I originally wanted to do this race because I thought Karen's Caper was going to be in here as well as Makderah. I've wanted to play both of them back since their last starts but I don't think Makderah has the race all to herself. Speed has been holding very effectively on the Saratoga sod and My Typhoon is in the form of her life. She is also slightly higher on the morning line and Bill Mott has owned this race in the past. Makderah could easily win but I don't think there is much point in taking both fillies unless you're in a pick 4.
Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap
Two of my favorite sprinters are lining up and surprisingly they aren't favored. I love betting sprint stakes races with Commentator in them. He seemingly can't win any races where he faces significant pressure and he certainly will in this spot. Attila's Storm, Cougar Cat, Saint Anddan and Abraaj all have speed. Luckily both my horses like to come from a bit more off the pace. Diabolical is the deserving favorite in this race. He has the class and has run some nice figures at this distance. He can stalk the pace closely or come from off of it. Pino will get to take a good look since all the speed aside from Abraaj is drawn inside of him. If not for the presence of Benny The Bull I'd be making Diabolical a single. Benny The Bull is superb at this distance and is on a real hot streak right now. He makes his first start for Dutrow who is already doing well at Saratoga. The IEAH stable bought two horses for Saratoga and gave them to Dutrow. Subtle Aly who won the opening day feature and Benny The Bull who was targeted for this race. I think he'll be in the exacta, especially given all the speed in here. He is the best closer in the race.
Benny The Bull
Hats off to PJ Campo, the NYRA racing secretary, for putting together a field like this. How he got 12 horses (most all of them solid contenders) is beyond me. This race has so many different ways you can go you just have to pick one and go with it. I'm deciding to oppose Flashy Bull. I think he finds 9f a bit too far and he may get bottled up on the inside, or else he may put himself right in the race from the start. Either way I'm not sure I like him. My key horse is Diamond Stripes. He gained some valuable experience in his last start, he already has a win over the track, his trainer and jockey are hot and he should get the pace he likes. I think it all falls in his lap here. I do have a few other horses that I am interesting in though. I'm sure many have observed the "other Pletcher" phenomenon. Magna Graduate can certainly win the race but he is a horse I just don't trust. I prefer his stablemate Fairbanks who is a gaudy 20/1. Fairbanks looks to be disadvantaged by the presence of Wanderin Boy. Those two are right beside each other and the pace could be hot, but Migliore isn't going to go suicidal. I think instead he'll be tracking Wanderin Boy. Fairbanks, at his best, is as good as any horse in the race and he loved Saratoga in his only outing here. A recent bullet over the track further confirms it. Another horse I like, not necessarily for the win spot is Awesome Twist. He is a Saratoga specialist and outperforms every time he goes there. His last race at Belmont was just a tightener but he ran very well indeed. The distance and his post position work against him but I think he is a must use in the exotics.
Bing Crosby Handicap
I've been pretty harsh to Bordonaro recently but then I do feel slightly justified as he is just 1 for 3 this year. On a new surface against horses he does not really outclass I think he is worth opposing again. I will use Greg's Gold primarily in this spot. He has run very well since coming back from injury. His race last out is forgivable, maybe he didn't like the quirky CD surface or maybe he just doesn't ship very well. Whatever the reason I think he'll be back on song here. He has run a better race on an all weather surface than any other horse in the race and I think from a pure class perspective he is near the top of the heap as well. Turf specialist In Summation intrigues me but I think I'll use Battle Won as my secondary pick. He gets blinkers on for Mitchell who is doing quite well and we already know that Battle Won is as good as any on his best day and that he handles any surface. I'm going to oppose EZ Warrior although I would not mind seeing him win. It's a tall task for a 3yo to face older horses for the first time off an injury enforced layoff while trying Polytrack for the first time. I think using him is asking for trouble at a short price.