Friday's Free Horse Racing Picks: Late Pick Four At Saratoga
Friday’s card at Saratoga is a tremendous one. It features a trio of stakes races, including two graded events, and they’re all part of the late Pick Four. That sequence starts in the seventh of 10 races on the program, and I’ll attack it with a budget-friendly, $13.50 ticket. Here’s how I’ve put it together!
The Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame kicks things off, and the one-mile event has attracted a field of eight 3-year-olds. I’m going three-deep, and I think the race will set up for a runner that doesn’t necessarily need the lead to run well.
#2 PUBLIC SECTOR is my top pick. He just missed last time out in the Manila Stakes downstate, and he was compromised by rating behind a very slow pace. Things should be a bit more lively up front here, and I think that’ll allow this son of Kingman to strut his stuff and pick up his first graded stakes victory.
I’ll also use #1 ANNEX and #8 WOLFIE’S DYNAGHOST. The former showed plenty of promise early in his career and may very well need a pace meltdown that seems possible here, while the latter tries turf for the first time and is bred to love the lawn.
The second leg is the Alydar, a race restricted to older horses who haven’t yet won an open stakes this season. We’ve got another eight-horse field signed on, and I’m once again going three-deep.
#4 ART COLLECTOR was one of the hottest horses in training last fall, when he came into the Grade 1 Preakness on a five-race win streak that included the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland. He’s since lost three straight and has been sent to the barn of Bill Mott, but I simply think his 2021 debut was too short of a race for him. He’ll get to stretch his legs here, and if he’s anywhere close to the horse he was a season ago, look out.
#7 JESUS’ TEAM and #8 NIGHT OPS are also on my ticket. The former was second in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup back in January and goes second off the bench here after a trip to Dubai, while the latter has run into horses like Silver Dust and Mighty Heart and may very well see this race as a spot for class relief.
Turf sprinters will take center stage here in the Grade 3 Troy, and this is a Grade 3 in name only. On paper, it looks like one of the best turf sprints we’ll see all season, and that may include the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at the end of the year.
My top pick is #10 LAZULI, who ships across the Atlantic for trainer Charles Appleby. When this barn sends a horse to the U.S., it’s usually for a very good reason. In this case, Lazuli won a Group 3 race two starts ago with a strong 121 Timeform Rating, one that places him near the best turf sprinters in Europe. A similar race will make him a handful in this spot, and I’ll be thrilled if we get that 8-1 price.
I’ll also use two stalwarts of this division. #7 IMPRIMIS and #11 BOUND FOR NOWHERE have danced plenty of dances, and the former actually crossed the wire first in this event last year before being disqualified. Neither would be a surprise here, and I need to have both of them on the ticket.
I have no such needs to use multiple horses in the Friday finale. This is a maiden claiming event, and I think the morning line man got this one right, as the 7/5 favorite looms very, very large.
#1 DIGITAL SOFTWARE has run several races that, if repeated, would be more than good enough to beat this bunch. His 2021 debut off of a long layoff was very solid, as he nearly overcame a wide trip before settling for second downstate. Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides back for Chad Brown, and if he doesn’t win, I lose.