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Best Horse Racing Bets Today | Saratoga, June 8

Written by: Brian Zipse
Published June 7, 2024
8 min read

Led by the final leg of the Triple Crown, Saratoga plays special host to a slew of Grade 1 races on Belmont Stakes Day. Just a nose short of winning the Kentucky Derby, Sierra Leone is the morning line favorite, but has plenty of competition in the $2 million Belmont Stakes. Chief among his competition on Saturday will be the Kentucky Derby winner, Mystic Dan, the Preakness winner Seize the Grey, as well as the highly regarded and unbeaten Mindframe.

In support of the big one, there will be eight other graded stakes races at the Spa. A showdown between White Abarrio and National Treasure in the $1,000,000 Met Mile is a highlight during the afternoon of racing. Wide open affairs in the Grade 1 Manhattan for older turf males and the Grade 1 Woody Stephens for 3-year-old sprinters should offer great betting opportunities, as well. Without further ado, let’s get to my analysis and best bets for this sensational card of racing.

Saratoga Horse Racing Bets June 8



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Race #8 Woody Stephens Stakes (Grade 1) $500,000 7-Furlongs Dirt - 3:22pm EST

A Grade 1 winner last year for trainer Bob Baffert as a juvenile, Prince of Monaco hopes for a triumphant return when he tops a deep and talented field of eleven sophomore sprinters entered in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga. 

This 7-furlong test will be the first race in seven months for the son of Speightstown. He won his first three career starts last summer, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, before finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. If he is to win here, he will have to beat an outstanding field, which includes seven other stakes winners.

Book’em Danno will also be making a return of sorts. When last seen the New Jersey-bred son of Bucherro was getting nailed at the wire in the $1.5 million Saudi Derby by the classy Forever Young in late February. Before that, he was an open lengths winner of the 7-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Several others in the field bring strong credentials, including Nash and Vlahos, who were the second and third place finishers in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile. Seize the Grey won that race and then won the Preakness in his next start. It’s a difficult race, but I cannot look past Book’em Danno, who is perfect in four starts at 7-furlongs or shorter. He is my top pick.

My Play

  • $20 Win & Place - Book’em Danno = $40

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Race #10 Met Mile (Grade 1) $1,000,000 1-Mile Dirt - 4:52pm EST

Both coming in off a failed attempt in the rich Saudi Cup last time out, but winners of big races in the start before that, White Abarrio and National Treasure will look to return to their winning ways when they clash in Saturday’s $1 million Met Mile at Saratoga.

Trained by Rick Dutrow, Jr., White Abarrio is a slight favorite on the morning line despite a poor effort in his only start this year. The son of Race Day finished off 2023 in high style with a win in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. Before that the grey was a romping winner of the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga in August.

National Treasure ran better in Saudi Arabia, but faded late in the $20 million race. The Bob Baffert-trained runner just missed in last fall’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, in a 3-year-old campaign which also included a Preakness Stakes victory. The son of Quality Road began this year with a hard fought win in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup.

Others of interest in the compact field of six include Post Time and Blazing Sevens. The former is a multiple stakes winner trained by Brittany Russell and is a winner of 8-of-10 lifetime. While the latter is a Chad Brown-trained runner who returned from a layoff with a nice win recently. The son of Good Magic also has run some big races throughout his nine-race career. With all eyes on the big two, I am going to take a small shot against them. Blazing Sevens is my top pick.

My Play

  • $20 Win & Place - Blazing Sevens = $40

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Race #11 Manhattan Stakes (Grade 1) $1,000,000 1 3/16-Miles Turf - 5:36pm EST

Charlie Appleby and Chad Brown, two of the best turf trainers in the world, both have a strong pair as part of a nine-horse field of older grass males in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga.

Brown’s Program Trading could go off as the favorite in the 1 3/16-mile affair off a trio of Grade 1 victories in the last ten months. Most recently, the son of Lope de Vega was a determined winner of the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in his first start of the year. His classy stablemate, I’m Very Busy was favored that afternoon but did not run his best after acting up before the race.

Appleby, meanwhile, brings the pair of Measured Time and Nation’s Pride. The former ran three consecutive strong races in Dubai from December through March, while the latter is a graded stakes winner all over the globe, including at Saratoga two summers ago. This will be Nation’s Pride’s shortest race since winning the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby in August of 2022. 

It’s hard to dismiss a few others in the field, with the European-based Al Riffa perhaps being the most dangerous of the bunch. A Group 1 winner in Ireland earlier in his career, he returned recently to be beaten by only a half-length in the Group 1 Prix Ganay in France. Still, Program Trading’s form is too good to ignore and he will be my top pick in the Manhattan.

My Plays 

  • $10 Trifecta Part Wheel - Program Trading over Al Riffa over I’m Very Busy, Nation’s Pride, and Measured Time = $30

  • $5 Trifecta Part Wheel - Program Trading over I’m Very Busy, Nation’s Pride, and Measured Time over Al Riffa = $15

  • $5 Trifecta Part Wheel - Al Riffa over Program Trading over I’m Very Busy, Nation’s Pride, and Measured Time = $15

  • $5 Trifecta Part Wheel - Al Riffa over I’m Very Busy, Nation’s Pride, and Measured Time over Program Trading = $15

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Race #12 Belmont Stakes (Grade 1) $2,000,000 1 1/4-Miles Dirt - 6:41pm EST

With a field fitting of the final leg of the Triple Crown, Sierra Leone faces nine other sophomore colts as the morning line favorite in the $2 million Belmont Stakes. The historic race, which will be held at Saratoga and at 1 1/4-miles this year while Belmont is renovated, also features Mystic Dan and Seize the Grey, the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, respectively.

Sierra Leone should get a solid pace to set up his strong late rally as he looks to make amends after losing the Kentucky Derby by a desperate nose while lugging in the entire Churchill Downs stretch. Having skipped the Preakness, the Belmont appears to be a race he is well suited for. He looms as the horse to beat on Saturday.

Despite the presence of Mystik Dan and Seize the Grey, it is actually Mindframe who is the second choice on the morning line. A very impressive winner of his first two career starts, this will be the Todd Platcher-trained runner’s stakes debut. Both Mystik Dan and Seize the Grey, meanwhile, come in with strong Triple Crown form and cannot be disregarded here.

Of the rest, I really like what I see from Antiquarian. Also from the Pletcher barn, the up and coming son of Preservationist appears to be getting good at the perfect time for this big test. His win last time in the Grade 3 Peter Pan makes me believe that he still has more under the tank. Sierra Leone will be tough, but I am going to go with an upset here. Antiquarian is the top pick.

My Plays

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel - Antiquarian and Sierra Leone over Antiquarian, Sierra Leone, Mystik Dan, and Seize the Grey = $60

  • $2 Trifecta Part Wheel - Antiquarian and Sierra Leone over Antiquarian, Sierra Leone, Mystik Dan, and Seize the Grey over Antiquarian, Sierra Leone, Mystik Dan, Seize the Grey, and Resilience = $36

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Image for Brian Zipse

Brian Zipse

Horse Racing Betting Analyst

Horse Racing
Betting Picks
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Communications
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Favourite Casino: BetMGM Casino
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