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The 2013 racing season at Saratoga is going to be very interesting in terms of jockey and trainers. One of the best jockeys of all time has retired due to a fractured skull, Ramon Dominquez. He has won the riding title several times at Saratoga, including last season. He will be missed for sure among horse racing fanatics, but with his retirement come some fresh faces getting more chances to ride.
Javier Costellano is a very good jockey. He has come in second at the Saratoga race course the past two years for wins. The best trainer year in an year out has been Todd Pletcher and lately Costellano has been picking up some more of his mounts. Chad Brown and Costellano have been teaming up for years, but they seem to be branching out to others lately. Costellano is still an excellent turf jockey and I like using him in that scenario. I think he will once again be up there in the top 3 riders at the meet.
John Velazquez He used to own Saratoga race course especially when he teams up with Todd Pletcher. Last year he had an injury and missed the first 2 weeks of the meet, but when he came back he was rolling out the wins. He is still one of the top jockeys in the land and it will be intersting to see how he fairs this season. His Belmont meet was not at all up to his usuall performance. Will this carry over to the Saratoga meet? From a betters perspective you can not over look Pletcher/Velazquez combo at any point especially at this meet. Pletcher brings out a ton of 2 year olds every year and he always relies on his #1 to give him honest feedback on his ponies.
Joel Rosario He came to the NY racing circuit last summer and has just taken off. He has earned the respect and trust of many east coast trainers and he could be set up for a spectacular meet this summer. He is a great turf rider, always has been. With the retirement of Dominquez I think this guy stands to gain the most. His Belmont meet was very good as he came in 3rd in the riding standings, but #1 in percentage of coming in the money at 54%. He could very well step into the shoes of Ramon Dominquez and have a great summer meet.
Irad Ortiz Jr. A few years ago he was known to bring in the long shots. He was an aprentice and was starting to earn the trust of the trainers. Last year word got out and people started betting him. His long shots were not so long anymore. This year he has really proven himself. Tied for 4th in the Belmont meet (he had almost 100 more mounts than the next person) but #1 in terms of pay-outs. I would not hesitate using him in exotics on the turf. I would use him with 15-1 or 25-1. He has been that good. It will again be intersting to see if the trainers trust him with young horses but this kid gives an honest ride and is earning a very good reputation. I would not be suprised to see him win a few riding titles down the road. He just turned 21.
Junior Alvarado Came in second at the Belmont meet which is great. I could make up things about him, but in all honesty I have not been paying attention to this rider. I do not remember him winning much at Saratoga over the years, but anyone who comes in 2nd beating out the likes of Johnny V. and Rosario can not be over looked.
Cornelio H. Velasquez Here is a jockey that has the trust of Linda Rice. She uses this rider on almost all her turf races. I prefer him on turf sprints with Linda Rice and it has done well. The public is on the combination as well and he is usually bet down, but I will say this jockey gives you his all in every race his is in. You wil catch riders letting up at the finish line and some get caught by a nose or head. I have seen Costellano do this, but this jockey gives you 100% every time. Very dangerous on the turf and look for him with Linda Rice as the trainer.
Edgar Prado Been using him on the turf lately and he has been doing well. Used to be the top rider at the Spa meet but age is catching up to him. As mentioned, he has been doing ok on the turf. I do not like his dirt rides at all.
Rajiv Maragh This is a jockey that does not suprise me at all when he wins. He gets his fair amount of winners at Saratoga, just not on a consistent basis. He brings them in at a price that is for sure, but very hard to get a steady read from him. It is frustrating because when he wins and I do not bet him I always say, "I am not suprised he won." He will win on dirt and turf which makes it more frustrating.
Rosie Napravnick Always a crowd favorite, but I have not seen her at all at Belmont other than a handful of races. I am not even sure she will be at Saratoga full time. She was last year and she won the first race on opening day (i did not bet her). I would bet she is back again, but I will not write anything if I do not know. Have to watch and see.
