It’s a big day at Saratoga today with 11 races on the schedule, including the $500,000 Alabama Stakes (Gr. 1) and Saratoga Derby Invitational. The Alabama Stakes has a familiar name in it. Swiss Skydiver will post up to the gate for the $500,000 event. She is one of the most dangerous females in the country right now, and is likely going to be the horse everyone is watching. If there’s one horse to tune in and watch today, it has to be Swiss Skydiver.
She was recently downed by Art Collector as the favorite. The fact she was the favorite and hung around with a Kentucky Derby favorite was impressive. I was on Art Collector and didn’t see Swiss Skydiver as a favorite in that event, but she’s a dangerous horse nonetheless that can cause the boys to sweat as well as the fillies and mares. The Alabama Stakes is not a prep race for the Kentucky Derby, nor is the Saratoga Derby.
The $150,000 Pegasus at Monmouth is a prep race, though I don’t see any horses in that event that are going to threaten to win the Derby on Labor Day Weekend. The most exciting action in the US is going to be found at Saratoga. Woodbine in Toronto also has a big day planned over in Toronto. We have an early selection for you at Saratoga, and then the co-feature races later in the day. Head below for our free Saratoga picks for August 15, 2020.
Post Time: 1:14 p.m. EST
Distance: 6 ½ Furlongs
If you’re looking for an early pick at Saratoga, we have you covered with Race 1. This is a small event compared to what’s being severed up later in the day. However, it should be a good $30,000 event to get started at Saratoga on the dirt. Later Cat and Bebe Banker are on my shortlist for Race 1. Later Cat is 2 for 10 in his career with his most recent win on January 5.
Since then, Later Cat has gone 6th, 3rd, DNF. In his most recent outing, Later Cat dropped out of the race after falling well behind in a $40,000 event. In the last race he finished, Later Cat was 3rd on February 1 in a $37,000 race. Later Cat was victorious in his first race of the year, with a 2 length win over Soul Fight for a $28,000 purse.
Later Cat is coming off a bit of a layoff, with his most recent outing on March 6 at Aqueduct. He’s been working out in the morning to prepare for this event and he’s been adequate. Later Cat has recorded times of 49.55, 48.23, and 51.85 seconds at 4 furlongs, while completing a 5-furlong workout with a time of 1:02.21. I like what I was seeing from Later Cat in June, but he’s expected to run a fine race and be close to the front.
I’m not anticipating a win, though look for Later Cat to give Bebe Banker a bit of a scare. Bebe Banker is 2 for 22 in his career with finishes of 2nd, 1st, 4th in his previous three performances. In his win, Bebe Banker beat Vitesse by 8 ¾ lengths in a blowout for a $34,000 purse. Bebe Banker went up to the $64,000 level on July 29 and was okay, finishing 4th. He’s back down in class today and should take advantage of this weaker field.
Race 8 – Saratoga Derby Invitational
Post Time: 5:07 p.m. EST
Distance:1 3/16 Miles
We’ve come to the Saratoga Derby at Saratoga on Saturday. This 1 3/16 mile race on the turf includes a $500,000 purse. Decorated Invader and Colonel Liam should be in the mix in the Saratoga Derby. Colonel Liam is 2 for 3 in his career with wins in a maiden debut on April 11. He notched the win because of a disqualification. Per Capita was actually the winner of the race, but was DQ’d for interference in the final sixteenth. He won the race by 2 lengths over Colonel Liam, though Colonel Liam was awarded the win because of the infraction in the $45,000 event.
Colonel Liam was unable to follow up as a sophomore in his next outing. He finished 3rd in a $46,000 event on May 24, but then Colonel Liam came back for an impressive showing on July 22 at Saratoga. In his Saratoga debut, Colonel Liam beat La Hara by 2 ¾ lengths in a $74,000 event for the biggest score of his career. He was a decently priced underdog in that race and came through with a nice performance. In anticipation of the Saratoga Derby, Colonel Liam completed 5 furlongs with a time of 1:00.87.
Decorated Invader is the class of this field. He’s a consistent stakes runner at the Gr. 1 and Gr. 2 level. Not only is he consistently entering these races, but Decorated Invader is a winner as well. Decorated Invader won his first stakes race on September 15, 2019 in the $250,000 Summer Stakes (Gr. 1) by 1 ¾ lengths. He’s finished 1st, 4th, 1st, 1st, 1st in his previous three outings. Decorated Invader is coming off a win in the $250,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (Gr. 2) on July 18.
The $200,000 Decorated Invader completed a 4-furlong of 48.70 seconds on August 8 in preparation for today. It’s certainly possible that Colonel Liam is going to show signs of improvement today. However, I think it’s going to have to be a big improvement to compete against Decorated Invader in the Saratoga Derby. I’m riding with Decorated Invader in Race 8.
Race 9 – Alabama Stakes
Post Time: 5:43 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ¼ Miles
The Alabama Stakes (Gr. 1) is a highly anticipated event today. Race 9 features a $500,000 prize for 1 ¼ miles of racing on the dirt. Spice Is Nice is capable of running a strong race in this one and potentially pulling off a small upset. It wouldn’t be a big upset by any means, but Spice Is Nice could surprise the field here.
Spice Is Nice is 2 for 4 in her career, though doesn’t have a stakes win on her resume yet. She won as a first-time runner on January 12 at Gulfstream Park. Spice Is Nice beat Jeweled Prince by 12 lengths in a blowout in a $50,000 event as a rookie.
Following that impressive debut, Spice Is Nice finished 2nd in the $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes losing by 1 ¼ lengths behind Tonalist’s Shape. Tonalist’s Shape was a wire-to-wire winner as a slight underdog. Spice Is Nice was the favorite because of her dominant showing in her first race, but couldn’t follow up.
Spice Is Nice didn’t get back on track in the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (Gr. 2) on March 28 either. She crossed the wire in 5th for a disappointing result. Spice Is Nice went back down in class on July 3 at Belmont Park in a 2 ¾ length win in a $80,000 race. She has never entered a $500,000 race before, so this could be interesting. However, if Spice Is Nice can show improved form then she could get close.
Swiss Skydiver went after the boys in her most recent outing in the Blue Grass Stakes (Gr. 2). She was neck and neck with Art Collector, who could win the Kentucky Derby, before falling back for a 3 ½ length loss. Going into that race, Swiss Skydiver finished 1st in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (Gr. 2), 1st in the Fantasy Stakes (Gr. 3), and 1st in the Santa Anita Oaks (Gr. 2) before losing to a very talented Art Collector. As long as Swiss Skydiver doesn’t run into traffic or bad luck, she should be able to win comfortably.