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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Betting Guide for the Saratoga Season 2011

Christmas in Saratoga Springs ~

On Friday August 22nd, Opening Day of the 2011 Saratoga race meet will finally be here. The 40 quickest days of the year will be upon us.

The Saratoga racing meet is the toughest and most prestigious racing meet run in the United States. Horses, trainers, and jockeys come from everywhere all trying for the same thing - an elusive Win at Saratoga.

Owners and trainers do things during the Saratoga meet they would never do anywhere else to get their picture taken in the winners circle. Veteran trainers to the hollowed Saratoga grounds always have an ace or two up their sleeves in order to cash that ticket and get that win. They will train horses for months and months specifically to return to the races in Saratoga. I remember 20 years ago Sid Watters  trained a horse in the dark in order to keep her a secret so he could cash a ticket at Saratoga. She got beat a nose on a very bad ride by Mike Smith. Mr Watters never saddled another horse in NY because of that race. But that's another story for another time.

What makes the racing at Saratoga especially hard is the mixture of horse and jockey populations with the 'normal' NYRA horses. There is no other place to be, so everyone comes to Saratoga. All the top Kentucky jockeys and trainers take up residence in Saratoga for the meet. Horses ship in from all parts of the globe, from all kinds of tracks. I have cashed huge tickets with horses shipping from Finger Lakes and other perceived  'lesser tracks', as the masses of bettors focus on 'name trainers and jockeys' for their wagers. I've cashed many tickets on horses making their first start in the U.S. at Saratoga as well. Christophe Clement is especially adept at this. You also need to be on the lookout for horses dropping in class regardless of the track at which they last raced. Many horses get 'dropped in class' at Saratoga because its the best chance of winning 'that race' for that owner or trainer.

Saratoga is a 9 furlong dirt oval so there are no 1 1/16 mile races on dirt here. One mile and one eighth is the normal two turn route, with 10 and 16 furlong races also in the condition book this year as well. Sprint races can start from the 7 furlong chute moving down to 5 1/2 furlongs in distance.

Turf racing at Saratoga provides some of the most exciting and excruciating finishes of the year. Saving ground is essential for jockeys on the Saratoga turf courses. While most horses will be coming off the speed favoring Belmont turf course, Saratoga's turf courses play just opposite. You might not see a wire to wire grass winner until the third week! A few years ago they began running turf sprints at Saratoga. I excelled at them from the start. They provide quite a handicapping challenge for most as they draw full fields of fast horses.

To be honest, it's a tough 40 days to handicap and gamble everyday and prove profitable in the end. But it can be done, no question about it, if you cash a few big tickets.  The Pk'3 and Pk'4 are were the money is made for me. I find they provide the best overlay prices and big ticket payers. That's where I come in. I have been cutting my teeth handicapping races at Saratoga for 25 years. I will offer free picks daily here on my blog, on my Twitter account @pick4win , and on Facebook as too.

May you have a prosperous and enjoyable Saratoga Season.

Zenyatta John
Blogger on Hoof Prints and Horse Play
Handicapper for

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