Best Horse Racing Bets for Saturday, July 31, 2021

| July 31, 2021 1:46 am PDT

Big-money stakes races are Saturday’s specials on the racing menu at the three tracks I chose for my Saturday picks. Del Mar Racing yielded one stakes match, Monmouth featured two, and Saratoga Racecourse gave us three.

My picks at all three tracks were mostly underdogs, although I found myself agreeing with the morning-line at Saratoga. I didn’t want to, but math can be very persuasive.

Remember that you can find info on all the races with an easy click to one of our top horse racing betting sites.

Good luck!

Saturday’s Picks for Del Mar Racing

Let’s start on the turf with race seven, a five-furlong allowance optional claiming run for California-bred or sired fillies and mares three years old and upward. I’m buying a win ticket on the 4/1 third-favored Capital Heat, ridden by Drayden Van Dyke.

This four-year-old filly has a formidable record compared with the rest of this 14-horse field: She finished in the money eight of her 11 career starts, winning three.

Vann Belvoir trains Capital Heat for owner-breeder BG Stables.

We’re still on the turf for race nine; a 1-1/8 miles allowance optional claiming race for three-year-olds and upward. My money’s on the second-favored (at 4/1) Rip City, with veteran jockey Mario Gutierrez in the irons.

This four-year-old gelding moneyed eight of his 12 career starts, winning five. He hasn’t finished worse than second in his last eight races, and Gutierrez was aboard for each one of them.

Mike Puype trains Rip City for owners Little Red Feather Racing and Sterling Stables, LLC.

We move the main track for race ten, the Bing Crosby Stakes (Grade I)—a $300,000 purse, six-furlong run for three-year-olds and upward. The Bing Crosby Stakes has been running at Del Mar—of which Crosby was a founding partner—since 1946 when War Allies and Indian Watch finished in a dead-heat victory.

My 2021 pick here is one of the morning-line’s second-favored entries (there are two at 7/2): Dr. Schivel, with Flavien Prat aboard.

All the competitors in this nine-horse field have flashy records, but this three-year-old colt is all business: He’s moneyed each of his five career starts, winning three, including last year’s Del Mar Futurity (Grade I). And he’s regularly posted triple-digit speed figures along the way.

Mark Glatt trains Dr. Schivel for owners Red Baron’s Barn LLC, Rancho Temescal LLC, William A. Branch, and William Dean Reeves. Glatt also tapped Flavien Prat to saddle Dr. Schivel for his two most recent runs—an allowance race in June and the Del Mar Futurity last September.

My Saturday Picks for Monmouth Park

We’re on the main track for race six, a one-mile allowance optional claiming race for fillies and mares three years old and upward. I like the second-favored (at 5/2) Stay Smart, piloted by Nik Juarez.

This five-year-old mare finished in the money for ten of her 21 career starts, winning five, including the Smart N Classy Handicap (Black Type) last October. Incidentally, she finished second in this year’s running of that handicap stakes just last month.

Stay Smart’s performance throughout her career has been a little more uneven than I’d like, but she has the edge, and she has the chops.

Kelly J. Breen trains Stay Smart for owners-breeders Edward Rosen and John Bowers, Jr.

We move to the turf course for race nine, the Tale of the Cat Stakes—a $100,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles grass run for three-year-olds. I’m betting on the 7/2 second favored entry here—It’s a Gamble, with Nik Juarez in the irons.

This colt has moneyed four of his ten career starts, winning three, including the Jersey Derby (Black Type) in May here at Monmouth.

Breeders’ Cup veteran Kelly J. Breen trains It’s a Gamble for Mr. Amore Stable.

Race ten takes us back to the main track for the Monmouth Oaks (Grade III), a $250,000 purse, 1-1/16 mile dirt run for three-year-old fillies.

I’m agreeing with the morning-line for this race. My pick’s the 3/1 favorite: Midnight Obsession, ridden by ace jockey Paco Lopez.

This filly moneyed all four of her career starts, winning two—her maiden and an allowance race. She went on to place second at both the Lyphard Stakes (Black Type) at Penn National Race Course in May and the Delaware Oaks (Grade III) at Delaware Park earlier this month.

All of the fillies in this race have impressive—albeit brief—résumés, but I believe Midnight Obsession will get the job.

John C. Servis, who took Smarty Jones to all three of the 2004 Triple Crown races, trains Midnight Obsession for Main Line Racing Stable.

Saturday Picks for Saratoga Racecourse

We’re on the main track for race eight—the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (Grade I), a $350,000 purse, six-furlong run for three-year-olds and upward. There’s plenty of talent in this race—on the ground and in the irons—but I’m sticking with the morning line here and betting on the 2/1 favorite, Mischevious Alex, with top jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.

This four-year-old colt had money finishes in ten of his 13 career starts, with seven wins, including four graded stakes victories—the Swale Stakes (Grade III) at Gulfstream and the Gotham Stakes (Grade III) at Aqueduct in 2020, and more recently, the Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes (Grade III) in February and the Carter Handicap (Grade I) in April at Aqueduct.

Saffie A. Joseph, Jr. trains Mischevious Alex for owners Cash is King LLC and LC Racing.

Race nine is the Jim Dandy Stakes (Grade II), a $600,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles main track run for three-year-olds.

Go ahead and study the records of the other horses in this race. I’ll wait…Done? Okay, we’re all in agreement that the 1/2 morning-line favorite—Essential Quality—is the right choice, correct? I knew you’d agree.

There’s no denying that there is plenty of will and talent in this six-horse field, but none come anywhere close to Essential Quality, winner of the Belmont Stakes in June.

This colt won six of his seven career starts, missing the money just once with a fourth-place finish in—you guessed it—the Kentucky Derby. This year alone, he’s also won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade II) at Keeneland and the Southwest Stakes (Grade III) at Oaklawn Park.

Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup veteran Brad H. Cox trains Essential Quality for Godolphin, LLC. He’s put Luis Saez in the irons for all of Essential Quality’s stakes wins.

We move to the turf course for race ten, the Bowling Green Stakes (Grade II), a $250,000 purse, 1-3/8 miles grass run for four-year-olds and upward. I’m betting my two dollars on the 5/2 morning line favorite, Channel Maker, ridden by Manny Franco.

While Channel Maker was actually beaten in last year’s Bowling Green Stakes by Cross Border (who the morning line has third-favored at 9/2 in this race), Channel Maker has moved on, winning the Sword Dancer Stakes (Grade I) at Saratoga last August and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (Grade I) in last October at Belmont.

For the record, this seven-year-old gelding moneyed 18 of his 39 career starts, winning seven.

Hall of Famer William I. Mott, who has taken horses to more than 25,000 races in his nearly five decades in the business, trains Channel Maker for owners Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.

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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