I like betting the Turf. I think is it the truest form of racing. There are so many different racing surfaces out there now with poly tack, sand based track (monmouth)that it makes it hard to handicap a horse. Turf is turf no matter where you go. You have grass over dirt and that is it. One of my favorit turf riders is Ken Desormeaux. I say it every year that he has his deamons, but this year he is riding very well at Arlington Park especailly on the turf. He will get a few mounts that is for sure and when he does I will use him in exotics every time. I do not care if he is 27-1, i will throw him in a 3 horse exacta box. Bill Mott used to love this guy, hopefully he can get back in good graces because they were/are a great combo on the grass.
I will have a trainer write up on the thread tomorrow. There are few very hot trainers right now to look at.
Todd Pletcher have to start here. Year in and year out he is the leading trainer at Saratoga. When you put out twice and many horses as the next trainer your odds are a bit better to have the most wins, but do not take away from who or what he puts out. He does in fact bring some great horses to the meet. His #1 guy is Johnny Velazquez which goes hand in hand for Johhn V being the leading rider. These two have worked together for years and why not, they have a good thing going. I like Pletcher more on the dirt than on the turf and I like his horses even more second time out. Need to pay attention to names and remember his horses for later on in the meet.
Chad Brown - Local Saratoga trainer who has been stepping it up huge the past few years. His #1 is Javier Costellano and they have been doing very well. I prefer him more on the turf than I do on the dirt (almost opposite of Pletcher). He has a very good % of horses in the money (66%) and even though I have said I like Brown on the turf he has been posting better numbers than previous on the dirt. He will be a force in the future as his breeding crop grows and owners take to him.
Linda Rice - year in and year out Linda Rice puts together a good barn of horses for the turf. I like her on turf sprints, preferably 5 1/2 furlongs and her rider is Cornelio Velasquez. She has been bringing in the ponies at 1 1/16 recently, but her money make at the Spa is 5 1/2 furlongs and the betting public knows it. Look for the sprinters who were closing and then put back a longer distance say 6 furlongs or 7. Linda Rice is an excellent turf trainer.
Bill Mott - One of my all time favorite trainers. Just a good down to earth person. Mott can go dirt or turf, but I like him more on the turf. He is not putting out a huge amount of horses like he used to at the Spa. I can only assume that the foal crop has not been that steady, but that is all over the racing world. Mott used to love Ken Desormeaux, but recently he has not used him (few years). I think Ken showed up drunk a few times and Bill said enough is enough. He has been using Irad Ortiz jr. and by the looks of it Junior Alvarado. Mott does not have a # 1 jockey he just preps the ponies which is a credit to him. His hores are usually ready to run, have no fear in using him if you are unsure.
Chris Clement - Probably the best turf trainer there is. Yes, I have praised others, but day in and day out this guy is the best. Strictly a turf guy and he knows how to get them ready. I like him at 6, 6 1/2, 7 furlongs particularly with his turf ponies. He does not bring as many ponies as say Pletcher, but who does?
David Jacobson - I do not know much about this trainer, but I do know this, he has been RED hot to close out the Belmont meet. He won the trainers title this year at Belmont, but he had 50 more entries then the next guy. I will never write something just to write it, but you may want to keep an eye on his ponies early in the meet. Maybe he is bringing a hot barn to the Spa.
I could list 10 more trainers that come to Saratoga, but I have a few I will mention that I follow......... J. J Toner - maybe brings 6-10 horses to the meet, all on the TURF and when he does you should include them in your exotics. His horses are well prepared and usually go at very good price.
Jason Servis - Another trianer who may only bring in a dozen horses, but when you are in the money 71% of the time year in and year out, you have to pay attention to them for sure.
Albert Stall Jr. - Another trainer you will never hear of who brings in maybe 12-20 horses a meet. He has 74% of being in the money the past 2 years. You just cant ignore that.
Of course there will be the Dale Romans and the Bond horses and Baffert and other good trainers. I just gave a few that I think will help make some money.
I look for Jockey/Trainer combos and distance. Everyone has there method. The most important thing is to stick to what you like and what you trust. If horse racing was easy there would not be a horse track to bet at, everyone would be making money.