Best Exotic Bets for Saratoga’s July 22–23 Program
Saratoga Weekend Thoroughbred Racing
Saratoga Racecourse will be hosting a bevy of great races this weekend. The 2017 Diana Stakes will be the top race on the Saturday card, while the 2017 Coaching Club American Oaks will be yet another platform for Abel Tasman to show off her best work. Below are some quick rundowns of the top entrants in the three biggest stakes races, and how you should build your best exotic bets for each.
2017 Diana Stakes
1 1/8 Miles — 3+ Fillies — $500,000
The Diana Stakes will be headlined by none other than Lady Eli, who was last out winning the Gamely Stakes. At 3/5, she is a heavy handed favorite who will run in to some serious competition including a horse that has already defeated her. Dickinson capped a three race winning streak in the 2017 Jenny Wiley by outlasting Lady Eli in the upset, but then fell to third against Antonoe who will be a 3/1 second choice in the Diana.
All three are fantastic choices in the 2017 Diana Stakes, but the logical play is on an exacta box with Antonoe and Lady Eli. You’re inevitably betting on the top two horses in the race but you build in some insulation for the result. Antonoe is a definite sleeper who is rising quickly through the ranks and could offer a stiff challenge to the beloved Lady Eli.
If you’re looking for a bigger payday, an exacta on Antonoe and Lady Eli in that order is the top option.
2017 Sanford Stakes
6 Furlongs — 2 Year Olds — $150,000
As with most juvenile races, the quick sprint represented by the 2017 Sanford Stakes is a roll of the dice. Complicating matters is the fact that only two of the entrants have competed in stakes races. Direct Dial and Admiral Jimmy finished second and third in the 2017 Tremont Stakes. They are likely to enter as the proverbial favorites given their experience.
Direct Dial is trained by Steve Asmussen who has another interesting colt in the mix. Baffin won his maiden handedly at Churchill Downs and is a very strong play in the eyes of most handicappers.
Todd Pletcher is the trainer of both Admirally Jimmy and Bal Harbour who broke his maiden just over a month ago at Gulfstream Park. Pletcher has touted both of his entrants favorably.
But this race is filled with first time winners, one of the more exciting being Free Drop Billy who cracked his maiden at Churchill Downs four weeks ago.
The strongest leads seem to be Admiral Jimmy and Direct Dial based solely on their experience, but there’s a ton of talent here. An exacta box featuring your top three horses seems like the way to go.
2017 Coaching Club American Oaks
9 Furlongs — 3 Year Old Fillies — $300,000
The Sunday feature at Saratoga is one of the most prestigious races in the country, and will be honored by the presence of many top-flight fillies. Any exotic bet has to include Abel Tasman, who handedly won the 2017 Acorn ahead of Salty who is a 5/2 second choice.
Where things get interesting is in growing your exotic bet with a third place show bet included for either a straight trifecta or a boxed one. Daddys Lil Darling finished second behind Abel Tasman in the 2017 Kentucky Oaks then fell to fourth in the 2017 Belmont Oaks her last time out. This filly is currently 9/2 on the morning line.
Those three may be the top options but that seems to be the way to cash in the best in this event. Elate will play the role of spoiler, but she’s been on a downward trend the entire season since opening the year with a runner-up finish in the 2017 Suncoast.
by Tim Quek