This upcoming weekend we have a few good graded races in Saratoga, take a look and you will have a clear choice what are the best options.

Grade 1 Alfred G Vanderbilt Handicap

Three Grade 1-winning sprinters take each other on in the $350,000 Grade 1 Alfred G Vanderbilt Handicap over six furlongs on the main track at Saratoga on Saturday, the race a blend of old-timer experience and youthful promise that almost guarantees fireworks in the last half-furlong.

The hugely popular Whitmore landed the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November, with his victims that day including the reopposing Firenze Fire, who was a never-dangerous third, three and a half lengths back. Whitmore has hit the board in each of his three starts this year but hasn’t got his head in front, and at the age of eight perhaps the years are beginning to hang a little heavy on his legs.

Firenze Fire is a comparative spring chicken at the age of six, and if this race was at Belmont – where he has won seven times – then he’d be at the top of the short-list. It’s a few miles upstate, though, and he has finished out of the money in the Vanderbilt in the last two runnings. Perhaps third time’s a charm, but the charms of Mischievous Alex are hard to ignore despite the D- spelling of his name.

The son of Into Mischief has youth on his side at the age of four, he should be approaching his prime, and he steps back to a more suitable trip after running out of gas in the Met Mile last time out. An earlier victory in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at the Big A over seven furlongs reads well, and it all comes down to which you like, a young up-and-comer or an old been-there-done-that. It’s a fascinating prospect.

HorseJockeyOdds courtesy of Jazzsports
LEXITONIANJose Lezcano+2000
FIRENZE FIREJose L. Ortiz+300
STRIKE POWERTyler Gaffalione+1500
THREE TECHNIQUEManuel Franco+1500
WHITMORERicardo Santana. Jr+400
MILES AHEADLuis Saez+1200

Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes

A high-quality undercard features the $600,000 Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, over nine furlongs for three-year-old colts on the main track, in which only the reputation of Saratoga as the ‘graveyard of champions’ stands in the way of Essential Quality (3-5).

The Belmont Stakes winner took care of Hot Rod Charlie in that Classic, and the runner-up advertised the quality of form when first past the post in the Haskell earlier this month.

Tactically versatile, lavishly talented, Essential Quality is probably the best three-year-old colt in the US and should demonstrate that in style.

HorseJockeyOdds courtesy of Jazzsports
DR JACKJose L. Ortiz+1500
WEYBURNIrad Ortiz. Jr+600
KEEPMEINMINDJoel Rosario+600
RISK TAKINGManuel Franco+1500

Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes

The $250,000 Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes, for older horses over a mile and three furlongs on turf, brings together several familiar faces. Last year’s champion turf male and Bowling Green third Channel Maker hasn’t been seen since the end of March, and may find Channel Cat – winner of this race in 2019 and victorious in the Grade 1 Man O’War in May, with the reopposing Moon Over Miami in third – too sharp on this occasion.

HorseJockeyOdds courtesy of Jazzsports
CHANNEL CATJhon R. Velazquez +500
CROSS BORDERLuis Saez +450
BREAKPOINTJavier Castellano +1000
ROCKEMPERORJoel Rosario +600
CHANNEL MAKERJoel Rosario +250
RED KNIGTHTyler Gaffalione +1200
MOON OVER MIAMIJunior Alvarado +350
SHAMROCKETIrad Ortiz. Jr +800

Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes

The action at the Spa doesn’t finish there, as on Sunday the $200,000 Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes, for three-year-olds over six and a half furlongs, plays host to a rematch between the Grade 1 Woody Stephens one-two Drain The Clock and Jackie’s Warrior.

Drain The Clock took the spoils by a neck at Belmont last month, but Jackie’s Warrior – winner of the Hopeful Stakes here last year – loves it at Saratoga (who doesn’t?) and that might be enough to turn the tables.

HorseJockeyOdds courtesy of Jazzsports
RIVER DOGJose L. Ortiz+600
DRAIN THE CLOCKIrad Ortiz. Jr+200
JACKIE’S WARRIORJoel Rosario+120
MISTER LUIGILuis Saez+3000
CROWDED TRADEJavier Castellano+350

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