Saratoga Picks: Willet Looks to Turn Tables in Union Avenue

Six line up in Monday's feature, the $100,000 Union Avenue © Cheryl Quigley |

Monday’s feature at Saratoga comes early as a field of six will line up in the $100,000 Union Avenue in the fifth race on the 10-race card including Willet, who is looking to turn the tables on Clear Pasaj, who were separated by just a nose in their last outing.

Five of the six in the Union Avenue are exiting the state bred Lottsa Talc on July 25, which was won in gate to wire fashion by the Bruce Levine trained Clear Pasaj, who beat Willet by a nose and it was just another nose back to the third place finisher Miss Valentine.

It was then 2 ½ lengths back to Cape Cod Coral, and also coming back today is Beautiful But Blue, who was eased, but has bounced back with a  good morning drill for trainer Tom Bush.

Including today we have 13 race days left at the Spa meeting. Todd Pletcher has extended his lead in the trainer standings with 29 winners from 78 starters, hitting at a 37% clip, with 60% of his starters landing in the money.

Chad Brown now has 19 winners from 63 starters, and looks headed to his third consecutive runner up finish in the standings behind Pletcher.

The surprise of the meeting is Linda Rice, who won the trainer title in 2009 by sending out what seemed like a never ending string of winners in turf sprints. Rice has won just two races at this meeting with her 47 starters.

The jockey title is not yet decided, with Javier Castellano the leader with 42 winners from 210 mounts. Joel Rosario is second with 35 winners from his 198 mounts, and John Velazquez is third, booting home 34 winners from 157 mounts.

Coming up on Saturday is the marquee event of the meeting. Travers Day features four graded stakes including the $1 million Travers (G1) for three-year-olds.

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

Saratoga Race 5 The Union Avenue (Post time 3:08 ET)

3 Willet   8-5

4 Clear Pasaj   5-2

2 Beautiful But Blue   6-1

6 Miss Valentine   7-2

Analysis: Willet gets the call and five of the six in here are coming out of the Lottsa Talc in which the top three were all a nose apart while Beautiful But Blue was eased but has come back with a good work since. Our top pick was caught out widest and came with a good late run inside the final furlong to grab second and get beaten just a nose in that three way photo. He makes his third start off the bench and if Rosario can work out a slightly better trip he is going to turn the tables here.

Clear Pasaj took the field gate to wire in the Lottsa Talc and held on gamely late to prevail by just a nose. Two back she held on to win the state bred Dancing Renee by a head. The cut back to six furlongs looks as if it should suit this gal as she has landed in the exacta in eight of nine trips at the distance. She is coming off back to back photos and a career top and if she regresses she could get beat here.


WIN: #3 to win at 8-5 or better.

EX: 3,4 / 2,3,4

TRI: no play


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