The Lucky Coin Stakes is Friday’s feature, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint on the Mellon Turf, with a closely-rated field. The contenders in this race find themselves sharing talent and question marks heading into this race.
Maxwell Esquire (7-2) looks the best suited for this type of race, with consistent speed and a great late pace. He has been away since the Fourth of July, a third-place showing with a slower close than he had at in any race over the prior 12 months. That race was his first off his previous layoff, and trainer Christophe Clement may have seen something in the end of that race to rest him again. But there must be confidence in his recovery as Maxwell Esquire moves up in class for his return.
Maven (5-2) has been surrounded by high hopes since he became the first winner sired by American Pharoah, winning in his debut and following it up with a Grade III win in the Prix du Bois at Chantilly, but he has not fared as well in graded stakes company, nor won a stakes race since. He should be fine against this class, but his inconsistency should be noted.
Pulsate (4-1) was the second-place finisher in the Lucky Coin in 2020. He finished ahead of Maxwell Esquire in their last meeting, and looks well-suited to compete with this field. His last outing concluded with him far behind the winner, but he showed some good fight. That race was on dirt, and he may have a better run on the more familiar turf surface.
The Connector (15-1) had a breakout race in the Wolf Hill stakes at Monmouth in July, posting a 103 Brisnet speed rating, and followed it up with a win at Colonial Downs and a well-fought third six days ago in the Rainbow Heir Stakes at Monmouth. Those finishes put his career record at 20-8-2-3. The timing suggests he may not run in this one, but if he does, he could be a looming value pick.
The best bet for Friday is Bubble Rock (8-5) in the second race. The Brad Cox-trainee peaked a little too early in her debut and was caught, but still put up the kind of speed in that race that should be enough here. She retains jockey Irad Ortiz for her second look at Saratoga.
The best value pick on the card is Gailhorsewind (10-1). She has stayed in contention in her first four attempts to break her maiden at a sprint distance, but in the tenth race, she stretches out to 1 1/8 miles to see if the extra distance gives her more space to close. This will be her first run under trainer A. Lands Trites and her first time with blinkers, but all these changes have the potential to be a winning combo for a filly with a lot of upside.
5-Wild Appeal, 4-Coastal Chaos, 2-Bet, 1-Mo Rewards.
3-Bubble Rock, 2-Nay Say, 10-Vaccine of Hope, 6-Old Pho (7-Speedometer becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
5-Repo Rocks, 3-Risk Profile, 1-Rift Valley, 6-Cousin Andrew.
8-Panster, 9-Mr. Kringle, 3-Austrian, 7-Grape Nuts Warrior.
2-Dee Bo, 5-Papa Smooth, 1-Triple Americano, 4-Posse Can Disco.
3-Doc Doc Rock, 2-Howdoyoumakeyourmoney, 8-Try It Again, 7-Pave My Way.
5-Principled Stand, 4-Voodoo Zip, 1-Chocolate Bar, 9-Parlor (11-Fort Peck becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
1-Gold Panda, 4-Big Bobby, 3-Prince of Pharoahs, 8-Purple Hearted.
5-Maxwell Esquire, 8-Maven, 4-Pulsate, 2-The Connector.
4-Lady Valentine, 8-Pruning, 1-Gailhorsewind, 3-Gauff.
Danny Deep Cuts (third), Alhoa West (fourth), Ava K’s Boy (sixth), Motivated Seller (seventh).
Record for meet: 109 for 367.
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