Today is a big day in Louisville and it will get even bigger on Saturday. The running of the Kentucky Oaks (Gr. 1) takes place on Friday, including a bunch of other stakes races at Churchill Downs. It isn’t the Kentucky Derby, but the Kentucky Oaks is always a must-watch event if you are a horse racing fan.
That’s a race you don’t really have to bet on to get some entertaining out of it. Horse racing is a bettors’ sport, but a duel between Swiss Skydiver and Gamine should be a thriller in the Kentucky Oaks. And oh yeah, the Kentucky Derby is the next day in Louisville.
If you didn’t hear, Art Collector has been scratched from the Kentucky Derby. I know some people were high on Art Collector, as was I, but he will be sitting this one out with a minor foot injury. Fortunately, it isn’t a career-ender for Art Collector, but he won’t be able to participate in what would have been the biggest race of his career.
Injuries are part of the game, though, and Art Collector still has a bright career ahead of him despite having to sit out the Derby. Saratoga is also racing on Friday with a 12-race $1,259,000 card. There are some stakes races to chew on in Saratoga Springs on Friday, too. There are six $150,000 stakes races on the agenda. Head below for our free Saratoga picks for September 4, 2020.
Race 5 – Yaddo Handicap
Post Time: 2:34 p.m. EST
Distance: 1 1/16 Miles
The Yaddo Handicap is one of six stakes races at Saratoga on Friday. The stakes aren’t quite as high as the Kentucky Oaks, but some talented females should run a good race in this one. Classic Lady and Fifty Five are likely going to be involved in the mix. They should be tough to surpass in Race 5 on the inner turf course.
Classic Lady and Fifty Five have both been in good form and should likely compete. Classic Lady has been in great form with eight straight races in the top-2. She is coming off a win by a neck over War Canoe in the $85,000 Dayatthespa Stakes on July 29 at Saratoga.
That was the first stakes win of her career, which was after placing 2nd in the Mount Vernon behind Fifty Five by a nose. That was a pretty nice stakes debut for Classic Lady, who was a pretty sizable underdog in that event. She gave the favorite, Fifty Five, a good run for her money. Overall, Classic Lady is 4 for 17 in her career. A $150,000 race is probably her limit.
It’s unlikely that Classic Lady can compete in a higher class than this. In any case, she was able to give Fifty Five a scare on July 2. Fifty Five is fresh off a hat-trick with wins in three straight Black Type stakes races.
In her previous seven Black Type races, Fifty Five has been a winner in all of them. She placed 2nd in the Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes (Gr. 2) and 4th in the Ballston Spa Stakes (Gr. 2) to interrupt a four-race winning streak. Overall, Fifty Five has been a successful runner with wins in 12 of 23 entries.
For a modest price of $24,000, Fifty Five has performed beyond her expectations. The highlight of her career was a win in the $200,000 Florida Oaks (Gr. 3) on March 11, 2017 at Gulfstream Park. Since then, Fifty Five has finished outside of the top-3 in just 2 of her next 18 races. Barring a bad break, expect Fifty Five to be the one to beat on the turf.
Race 10 – Fleet Indian Stakes
Post Time: 5:34 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
Our final selection at Saratoga for Friday brings us to the $150,000 Fleet Indian Stakes in Race 10. Ice Princess and Critical Value should have their say in the stretch in the Fleet Indian. Ice Princess is 3 for 5 in her career, with a win in the $100,000 Maddie May Stakes (Black Type) her biggest win to date.
She beat Courageous Girl by 2 ½ lengths to take down the first stakes race of her career. Ice Princess has entered two graded events in her career. Neither of them went too well, including her most recent appearance in the $400,00 Fantasy Stakes (Gr. 3) on May 1 at Gulfstream Park. Ice Princess also entered the Frizette Stakes (Gr. 1) on October 6, 2019.
She was outmatched in that race as well, having to settle for 4th in the $400,000 chore. Ice Princess is down in a much more manageable class on Friday and should be able to compete in this one after playing no role in the Fantasy Stakes. She ultimately finished 9th in that one. Overall, she’s gone 1st, 4th, 1st, 1st, 9th in her career.
Critical Value will be the one to beat in this race. If Ice Princess wins, it’s going to take a terrific effort, which could happen. Critical Value is coming off a 4 ½ length win in the $100,000 Bouwerie Stakes on June 28. It was the third win in four outings for Critical Value, who owns an overall record of 3 for 5 in her career.
The $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes (Gr. 2) is the only race that Critical Value hasn’t placed in the top-2 in. If she wants to run today, the Fleet Indian Stakes shouldn’t be too much of a test, though urging will be required deep in the stretch to fend off her rivals.