Saratoga Race Course is back on Thursday for their summer meet in Saratoga Springs. Saratoga is one of the most respected names in horse racing, and is expected to catch a big handle during this season. No fans will be allowed at Saratoga, along with jockeys being made to exclusively race there. If they choose to exit Saratoga and go and race somewhere else, then riders won’t be able to return.
That puts some trainers in a bit of a jam. If they have a go-to jockey racing at Saratoga, they won’t be able to invite them to race elsewhere for a big event. They can, but that jockey can’t go back to Saratoga. Mike Smith, for instance, may not be on Midnight Bisou on August 1 in the Personal Ensign. While Saratoga gets ready to race on Thursday, another track closes for the weekend.
Del Mar in California is down after jockeys tested positive for the virus recently. One had to bring it in from somewhere and then the others got infected. If protocols were not followed, it’s really unfortunate for the other employees who were playing by the rules. Del Mar intends to begin racing again on July 24 with even stricter policies. Saratoga has the greenlight for today, and hopefully the entire meet will go off without any hitches. Head below for our free Saratoga picks for July 16, 2020.
Post Time: 1:44 p.m. EST
Distance: 1 1/16 Miles
In our first selection at Saratoga for this meet, we’ll be taking a look at Race 2 on the inner turf. A nice purse of $57,000 will be offered for the event which will cover 1 1/16 miles. Mutakaamil and Leading West should have strong runs in this race. Leading West has been coming on strong to finish in the top-3 in 5 of his previous 6 events.
The young colt is eventually going to find a way and it could come today. He’s 0 for 8 in his career, but he’s been in good form, especially in his previous two entries. Leading West placed 2nd in back-to-back races on May 24 and June 13. In the first race at Gulfstream Park, Leading West lost by a neck against Hard Lightning in a $45,000 event.
Leading West followed up at Gulfstream to place 2nd again on June 13. He finished a length behind Constitutional Pal by a length. Since then, Leading West has recorded a couple of adequate workouts, with times of 51.87 seconds and 1:02.81. This race is up in class for Leading West, as he seeks out a purse that is $10,000 more than his most recent race in June. He finished 3rd and 6th in races for $50,000 purses, so this may prove to be a bit too difficult for him. In any event, Leading West is in good form right now and should run well.
Mutakaamil is going in the opposite direction and dropping classes for Thursday. He is going down from a $68,000 and $64,000 event after finishing 4th in both races. Mutakaamil finished 2nd for a $70,000 purse on December 5, 2019 at Aqueduct, and then 4th in back-to-back races. He’s down in a more winnable race for Thursday in his debut at Saratoga. Mutakaamil has been in great form in the morning. He recently completed 4-furlong workouts with times of 48.49, 48.48, 49.09, and 49.59 seconds. Against easier company today, look for Mutakaamil to edge out this field.
Post Time: 3:28 p.m. EST
We’re off to the dirt for Race 5 on Thursday at Saratoga. A purse of $67,000 is being offered in this event. The Caretaker and Dark Money should have strong performances this afternoon, while Thorny Tale might be able to make things interesting. The Caretaker is 7 for 31 in his career and coming off a win on June 19 in a $60,000 event.
He won over Kazmania by a neck. Kazmania is a 8/1 horse on the morning-line, so there isn’t much respect for him today. Kazmania and The Caretaker both finished ahead of Steam Engine. Leading up to that race, The Caretaker finished 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 4th, 2nd, 1st so good form has been following him around.
In the race that The Caretaker finished 4th in, he was running in the Say Florida Sandy Stakes (Black Type) for a $100,000 purse. That was too much for him to handle and he got dropped in class thereafter. This is going to be slightly up compared to the race he recently won on June 19. The Caretaker raced in a $67,000 event on February 28 and finished 2nd to finish ¾ lengths behind Summer Bourbon.
Dark Money has been in good form throughout his career, which started back on December 16, 2018 in the New York Stallion Series Stakes (Black Type). That didn’t go well, as Dark Money finished 10th in the $150,000 stakes race, but most of his other entries have been a success. Dark Money is 6 for 13 in his career, with a win in his most recent race on June 6. He defeated Morning Breez by 3 lengths in the $66,000 race. It was his second win in three races after winning on January 9 as well. Dark Money looks like a good selection in Race 5.
Race 8 – Schuylerville Stakes
Post Time: 5:14 p.m. EST
One of two stakes races at Saratoga on Opening Day, the Schuylerville Stakes (Gr. 3) has a mile of racing for a $100,000 purse on the dirt. Beautiful Memories and Hopeful Princess are expected to run strong races in this Grade 3 event. Hopeful Princess gets the outside out of the gate from the No. 8 post position. She cannot be ignored after a strong debut on May 21 at Churchill Downs.
Hopeful Princess beat Mad Maddy by ¾ lengths in the maiden special weight race. She was hanging around up front and then struck in the stretch. Her workouts have checked out since that win, with times of 49.80 and 48.60 seconds at 4 furlongs, and 37.40 seconds at 3 furlongs just a few days ago. You have to assume that Hopeful Princess will be close in the Schuylerville Stakes.
Beautiful Memories will be a tough opponent for Hopeful Princess and the rest of this field. She is 1 for 1 after winning her debut race on May 28 at Churchill Downs. It was a 10 length win for Beautiful Memories in an absolute romp over Yogurt. Beautiful Memories was ahead by a length at the 3/16 pole and then flew away from the field to get clear. That was at 5 furlongs, so my only concern for Beautiful Memories is that she’ll tire out in the stretch.
However, Beautiful Memories was getting stronger as that race proceeded. She didn’t look tired at all and could have kept going strong. In her workouts, Beautiful Memories has been especially impressive. She was blazing fast with times of 59 and 59.20 seconds over 5 furlongs in the morning on June 27 and July 4. She is the class of this field, and the results should show up on paper today in the Schuylerville Stakes.