Thursday, August 28, 2014

Down to the Wire: Woodward Stakes Edition + Saratoga Quick Picks

This week on Down to the Wire, we cover the featured G1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, as well as, the G1 Forego and the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes over a mile on the all weather at Del Mar. 



Saratoga -- Saturday, August 30, 2014:

Race 1: MSW, 8.5f (turf) -- #3 Firespike (M/L 5/2)
A son of Flower Alley, Firespike looked well on his way to easily winning on debut before he spooked late and crashed hard into the rail, costing himself the victory. He returned in a loaded race locally in which he finished third behind Strong Coffee and one of my favorite two-year-olds this year Face the Music, a son of Stormy Atlantic who came back to win at second asking. Add in that Firespike runs for the formidable duo of Maker-Castellano and he surely looks the one to beat this time around. At longer odds, Sierra Delta is bred to be a turf router, but Lukas two-year-old runners usually need a run. If either of them get into the field, Royal Squeeze and King of New York both merit respect following solid debuts in the same local MSW, although I do prefer the former who had a rougher trip in that debut effort.

Race 2: MSW, 7f  -- #2 Escalate (M/L 10/1)
Considering Asmussen's success with two-year-olds, particularly first time starters, I'm a bit perplexed by the morning line (not that I'll complain if we get anywhere near that price), but this $200k yearling purchase from the KEE September sale is by Eskendereya, who although it's still early on has been decent enough as a debut sire (12% win on debut). He's bred to win early and is a half to dirt sprinter Silver Heart. Another to consider is Two Week's Off, who chased impressive winner Requite around the track on debut.

Race 5: G2 Ben Baruch, 8.5f (turf) -- #1 Bio Pro (M/L 5/1)
Here marks the return of Wise Dan following a serious health scare. If he's anywhere near his best, he rolls over these, but even before his surgery, I questioned whether he had lost a step. Regardless, this is a tough spot for him to make his comeback effort, as he'll face a full field with two speed horses drawn wide. He's struggled this year with being headstrong and coming off the layoff, I have a feeling he'll pull early once again. For that reason, I'm siding with Bio Pro who hasn't finished outside the top three this year and ran a nice one to finish second behind Big Blue Kitten last out. He has the tactical speed to establish a nice position early, which will be key given the likely pace scenario here.

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