Best Horse Racing Picks This Weekend: Saratoga, Del Mar, Mountaineer Park
Headlined by a trio of Grade 1 races on Saturday, Saratoga dominates this weekend’s racing landscape. Foremost among the loaded afternoon at the Upstate New York oval will be the million-dollar Whitney Stakes, which boasts five of the best older dirt horses in the nation.
Knicks Go and Maxfield should vie for favoritism in the star-studded Whitney field, while Bolshoi Boy, in the Saratoga Derby, and Search Results, in the Test, look like the likely respective favorites in solid editions of each.
This week’s six selections also include the West Virginia Derby from Mountaineer Park, as well as the Best Pal from Del Mar, and the Glens Falls back at Saratoga
Whitney Stakes (G1), Saratoga, 1 1/8 miles (dirt), 3-year-olds and up
Two of the top horses in America, Knicks Go, and Maxfield, headline an elite field of five-set for Saturday’s $1,000,000, Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga. Knicks Go is pegged as the morning line favorite off a commanding score in the Grade 3 Cornhusker by better than 10 lengths. Already a winner of two million-dollar races, having turned the trick back-to-back by winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November and the Pegasus World Cup in January, he will be the one to catch in the Whitney.
Meanwhile, Maxfield is a winner of a 7-of-8 lifetime and when last seen, the son of Street Sense romped home much the best in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster. After suffering his first career loss three starts back in the Big Cap out in California, the Godolphin homebred has been ultra-impressive in regaining his winning ways with easy victories in consecutive graded stakes at Churchill Downs.
The Pick: Maxfield (8/5) – I believe the best is yet to come for this handsome son of Curlin
Bet on Maxfield!
Saratoga Derby (G1), Saratoga, 1 3/16 miles (turf), 3-year-olds
Fresh off an impressive win in his 3US debut, Bolshoi Boy figures to be a strong choice to make it two in a row as he faces ten other 3-year-olds in the million-dollar, Grade 1 Saratoga Derby on Saturday. Contested at 9 ½ furlongs on the grass, Bolshoi Boy will look to kick in his strong late rally again for trainer Aidan O’Brien as he cuts back in distance a sixteenth of a mile from his win in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby.
This time around, there will be a strong group of European challengers for the favorite to deal with, including Cadillac. The Irish-bred comes to Saratoga off a determined victory over older horses in the Group 3 ARM Holding International in his seasonal debut last time at the Curragh. Last year, he also ventured to the States and ran a solid fourth of 14 in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Our Pick: Soldier Rising (12/1) – Consistent while lightly raced in France, this new colt to the Christophe Clement barn should be ready to run a big race at attractive odds.
Bet on Soldier Rising!
Test Stakes (G1), Saratoga, 7 furlongs (dirt), 3-year-old fillies
Search Results, who became a Grade 1 winner last time with a victory in the one-mile Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park leads a contentious group of eight sophomore fillies set to tackle the Grade 1 Test on Saturday at Saratoga. Very much in the running for an Eclipse Award as the nation’s top 3-year-old filly, the daughter of Flatter has only seen one horse finish ahead of her, which came two starts back in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.
Chief among her opposition will be a familiar foe in the late running Obligatory. An upset winner against a strong field in the Grade 2 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks day, the Bill Mott-trained filly rallied strongly last time to make Search Results work for the victory in the Acorn.
Our Pick: Bella Sophia (6/1) – The lightly raced and talented filly could be up to the challenge in her second stakes attempt.
Bet on Bella Sophia!
Glens Falls (G2), Saratoga, 1 1/2 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up fillies and mares
Freshened since a powerful win in the 12 furlongs, Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland in April, the lightly raced War Like Goddess makes her return to the races on Saturday when she leads a field of seven older females going a mile and a half over the turf in Saturday’s $250,000 Glens Falls at Saratoga. A winner of a 4-of-5 lifetime, the daughter of English Channel will be looking for her third straight graded stakes score.
Among her challengers is the runner-up in this race last year, My Sister Nat. The French import has not found the winner’s circle yet this year, but her consistent late run is often a factor in graded stakes races since coming to America. Besides her second in the 2020 Glens Falls, she also won the Grade 3 Waya at Saratoga last summer.
Our Pick: War Like Goddess (8/5) – Hard to fault this one’s stellar turf record for Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott.
Bet on War Like Goddess!
Best Pal (G2), Del Mar, 6 furlongs (dirt), 2-year-olds
Pappacap impressed when breaking his maiden in his career debut at Gulfstream Park and now looks to become a graded stakes winner in his second career start, as he tops a field of seven juveniles in the Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar on Saturday. A son of the hot freshman sire Gun Runner, he has been working well locally for trainer Mark Casse, but faces a tough assignment in his first try out West.
Bet On Mookie, who broke his maiden easily on the turf last time at Santa Anita, should also get plenty of support at the windows. Trained by Peter Miller, the son of Uncaptured had previously finished a good second in his debut, which came on the Santa Anita dirt.
Our Pick: Aquitania Arrival (4/1) – Son of Carpe Diem looked good powering by rivals in Churchill Downs debut; let’s see what he can do out in California.
Bet on Aquitania Arrival!
West Virginia Derby (G3), Mountaineer Park, 1 1/8 miles (dirt), 3-year-olds
Fresh off a strong victory in the Grade 3 Indiana Derby last time, Mr. Wireless looms the one they will all have to beat in Saturday’s $500,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park. A winner of three of his last four for trainer Bret Calhoun, the lightly raced son of Dialed In looked the part of an up and coming sophomore in his 3 ¾-length score at Indiana Grand.
Chief among his challengers include the upset winner of this spring’s Grade 2 Wood Memorial, Bourbonic, who was fifth last time in the Belmont Stakes, and Warrant, who won a wet edition of the Texas Derby over a solid field in his last start for trainer Brad Cox.
Our Pick: Mr. Wireless (9/5) – Needs only to run back to his last to add another Derby win to his resume.
Bet on Mr. Wireless!
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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.
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