Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap
Wow, is this race ever tough. Bustin Stones is heavy weight based on recent form but he'll have his hands full in this race. I personally consider Sammarco to be the only horse who is truly in over his head. Every other horse has a shot. For me that makes Bustin Stones a poor play, he could definitely win but I could say the same about a bunch of others who won't be 2/1. I also think that with the speed of Black Seventeen, Bustin Stones will get a rude awakening. The pace will be fast, it has to be, these are very fast horses and they won't mess around. Black Seventeen is the fastest horse in the race and I think he'll edge to a narrow lead. Bustin Stones will press him every step of the first half mile and Thor's Echo will be tracking them intently with First Defence. I suspect that First Defence is a bit of a fraud while Thor's Echo could easily return to his best form. Don't be misled by the failed Dubai excursion. This horse can still run and if he wasn't so rusty he might have beaten Benny in the True North. He looked very good he just didn't have the gas in the final furlong. He'll have the gas this time. I don't like that he's drawn on the inside I think it might make him force the issue a bit early because the two horses directly outside of him have serious speed. If you're looking for the bomb of the race check out E Z Warrior. He was thought to be a sensation early in his career but injury has seen his reputation take a hit. If you boil down his record you'll see that he only has one poor result in a dirt sprint. That was in last years Vosburgh where he broke like a shot from the inside and was sent to press the pace of Fabulous Strike. That was obviously a lost cause and he wound up 5th but only, a long neck from second. He was inexperienced still and those were some serious horses. I think if he's taken back a bit he'll have a huge chance here. He has been working very well and this might be the race where he starts to fulfill the potential he hinted at earlier. Black Seventeen is a horse I like quite a bit but I think the pace will just get to him a bit. If Bustin Stones happens to scratch then I think Black Seventeen would be worth a win wager.
E Z Warrior
This race might not have real star power like it's had in the past but it's an extremely even field and it's possible that some horses will begin to look like stars after this race. Of course a horse like Commentator already is what he is but Solar Flare, Rising Moon, Merchant Marine and Notional are all horses that could conceivably use this race as a stepping stone to prominence. As I sit down to write this I'm not entirely sure which way I'll go. There are tons of enticing price options and I could make a case for no less than six entrants. I'll start with the basics though and go from there. I expect the pace to be solid but not too fast. Bad news for Commentator as Tasteyville is in the form of his life and will surely press him every step of the way. I can't use a confirmed quitter like Commentator when he's got three declining speed figures and he'll have pace pressure. In fact I much prefer Tasteyville between the two of them. If the track is off a bit he'll have a huge chance. He's a serious horse in the mud and he's doing better than ever right now. I do suspect the track will be fast though and I think that Notional and Solar Flare are the most complete challengers. Both look pretty fast with good tactical speed. It's hard to fault Notional's record on the dirt, he looked fantastic in his last race and if he runs to that level again he'll be extremely tough. Solar Flare has a bit more tactical speed than Notional but has not shown the same brilliance yet. He absolutely didn't stay in the Suburban. He would have looked quite good here if that race had been 9f. I think I'll focus on these two for the first spot but an upset would not shock me too much because horses like Rising Moon and Student Council also have every chance. Rising Moon apparently had an infection in the Suburban. He might be set for a huge move forward. Student Council is a solid horse who is likely G-1 caliber but is usually better with an extra furlong. Asmussen is hot at the Spa but I think he'll be a wise guy horse and the price will not reflect his chances. He's also a bit slow. If you want to juice up the exotics don't discount A.P. Arrow. He bombed his last race but he basically lost all chance at the start. He loves Saratoga and he ought to bounce right back to near his top form. The problem with him is that he likes to lose, even when he runs a winners race. I'm probably going to use Notional with Solar Flare on top with A.P Arrow, Student Council and Rising Moon underneath. I'd also include Tasteyville if the track is off.