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HomeHorse RacingTravers Day: Four Pick 6 Singles at Saratoga

Travers Day: Four Pick 6 Singles at Saratoga

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Saying you have four singles in a Pick 6 sequence is like saying you see dead people. People respond with squinty, doubtful eyes and condescending nodding. Four singles. Okay. Yeah, buddy, sure.




I have four singles in Saturday’s Pick 6 at Saratoga. 


Beginning in Race 7, the sequence does not have many full fields, which is par for the NYRA course in recent years. However, it does have competitive fields made up of horses that the public has strong opinions about. Several of those horses either traveled over the best or worst part of the track in their recent races, and it’s subtle handicapping like this that can create a couple of key divergent opinions which translate into value. And an efficient ticket.


Elite Power vs Gunite III


The Pick 6 on the Travers day card covers five grade ones and a salty turf sprint allowance. Let’s start from the top with the $500,000 Forgo (G1), a 7-furlong dirt sprint for older males. Elite Power vs Gunite III. I could go on and on about the two headliners who will take all the money, but I see this as the crucial race for taking a hard right turn as all other tickets will single one of these. 


Let’s talk #4 Pipeline (12-1), the first of my four singles. He’s only won twice, and his last outing looks atrocious on paper, but there’s a lot to be said about that race. Making his first start as a 5-year-old, having not raced since the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Pipeline received a horrible ride from Irad Ortiz Jr. being the clear front runner in the field, he took a tight hold and conceded the lead to a longshot, only to reverse that decision and begin to duel for the front, wasting energy early. All day the rail was the worst part of the track to be running on, but that’s where Pipeline found himself throughout. Irad waved the white flag soon enough out of the far turn. 


In my notes I wrote where he’s spotted next will tell the tale. And, here we find him in a grade one. He has run fast enough to beat the big two, and there is a ton of value in backing him here.

Last year he finished third in the Forego to Cody’s Wish and Jackie’s Warrior, two monsters, but this year, he draws perfectly just outside both Elite Power and Gunite and should be able to get the jump and lead wire to wire.


If we miss the first leg, since we are building a low-budget ticket, we could easily dive back into the Pick 5 in the next race.


Which Baffert?


In the $500,000 Allen Jerkens (G1) the opposite story is true for four and one-half of the six entries. Yes, half a horse, or at least half that horse’s last race. One in Vermillion, Verifying, Fort Bragg, and New York Thunder all received advantaged trips on the rail, on the lead, or in Fort Bragg’s case, running wide and dueling a foe on a bad rail late. Drew’s Gold has had a few excuses in his last three races.


Enough with the excuses, give me #6 Arabian Lion (2-1) in this one. He has been ultra-impressive, improving in each race, and seems to have more to show us. Single.


The other Baffert, Fort Bragg, could absolutely step forward in a big way Saturday, too. That’s right, hammer the Baffert exacta


Everyone’s Single


The Grade One Ballerina will be won by Echo Zulu. To the lead and never menaced. Cash it.


Time to Settle the Score


Finally, the jewel of the card is the $1.3 million Travers Stakes. The “real” Kentucky Derby. Why? Because at this point in the year, we can see the best effort from the 3-year-old crop, whereas the first Saturday in May usually belongs to whoever trips out or happens to be the first middle schooler to grow a mustache–yeah you remember that kid. Soon enough his peers catch up and his talent gets exposed.  So who will take it? The kid with the early mustache. Mage. Yeah, he really is good.


Forte was the favorite to win Kentucky Derby 149, but he was scratched the day prior with a foot issue, and it was Mage who reigned supreme. Ever since then Forte’s fan club has been acting like he is the best 3-year-old and was robbed… yadda yadda yadda… he’ll have a chance to prove it in the Travers, which attracted the winner of each of the Triple Crown races–Mage, National Treasure, and Arcangelo. Beat them here and no one needs to say nothing–we’ll all just know Forte’s the best.


But he won’t. #4 Mage (4-1) will vindicate his Derby win. 


He was not fully cranked up for the Haskell, where he finished second. The Travers has been the goal all along. As the Kentucky Derby was the goal. He’s doing better than ever, as expected, and will step forward for his biggest race of the year. In Gustavo Delgado I trust–after witnessing each morning Mage’s preparations ahead of the Derby, I can say he is a master horseman.


People knock Mage saying with his late kick running style he needs tiring horses to run at, but I think handicappers are fooling themselves if they think they can get a clear handle on how this race will shape up. Blinkers on two, blinkers off another and Scotland the wildcard front runner drawing perfectly–they won’t let him run away with it on a track that has been favoring front runners day in and day out. 


Mage is proven at the distance, had a perfect prep, and should prove to be a valuable fourth single for your Pick 6.


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