Peter Fornatale at Saratoga

Peter Thomas Fornatale previews a top-class Saratoga Saturday evening card - where the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes goes off at 22:46 - and nominates his best bets.

  • Saturday 03 August
  • Blog
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Now it really feels like Saratoga.

With the Fasig-Tipton sales next Monday and Tuesday, a large portion of the city of Lexington, Kentucky has descended upon the town, and there’s definitely been a different type of buzz around the conversations at the Paddock Bar the last few days, especially yesterday, when there was a rare Stakes-studded Friday card.

It’s not just industry people who’ve arrived lately. Two old school regulars in the paddock bar crew have made their debuts. The first is the Ice Cream Man. So-called because he discovered the sport doing a summer job as an actual Ice Cream Man in the area, he is most famous for his horrendous wagering skills.

In the USA, where fixed odds betting doesn’t really exist, a culture of exotic betting his arisen – exactas, trifectas, doubles, Pick Threes and the like. I once wrote a piece about the nadir of the Ice Cream Man’s betting career, when he infamously loved a 40-1 shot, and somehow managed not to cash a ticket.

He got so beat up in the wagering at last year’s Saratoga meeting that I thought he’d quit the game. But he only managed to stay away for three-and-a-half weeks in the end. He’s back. And when it comes to betting, likely just as bad as ever.

And then there’s the man known as Hurricane Anthony. A quixotic sort, Hurricane Anthony is known primarily for two things: coming up with crazy horses and celebrating well into the night (one famous incident involved a crutch he was using to pantomime a machine gun and a mounted Saratoga police officer. Jail time was avoided but not by much).

The Hurricane blew into town last night so I battened down the hatches. In a moment of weakness, I volunteered to let him stay with me in the Little House on the East Side but I wasn’t going to get swept away.

“Look, man,” I told him. “Before you even suggest going out I’ve got to tell you: I’ve got a deadline tomorrow and two seminars. I’m going to be in bed by half nine.”

“That sounds great to me,” he said. “I just want to study the form and get some rest.”

My first thought was: who are you and what have you done to Anthony? But as it turned out he was true to his word. In fact, when we returned from a fantastic dinner at Taverna Novo, he was already asleep. I am tempted to downgrade the Hurricane to a light, summer breeze.

But before we make that official, we’ll see what happens tonight.

*

In other news, several months ago, it seemed a certainty that Newspaperofrecord would go on to be the best USA-based three-year-old filly on the turf. That turned out to be premature.

Now it’s clear that honor belongs to Concrete Rose, who smashed them up yesterday in the Saratoga Oaks, and looks a good bet to go on to win the inaugural Turf Tiara. It was great to see an aggressive ride yesterday from Julian Leparoux and she really showed her stuff through the lane.

BETS FOR TODAY

Race 1: Trainer Mike Maker has been kind to us so far this meet, with two of his winners coming in 2yo maiden races on turf. Let’s see if CHIMNEY ROCK can make it three on the bounce. The first race was a useful educational effort, the blinkers go on, he’s well posted and bred to handle turf.

Race 3: WAYNE O looks an interesting item for the new My Racehorse stable and Spendthrift Farm. My Racehorse is using a new business model where they offer fans a chance at fractional ownership for a very low buy-in.

This horse looks like a runner based on breeding and workouts and I would imagine the My Racehorse folks wouldn’t be spotting him here if he didn’t have a lot of ability.

Race 5: WORLD OF TROUBLE looks like a short-priced winner. He’s extremely versatile and looking at his sectionals he might be cycling up still, impressive as that is. If the price is too short, consider an exacta with Disco Partner, who might pass all the tiring speeds after World Of Trouble breaks their hearts on the engine.

Race 7: Another who won’t be a high price but is a likely winner is SACRED LIFE in the Lure Stakes. The French import fits on form for the ever-dangerous Chad Brown, and has been working with some runners whose recent efforts would bury these. I’m keeping it simple and backing him.

Race 8: The Grade 1 Test is a fantastic race from a sporting point of view but tricky to bet. For selection purposes, I’m going with COVFEFE, who I had marked down as a potential FM Sprint winner after the race on the Preakness undercard.

Last time out was a disappointment but perhaps it was just a bounce? That’s often a concept I reject but might truly apply here.

Race 9: It’s MCKINZIE’s race to lose I think. He was best in the Met Mile, and the nine furlongs is well within his scope. I expect an aggressive ride from Mike Smith. After this, I don’t believe there will be any doubt as to who the favorite for the BC Classic will be.

I still wonder if one won’t be better than him going 10 panels, but that’s not a concern today.

Peter Fornatale at Saratoga
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