Donato’s Saratoga selections for Thursday, July 16

Matt Donato makes his Gazette handicapping debut

Categories: Saratoga County, Sports

Welcome horse racing fans and handicapping enthusiasts! It is an honor to join you here in this space where I will be giving my top-four selections for each race throughout the Saratoga meet. 

I started covering Thoroughbred racing with The Saratogian’s Pink Sheet in 2010, and have since made it my pastime to write predictive models and rating systems for all sports. My Thoroughbred models look to weigh the different traditional variables (speed figures, connections, earnings, etc.) found in past Saratoga winners of focused race types based on class, surface, and race length, and applies them to current entrants to give them each a rating. 

This usually separates out the contenders from the pack. From there, I can look at recent performances, trends, and angles to figure out my final order. I usually prefer relying on data and models to do the heavy lifting, but in some races, it can only take you so far.

The Grade III Schuylerville Stakes, today’s eighth race, will feature lightly raced, but already accomplished, fillies. For most, this will be only their second start. Such a light history makes anecdotal evidence out of their lone races, but I am drawn to the 15-1 longshot Quinoa Tifah. 

The lone race for Quinoa Tifah came in a 4 1/2 furlong sprint at Gulfstream Park, where she made up a six-length gap from the stretch to beat the 1-5 favorite, Lime, by 3/4 lengths. Her performance in that race gave her the best speed rating of the field, and the big question is whether she can maintain it for an additional 1 1/2 lengths and beat another favorite.

Her competition, the morning-line favorite Beautiful Memories (6-5) and close-second Hopeful Princess (2-1), are also coming off sprints at 5 furlongs and 4 1/2 furlongs, respectively. However, both won a more valuable race in their debut and have had better workouts than the longshot leading up to this race.

It all suggests that this will be a competitive and exciting start to the 71 stakes races scheduled to take place over the course of this year’s meet.

  • FIRST RACE: 7-Jerome Avenue, 6-Guy Caballero, 4-Sargeant Drive, 8-Rucksack.
  • SECOND RACE: 1-Leading West, 10-Scanno, 6-Eternal Summer, 8-Mutakaamil.
  • THIRD RACE: 3-Palace Avenger, 4-Glass Ceiling, 5-Palomita, 2-Figure of Speech.
  • FOURTH RACE: 3-Dial Me Up, 7-Gran Chemin, 5-Valletta, 6-Thrill.
  • FIFTH RACE: 8-The Caretaker, 7-Thorny Tale, 5-Dark Money, 6-Leaky Cup.
  • SIXTH RACE: 2-Mr Everything, 6-No Bad Days, 9-Propensity, 2B-Grandmas Favorite.
  • SEVENTH RACE: 8-Pandamom, 9-Summer At The Spa, 2-Noble Jewel, 7-Giacosa.
  • EIGHTH RACE: 4-Quinoa Tifah, 8-Hopeful Princess, 3-Beautiful Memories, 7-Dayoutoftheoffice.
  • NINTH RACE: 3-Modernist, 7-Caracaro, 6-Mystic Guide, 5-Candy Tycoon.
  • TENTH RACE: 2-Doll, 1-Secure Connection, 8-Summer Fortune, 7-Quasar.

To see the entries, go to

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