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Monday, July 31
Saturday picks




The Travers
9th Saratoga
Distance: 1 1/4 miles
Purse: $1 million
For: 3-year-olds
Grade I
ESPN 4 p.m. ET

In a race some are saying is wide open Dixie Union looks like a standout to us. After showing a ton of promise as a 2-year-old, he came around a bit slowly this year but really put it together in the Grade I Haskell. After getting banged around and steadied on the first turn, he collected himself to run by a good horse in Captain Steve. Seems to have hit his peak, rewarding trainer Dick Mandella for his patience. Milwaukee Brew also comes out of the Haskell, where he closed for third. Trainer Tino Attard reports that his colt is doing very well in Saratoga and he expects him to improve at a mile and a quarter. Though Michael McCarthy is an excellent jockey in his own right, the switch to Jerry Bailey certainly can't hurt. Sooner or later, Unshaded is going to win one of these. He's never quite lived up to the promise he showed when he won the Lexington so impressively, but did come back with some decent tries. It appeared that trainer Carl Nafzger used the Jim Dandy solely as a prep. Curule picks up 12 pounds off his second place finish in the Jim Dandy, but is an improving colt who could have some say in the outcome. Albert the Great will try to wire the field, but his last race was so bad it's hard to like him here.

Picks Summary: 1. Dixie Union 2. Milwaukee Brew 3. Unshaded


The King's Bishop
8th Saratoga
Distance: 7 furlongs
Purse: $200,000
For: 3-year-olds
Grade I

It should be all Todd Pletcher here as he sends out what appears to be the two best horses in Left Bank and More Than Ready. Left Bank hasn't raced at this level, but has looked sensational in his last three races. Obviously the addition of Lasix moved him way up. Also gets a nice break in the weights as he carries just 116. More Than Ready finally returns to a sprint after five straight unsuccessful tries in routes. Undefeated in races at seven furlongs or less, he's likely to run his best here. Bevo is a tough read. A Grade I winner, he looked sensational in his 2000 debut, but was flat when a distant second in the Riva Ridge. If he runs back to his best, he can win this. Note that the Bill Badgett barn is very cold.

Picks Summary: 1. Left Bank  2. More Than Ready  3. Bevo


The Fourstardave Handicap
7th Saratoga
Distance: 1 1/6th miles on the turf
Purse: $200,000
For: 3-year-olds & upward
Grade II

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow when it comes to Paulson-Mott-Bailey on the grass. Hap will be over bet here, but figures to beat this field. Brought along patiently by Mott, he beat many of these same horses in the Bernard Baruch and draws the favorable rail here. Is an obvious pick. Officialpermission has a chance to hit the board here at a solid price. A former claimer, he's prospered under the care of Rick Violette and has run some recent figures that suggest he can compete here. Inexplicable was second behind Hap in the Bernard Baruch. No reason why he can't repeat that effort here.

Picks Summary: 1. Hap  2. Officialpermission  3. Inexplicable


The Pacific Classic
8th Del Mar
Distance: 1 1/4 miles
Purse: $1 million
For: 3-year-olds & upward
Grade I

Skimming is in terrific form for trainer Bobby Frankel, who has won the Pacific Classic four times. He rolled to an eight-length win in the San Diego Handicap in his last, suggesting his sharpness. Add to that the fact he looks like lone speed in here and it appears that he can give Frankel win No. 5. General Challenge, the 1999 Pacific Classic winner, is obviously the horse to beat. He hasn't won since the March 4 Santa Anita Handicap, but his races weren't at all bad in the San Bernadino and the Hollywood Gold Cup. Since then, he's worked sensationally for trainer Bob Baffert. Tiznow is a developing 3-year-old who could be tough here. A full-brother to Budroyale, he was beaten in the Swaps but ran into a pretty tough customer in Captain Steve. Will have to improve here, but it looks like he's getting a little better all the time. Ecton Park looks like the other major contender. He hasn't quite lived up to expectations this year, but his form has remained fairly consistent and he hasn't run a bad race in a while.

Picks Summary: 1. Skimming  2. General Challenge  3 Tiznow


The Rancho Bernardo Handicap
3rd Del Mar
Distance: 6 1/2 furlongs
Purse: $150,000
For: Fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & upward
Grade III

Theresa's Tizzy can be excused for her last when she was dueled through an opening half-mile in :43.80. She cuts back a bit in distance for this and there doesn't appear to be anyone in the field who can run with her early. Trying Ty takes a huge jump up in class going from a "non-winners of one other than" allowance, but she's never lost on the dirt and has posted some huge figures. Olympic Charmer ran the best race she's run in a long time in the Fantastic Girl. Once a top prospect, maybe she's turned things around.

Picks Summary: 1. Theresaís Tizzy  2. Trying Ty  3. Olympic Charmer


The Gardenia Handicap
10th Ellis Park
Distance: 1 1/8th miles
Purse: $200,000
For: Fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & upward
Grade III

Really Polish returns to a dirt race for the first time since running fourth behind Heritage of Gold in the April 9 Apple Blossom. She should get a terrific trip from the rail sitting right behind burners Perlinda and Bella Chiarra. Tap To Music is the class of the field. Closing in on $1 million in earnings, she's a bit erratic but can handle these on her best. Ruby Surprise just missed in a prep for this. Distance is a question

Picks Summary: Really Polish  2. Tap to Music  3 Ruby Surprise



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