Two Grade 1 races, a Grade 3 event on the grass and a turf sprint allowance comprise the Saturday late $750,000 guaranteed pick four at Saratoga Race Course. It's not an easy sequence, but this is what racing at Saratoga is all about with deep and competitive fields. Here's the play from The Saratoga Special's Billy Blake, a past qualifier for the National Handicapping Contest:
Race 8 Selections: 2, 6, 8
A variety of ways to go in the Grade 1 Test. Ultimately, we will focus on the top three from the Adirondack a year ago. Cavorting (2) got back to her winning ways in the Jersey Girl. Having a win at Saratoga a huge plus. Wonder Gal (6) on the turn back is too intriguing to leave off the ticket. Although she hasn't won yet this year, she's run fairly well in her three starts and we feel she is sitting on a big effort today. Angela Renee (8) also cuts back in distance and reacquaints herself with the dirt.
Race 9 Selections: 3, 4, 7
This race couldn't get any better. You can legitimately make cases for every horse in the field, but we will key in on three horses in the Grade 1 Whitney. Noble Bird (3) has made some noise in the division winning his last two at Churchill Downs. The pace suits him well with Moreno on the lead, so he should get a ground-saving, stalking trip similar to his Stephen Foster triumph. Liam's Map (4) reminds me of Cross Traffic in that the Whitney could give him the elusive win needed to put him near the top of the division. This is obviously a huge jump in class for him, but Pletcher must have him ready to roll. Lea (7) is making his second start since the trip to Dubai. No shame in running second to Noble Bird in the Stephen Foster.
Race 10 Selections: 1, 2, 10, 11, 12
Goldy Espony (1) comes into the Grade 3 Waya looking for her third straight win. With this race being 1 1/2 miles, there's a possibility she will put the field to sleep on the lead through modest fractions. She's been more forwardly placed in her last two races, and the change in tactics have paid off. Eastern Belle (2) continues to rack up second-places finishes, but at least Jose Lezcano got to figure her out a bit in the Grade 2 New York; shouldn't have to worry about wide trip with the post. Queen's Parade (10) has never been worse than third with Velazquez aboard; added ground can't hurt. Kitten's Point (11) is another who should appreciate the 12 furlongs, and Danza Cavallo (12) is flattered by Grade 1 Diana winner Hard Not to Like after finishing fifth in the Gamely at Santa Anita.
Race 11 Selections: 2, 3, 8, 10
We close the card with a dozen or so fillies and mares sprinting on the Mellon Turf Course. Bella Kateri (2) is second off the layoff and cuts back to 5 1/2 furlongs. Rosario may throw down the gauntlet early and play catch me if you can. Full Tap (3) broke her maiden last out in her turf debut; the $430,000 purchase by Tapit is a major player in here. Majestic Bloom (8) hasn't run since last September. Something obviously went wrong that day and George Weaver has clearly taken his time getting her back on the track. It's nice to see Velazquez getting the mount. Blue Beryl (10) endured a wide trip in her last start and although the post doesn't help today, there is enough pace to think she can kick in late.