John Velazquez rides Malathaat to victory during the 147th running of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, Friday, April 30, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
- This weekend’s action at Saratoga is highlighted by the $500,000 Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks
- Unbeaten Kentucky Oaks winner Malathaat is a heavy favorite in the CCA Oaks
- Where can we find betting value Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at The Spa?
The biggest horse races take place on Saturdays.
What makes Saratoga special is elite racing beyond once a week. While Malathaat running in the Coaching Club American Oaks Saturday is a must watch, the Caress Stakes is a second graded event on Saturday, plus The Spa offers major stakes on Friday and Sunday too.
This Saturday the fields are surprisingly small, but betting value can be found all weekend at Saratoga through detailed handicapping.
Let’s look carefully at the CCA Oaks field, and consider each of the graded stakes this weekend at Saratoga.
2021 Coaching Club American Oaks Odds
Odds as of July 22nd
The Coaching Club American Oaks has been run since 1917. A-mile-and-an-eighth test for three year old fillies, it has starred greats including Ruffian. A different trainer has won the CCA Oaks in six straight years. Todd Pletcher has conditioned the winner a record seven times.
Fox Sports 2 has television coverage. Post time on Saturday is slated for 3:23 pm EST.
Malathaat has raced five times, never been less than +250, and has a perfect record. Search Results gave her all she wanted in the Kentucky Oaks.
Search Results came back to impressively win June’s Acorn Stakes. She is perfect aside for the tight loss to Malathaat.
Pletcher has given Malathaat plenty of time off since the Oaks. The daughter of Curlin, she cost over $1 million and has looked better each race that she has run.
Clairiere was fourth in the Kentucky Oaks and followed it up with a solid third last month in Belmont Park’s Mother Goose Stakes.
She probably will prefer the longer distance on Saturday, and like Malathaat has improved each time out. That said, this $175,000 daughter of Curlin has only two wins in six starts.
Maracuja has only one career victory, and was seventh in the Kentucky Oaks at +3760. Off since April, she is likely to improve, but would need to be dramatically better to seriously compete against this field.
Rockpaperscissors was fifth in her debut on a muddy track last August in Kentucky, before breaking her maiden in September at Churchill Downs. She was slated to run in a turf race, which was moved to dirt because of weather, and won going away at Indiana Grand last month. To say that she is stepping up in class here is a drastic understatement.
Coaching Club American Oaks Best Bet
It’s not impossible there could be a rare minus pool for place wagering here. Make no mistake, this is a two horse race, or maybe a one horse event. The two longshots are hard to imagine finishing ahead of Malathaat. It certainly isn’t sexy, but a place wager on Malathaat is likely to make you cash with minimal risk, if you can stomach a ten cent profit. Regardless, Malathaat at -250 to win is still pretty reasonable.
Pick: Malathaat (-250)
2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic Odds Tracker
Other Graded Stakes Races at Saratoga this Weekend
The feature race on Friday at the Spa is the Lake George Stakes. Three year old fillies go a mile on the turf for $150,000 in this Grade 3 event. On Saturday the Grade 3 Caress Stakes features six older girls sprinting on the turf. Sunday’s Grade 3 Shuvee Stakes is a $200,000 test at a-mile-and-an-eighth for fillies and mares.
Lake George Stakes
Trainer Chad Brown has won this race four times in the last six years and has four entrants here, Amy C, Technical Analysis, Minaun, and Fluffy Socks.
The key prep for this event may be June’s Wonder Again Stakes.
While Con Lima was the winner, she is not running in the Lake George. However, fourth place Jouster, fifth place Fluffy Socks, and sixth place Technical Analysis are.
Jouster may prefer this distance, and should be on the lead.
This is the third race in America for Minaun. She won at Belmont Park in April, and was blocked in the stretch and unable to run her best race when she went off as the favorite in a stakes race last month.
Robin Sparkles has won six of nine career races and five of her last six. During that span she has knocked off two rivals that she faces again today, Caravel and Jakarta.
Robin Sparkles has not won a stakes race yet on turf, though she is five for six on the sod.
Since losing to Robin Sparkles in April, Caravel has won two straight. She’ll benefit from Irad Ortiz taking over as the jockey. Caravel is owned in part by celebrity chef Bobby Flay.
In Good Spirits gets a positive rider move too. John Velazquez picks up the mount on a filly who has been running in Kentucky and Louisiana. She has just one win since the start of 2020.
Pick: Robin Sparkles
Dunbar Road has run just once this year, and hasn’t won in over a year. She won the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga in 2019, and took back-to-back stakes races at Churchill Downs and Delaware Park last summer.
Point of Honor is on a nine race losing streak. That said, the daughter of Curlin has been racing against the best of the best and has hit the board in all three races at Saratoga.
Royal Flag finished second in this race last year, and closed out 2020 with a stakes victory.
This year Royal Flag was second in her seasonal debut running in a grade three event at Keeneland in April.
Crystal Ball is stepping up in class after three straight victories. She ran second in the CCA Oaks last year.
Pick: Royal Flag
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.