We’re at Saratoga on Wednesday looking for a big score on a multi-bet ticket. The Pick 5 would be most ideal, but I’ll take the Pick 4 as well. Today is the last day that horse racing is going to have the betting landscape in North America essentially to themselves. Sure there has been the MLS, but that doesn’t exactly move the meter for me.
I’m not the biggest NASCAR bettor either. A sense of normalcy will return to the fold on Thursday with the return of Major League Baseball. I would say that it has been a mission accomplished for horse racing. Despite fewer races than last year, the betting handle has been up.
The real test is coming up for horse racing. With the NHL, MLB, and NBA restarting soon, there will certainly be more available for bettors online soon. I suspect that horse racing received some new fans that will continue to look at the cards in the afternoon. Tracks that have their doors open to the public will benefit more than others, obviously.
Just a slight decrease in off-track handle could hurt tracks without fans in attendance. We’ll see how it plays out, though like I just said, horse racing probably gained plenty of daily bettors since March. The handle compared to this time last year at Saratoga is up 9.4% despite no fans.
Horse racing is just heating up with the Kentucky Derby around the corner on Labor Day Weekend. There will be several exciting stakes races before then, including the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 8. For today, there is $587,000 available between nine races on Wednesday. Head below for our free Saratoga Pick 4 and Pick 5 selections for July 22, 2020.
Pick 4: Race 2-5
Pick 5: Race 1-5
Post Time: 12:50 p.m. EST
Distance: 2 1/16 Miles
A steeplechase event on the hurdle track will get us started at Saratoga on Wednesday in Race 1. Steeplechase racing isn’t as common in North America as it is in Europe, but you can still find them at Saratoga occasionally. Snap Decision and Galway Kid are both intriguing options over this 2 1/16 mile course. Galway Kid is coming off two wins and is 2 for 3 in his career.
After finishing 5th in his debut run in the $75,000 Harry E. Harris Hurdle Stakes on October 19, 2019 at Far Hills, Galway showed improved form to win on November 9, 2019 by a head over Lonely Weekend in a $30,000 event, and then another win on June 13 over Brianbakescookies by a neck. Galway Kid closed strong in that race and walked away with the top prize out of a $25,000 purse. After those impressive wins, Galway Kid is up in class today.
Snap Decision is on a massive tear with four straight wins, which includes the William Entenmann Memorial Hurdle Stakes, Foxbrook Champion Hurdle Stakes, and most recently the David Semmes Memorial Stakes on June 27. Following a 4 ¾ length win in the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle Stakes, Snap Decision went on a layoff and recently returned in June.
It was more of the same for Snap Decision, as he won by 4 ½ lengths in a $35,000 race. Overall, he is 7 for 25 in his career. Compared to his previous entries, this should be an easy trip around the track on Wednesday. Look for Snap Decision to clear the field and win this steeplechase event at Saratoga to get the day started in Race 1.
Post Time: 1:21 p.m. EST
Race 2 is a more traditional race at Saratoga. This event covers 6 furlongs on the dirt for a $49,000 purse. Star of the West and Box of Chocolates are two dangerous horses that are going to give the rest of the field a run for their money. Star of the West is making the third start of his career on Wednesday.
After finishing 4th as a first-time runner on July 14, 2019 at Saratoga, Star of the West went on a lengthy layoff, and made his return to the track on June 3 at Belmont Park. That was a great return for Star of the West in a 5 ½ length win over Cobble Hill in a $28,000 event. I was on Star of the West in that race and it obviously was a good selection. He’s up in class today, so this is going to be one of his biggest challenges of his young career, though I think Star of the West should be close. He recently completed 4-furlong workouts of 49.88 and 48.88 seconds in July.
Box of Chocolates is a Robertino Diodoro trainee who is going into Wednesday in tremendous form. He appears to be in good shape following an impressive run on July 12 in a morning workout. Box of Chocolates was recorded with a time of 47 seconds at 4 furlongs. He’s coming off a solid run on May 16 to place 2nd behind Sacred Oath by 2 ¼ lengths. Despite winning just 1 of 16 races in his career, Box of Chocolates has been in his best form recently. I’m looking at Box of Chocolates to run a crisp race in Race 2.
