Saratoga- Travers Day All Stakes Pick 4 Analysis

9- BALLSTON SPA, 8.5f Turf (3:59 est)

In a race with no real speed types, DAYATTHESPA figures to get a pretty easy lead here, as the only other horses to have shown tendency to run near the front of the pack are the two longest shots in the field, and even so have not shown blazing opening fractions. She hasn’t won for over a year but is 4-3-1-0 over the SAR turf course, her last win coming at this distance with a similar pace setup. Holding a 6 point advantange in BRIS Prime Power and a 7 point advantage in Back Speed at this distance, she looms the most likely winner and a potential single at these odds. She may have needed her last coming off an eight month layoff, and wasn’t disgraced when 2nd after setting sharp opening fractions (:46.3); we expect an easier time on the lead today. ABACO has kept classy company, missing the win by a combined 3.75 lengths in her last three starts against Grade I and Grade II foes. She cuts back in distance from her last two, and while she came from pretty far back when 4th most recently in the 9f Diana, earning a field high BRIS Late Pace number, she showed tactical versatility when 2nd before that at 10.5f in the Sheepshead Bay, beaten by Riposte, who went on to win the Grade I New York. We expect her to be forwardly placed again here and within striking distance of the top selection. Favored FILIMBI defeated the top choice in her last, a listed stakes at 8f over this course after a long layoff, but closer received an ideal setup behind a hot pace. She was near the lead when winning her prior race over optional claiming company at BEL, but treads deeper here. CENTRE COURT is always tough to figure, but seems to be a cut below the form she showed when leading this division last spring. She comes off a three month rest following a flat effort in the 8f Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day and is eligible to improve but is difficult to support for the top line.

Picks:

1) Dayatthespa 5-2

2) Abaco 4-1

3) Filimbi 2-1

4) Centre Court 5-1

10- KING’S BISHOP, 7f (4:33 est)

It’s hard not to like WILDCAT RED on the cutback to 7f here. He’s raced against the best three-year old competition and held his own at the 9f distance, and the lack of extra ground should only work to his benefit. Sure, there’s a lot of pace signed on here, but the feeling is that he’s gritty and battle tested enough to withstand it based on a considerable edge in class, and the price is right in this spot against less proven sprinters. He’s versatile enough to rate just off the pace if need be, unlike some of the more one-dimensional speed types in here. He holds a 5 point BRIS Prime Power advantage and would be a gift as the third choice here. He certainly seems more likely to emerge victorious from a speed duel than the lightly raced THE BIG BEAST, who moves beyond 6f for the first time and will see company on the lead in just his second start since breaking his maiden. He must be respected off his field high Beyer and Brisnet speed figures (102) in winning his last, a 6f allowance over this track, but takes a big class leap, and looks like an underlay for the win at these odds. If a pace meltdown does indeed materialize, favored COUP DE GRACE seems a logical contender coming off an impressive off-the-pace score in the 6.5f Amsterdam over this track in Grade II company, earning a 102 Beyer. But more intriguing to us from off-the-pace at six times the price is MYOSITIS DAN. He’s shown his most success at 7f on polytrack, but a quick look at his most recent dirt race shows a 3rd place finish just a head behind highly regarded Bayern in the 8f Derby Trial. That one has improved greatly since then, but it bears mention that the favorite finished 8 lengths behind him three months later. He’ll need to improve in terms of speed figures, but is just the type of late running horse to light up the board in a race this pace heavy.

Picks:

1) Wildcat Red 4-1

2) Myositis Dan 12-1

3) Coup De Grace 2-1

4) The Big Beast 5-2

11- BALLERINA, 7f (5:08 est)

