Best Horse Racing Bets for Saturday, August 7, 2021

| August 7, 2021 2:31 am PDT

We’ve got stakes races all around for my Saturday picks. I’m talking big-dollar graded stakes races from Saratoga Racecourse, Evangeline Downs, and Del Mar Racing. Saratoga alone is offering nearly $3 million in purse money across the five stakes races it has lined up for Saturday.

I know you’re champing at the bit to get started, so let’s get straight to my picks.

Good luck!

My Saturday Picks for Del Mar Racing

We’re on the turf course for race eight; a 1-1/16 miles allowance optional claiming race for fillies and mares three years old and upward. I’m sticking with the 9/5 morning-line favorite, Luck, ridden by top jockey Umberto Rispoli.

This Kentucky-born four-year-old filly started her career in France, where she moneyed three of her four starts, winning two.

Her one miss was her last run in France, a sixth-place finish in the Prix Bedel (Listed) at Lyon-Parilly Racecourse. In this nine-horse field, however, she has the statistical lead.

Richard Baltas trains Luck for owner-breeder LNJ Foxwoods.

We switch to the main track for race nine—the Best Pal Stakes (Grade II)—a $200,000 purse, six-furlong run for two-year-olds. I’m betting on the 7/2 fourth-favored Thirsty Always, ridden by Cesar Ortega.

This filly won both of her career starts—her maiden in May and the Everett Nevin Stakes (Black Type) at Pleasanton last month. Something of a wunderkind himself, jockey Cesar Ortega was aboard for that stakes win.

Walther Solis trains Thirsty Always for owners Tom Beckerle, Saul Carrillo, and Terry C. Lovingier—who is also the breeder.

For race ten, we’re back on the turf course for the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (Grade II), a $200,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles grass run for fillies and mares three years old and upward. I’m calling this one for the 7/2 favorite, Maxim Rate, with Juan J. Hernandez in the irons.

Heavily campaigned in stakes races, this five-year-old mare moneyed nine of her 16 career starts, winning six, including her most recent, the Gamely Stakes (Grade I) at Santa Anita in May. Maxim Rate’s other two stakes wins were the CTT and TOC Stakes (Black Type) at Del Mar last August and the Goldikova Stakes (Grade II) at Santa Anita last October.

Simon Callaghan, who took Firing Line to a second-place finish at the 2015 Kentucky Derby, trains Maxim Rate for Slam Dunk Racing, Stable Currency LLC, and James D. Branham.

Saturday’s Picks for Evangeline Downs

We’re on the main track for race five, a 6-1/2 furlong claiming race for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares three years old and upward. My money’s on the 5/1 morning-line fave, Custom Gulch, with Pedro L. Cotto, Jr. aboard.

This four-year-old filly got her career off to a slow start, needing nine maiden runs to graduate. But once she figured out what all the people were yelling about, she started her job seriously.

For the record: Six money finishes in 12 starts, with one win. But look at her 2021 record all by itself: Five money finishes in seven starts, with one win. That’s better—and in this lackluster nine-horse field, it’s golden.

Carl J. Woodley trains Custom Gulch for Dwayne Gallineau.

Moving to the turf course for race seven, we have a five-furlong allowance optional claiming race for Louisiana-bred three-year-olds and upward. I’m betting my two dollars on the 4/1 third-favored Smooth Colliery, ridden by Pedro L. Cotto, Jr.

This six-year-old gelding may have gotten off to a rough start, but his performance this year has been redemptive: His 2021 record is seven money finishes in eight starts, two of them wins. His poor pre-2021 record notwithstanding, he’s the statistical leader in this nine-horse field.

Smooth Colliery is trained by owner Dale White, Sr.

Race eight is the Evangeline Mile Stakes, a $50,000 purse one-miler on the main track for three-year-olds and upward. My money’s on the 6/1 fourth-favored Maga Man, with Kevin J. Smith in the irons.

Like most of the rest of this nine-horse field, Maga Man has been campaigned aggressively in stakes races, but he’s fared better at the finish line than they have.

