Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
The New York Racing Association has assembled another excellent 13-race card for Travers Stakes (G1) day at Saratoga, and the weather is going to cooperate with the forecast calling for partly cloudy conditions with temperatures in the low 70s.
Let’s see if we can find a few value win contenders on the biggest day of the summer at the Spa!
Saratoga Race 3: Maiden Special Weight
8.5 furlongs turf; post time 12:41 p.m.
#2 Charreada (9-2) was just plugging away and picking up minor awards in her first five starts. She added blinkers and ran her best career race in a neck defeat at Belmont Park on July 6. I think the equipment change really helped last time, and she can earn her diploma today for Joel Rosario and Shug McGaughey.
Race 8: Grade 2 Ballston Spa
8.5 furlongs turf; post time 3:35 p.m. ET
Chad Brown has entered three runners in this spot, and each of them are win contenders. #2 Fifty Five (5-1) is an ultra-consistent New York-bred mare, and the late runner enjoys this distance. #4 Significant Form (6-1) stretches back out and is 2-for-3 at this distance, but I will side with his promising filly, #9 Mascha (9-2). She showed ability in France last year, including a runner-up finish behind Homerique Prix de Psyche (G3). Homerique is also in the Chad Brown barn, and she won the Beaugay (G3) and New York Stakes (G2) earlier this year at Belmont Park. Mascha shipped to the U.S. and rallied to win a local entry level turf race as the favorite at this distance July 31, and Irad Ortiz Jr. rides back. This Grade 2 did not come up particularly strong, and she could easily be this good.
Race 10: Grade 1 Sword Dancer
12 furlongs inner turf; post time 4:49 p.m.
Just like the Bowling Green (G2) on July 27, this a wide-open, competitive turf marathon with many win contenders. #4 Channel Cat (5-1) was my live longshot in the aforementioned Bowling Green, and he stole that race at 13-1 odds. He won’t offer that kind of value Saturday. #8 Channel Maker (3-1) was second in this race last year, and he had every chance but could not quite muster enough late in a close-up 4th in the Bowling Green last time. I like his tactical speed, and this might be his best distance, but he has dropped five of his last six starts. Chad Brown saddles morning line favorite #7 Annals of Time (5-2), and he exits a big local optional claiming turf score at 9.5 furlongs. He won the Hollywood Derby (G1) as a 3-year-old in 2016. For my top pick, I will go with Chad Brown’s other entrant, #6 Ya Primo (7-2). He was second from the inside in the Bowling Green and might improve in his second U.S. start. He shows back-to-back Saratoga turf bullets for this, and he won a Group 1 in Chile at this distance on Feb. 3.
Race 12: Optional Claiming $40k/2x, NY-bred
5.5 furlongs turf; post time 6:20 p.m.
I went with #2 Fled (9-2) in a local state-bred entry level affair at this course/distance on Aug. 3, and he rolled to a convincing 2-1/2 length score as the 3-1 favorite that day. He cruised to an easy turf sprint win versus $16,000 claimers at Laurel Park before that, and the razor-sharp gelding could easily make it three straight turf sprint wins.