You guys know me well enough by now to know I don't like to play favorites very often. Trying to beat favorites has cost me a lot of money over the years, but it's in my blood; I can't help it.
This weekend is a rare exception. I like all four morning-line favorites in the Saratoga grade I races. I'm not happy about it, but what can I do? For these three days, feel free to call me Mr. Chalk.
Woodward: They are not going to beat Quality Road here. Not happening. There is no Blame-caliber horse to challenge him and he should have some pace to run at with Arcodoro. I think he wins big to set him up as the horse to beat in the BC Classic. I probably won't play the race since he will be 1-5, if I do, it will be Mythical Power to place/show and/or a tri box with Quality Road, Mythical Power, and Arcodoro, who might carry his speed a long way. Enjoy the Quality Road show.
Forego: This is a much better betting race than the Woodward but I can't go against the coupled entry of Vineyard Haven and Girolamo, who will probably go off at about 9-5. Vineyard Haven loves Saratoga, loves seven furlongs, and his effort in the James Marvin Stakes off an eight-month layoff was a thing of beauty. Bribon and Big Drama are both serious sprinters in good form, so I would use them underneath. And I might also include Checklist, who could find himself on the lead.
Spinaway: Pletcher has half the field in here, all of them pretty good looking fillies with top jockeys aboard. But I think Valiant Passion is the best of all of them. Her maiden race on Aug. 12, in which she won by 9 1/4 lengths, was so impressive that Team Valor bought her privately after the race. She is the lukewarm 3-1 morning-line choice but could go off as the second or third choice. We'll see. Either way, I'm playing her. Could it be an all-Pletcher tri? I don't think so. I like Le Mi Geaux to sneak into the money.
Hopeful: Wine Police, Boys At Tosconova, and Stay Thirsty all looked like world beaters in their maiden wins and have all the makings of colts that could be factors next spring. Stay Thirsty may have the most upside but will probably be better as he goes longer. Wine Police devoured his opponents in his July 24 debut and I cannot fault anyone for playing him here, since he could nice value as the third choice. But I'm going with Boys At Tosconova. Did you see his July 2 maiden win at Belmont? Sick. He already has the benefit of a good effort in stakes company when he ran second in the grade III Kentucky Juvenile. I think he will get the lead early and never look back. The slow work on Sept. 1 is worth noting, but Dutrow tends to do that stuff.
Good luck to everyone and have a great holiday weekend. I sure hope that chalk tastes good this weekend!