Two big stakes races offer value today: the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga and the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer.
RACE 2. Maiden Claiming $30,000. 7 furlongs. Dirt.
False Favorite: #6 Afilada (5-2).
Reason: The class drop is negligible, maybe even nonexistent. This filly seldom moves within 5 lengths of the lead at the top of the stretch, so she needs every horse in front of her to fall down. We’ll bet that doesn’t happen.
#4 She Caught My Eye (4-1). Strange to see Bill Mott being handed Brad Cox castaways. But the field is weak and Mott’s main man accepts the mount on this maiden dropper. We’ll take a shot at a halfway decent price.
#7 Toosweettobesour (12-1). Her return to the races after 4 months off was impressive. We think the speed figure doesn’t give her full credit because it was a lower level race. The pace was swift and she stayed on late.
RACE 5. Lure Stakes. 1 mile 1/16th. Turf. (Analysis for turf only)
False Favorite: #1 Public Sector (2-1).
Reason: He has struggled since moving out of the 3-year-old division. Even Grade 3 horses proved too tough for him to handle. Also, it’s rare to see Irad Ortiz abandon a Chad Brown turf stakes runner to ride for someone not named Pletcher.
#7 Sifting Sands (5-1). He takes the next logical step up in class after defeating some gnarly N3x allowance foes at Belmont. He posted two wins on Saratoga turf last year. Many positives for the price.
#8 Somelikeithotbrown (5-2). Irad ends up on this hard-knocking veteran for Michael Maker. This runner handled graded stakes company pretty well last year and is 2 for 3 on Saratoga turf.
RACE 10. Grade 1 Whitney Stakes. 1 mile 1/8th. Dirt.
False Favorite: #6 Life Is Good (6-5).
Reason: Okay, this might be a stretch, but Life Is Good might give us a replay of the Dubai World Cup. Stuck outside, he seems certain to be pressured early by Hot Rod Charlie, who’ll try to deny him the rail and an easy lead. We’re betting that’ll be enough to tire both early runners out.
#4 Olympiad (2-1). While Hot Rod Charlie has struggled to score wins in Grade 1 and 2 races, Olympiad has laughed away all contenders and pretenders in his stakes attempts. He remains undefeated around 2 turns, and you get the feeling that we have yet to see his best effort. His pace and speed figures both come up strong, and he might win this regardless of how the pace unfolds for Life Is Good.
RACE 6. Optional Claimer $16,000. 5 furlongs. All Weather.
False Favorite: #3 Famous Gent (5-2).
Reason: He went off form in his last race and hasn’t broken a sweat since, with just one slow workout. It looks like he might be trending lower.
#1 Officer Country (9-2). His late-running style often leaves him short of victory, but he gets a nice class drop here after competing well recently at higher levels.
#5 High Press (5-1). He’s another one that has competed well vs. better horses lately. The class drop should do the trick.
BONUS RACE: GRADE 3 WEST VIRGINIA DERBY. 1 mile and 1/8th. Dirt.
False Favorite: #6 We the People (2-1).
Reason: We pointed out his shortcomings in our review of the Belmont Stakes. His pace figures from his victory in the Peter Pan Stakes showed that he runs his opening half mile at a decent graded-stakes pace but then slows significantly. That’s exactly how he ran the Belmont, fading from first to fourth late in the race. He has yet to defeat a graded stakes winner and has twice been trounced by such stakes winners.
#3 Home Brew (3-1). His victory two races ago in an Oaklawn Park stakes rang up just one-fifth of a second slower than Cyberknife’s win in the Arkansas Derby. He followed that stakes victory with a dominating win in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth. If he’s as fast as Cyberknife, who defeated Secret Oath who defeated Nest who defeated We The People…well, you get the picture.
#7 Skippylongstocking (5-1). He’s been unsuccessful against the best 3-year-olds of 2022 and gets a much-needed class drop. If the top choices in this race are unable to handle a hot and competitive pace, Skippy has a shot at picking them all off in the final yards.