Friday's Free Horse Racing Picks: Spot Plays at Saratoga

Friday's free horse racing picks come to us from Saratoga from horse racing handicapper Andrew Champagne
Andrew Champagne
Fri, August 20, 7:30 AM EDT

Friday's Free Horse Racing Picks: Spot Plays at Saratoga

Usually, I’ll use this space to discuss a multi-race exotics wager. However, Saratoga took more than two inches of rain Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and the track was a quagmire for Thursday’s program. With no idea if races will be run on the turf or not, I’ll instead focus on a few spot plays throughout the program.


I’m just going to assume that, at a minimum, the early-card turf races will be run on the main track. If that happens, main-track-only entrant #1 MR. BRIGGS will likely take plenty of money. I understand why, but I think he’s beatable, and his likely price hits me as an underlay.

In that scenario, I much prefer #3 FINGAL, who capitalized on a similar set of circumstances to romp at this route late last month. I’m not sure how strong that race was, but that day’s runner-up also shows up in this spot, which is encouraging. If NYRA sees fit to move this to the dirt, I think Fingal takes advantage of a surface switch once again, and if he’s not the favorite, it could be an attractive wagering proposition.


This 2-year-old maiden race for New York-breds kicks off the early Pick Four, and it’ll be interesting to see where the betting money winds up going. Personally, I hope the morning line odds hold up, because I think the current third choice is the one to beat.

#3 EMPIRE LILY will be unveiled here by Jorge Abreu, who has enjoyed plenty of success this season. This filly is bred to be a good one. She’s by the late Pioneerof the Nile and out of a mare named Toasting, who won several stakes races and was Grade 1-placed as a 2-year-old. She’s shown some talent in several strong gate drills, and between the pedigree and the work tab, I think there’s plenty to like.


This is a starter allowance event that’s pulled in a big field of horses from a variety of different spots. Just looking at the morning line alone will tell you it’s an excellent betting race, and even better, my top pick is 10-1 on the morning line.

#6 MISTER LUIGI’s connections saw fit to run him in the Grade 2 Amsterdam earlier this month. He was a big price that day and wasn’t a factor, as he finished more than 10 lengths behind the victorious Jackie’s Warrior. However, he was only about three lengths behind runner-up Drain the Clock, who won a Grade 1 earlier this year. This isn’t a weak race for the level, but it’s certainly a softer spot than the one he exits, and he still may have some room to improve given his relative inexperience. I think 10-1 is way too big a price, and I hope we get it.

Andrew Champagne
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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