The Smell of Horsecrap and Money: Saratoga, Cherries, and Horses.

Featured, Sports and Bets — July 18, 2014 at 12:56 am by

Opening Weekend At Saratoga!

After the grind of the Triple Crown races and the disappointment of California Chrome’s loss in the Belmont, we took a little break from handicapping the ponies here at Charm City Wire.  (Our trip to Delaware Park aside.) But like true horseracing degenerates, our wagering abstinence won’t last very long.  I mean, we’re not trying to grow our gambling cherries back, are we?

Hell no, and besides, what’s the point of not wagering when the best meet of the year begins Friday afternoon in Saratoga Springs, New York.  Affectionately known as the Spa because Saratoga Springs is famous for its supposed health-rejuvenating natural springs, Saratoga boasts a seven week horseracing meet that attracts the best of the best in terms of jockeys, trainers, and athletic horseflesh. The place is filled with history and American lore.  Officially opened in 1863 (I guess the wealthy horsemen who built it didn’t give a shit that there was a Civil War going on, or feel that its carnage would affect track attendance.),  Saratoga is one of the oldest operating sports venues in the country.  (Freehold Raceway in New Jersey is the other American sports venue that can claim to be over 150 years old.)

Incredibly, and this will seem like sacrilege to those who know me best, I’ve never been to the Spa, but every single person I talk to who has raves about the place.   From all of these accounts I’ve deduced that the place is beautiful and that it’s packed with beautiful people and true horseracing lovers.  I’ve also deduced that the town of Saratoga Springs is filled with great restaurants and lovely hotels and bed ‘n breakfasts’ that have to be booked 1,000 years in advance at $500 a night. (Or you can stay for cheap in Albany.)

But just because I haven’t been there doesn’t mean I don’t already love the damn place.  Oddly enough, Saratoga reminds me of the Maryland State Fair.  That’s because every year on Labor Day weekend I would hit Timonium to bet the horses that were running live.  But I was also, and mostly, there gamble on Saratoga’s closing weekend via simulcast on Timonium’s 50 year-old televisions that constantly flicker on and off at crucial race moments.  Then, after winning a small fortune, myself and my wagering party would head across the street to Michael’s for dinner.  It doesn’t really get any better, babes, especially when the cash was flowing in a positive direction.

Plus, if you’re a horseracing fan, every weekend at Saratoga is chock full of great betting opportunities and quality racing.  The laptop is constantly humming with live racing from Saratoga in late July and through August.

But I’ve rambled enough.  Let’s get to the horses.

Four Plays For Saratoga.  Friday, July 18th.

Let’s go get ’em…..

Race #1 CLM 25K N2L:  You gotta be in on the first Spa Summer race of the year, don’t you?  If memory serves me right the first race of the meet is usually The Schuylerville Stakes, but for whatever reason they moved that one down the program two races.  No worries for this old piece of shoe leather, I’ll bet on 25K Claimers, no problem.  In this one we’ll go with the #1 Kowboy Boots.  Sure, the name sucks, but in a paceless race this guy may be the only early speed.  Super Jockey, J.J. Castellano ,will be gunning from the gate and the rail.  Wire-to-wire at 7- 2 morning line odds sounds just completely and utterly solid to me.  I wanna count loot cakes early….

Race 5 ALW N1X: Now it’s time for some grass.  Saratoga has been kind enough to go turf heavy this weekend and that is just lovely.  Turf races seem to consistently offer big fields and plenty of value and value is what we’re always looking for.  This long distance race features a 4-5 favorite that we will attempt to beat with a good-looking 5-1 colt named Special Agent. He’s in the #10 spot on your form and he’s shown promise since switching to the lawn in May.  Love JJ on board and love the fact that Trainer Shug McGaughey has had him go a mile and 1/4 and a mile and 1/2 on the green prior to this little get together.  Distance races love distance experience.  Also love the price at 5-1.  (Hope it stays there.) Special Agent Love-Shug, babes.

Race 7 CLM 50K: Our pick, #2 Monument Hill, will have to run down the front-running #8 Joe’s Blazing Aaron in the stretch to win this 50K turf claimer.  Monument Hill looks poised for a big effort coming of a lay-off after doing battle in a 100K Claimer at Gulfstream in May.  Older gelding has solid works, a love for the mile distance, and he seems to do well after a refresher.  Well meant at 4-1.  Run ’em down late after saving ground all the way around the rosie. Boom.

Race 9 The Sir Cat Stakes:  Longshot city in the feature.  I may be crazy for trying to beat the #1 Storming Inti and the #5 Tourist, but nobody ever won a shitload of money betting on favorites.  Plus, I feel I may have a colt who will contend and at a price, I’m more than ready to gamble.  The #6 J To The Croft got soundly beaten by Tourist a few races back.  But Tourist dictated a slow pace that day and that won’t happen again here. Plus our J To The Croft has had time to regroup and put a win under his saddle his next time out.  The win was a five-wide mow down, and that’s what I’m looking for here.  I simply like the fact that after he posted that win and then an incredibly nice bullet workout, Trainer Steve Klesaris opted to wheel him back with some bigger dogs.  Add the Curlin/Smart Strike sire line (love Curlin babies on turf) and I’m in.  Win bet/place bet and up and down in exactas with the two aforementioned favorites.  Playa.



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