Billy Blake on the $1 Million Guaranteed All-Stakes Saratoga Pick 4

With a Guaranteed Pool of $1 Million, it’s time to get to work and make up for last week’s ticket. We had three out of the four winners seven days ago, but it didn’t matter because the ticket was done after the first leg. Let’s hope for better results with one Grade II and three Grade I races in the mix.

Race 9: 3,7

In the Ballston Spa, I’m heavily relying on the winner of the De La Rose. Filimbi (#7) is the one to beat on paper, especially with the absence of Dayatthespa. I liked Abaco (#3) in the Diana, and I thought she ran well to be fourth despite being wide throughout. One mile and a sixteenth might actually be too short for her, but she makes the ticket as a backup to Filimbi. I expect Nellie Cashman (#1) from the rail to set the pace with Filimbi midpack and Abaco coming from well out of it.

Race 10: 2,4,7

The King’s Bishop contains speed, speed, and more speed. C. Zee (#1),Wildcat Red (#2)Fast Anna (#6), and The Big Beast (#7) are not afraid to get the jump on the field early. Of these four, I prefer Wildcat Red and The Big Beast. Wildcat Red turns back in distance after running in the Haskell, and he’s dangerous around one turn. The Big Beast looked so good crushing a huge field last out that I can’t ignore him in this spot. Noble Cornerstone (#4) is my longshot play. He is improving with every race as a three-year-old and could benefit from a pace collapse with all the speed signed on. I’m taking a stance against Coup de Grace (#8). I don’t have any specific knock on him, but I want to use horses who are just as good as he is that offer slightly more value.

The King’s Bishop contains speed, speed, and more speed.

Race 11: ALL

I rarely hit the all button in multi race wagers in an effort to save some money. However, this race is a true guessing game. Morning line favorite My Miss Aurelia (#4) is second off the layoff after a third place finish in an eventful four horse race in the Shine Again. Better Lucky (#2) beat her last month, and it seems getting back to dirt has turned her around. Artemis Agrotera (#1) had nothing more than an afternoon stroll in her last start, and she will probably have to be gunned to the lead by Rajiv Maragh. La Verdad (#6) had a four race winning streak halted in the slop, but she has every right to bounce back off that effort. Hot Stones (#8) is interesting on the turn back, and longshotVoodoo Tales (#7) has strung together a couple of wins heading into the Ballerina. There’s something positive to say about all nine horses, making it tough to eliminate one or two from the ticket. By hitting the all button, we have to make it count with a select few in the Travers.

Race 12: 6,7

Tonalist (#6) or Wicked Strong (#7) will give us a winning ticket. I think experience at Saratoga is key and both these horses fit the bill. Tonalist stretches out to a more suitable distance for him, while Wicked Strong has been a completely different racehorse with blinkers. Everyone knows Bayern (#2) is going to the lead. I just have my doubts he can get the distance against a much better field than what he saw in the Haskell. Bayern is the ultimate high-risk, low-reward play, and I don’t want any part of that. Mr Speaker (#10) on dirt is enticing, but there are others who have accomplished far more on dirt and it’s going to be no easy feat to top this field in his dirt debut. that closers Commanding Curve (#1) and Kid Cruz (#8) are in trouble if Bayern is uncontested early. My guess is Rajiv Maragh has Wicked Strong forwardly placed to keep an honest pace with Tonalist sitting third or fourth. I’m skeptical of the horses coming out of Curlin getting the distance against the likes of Tonalist and Wicked Strong.

$.50 wager (2 X 3 X 9 X 2) = $54

Image: Doug Kerr, “Saratoga Race Track.” Copyright 2010.