The Union Avenue Handicap is Thursday’s featured race, and the anticipation is for Sadie Lady (2-5) to continue the excellent streak she has been on through the New York circuit. Six of her eight career wins have come in her last 10 races between Belmont and Aqueduct, and she is expected to pick up another in her first run at Saratoga since 2019.
Her last run at 6 1/2 furlongs was a second-place finish in the Grade III Vagrancy Handicap in May. She outran her public backing, and held a lead in that race for the majority before falling back in the final furlong. She followed that race with a win the next month with jockey Jose Ortiz, who she retains Thursday.
Irish Constitution (5-1) has been running well on the training track in preparation for her return from a three-month layoff. She won her debut at Saratoga and was put right into the Grade I Spinaway Stakes last September, but is better suited at this class. She will be dangerous if she can grab onto an early lead.
Awesome Debate (4-1) is coming off a difficult run at Finger Lakes only 10 days ago, where a bad break from the gate set her far back to start. She did not gain any ground from there, but that could have been a tactical decision to keep her fresh in what may have seemed like a hopeless race. Her two races prior were strong, but she has had a notably difficult history with her gate work. A good break Thursday, and she will be a contender. A bad one could mean her race is over before it begins.
Hanna Dances (20-1) puts her perfect record in 2021 (4-4-0-0) on the line in her stakes debut. A consistent runner at Finger Lakes, she brings her regular jockey Luis Perez for this race. Though she regularly runs between 5 and 6 furlongs, she has demonstrated a good drive at the close of her recent races, suggesting the extra half furlong will not be an issue. She brings plenty of value at her morning-line price, and has a credible chance to surprise the Thursday crowd.
Aside from Hannah Dances, a more traditional value pick can be found in the tenth race with Pop the Bubbly (5-1). The Michelle Nevin-trainee returned from a layoff with a strong run at Saratoga on July 25, though weakened near the end to a third-place finish on a muddy track. She raced as a front-runner that day for the first time, and the run was promising. With better weather, a slightly shorter race and a move to jockey Luis Saez, she has the tools to earn that elusive first win.
Sadie Lady is the best bet on the card, but another top pick is Big Scully (7-5) in the second race. In a race filled with first-time starters, he is the only one with a competitive run in his past performances, and the fact that it came at Saratoga is another boost. He gave himself a bit of extra ground to cover in his first race by staying on the outside, which can certainly be rectified in his sophomore race.
1-True Castle, 2-Anna’s Fast, 3-Sweet Mia, 4-She’s A Black Belt.
7-Big Scully, 2-Sailor Speed, 3-St. Lukes, 4-Osbourne.
7-Smooth Pebble, 2-Corey Scores, 6-Jen’s Battle, 5-Quasar (1-Tenderness becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
2-Ice Princess, 1-Misty Veil, 5-More Moonshine, 4-Stop Shoppin Tammy.
1-O’Gotten Girl, 3-Shamlimar Gardens, 5-Silver Strand, 2-Mun Luv.
2-Gold Panda, 6-Fenway, 3-V Pattern, 7-Got the Gold.
3-Shamrocket, 5-Dynadrive, 4-Opry, 6-Fortunity (10-Thomas Shelby becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
6-Battle Bling, 3-Gambling Cat, 5-Kitten With a Whip, 4-Coworth Park.
1-Sadie Lady, 3-Irish Constitution, 5-Awesome Debate, 4-Hannah Dances.
5-Pop the Bubbly, 6-La Victoria, 4-Marvelous Maude, Abreu Entry (1-Acushla and 1A-Cali Fitz).
The Mean Queen (first), Free Enterprise (second), Monshun (third), Blewitt (fourth), Lemieux (fifth), Musical America (eighth), Clear Humor (tenth).
Record for meet: 76 for 253.
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