Saratoga Betting: Tricky Hat Gets Call in John’s Call at Spa

Winning Cause is the 2-1 favorite for Wednesday's John's Call at Saratoga (photo credit: © Cheryl Quigley |

A field of 10 is entered and eight are likely to go in Wednesday’s feature at Saratoga, the $100,000 John’s Call, a 1 5/8 mile turf marathon.

Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out the 2-1 morning lien favorite Winning Cause, who is coming off a fourth place finish in the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park. Pletcher leads all trainers with 15 winners from 51 starters at the meeting.

The 2012 Travers (G1) winner Alpha is entered as a main-track only runner and Pletcher is likely to scratch Micromanage, who is entered on Thursday in the $100,000- Birdstone on the main track.

The race is named after multiple graded stakes winner John’s Call, who ran third in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The gelding won 16 races from 40 starts with career earnings of $1,571,267. Among his victories was the 2000 Sword Dancer Handicap (G1) over the Spa turf. The gelding won the race at the ripe old age of nine, the oldest horse to win a Grade 1 flat race.

The gelding was trained by Tom Voss, who passed away in January at the age of 63. Voss was also an accomplished steeplechase trainer, winning five National Steeplechase championship titles as leading trainer (1997, 2000-2002, 2011).

The John’s Call goes off as the ninth race on the 10-race card on Wednesday afternoon with a post time of 4:49 ET.

Let’s head out to the Spa for Wednesday’s featured race of the day:


Saratoga Race 9 The John’s Call (Post time 4:49 ET)

1 Tricky Hat   5-1

8 Winning Cause   2-1   

10 Holiday Star   6-1

7 Manchurian High   20-1

Analysis: Tricky Hat tossed in a real bad one last out in the Monmouth (G2), getting outrun in the early going and never picking his feet up in a 14th place finish at 7-1. Four runners have come out of that race to win next out including runner up Hangover Kid, who won the Bowling Green (G2) on July 12 at Belmont Park and sixth place finisher Finnegan’s Lake, who won the Arlington Handicap (G3) in his next outing on July 12.

Last fall our top pick won the Laurel Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles, and then was a decent third in the Sycamore (G3) which was off the turf and contested on poly. His return race this spring was solid against allowance foes where he was beaten a neck by Boisterous off a 5 1/2 month layoff. That runner is a Grade 1 winner that has earned $1.4 million. Next up in the Elkhorn (G2) he did not show much punch in the stretch in a fifth place finish but was only beaten 4 3/4 lengths. The runner up in that race was War Dancer who came back to win the Louisville Handicap (G3) and then ran a close up third in the Arlington Handicap.

Shug brings him back here off a two month freshening and he gets some class relief facing non-winners of a graded stake in 2014. He is reunited with Rosie and figures to bounce back with a better effort.

Winning Cause also gets some class relief after a decent effort in a fourth in the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park. The colt came with a mild late run splitting rivals, beaten 1 1/4 lengths in the 1 3/8 miles race. His lone career win on grass was over the Spa turf in the restricted Sir Cat last summer going a mile.

The extra ground is a question mark but he has a decent enough pedigree, by Giant’s Causeway out of a Kingmambo mare. He gets Johnny V. back who has been on board this guy a few timer and is a logical player here for the hot Pletcher barn, but the price may end up on the light side.

Holiday Star made a good late run to finish third in the Cape Henelopen last out at Delaware Park going 1 1/2 miles. The gelding is two for eight on turf in his career, the wins coming in Florida where he broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs and beat Alw-1 foes at Gulfstream Park.

He is getting a few pounds from our top two picks and has strong connections in his corner with Graham Motion who is having a strong meeting (7 for 27) with five of his wins coming on the turf. The gelding appears to be heading in the right direction and has a decent enough pedigree to be able to handle the extra ground. He is by Harlan’s Holiday out of a Deputy Minster mare.


WIN: #1 to win at 4-1 or better.

EX: 1,8 / 1,7,8,10

TRI: 1,8 / 1,7,8,10 / 1,3,7,8,10


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