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2019 Summer Meet tips - Laura King previews the major races at Saratoga this weekend

A wonderful view of the gallops at Saratoga races.

International racing expert, Laura King previews the major races at Saratoga's summer highlight this weekend, the Summer Meet starting on Friday 2nd August.

Saturday


There are two Grade 1s on Saturday, both on the dirt. The $1million Whitney Stakes is an early prep for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic and features several who are prominent in the market for the end of season showpiece. They include Godolphin’s dual Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow who aims for a belated first American win here. Third last time in the G1 Met Mile at Belmont, the step up in trip to 1m1 furlong will suit him here and he is a tempting price, being second-favourite behind Mckinzie.

A three-time Grade 1 winner, Bob Baffert’s Mckinzie was an unlucky second – in part kept in by Thunder Snow – in the Met Mile. He was flying home at the finish that day and may well have caught winner Mitole with a clear run. That explains his favouritism here, but, with Christophe Soumillon again on board, it’s the thoroughly genuine Thunder Snow who narrowly gets the vote to win this.

Thunder Snow (centre) digs deep to win his second Dubai World Cup.


The seven -furlong Grade 1 Longines Test Stakes, for three-year-old fillies, has a field of seven, in which Kentucky Oaks heroine Serengeti Empress is likely to go off favourite. Trained by Tom Amoss, Serengeti Empress set blistering fractions when holding on for second behind the freakish Guarana in the G1 Acorn Stakes last time. 

While that run may have taken a lot out of her, she’s had near to two months recovery time and features as the class act here. That said, her post in one puts her right inside two other speedy fillies, Bellafina and Covfefe - the latter named after one of President Trump’s more famous Twitter gaffes.

If a likely crazy pace ensues, it might well be Chad Brown’s Royal Charlotte who can take advantage. Unbeaten in four starts, this is a marked step up from the Grade 3 she won last time at Belmont, but she’s still an interesting contender in a race where Serengeti Empress is taken to hold on for the win.

Sunday


Eleven horses run in the inaugural running of the $1million Saratoga Derby, in which O’Brien will be represented by Group 3 Meld Stakes winner Mohawk and Cape Of Good Hope. Cape Of Good Hope needs to turn around his Grade 1 Belmont Derby eighth with the first three home that day: Henley’s Joy; Social Paranoia and Rockemperor, but Mohawk, the mount of Lordan, beat a decent field of older horses last time and is well worth his chance in this field. 

Phoenix Thoroughbreds’ Kadar, formerly trained in the UK by Karl Burke, makes his second US start for trainer Michael Maker, having finished well in third when caught out wide on his local debut. It’s an open race, but Rockemperor, who closed well at Belmont on his first start for Brown, could be the one to side with. 

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2019 Summer Meet tips - Laura King previews the major races at Saratoga this weekend

International racing expert, Laura King previews the major races at Saratoga's summer highlight this weekend, the Summer Meet starting on Friday 2nd August.

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