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Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga!
$5 Exacta Box – Lone Rock, Fearless and Original Intent = $30
$5 Trifecta Key – Lone Rock over Fearless and Original Intent = $10
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Lone Rock (7/5).
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Coming off a strong win in the Grade 2 Brooklyn in his last start, Fearless will be in search of his third stakes victory of the year when he tops a field of five set for the $200,000 Birdstone Stakes on Friday at Saratoga.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 6-year-old son of Ghostzapper has finished first or second in six consecutive graded stakes dating back to December of last year.
The millionaire finished second in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Park Handicap in his start before stretching out to 12 furlongs for the first time in the Brooklyn. On Friday, he will try to go two furlongs farther in the 1 ¾-mile Birdstone.
Chief among his challengers will be the beaten favorite in the Brooklyn, Lone Rock. The defending champion of the race is a long distance specialist, who rolled home by four lengths a year ago.
Also a millionaire, the 7-year-old son of Majestic Warrior, trained by Robertini Diodoro had a winning streak snapped when finishing third in the Brooklyn.
The remainder of the field for the Birdstone is completed by Original Intent, Portos, and Shooger Ray Too.
A very solid stakes horse for trainer Todd Pletcher the last few years, this son of Ghostzapper proved he can go a distance with a good-looking score in the 12 furlong Brooklyn last month at Belmont Park. He beat a nice field, including Lone Rock, and did it convincingly.
This will be a new test, though, as he will be asked to prove it again, this time at the unusual distance of 14 furlongs. He’s also never run at Saratoga before. Breaking from the rail, it looks like him and Lone Rock will have each other in their sights right from the starting bell.
Perhaps his class and talent will carry him to another victory, but I’m willing to take a shot against him as he faces some unknowns, this time as the favorite.
The defending champion has a lot to like as he returns to Saratoga for the first time since winning this race easily a year ago. He’s continued his strong performances running a distance, with a number of solid races at 12 furlongs or more since last year’s edition.
While Fearless beat him last time, he gets another shot at him, and this time it’s two furlongs longer. The experience at the distance and the track should help here. As should picking up Saratoga’s leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr.
The Brooklyn winner is certainly a danger, but I like this one’s chances to repeat in this specialty stakes race. He is the top pick.
The second from the Pletcher barn, he was a non-threatening fourth in the Brooklyn. After the top two, this is the one with the most experience running against good horses. Having said that, he has had plenty of opportunities against good horses and has yet to break through.
The likely third choice has had his chances against the top two without success. Perhaps the extra distance will benefit him, but with Irad choosing Lone Rock, there is just not enough in his past performances to believe that he will turn the tables on Friday.
Twice a winner at the marathon distance of 14 furlongs already, you can bet this son of Creative Cause will not be done in by the distance. Both of those victories came against cheaper opponents at Oaklawn Park, so this will be a class test as he faces his toughest competition yet.
For that reason, he deserves to be no better than fourth choice, but on the other hand, his love of the unusual distance is a big plus. His prep last month at Parx was solid. With the two favorites engaging early, this is the one I like best to come running. He is my top longshot.
Second in this race last year at long odds, this son of Wicked Strong is back to see if he can run another strong race going 14 furlongs at Saratoga. Having run well at the trip before, he is worth a look in here, although he was no threat to Lone Rock winning in 2021.
Likely to be closest to the two favorites early, he’ll need to improve upon a dull effort last time when going much shorter at Parx. Before that, though, he did have a couple of solid races earlier in the year. He’s a possibility in the exotics, but I like others better.
|Time||Thursday, July 28 — 3:21pm Eastern time|
|How to Watch||Fox Sports|
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.
Email: [email protected]
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