08/10/2006 12:00AM

Saratoga Stakes Plays for Thursday, August 10

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With any luck, there won't be a worse day than today at Saratoga 2006 to conjure up a stakes-related play. The two stakes races on the card are a steeplechase in the opener, a type of racing for which I have little interest and less insight, and a five-horse statebred sprint with two overwhelming favorites and little value. My best advice, and what I personally plan to do, is to play small today and save whatever resources one might otherwise fritter away on today's card to the tasty-looking weekend action ahead such as Saturday's National Pick 4 of the Vanderbilt and Sword Dancer from Saratoga and the Beverly D and Arlington Million.

But play we must in this space, so we'll try a late pick four that if nothing else will keep us out of getting into any more trouble on the second half of the card.

In the first leg, a 2-year-old filly maiden sprint, there are all sorts of intriguing angles and first-time starters but we'll cut through the clutter and use just two of them: Five Star Daydream, whose debut was good enough to win most maiden races, and Imperial Reign, who must be some amazing physical specimen to have fetched $1 million at a March 2-year-old sale despite a decidedly less-than-flashy pedigree.

Leg two is a nine-furlong A1x allowance for older fillies where we're going to play racetrack roulette and hit the all button. Sure we'll feel silly if one of the favorites wins at 2-1 but there's a case to be made against all the public choices and some sort of redeeming argument for every longshot. Wheeling races is rarely a good idea but I'll make an exception in this particular event and root for the longest prices.

The so-called feature, the John a. Morrissey for older statebreds at 6 + furlongs, has only two possible winners in Big Apple Daddy and Gold N Roses. The former will be around 4-5 off three straight triple-digit Beyers and is a likely winner if he repeats those efforts, but he's a one-run closer who's an unreliable single. The only reasonable alternative is Gold N Roses, who might have a tactical advantage either making the lead or sitting just off Casper Peterson.

In the finale, Wait It Out and Grand Opening must be used as the favorites but come out of a bizarrely-run race for which it was difficult to assign an accurate figure. So I also want to use Serendipitous, who ran poorly that day but has very good prior lines, and the plausible longshots Dynamist and Cologne.

So the play goes:

$1 pick-four partwheel: 4,6/all/1,2/4,5,7,9,10 = $160

If we get blown out by another firster in the opener, we can always come back with an "all/1,2/4,5,7,9,10" late pick three.