Post Time: 1:54 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
We’re on the turf for the first time on Wednesday, with 1 1/16 miles of racing on grass. This is Cross Border’s race to lose. Blewitt is likely going to be the closest to pose a threat to Cross Border. Blewitt is 4 for 11 in his career and is coming off his stakes race debut. He took a good shot at the Commentator Stakes (Black Type) on June 12 in a $125,000 event.
It was a bit too much for Blewitt, though he had a decent run for 4th. Leading up to that race, Blewitt won on April 9 in a $46,000 race by 5 lengths over Moretti. That was an impressive wire-to-wire win for Blewitt. He’s finished 5th, 6th, 1st, 4th in his previous four races. This race will be more difficult than the event he won in April. He recently recorded 4-furlong workouts of 50.45 and 50.25 seconds.
Cross Border has much more stakes experience than Blewitt. He’s entered four graded events in the past, including two Grade 1 events, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes on October 5, 2019 and most recently the Manhattan Stakes on July 4 at Belmont Park. It wasn’t a bad effort at all for Cross Border in a $400,000 event. Cross Border finished 5th to beat three horses. In his last eight non-stakes races, Cross Border has gone 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd. As long as Cross Border wants to run today, then a win should be on the table in Race 3.
Post Time: 2:29 p.m. EST
We are back on the dirt for Race 4, with a $45,000 purse available for 6 furlongs of racing. Breithorn and Macho Jack should be in the mix down the stretch in this event. Macho Jack has been showing nice signs of improvement since his debut on August 17, 2019 at Ellis Park.
He finished 7th as a first-time runner on August 17, 2019 in a $50,000 race. It wasn’t the greatest debut, though Macho Jack responded for 4th on September 19, 2019 at Churchill Downs, and then most recently, 2nd on October 26, 2019 at Keeneland.
After a fairly long layoff, we will see if Macho Jack can show even more signs of improvement today. His morning workouts suggest that his form has been good. Macho Jack is coming off a 1:00.00 workout on July 13 over 5 furlongs of racing. Prior to that, he completed 4 furlongs with a time of 49.60 seconds on July 5. We may see even greater improvements from Macho Jack today.
Breithorn has finished 3rd, 6th, 2nd, 4th, 6th in his career. The young colt returned to the track after a four-month layoff on June 5. His return wasn’t what his connections had in mind, with Breithorn finishing 6th for a $64,000 purse. He’s used to running in that class, so he should find Race 4 on Wednesday an easier assignment.
He’s been in good form in the morning in July. Beirthorn was clocked at 48.95 and 49.12 seconds over 4 furlongs the last two weeks. However, I’m going to bank on Macho Jack returning from a layoff with a strong effort. In a toss-up, I will go with who I believe will have better value by post time.
Post Time: 3:02 p.m. EST
Distance:5 ½ Furlongs
Race 5 is scheduled for the turf, but with rainy conditions expected, it could be possible we see this go to the main track. With that in mind, there could be multiple horses getting scratched in Race 5. Riken definitely won’t because he’s a main track horse. If this race stays on the grass, then Riken will get scratched, though this could be a dirt race. Maxwell Esquire is the most likely winner on the turf. He is 1 for 6 in his career, which includes a couple of stakes appearances in the Pilgrim Stakes (Gr. 3) on September 28, 2019 and Sir Cat Stakes (Black Type) on June 19 in his most recent outing.
Maxwell Esquire finished 6th and 4th in those stakes events. Since winning on September 8, 2019, Maxwell Esquire has finished 6th, 2nd, 3rd, 4th. In his win on September 8, Maxwell Esquire beat Portfolio Hedge by 2 ¾ lengths in a $62,000 event. He’s fully capable of winning in this class. In his most recent outing, Maxwell Esquire was running in a $80,000 stakes race. This is a considerable class drop, and he did look strong in a recent workout on July 5 with a time of 49.08 in a morning workout. If this race stays on the grass, Maxwell Esquire is a fine candidate to win.
However, Riken is going to be at a serious advantage with a switch to the main track. Riken is 4 for 13 in his career and looking for four straight wins today. He recorded the hat-trick on July 5 at Belmont Park. Riken defeated Mister Bobby by 1 ¼ lengths in a $45,000 event. This is for more money in a higher class, but most of this field aren’t the best dirt racers. With rain in the forecast, I’m siding with Riken on the dirt. If it remains on the turf, we’ll receive a push on Riken.