The John’s Call Stakes is Wednesday’s featured race and it is a haul over 1 5/8 miles on turf. It takes resilient horses with extra stamina to endure over that length, but there are a few in this race ready to go the distance.
Shamrocket (5-2) has a history of finishing well in turf routes, but often comes just short in those attempts. With a few extra furlongs to work with and perhaps a more aggressive asking from jockey Joel Rosario, this could be his day. His average speed this year is better than the other turf starters, so it will take an excellent effort by a contender to stay ahead of him.
One such entrant who has demonstrated the speed needed for such an upset is Ajourneytofreedom (7-2). Back in January, the gelding was bet down from 10-1 to 4-1 at post time before running a mile and a half in 2:31 to finish second by a neck in the Grade III John B. Connally Stakes at Sam Houston. He’s had a few tries since, but did not win until he dropped class at Saratoga on July 23 in his last race. It will be great to see if he can put it all together in this one.
Serve the King (3-1) has had his best runs between 1 and 1 1/8 miles. There is the potential for a surprise with the additional length and a return to jockey Irad Ortiz, and he had a good workout time on Aug. 19. Red Knight (5-1), who also showed a great workout on Aug. 16, has not matched the speed ratings he was putting up in 2020, but appears to be working his way back up. He reunites with jockey Junior Alvarado, with whom he ran some of his best races in 2019.
Moretti (8-5) went a length further than this earlier in the meet when he finished third in the Birdstone Stakes. Despite the show, he logged a faster Brisnet speed rating (105) than he did when he won the Birdstone the year prior (95). If the race is run on the dirt, he has the best history in the field for a race of this length on that surface.
Wednesday’s best bet is Binkster in the seventh race. Consistency is valuable in a sport as inconsistent as this, and Binkster likes to run the same race each time out. This will be his ninth run in his last ten at six furlongs on dirt, and in seven of those 10 he finished with a speed rating good enough to be expected to win an average race of this class, surface and distance at Saratoga.
Key Biscayne (6-1) looks to be a credible value selection in the third race. She may have thrown some people off with a poor showing at Gulfstream in June in her first race back from a layoff, but she followed that up with a win that puts her back on an improving speed trajectory. It will be worth noting if she continues that upward momentum, and could be quite valuable if she does.
3-Rudy Rod, 5-No Burn, 1-Uncle Skeets, 2-Point of Humor.
4-Forest Spirit, 2-Casalsa, 3-Quick Return, 1-Extreme Force.
4-Key Biscayne, 1-Pocket Square, 2-Bramble Bay, 6-Hogans Holiday (3-Singita Dreams becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
3-Invaluable, 7-Shasta Star, 5-Timely Tradition, 6-Saratoga Beauty.
9-First Law, 1-Digital Future, 3-Partner’s Hope, 5-Kawhi Me A River.
6-Oak Loves A Fight, 8-Waterville, 2-Sweet Sugar Baby, 7-Preposterous (12-Rigby becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
5-Binkster, 8-Dark Money, 4-Power Up Paynter, 3-Big Mountain.
5-Winter Pool, 4-Hombrazo, 7-Top Gun Tommy, 8-Giocare.
3-Shamrocket, 4-Ajourneytofreedom, 8-Serve The King, 1-Red Knight (2-Moretti becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
11-My Candy Girl, 5-Jazzy Lady, 9-Joqular, 10-Come Storming, (14-Courageous Girl becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
Shanghai Surprise (sixth).
Record for meet: 88 for 294.
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