on one of my tickets. Used #1 Up in Smoke (12-1) on another ticket in case the top two melt down, but I don't see it.

Race 11, Grade 1 Travers Stakes: #3 Uncle Chuck is my top choice, and I think the 5-2 morning line is generous and worth a stand against vs. sentimental favorite and Saratoga local #6 Tiz the Law. Even-money is too short on the Belmont Stakes champion, and though I'm sure the local connections would LOVE to sweep the Travers and Belmont, they're not going to risk it to miss out on a Triple Crown try next month for Tiz. It should be a fantastic head-to-head race, but I give the nod to Chuck. Don't dismiss his last win at the little-known Los Alamitos either. The configurations aren't much different there than here (long straightaways). Chuck is versatile and I think benefits from an otherwise pretty soft field. I'm using #7 Caracaro (10-1) on a saver ticket, impressed with his bad-trip runner up in the Grade 3 Peter Pan last month.

Probable Pick 5 Tickets (50-cent base)

1,6 with 1 with ALL with 1,5 with 3 ($12)

1,6 with 3,7 with 1,2 with 5,6 with 3,6 ($16)

1,6 with 1,5 with 1,2,7 with 5 with 7 ($12)

2,3,4,5,7 with 1 with 1,4 with 5 with 3,6 ($10)

Mighr play a Pink Sands-Serengeti Empress exacta in Race 7 and possible win on PS if she holds around 10-1. I'm otherwise chilly on win wagers today.

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