The first graded stakes of the 2021 Saratoga meet is Thursday’s eighth race, the Quick Call Stakes. Run at 5 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon Turf Course, this race features the promising, but lightly run, Golden Pal (1-2).
Golden Pal won at Saratoga last summer, taking the Skidmore Stakes over former stablemate Fauci (10-1). But after another win in the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in November, he has gone unraced. His training figures suggest he has not missed a beat and all signs point to him being ready, but his expected price gives me some pause when considering the long layoff. However, he has the best early speed in a race with no closers, and has too much talent to pick against him here.
Those looking for better value can turn to Jaxon Traveler (3-1), who has never finished worse than second in his seven starts and has run roughly every four weeks since March. All of those races, though, have come on dirt or, most recently, a synthetic surface. His breeding suggests he will take to turf, and though one would still like to see it first, value comes to those who are early-adopters. A move to jockey Jose Ortiz and a change in surface could be a breakout opportunity.
Rebel Posse’s (12-1) best two races have come on turf and his most recent result was a leap ahead of his previous performances. He’s got some momentum, but will need another leap to compete.
If the race moves back to the dirt, Fire Sword (2-1) should be top consideration over Jaxon Traveler. Despite running at Monmouth 11 days ago on the Fourth of July, he has the best dirt history of the field and moves back under John Velazquez, with whom he won in May.
First Race: 9-Hammerin Aamer, 6-Flowers for Lisa, 5-Charlie’sarchangel, 4-Wagon Boss.
Second Race: 9-Speedometer, 8-Frosted Oats, 4-Microbiome, 3-Prima Della.
Third Race: 10-Treason, 9-St. Joe Louis, 7-So Suave, 12-Ally Oop Johnny (5-Wudda U Think Now is top pick if moved to main track).
Fourth Race: 3-Evidence Based, 7-Hohohoho, 5-Rose E Holiday, 12-Ocean Air.
Fifth Race: 3-Lady Scarlet, 7-Echo Zulu, 6-Solasta, 2-Repealing.
Sixth Race: 2-Alba’s Star, 5-Kitten by the Sea, 8-Choose Happiness, 10-Two Cent Tootsie.
Seventh Race: Pletcher Entry (1-Arham and 1A-Ajaaweed), 8-Dust Devil, 3-Business Model, 4-Dack Janiel’s.
Eighth Race: 3-Golden Pal, 9-Jaxon Traveler, 8-Rebel Posse, 1-Kentucky Pharoah (5-Fire Sword is top pick if moved to main track).
Ninth Race: 7-Happy Soul, 2-Mainstay, 1-Pretty Birdie, 8-Eagle Express.
Tenth Race: 8-Clever Fellow, 7-Viking Zim, 12-Ruse, 5-Noble Journey.
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