Spa Tips: Billy Blake’s Late Pick 4 Play

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The Saratoga Special intern and 2014 National Handicapping Contest qualifier Billy Blake will serve up some wagering advice for This Is Horse Racing during this year’s Saratoga Race Course meeting. He takes another crack at Saturday’s $500,000 guaranteed late pick 4, which caps a big card at the Spa that includes the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt and Grade 2 Jim Dandy.

Race 8 Selections: 2, 3, 6
Rock Fall (3) couldn’t have been more impressive in the True North and is a sprinter to be reckoned with in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt. He is as close to a single as it gets in multi-race wagers, but we want to make sure we get through the opening leg of the guaranteed $500,000 pick 4. Salutos Amigos (2) makes his second start since the trip to Dubai and he is no slouch. The Big Beast (6) is well posted to the outside and is a perfect 2-for-2 in Saratoga.

Race 9 Selections: 2, 3, 7
Leaning on the trio that is sure to take the bulk of the money in the Grade 2 Bowling Green. War Dancer (2) comes out of the Grade 1 Man o’ War and Manhattan, and he ran well two back at this 1 3/8-mile distance. Imagining (3) has had success going to the lead in the past but in his prior two efforts, he tried to make a run further back. Can’t ignore his prior success at the Spa. Innovation Economy (7) turns back from the 2-mile score in the Belmont Gold Cup looking for his fourth straight win.

Race 10 Selections: 3, 7
It looks like only four horses will go to the post for the Jim Dandy, as Upstart and Competitive Edge will run in Sunday’s Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park and Tekton tried his luck in Saratoga’s Curlin Friday. Belmont Stakes runner-up Frosted (7) is the one to beat on paper. Texas Red (3) getting back to two turns could prove the difference this time. Although we know he likes to come from behind, it’s not clear who will go the front in this small field and he could be the victim of a rather mediocre pace.

Race 11 Selections: 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11
We end the card with a competitive allowance. I tried to go as thin as possible in the earlier races to leave our options open here. There are a handful of horses coming out of a turf sprint July 11 at Belmont. Dark Roast (1) will most likely be urged early, although Rico Capote and El Viejo Verde have speed too. Plus Draft Day (9) could be forwardly placed off the debut win. Unrepenting (3) gets blinkers today for the second try on the grass, and Banana Thief (4) broke her maiden on the Mellon last summer; possible horse for the course angle. Pegasus Red (6) is second off the layoff for Michelle Nevin and should be able to sit in the pocket and pounce on the frontrunners. We will also use Tax Package (8), a first-time gelding trying the turf off the layoff, and longshot Bajan Summer (11) as Luis Saez keeps the mount after getting acquainted with the 5-year-old last month downstate.

Good luck!