The final stakes race of the Saratoga meet pits some familiar 2-years-olds at seven furlongs on dirt in the Grade I Hopeful Stakes. The Hopeful was won last year by one of this meet’s great runners, Jackie’s Warrior, so there is precedent for the winner here to be a star in the summer of 2022.
Wit (7-5) looks every bit the part after a pair of dominant wins to start his career, including an eight-length victory in the Grade III Sanford Stakes on July 17. He’s been away for almost two months, but his workouts, coupled with trainer Todd Pletcher’s history of runners returning after more than a month away, suggest that he is in good form. Jockey Irad Ortiz also has a great history with racers who share Wit’s presser style and in sprints. He is a deserving favorite.
High Oak (5-2) has the best career Brisnet speed rating (97) of any entrant, earning it in a win in the Grade II Saratoga Special Stakes. Jackie’s Warrior also was a winner in the Saratoga Special before his triumph in the Hopeful. He showed consistently fast splits in the Saratoga Special, and if he can replicate that trip, he will be a formidable contender.
Gunite (8-1) ran second to High Oak in the Saratoga Special, but suggests he still has room to grow, having improved his speed rating in each of his four career races. This is his second race off a layoff and his second look at Saratoga, suggesting an even better run may still be ahead. He’ll need a peak effort to prevail here, though.
Power Agenda (10-1) wired a field of 10 on his way to a debut win at Saratoga on Aug. 14. He was ridden by Ortiz, who opts for Wit here. He needs to show a bit more stamina and close a bit faster than he did in his debut, but a step-up Monday could make him dangerous. He has the potential to be undervalued here.
The best bet for Monday is My Roxy Girl (5-2), whose speed figures had put her among the best of those entered in the fourth race until her last race. She was eased up and finished far behind those still trying. She looks ready to return, and is listed as the morning line favorite. This is an example of one of my favorite angles, where a horse is saved during a bad run for a future race. Even with the status as the morning line favorite, there is often uncertainty due to the recent bias of the last race. My Roxy Girl should contend here, and one can only hope she stays around her morning line price.
The best value on the card will likely be found with Miss Jimmy (6-1) in the ninth race. She hasn’t raced since February, but has been tearing up the Finger Lakes training track this month. There are also some question marks with her, since this will be her first race with trainer Bruce Anderson and jockey Benjamin Hernandez, but each entrant in the ninth comes with a few question marks. In such cases, one can fall back on demonstrated talent. Miss Jimmy has finished in the money in 18 of 20 career races and had the best average speed at the time she was shut down. If she’s back, those question marks may turn into exclamation points.
1-Equal Pay, 3-Mun Luv, 6-Big City Momma, 7-Someday Maybe.
Coupled Entry (1-Carbon, 1A-Adversity), 7-Call Sign Charlie, 4-Belarus, 2-Chiara.
2-En Wye Cee, 3-L’Imperator, 4-No Word, 1-Tell Your Daddy.
2-My Roxy Girl, 6-Frills, 7-Sweet Mia, 4-Extra Effort.
6-Realm of Law, 8-American Law, 4-Alban, 3-Conglomerate.
6-Ocean Air, 8-Linny Kate, 11-Perhaps Tonight, 10-A Thing of Beauty (8-Linny Kate becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
4-Don’t Wait Up, 2-Commandperformance, 6-Drakon, 5-Forced Ranking.
7-Silvery Rill, 2-Consumer Spending, 10-Hedy Lamarr, 6-Old School (9-Hot Fudge becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
2-Miss Jimmy, 5-Ruvies in Time, 7-Betsy Blue, 8-Honey Money.
6-Wit, 8-High Oak, 3-Gunite, 10-Power Agenda.
7-La Hara, 2-King Cause, 6-Cold Hard Cash, 3-Atone, (14-Advance Notice becomes the top pick if the race is moved to the main track).
5-Norman Queen, 4-Stella Mars, 7-Black Panda, 10-Orma.
Coalition Building (third), Jester Calls Nojoy (eighth), Echo Zulu (eleventh).
Record for meet: 118 for 401.
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