The marquee event of summer racing is on tap on Saturday, with a field of 10 going to the post in the Mid Summer Derby, the Grade 1 $1,.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
The race drew a solid field led by Haskell Invitational (G1) winner Bayern, Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tonalist and Jim Dandy (G2) victor Wicked Strong. With Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome on the sidelines until next month, it gives the rest of the division some time to catch up in the race for the Eclipse Award for top three-year-old.
The Travers will be televised live as part of NBC’s national telecast from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Travers has a scheduled post time of 5:46 p.m. The Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina will also be televised live. That race is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
The Ballerina is one of three supporting stakes on an outstanding 14-race marathon card at the Spa on Saturday. First post is 11:35 a.m. ET.
The stakes action kicks off with the ninth race, the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Turf racing was washed out the past two days and there figures to be some give to the ground on Saturday afternoon.
The Bill Mott trained Filimbi is the 2-1 morning line favorite and is coming off a sharp win in the De La Rose over the Spa turf going a mile in her third start since arriving in the U.S.
She will have her hands full with a solid field that includes Dayatthespa (5-2), who was the beaten favorite in the De La Rose, and Centre Court (5-1), a multiple graded stakes winner who has had troubled trips in her last couple of outings.
The Grade 1, $500,000 King’s Bishop is not a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race but very well could produce a couple of contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint or Dirt Mile.
Amsterdam (G2) winner Coup de Grace is the 2-1 morning line favorite. He faces seven including Wildcat Red (4-1) who is cutting back from a third in the Haskell Invitational (G1) and The Big Beast (5-2), a very fast colt making his stakes debut for trainer Tony Dutrow.
There is a $1 million guaranteed Pick 4 starting with the Ballston Spa and covering the four stakes, the King’s Bishop, Ballerina and ending with the Travers.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 10 strongest plays from Saratoga and Del Mar including all of the stakes action.
Let’s head out to the Spa for Saturday’s featured betting race of the day:
Saratoga Race 11 The Ballerina G1 (5:08 ET)
4 My Miss Aurelia 3-1
6 La Verdad 7-2
5 Willet 6-1
1 Artemis Agrotera 5-1
Analysis: My Miss Aurelia came off a 16 month layoff with a decent enough effort last out in the restricted Shine Again, beaten just a half-length by Better Lucky. The mare bumped two foes in the stretch and grabbed a short lead but did not have enough left to hold off the top pair.
She won her first six career starts as was our top pick in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) back in ’12 but had to settle for second behind the favorite Royal Delta. She makes her second start for the Pletcher barn and she should move forward in her second start off the layoff.
La Verdad drew the rail last out and I thought she was a serious underlay and she did get beat as she could not get the led she is accustomed to. There is not as much speed in here and she gets off the rail. She has done most of her best work against state breds, although she did win the Distaff (G2) at the Big A back in April.
She owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and will be the one to catch if Ortiz sends her, never a sure thing with the way this jock thinks sometimes. She has won nine of her 12 starts and after she was 7-5 last out her 7-2 morning line looks fair in this spot.
WIN: #4 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 1,4,5,6
TRI: 4,6 / 1,4,5,6 / 1,2,4,5,6
Michael’s Saratoga Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Mike has been handicapping the New York Racing circuit on a daily basis for nearly three decades. Get the remainder of the meeting for just $44.95!