For me, deciding how to bet the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday was easy. Yeah, I watched some replays and did the usual handicapping thing. But in the end, it came down to what you might call a series of historical angles. I’ll elaborate as we go on.
I think the most likely winner is Seeking the Soul. The prep at Indiana Grand was fine, even if it wasn’t a winning effort. He showed last fall that he’s a serious, Grade 1 caliber horse. It seems like the Stewart/Fipke combo is on to something with how they set goals and attack them. Seeking the Soul’s campaign this year reminds me of Forever Unbridled’s last year, and she took down Songbird off a similar schedule here last summer. And while Brian Hernandez is no slouch, Javy has the mount in the Woodward. All signs, from my perspective, point to this guy firing his best shot, and I believe that makes him the one to beat.
Before you dismiss Yoshida (if you were planning to in the first place) note that this exact team of humans successfully pulled of the turf-to-dirt transition in graded stakes company last summer with Good Samaritan, who won the Jim Dandy after racing exclusively on grass prior to that win. Yoshida is a recent Grade 1 winner on the lawn, and just couldn’t kick it into gear last time when losing to Voodoo Song and others. His race at Ascot was really good. On class, Yoshida is a stand out. And if they can do with him what they did with Good Samaritan, look out. He’s a major player.
An interesting long shot in here is Rally Cry. Todd Pletcher. Mike Smith. 2nd in this race last year. 110 Beyer Speed Figure over this surface at this distance in the start before that. And the lone 7F prep? It reminds me of what Pletcher did with Danza when he won the Arkansas Derby. We have seen Pletcher do this before. Is Rally Cry good enough to do it in here, against this group, from post 14? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Will we get 20-1 with these connections? I doubt it. But this is one I will be using.
So, those historical angels I mentioned:
-Stewart/Fipke attacking their goal with Seeking the Soul in a way that worked with Forever Unbridled
-Mott/WinStar-China Horse Club/Rosario trying with Yoshida what worked with Good Samaritan
-Pletcher and Smith at a price with a horse who is making a move that Pletcher has won a big race with before
Win Bet: Seeking the Soul
Exacta Box: Seeking the Soul, Yoshida, Rally Cry