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Saturday's free horse racing picks come to us from handicapper Andrew Champagne for Saratoga's early Pick Five

Saturday Free Horse Racing Picks: Saratoga Early Pick Five

Saturday’s early Pick Five at Saratoga is a rarity in that it ends with a Grade 1 race. It happens for an unfortunate reason, as the Coaching Club American Oaks has drawn just a four-horse field. However, I think you can use this sequence as a way to make some money, even if it ends in chalky fashion. Let’s take a look!


Right off the bat, I’ll take a stand against a likely favorite. #7 ROYAL REALM is dropped in for a tag for the first time, and I think that’s suspicious. It’s not like he’s run badly to this point, and this isn’t a panicky barn desperate for a win.

I’ll try to beat him by going two-deep. #5 PRIME TIME PLAYER is my top pick, and he comes in off a win at Churchill Downs. His lone work over this track was a very strong one, and everything about him says he’ll keep getting better as he gains experience. I’ll also use #2 GOOD CULTURE, who makes his first start off the claim by Mike Maker and was a decent second at a similar level at Belmont.


In contrast to the opener, I think the two likely favorites in here are going to be pretty tough. #9 TRACY FLICK has had her troubles in her first few outings and has been DQ’d twice, but unlike other horses who may have bigger issues with ground loss, I think the outside post will help her here. She should be able to work out a clean trip, and if she does, she may prove tough to beat.

I’ll also use #2 FREEDOMOFTHEPRESS, who adds Lasix in her 3-year-old debut. She’s run second and third in her two outings to date, and the three horses that beat her came right back to win at next asking. A step forward from two to three is logical, and she’s a contender if she’s ready to run.


Here’s where things get tricky. This $25,000 claimer came up pretty salty for the level, and I’m using four of the seven runners that are set to go to the gate.

#3 CANTRELL HILL is my tepid top pick. He won first off the claim for Robertino Diodoro last month, and that barn has already had some success at this stand. He’s hit the board in 13 of 20 career starts, and his best efforts are certainly good enough to beat these.

I’ll also use #2 WIN WITH PRIDE, #5 ALCOOLS, and #6 STROLLING. This may be one of the best betting races on the Saturday program, and it’s doubtful whichever horse goes off favored will be a particularly short price.


This sequence gets no easier in this turf sprint for older horses. I’m using six of the 10 horses in here, and I don’t like 3-1 morning line choice #10 FORCED. He has plenty of early speed, but the outside post is a big problem and he hasn’t won a race in more than three years.

#2 LYRICAL POET, however, gets a far cushier post and will be prominent from a very early stage. He won his debut at Turfway Park and was second behind a next-out winner at Belmont. Wesley Ward is one of the best trainers in the country when it comes to turf sprints, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., has signed on to ride.

#3 COUNT DOWN, #4 BARDOLINO, #6 TALLAJ, #7 VODKA LEMONADE, and #8 DISCIPLANARIAN are also on my ticket. Tallaj, in particular, interests me as a potential value play. His pedigree is all-turf, and I’m surprised he hasn’t tried it yet. Linda Rice, however, puts him there in his first start off the claim, and I think he could be live at a bit of a price.


The payoff leg, as mentioned, is the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, and it’s headlined by one of the best 3-year-olds in training, regardless of gender. That’s #1 MALATHAAT, and I like her enough to single her to finish off my $48 play.

Malathaat is 5-for-5, and her two starts this year were both Grade 1 victories. She’s beaten two of her three opponents with relative ease in the past, and the third is taking a big jump up in class after a restricted allowance win at Indiana Grand. She’d need to regress, and one of her opponents would need to step up in a big way. I don’t see that scenario happening here, and I’m using the Pick Five as a way to extract value from this very heavy favorite.


R1: 2,5

R2: 2,9

R3: 2,3,5,6

R4: 2,3,4,6,7,8

R5: 1

Article Author

Horse Racing

Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.


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