While you can make a case for nearly anyone in this nine horse field, one thing that can be universally agreed upon is that we should expect to see a lot of pace, as five of the nine entrants are confirmed front-running types. Given that, why not take a stab at a horse-for-the course that likes to run from well off the pace? WILLET is 5-2-3-0 lifetime over the SAR track and happens to own the highest speed figure at this distance coming off her last race at 6f. The added distance should work to her benefit here, and she does show a 7f win a listed stakes from last October at BEL where she also posted a very competitive speed figure (99 Beyer, 100 Bris). She takes a class leap on paper but now would be the time for 6 year old mare to step up to the big leagues based on her recent form and the likely pace setup, and it bears mention that her BRIS Prime Power and Current Class numbers rank near the top of the field, so the company she has been keeping is likely better than it appears based on stakes grading alone. BETTER LUCKY is a Grade I winner on turf and is Grade I placed on polytrack, and looks for a hat trick of sorts coming off a 7f listed stakes dirt win over this course closing from 12 lengths off the pace. She likes to come from way back, and shares the top BRIS Late Pace number with the top selection by a considerable margin over the rest of the field. She must be respected in any field with a lot of early pace off her back class. A wise hedge here would be to include the speed of the speed, and that is LA VERDAD. She didn’t appear to like the sloppy ground when 5th in her last, and while most of her 9 career wins have come at 6f, she does show an 8f win three back over one of today’s foes in Hot Stones, and posted a 98 Beyer before that in 6f the Distaff Hcp, as well as a win over top choice two back at 6f. She should be the one to catch, it is simply a matter of whether she can carry her speed this far with the added pressure. Speaking of HOT STONES, she is another who stands to benefit from the expected hot pace. She shows a 7f win two back in the Grade III Bed Of Roses in only her second try at the distance, posting a 94 Beyer from just off the pace. She was only a half length behind La Verdad at 8f three back when that one set a much easier pace than is anticipated here. Favored MY MISS AURELIA is eligible to improve in her second start off a year-plus layoff, but we consider her an underlay in a field this wide open. She contested fast fractions near the lead in her last similar to what she may see here (:44.3) and was unable to hold off the closing foe, who she sees again today, at this distance, and a similar scenario could unfold here. Certainly a contender if she runs back to her prior form but the feeling here is that she may be one race away; try to beat. ARTEMIS AGROTERA shows a sharp speed figure from her last following a clunker in the Acorn after her layoff. She could be ready to roll in 3rd off the lay but steps up in class here and gets a tough assignment from the rail inside of all the speed.

Picks:

1) Willet 6-1

2) Better Lucky 4-1

3) La Verdad 7-2

4) Hot Stones 6-1

12- TRAVERS, 10f (5:45 est)

I picked WICKED STRONG to win the Kentucky Derby this year, and when he ran a gritty 4th after a tough trip from the widest possible post, I promised myself I’d stay on him for the Travers at the same distance. He’s done nothing to change my mind since then, running an even 4th in an oddly run Belmont that is probably not his ideal distance, and following that effort with a strong win over this course in the 9f Jim Dandy where he opened up by two lengths on the field into the stretch, posting a 100 Beyer for his third straight ascending number. While still winless beyond 9f (and 2/2 at that distance), the feeling here is that he is extremely well-bred for classic distances, as he does boast the highest Tomlinson Distance Rating in the field (330). That’s a meaningful number here still, as more than half the field has yet to race at this distance. Since there is not much expected speed here, we believe his tendency to run closer to the pace these days combined with his stamina will be a winning formula. It is also worth noting that seven of the last ten Travers winners have used the Jim Dandy as a prep, while only one has used the Haskell. TONALIST deserves respect here as the only horse to win beyond this distance. He appeared no match for the top choice when 2nd last out in the Jim Dandy, and as a result now shows three consecutive descending Beyers, but you have to wonder how geared up he was for that race considering this has been the target all along. We are still no fans of Tapits trying to stretch beyond 9f, but having already been proven wrong in the Belmont, he must be included. The key to this race from a betting standpoint will be trying to keep the favored and rapidly improving BAYERN out of the exacta. He certainly merits that status on paper, holding the field high Beyer (9f+) of 107 and winning his last two, at 7f and 9f respectively, by a combined 15 lengths. He appears to be the only front-running type here which makes him even more dangerous, but it’s possible that he’ll run into a less speed favoring track than he did in the Haskell. He tries 10f for the first time, and we can’t help but remember how he led and faded back in the Arkansas Derby against more stern company than he had previously faced, and how he was a no-show in the Preakness after a tougher trip. He is admittedly a much improved colt since then, but is too short a price at 2-1 to support on the top line and we wonder about the quality of horses he has recently romped over. Put simply, if we weren’t on him at 7-1 over 7f and 9f, he’s borderline impossible to support at 2-1 over 10f; we’ll let him try to beat us at those odds. The big question mark in this field is MR. SPEAKER, who breaks wide from the #10 Post and comes off a win at this distance over good turf. Uncertainties abound, beginning with his preferred running style up to and including how he will handle the dirt. He’s shown the ability to close and win from well off the lead such as his last, and has also won setting the pace. His only try on dirt was a 7th place finish in the Holy Bull at GP, but based on the way that track was playing all winter, that seems too small a sample size to ascertain a firm conclusion. What is known is that he is a Grade I winner over turf at this distance, and he could offer value as a live bomber. KID CRUZ probably needs more pace to run at than he will see here, COMMANDING CURVE has been off form since his surprising runner-up Derby finish (much like his stablemate the year before), and Curlin runners V.E. DAY, CHARGE NOW and VIVA MAJORCA would have to improve by several lengths over the top two selections- they ran that race 1.4 seconds slower than the Jim Dandy on the same course, a day later.

Picks:

1) Wicked Strong 7-2

2) Tonalist 3-1

3) Bayern 2-1

4) Mr. Speaker 10-1

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