For the record: The six-year-old gelding moneyed 12 of his 27 career starts, winning six, including the Louisiana Legends Turf Stakes (Black Type) at Evangeline in June.

He’s finished third this year in two Fair Grounds stakes races–the Dixie Poker Ace Stakes (Black Type) in February and the Star Guitar Stakes (Black Type) in March. He’ll do.

Steven B. Flint trains Maga Man for Whispering Oaks Farm LLC.

Saturday Picks for Saratoga Racecourse

We’re starting with race six, the Fasig-Tipton Lure Stakes, a $120,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles turf race for four-year-olds and upward. If John R. Velasquez is aboard the also-eligible/MTO favorite (at 1/1) Tacitus, then bet them to win.

This five-year-old finished in the money for eleven of his 16 career starts, winning four, including the 2020 Suburban Stakes (Grade II) at Belmont Park, the 2019 Tampa Bay Derby (Grade II) at Tampa Bay, and the 2019 Wood Memorial Stakes (Grade II) at Aqueduct.

Hall of Famer William I. Mott trains Tacitus for Juddmonte.

On the other hand, if Tacitus doesn’t make it to the starting gate, then bet the 2/1 turf fave, Value Proposition, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr.

This five-year-old ridgling moneyed seven of his nine career starts, winning four. He finished second in the Forbidden Apple Stakes (Grade III) here at Saratoga three weeks ago and pulled a third in the Elusive Quality Stakes (Listed) in April at Belmont.

Four-time Eclipse Award winner Chad C. Brown trains Value Proposition for Klaravich Stables, Inc.

We’re still on the turf for race seven, the  Glens Falls Stakes (Grade II)—a $250,000 purse, 1-1/2 miles grass run for fillies and mares four years old and upward. I’m betting my two dollars on the 8/5 morning-line favorite, War Like Goddess, with Julien R. Leparoux in the irons.

This four-year-old filly moneyed four of her five career starts, winning four, including his two most recent: The Orchid Stakes (Grade III) at Gulfstream Park in March and the Bewitch Stakes (Grade III) at Keeneland in April.

William I. Mott trains War Like Goddess for George Krikorian.

Race eight puts us back on the main track for the Longines Test Stakes (Grade I), a $500,000 purse, seven-furlong run for three-year-old fillies. I’m calling this one for the 5/2 morning-line favorite, Search Results, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr.

This filly moneyed all five of her career starts, winning four, including the Busher Invitational Stakes (Listed) at Aqueduct in March, the Gazelle Stakes (Grade III) at Aqueduct in April, and the Acorn Stakes (Grade I) at Belmont in June.

Chad C. Brown trains Search Results for Klaravich Stables, Inc.

Switching back to the turf course for race nine, we have the Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes (Grade I), a $1,000,000 purse, 1-3/16 miles grass run for three-year-olds. My money’s on the 2/1 morning-line favorite, Bolshoi Ballet, with Ryan L. Moore aboard.

This colt—an Irish import—moneyed five of his seven career starts, winning four, including his most recent, the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (Grade I) in July. And yes, Moore—who has dozens of Grade I stakes wins to his name—was in the irons for that run.

Aidan P. O’Brien trains Bolshoi Ballet for owners Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Westerberg.

Race ten brings us back to the main track for the Whitney Stakes (Grade I), a $1,000,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles run for four-year-olds and upward. I’m betting all two of my dollars on the second-favored (at 8/5) Maxfield, ridden by Jose L. Ortiz.

This four-year-old colt finished all eight of his career starts in the money, winning seven of them.

With the exception of his maiden graduation run, he has finished first in some of the top competitions in the thoroughbred world.

From the 2019 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (Grade I) at Keeneland and the 2020 Matt Winn Stakes (Grade III) to the Alysheba Stakes (Grade II) in April and the Stephen Foster Stakes (Grade II) in June–Maxfield is, as they say, a professional horse.

Top-ranked Brendan P. Walsh trains Maxfield for Godolphin, LLC.

J.W. Paine
J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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