It's Saturday's live horse racing handicapping contest, Saturday at Saratoga, winner gets a hundo. All you need to do is enter. There are 11 races on Saratoga's Saturday card, including the $500,000 Coaching Club Stakes and the $200,000 Caress Stakes, in races five and 10 respectively.
Just four will compete for the Coaching Club crown and the official result should formful with MALATHAAT (PP: 1 ML 2/5) and CLAIRIERE (PP: 4 ML 9/5) running one-two, minus unexpected trouble in a short field, with MARACUJA (PP: 2 ML 6-1) looking considerably better than ROCKPAPERSCISSORS (PP: 3 ML 15-1) on paper.
It's a little deeper and maybe a slightly more competitive group running in the Grade III, Caress Stakes. Once again, a pair of heavyweight favorites are expected to dominate the betting according to oddsmaker David Aragona.
ROBIN SPARKLES (PP: 2 ML 6/5) is the morning line favorite, ever so slightly ahead of CARAVEL (PP: 1 ML 7/5). The duo has combined for 12 wins in 17 races, whereas the remaining quartet in the field has 17 wins in 57 outings. JAKARTA (PP: 6 ML 6-1) has nearly half of the 17 combined trips to the winners' circle with eight.
There could be a hot early pace in this 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint. ROBIN SPARKLES, TASS (PP: 3 ML 30-1) and JAKARTA have a history of 1s on their past performance lines. JAKARTA could be the quickest of all based on the six-year-old mare's quarter-mile fractions. The chalk, ROBIN SPARKLES has struggled to hit the tape first when she's not on the lead comfortably. She's failed to win the in the two races she didn't control at the first call and in her debut on the slop.
However, ROBIN SPARKLES does present one of our favorite, internal betting angles. She cut her fractions considerably in her last race compared her prior 6 furlong run on Belmont's inner turf course. The four-year-old dropped her quarter mile number by a second, the half-mile number by 1.6 seconds and the final time by 1.1 seconds. More often than not, that sort of improvement carries over to the next race.
Another angle we come to know this year emerged from Monmouth's no-whip rule. Maybe it's anecdotal, we aren't sure, but we've spotted many a Monmouth horse that ran better at tracks that allows jockeys to use a crop. CARAVAL had the top, last race speed figure and it was at Monmouth. She should run a better number under pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr.
TASS probably doesn't have a chance, but it is horse racing, so you never know, but the top of her range is at the bottom of the two favorites' abilities. The same goes for IN GOOD SPIRITS (PP: 4 ML 8-1) and FLOWER POINT (PP: 5 ML 8-1); although, both appear to have more upside than TASS.
IN GOOD SPIRITS and FLOWER POINT are evenly matched with IN GOOD SPIRITS having the edge if speed holds and FLOWER POINT having the advantage if the pacesetters go too fast. That leaves JAKARTA as the horse with the best chance of topping the pair of favorites. She would have to run her absolute best to grab the Caress hardware and hope neither ROBIN SPARKLES nor CARAVEL improves from their last outings.
Much like the Coaching Club, the Caress Stakes with likely stick to the morning line script with ROBIN SPARKLES and CARAVEL finishing one-two in either order. JAKARTA could collect show dough provided she can hold off the late charging FLOWER POINT.