Peter Fornatale at Saratoga

American racing expert, Peter Fornatale gives his thoughts on last week’s weather-affected Saratoga action, nominating a numbers of noteworthy performances.

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As I look out my window this morning I see mist over a lake with mountains in the background. One could get a similar view in Saratoga a few miles from the course, but for the time being I have traveled east to western Maine, a solid six hours from American racing’s Summer HQ.

The two off days make such a journey a lot easier. I left halfway through Sunday’s marathon card, which was elongated to include a few of the canceled races from last week. There’s no racing in Maine this time of year but it will be nice to get in a few days of family time before heading back to the Spa.

It will also give Mugs the Form Studying Labrador a chance to have a break from watching replays so she can go swimming in the aforementioned lake.

I should be back in town for the last couple of races on Thursday’s card, and more importantly in time for karaoke night.

From there, we’ll look ahead to a weekend of races that includes two Travers prep races (the Curlin and Jim Dandy) as well the Grade 1 Vanderbilt (a dirt sprint for older horses), the Grade 2 Amsterdam (dirt sprint restricted to three-year-olds), and the Bowling Green (an 11-furlong race on the grass for older horses).

A new business concept occurred to me on Sunday. I was over at my usual spot for the first half of the card, the Veranda. This is the place formerly known as “The Secret Spot.” It’s a patio above the Shake Shack, right by the paddock at Saratoga, technically it’s part of The Post Bar.

It can be booked privately, and that was the case on Sunday. We had a small cadre of regular/serious/professional horseplayers as well as a few children (including my own) ages 6-7.

We bet and chatted while the kids hung out, laughed, played video games, and went to look at the occasional equine. It was suggested to me that if this whole writing and broadcasting thing didn’t work out, I might have a future running a Saratoga daycare. It’s always good to have a backup plan.

HORSES TO WATCH

Wednesday

LISTENTOYOURHEART was best in the New York-bred two-year-old stake. The races was run under unusual conditions—delayed for rain and run in the slop. This colt wasn’t happy about things and didn’t want to load.

He went on to set a fast pace and just went down a nose in the end. The time wasn’t great but I’m tempted to give another chance. In the hands of Cristophe Clement, I could see him improving next time.


PROJECT WHISKEY is probably worth another look next time out. He had a difficult, wide journey behind a slow pace on debut and still ran on late to be third.

Thursday


KADAR impressed making his first USA start. He broke poorly but came running late into what looked like just an average pace. A chance to keep moving forward for the Mike Maker barn.

Friday


MRS. DANVERS will surely be marked up by anyone who was paying attention. This Shug McGaughey trainee was bet strongly, missed the break, and just looked full of run throughout the race, galloping out the best of all of them.

Looks like she’ll be a short-priced winner next time, possibly going a little farther.


LEMONIST is one who has the trip-handicapping angle I always talk about. He moved early into a hot pace. He made the lead too soon and helped set the race up for a stablemate. He was as good as the winner in my opinion despite the 2.5 length gap at the end.

Sunday


SHARING looks to have immense talent for Graham Motion. Her mom, Shared Account, only ever ran a mile or longer, but her sire, Speightstown, has given her the speed to be competitive going shorter.

She looked strong through the lane and galloped out best when third in a Sunday maiden race, will go on improving with experience and distance.


THREE TECHNIQUE will likely win his maiden next out. Caught a real runner in Basin and didn’t have the easiest of trips stuck in and among horses at a crucial stage. One to keep an eye on anyway.


It’s unclear what the plan was with MORTICIA in the Caress. She was taken back and never really got a run. I would ignore that race going forward and evaluate her on her previous form.

Out of the same race, it’s possible that the 5.5 furlongs was just too short for Significant Form.


SHE’S A JULIE appeared to be the controlling speed in the Shuvee but was somehow taken back off a pace that was slow throughout. If allowed to use her best weapon next time – her speed – I would expect her to give a better accounting of herself.

For more from me, check out inthemoneypodcast.com and be sure to watch all the action from Saratoga live on Sky Sports Racing Stateside.

Peter Fornatale at Saratoga
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