The Grade I, $600,000 Woodward Stakes is the feature race on the final Saturday at Saratoga. Nine handicap horses will go 1 1/8 miles on the main track as the program’s 10th race; post time is estimated at 5:46 p.m EST. FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game has offered a unique way to enjoy the action at Saratoga all meet long, and will do so again this weekend. Be sure to try it out if you haven’t already!
All eyes will be on #3 FROSTED (1-2, morning-line favorite), who is attempting to win his third straight Grade I. He romped in the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes day before taking the Whitney here at Saratoga last month. The versatile son of Tapit has won from off the pace and on the lead, so the complexion of the field is of little consequence to him and regular rider Joel Rosario. What I am concerned about, however, is that he’ll be making a fairly quick turnaround with about a month between starts. That is a fairly average rest period for a thoroughbred, but FROSTED has run these two sharp efforts when afforded about six weeks between starts. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin commented that the extra rest is what’s made FROSTED so great this year, so it’s surprising that he chose to enter FROSTED here instead of wait for the Jockey Club Gold Cup or the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
So now that we’ve established FROSTED may be vulnerable at a short price, the time comes to pick the horse to beat him. That could very well be the other McLaughlin entrant in here; #9 MUBTAAHIJ (5-1). I have never once supported MUBTAAHIJ in his three stateside tries, but I believe he is ready to run the race of his life. His first start back from Dubai came in the Grade II Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on July 9, and though he only managed to be third, it was a better effort than it looked. MUBTAAHIJ appeared to have a big run ready at the top of the stretch in the Suburban but Irad Ortiz Jr. (who maintains the mount on Saturday) angled him toward a dead rail and his rally petered out. Had he maintained his course, MUBTAAHIJ may have won that day. He could go off at a nice price and potentially upset the Woodward.
The other horse that caught my eye was #1 SHAMAN GHOST (12-1). He’ll race with Lasix for the first time after coming up empty in the Suburban. His Brooklyn Handicap effort is good enough to merit inclusion, and Javier Castellano will climb aboard him for the first time.
The play: $5 exacta box 3/9, $2 exacta 3,9/1, $1 trifecta 3,9/3,9/1, $4 win 9 ($20)
DFJ analysis: Javier Castellano ($11,000) makes sense as the high-profile jockey looks to end the meet with a bang. In addition to live longshot SHAMAN GHOST in the Woodward, Castellano has Ray’s the Bar (9-2) in the Grade III Saranac, favored Sweet Loretta in the Grade I Spinaway, and favored Guapaza in the Grade III Glens Falls.
Joe Bravo ($7,500) is an interesting lower-priced alternative. Seven of his eight mounts are 8-1 or below, including BRADSTER in the Woodward (who won’t be on my tickets but is a player at 6-1) and Itsonlyactingdad in the aforementioned Glens Falls Stakes.
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