The inaugural $750,000 Saratoga Derby highlights the Sunday action at Saratoga racecourse. The 1 3/16th-mile turf stake, part of the newly-commissioned “Turf Trinity” series at NYRA, drew an evenly-matched field of 11, led by Belmont Derby winner HENLEY’S JOY. Post time for the Saratoga Derby, Race 9 on a stakes-laden 11-race program, is 5:48 p.m. ET.
#8 DIGITAL AGE (9-2) was a perfect 3-for-3 to begin his career, taking the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs in the process, before coming up short in a fourth-place effort in the Grade I Belmont Derby last time out. It’s possible that he found the 1 1/4-mile distance too demanding. DIGITAL AGE will shed a 1/16th in the Saratoga Derby, which should aid his cause. He’s working well for this start for trainer Chad Brown, who names Irad Ortiz Jr. to ride once more.
#2 SOCIAL PARANOIA (6-1) covered more ground than any of the top four finishers in the Belmont Derby. He settled for second beaten less than a length by the ground-saving HENLEY’S JOY in that start. SOCIAL PARANOIA may have been sent just a bit too early by Manny Franco, who will have a chance to atone on the Todd Pletcher trainee in the Saratoga Derby. He’s never missed the board in nine career starts but has just one win to his name.
#4 ROCKEMPORER (7-2, morning-line favorite) got a great ride from John Velazquez in the Belmont Derby, his first start in the U.S., as he raced three-wide on the clubhouse turn from post 14 before tucking in on the far turn. ROCKEMPORER knifed his way to the four-path at the top of the stretch and steadied only slightly in the lane before picking up third with a bold late rally. The cutback in distance could actually hurt his cause in the Saratoga Derby based on his running style. Nevertheless, ROCKEMPORER is hard to leave out as the race favorite.
#6 KADAR (30-1) should be on the radar of longshot players in the Saratoga Derby. He’s raced just three times to date and only once in the states, where he was a fast-closing third over this course less than three weeks ago. KADAR adds a furlong and gets a rider upgrade to Jose Ortiz.
The play: $1 exacta box 2/4/6/8, $1 exacta 8/2,4,6, $3 win 2, $2 win 6 ($20)
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