Saratoga Analysis Now Available

Rich Nilsen handicapperAGOS Founder and 12-time NHC qualifier Rich Nilsen is offering his selections, analysis and spot plays for Friday’s opening day card at Saratoga.  The report is now online.  Nilsen’s analysis has full card picks plus two spots plays (best bets) on the Friday card.

Included in his report is an expert pace analysis for each race on the card.

In Nilsen’s only two analysis this year, he nailed both the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.  His top selection of Creator in the Belmont keyed a huge exacta payoff given out on the sheet.

Only $7.95.  Download this full card report to any device.

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Beat Saratoga! 7 Tips for Turning a Profit


7 Tips for Turning a Profit!

Download this free guide "Beat Saratoga: 7 Tips for Turning a Profit" and get prepared to attack the 2016 Saratoga meet successfully.  Beating this 40-day meet with so many contentious races is no easy task, even for experienced horseplayers.

12-time NHC Qualifier and founder Rich Nilsen walks you through the steps required to beat this race meet.

  • Learn what steps it takes to beat this meet successfully
  • Get the scoop on which jockeys and trainers dominate this meet
  • Find out which 'dark horse' jockeys and trainers you need to know about.  These guys bring home the prices!
  • Understand how each of the tracks play and how this affects you as a handicapper

Fill out the short form below to claim your free report "Beat Saratoga!"  You will automatically receive an email with a link to the PDF document that you can download to any device.

The 2016 Saratoga Meeting Begins in...


Beat Saratoga - 7 Tips for Turning a Profit

Expert advice for beating the Saratoga meet

No Decision on American Pharoah After Loss in Travers Stakes

Triple Crown SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – They were waiting for their horse, ready to take pictures with cellphones and ready to feed him snacks. On the morning after a startling upset at the Travers Stakes, a small gathering of fans visited racing’s biggest celebrity. This group on Sunday morning was considerably smaller than the throng of 15,000 that… [Read more…]

2015 Saratoga Meet Stats – update

Saratoga Shippers (Track last raced at) – July 24-Aug 10, 2015

Track Last Raced Wins Starts
Aqueduct 3 41
Arlington Park 0 7
Belmont 117
Churchill 11 104
Delaware 3 38
Del Mar 1 3
Ellis Park 2 12
Gulfstream 4 68
Finger Lakes 1 20
Indiana Downs 1 12
Keeneland 2 16
Laurel 0 7
Monmouth 6 63
Mountaineer 0 1
Oaklawn 0 1
Parx 2 34
Penn 0 5
Pimlico 2 7
Prairie Meadows 1 5
Presque Isle 1 8
Santa Anita 5 20
Saratoga (2014) 0 7
Saratoga (2015) 11
Tampa 0 2
Turfway 0 1
Woodbine 1 4
First Time Starters 21 187


Want to learn more about horse racing and enjoy the game more?  Get Tom Amello’s Gateway to the Game guide.


Saratoga Track Profile – August 12 – August 17, 2015

 Main Track August 12 – 17

 Dashes (5.0/5.5)          (3)      o wire, front half stalkers

Sprints                             (21)      7 wire at 6 & 7f, 4 closers

Routes                                    (4)        2 wire, 2 pressers      


Turf August 12 – 17

Inner Turf               (13)      1 wire, 4 front-half stalkers, 6 rear-half runners


Mellon Turf:              (17)      3 wire, 3 pressers, 5 front-half stalkers, 6 closers

Sprints                        (7)        2 wire, 1 front-half stalker, 4 closers

Inner Routes              (12)      3 up-close pressers, 2 stalkers, 7 rear-half runners                                   

Main Route                (10)      2 wire, 2 up-close pressers, 4 front-half stalkers,  2       closers                            

2015 Saratoga Stats – July 24 – Aug. 3

Saratoga Shippers (Last Raced Track) – July 24-Aug 3 

Track Last Raced Wins Starts
Aqueduct 3 21
Arlington Park 0 2
Belmont 53  
Churchill 8 66
Delaware 0 13
Ellis Park 1 (7-1) 7
Gulfstream 3(8-1, 22-1) 38
Finger Lakes 1 10
Indiana Downs 0 5
Keeneland 0 7
Monmouth 4(55-1) 34
Laurel 0 5
Parx 2 17
Penn 0 2
Pimlico 2 5
Prairie Meadows 1(21-1) 2
Presque Isle 0 4
Santa Anita 3 11
Saratoga 0 4(2014)
Tampa 0 1
Woodbine 1 4
First Time Starters 10 100

Saratoga Track Profile – July 29 – August 03

Main Track

July 24, 2015               outside paths better, front speed failed, stalkers ruled

July 25, 2015               main track tighter, track played fair

July 26, 2015               kinder to speed

July 27, 2015               kind to speed

July 29, 2015               fair

July 30, 2015               sloppy sealed, speed, front half stalkers

July 31, 2015               speed, front stalkers

August 1, 2015           stalkers

August 2, 2015           fair

August 3, 2015           speed, stalkers


 Main Track

 Dashes (5.0/5.5)          2 wire, closer over sloppy sealed

Sprints                         Speed, front stalkers, versus deep closers

Routes                         front half stalkers



 Inner Turf:                fair

 Mellon Turf:

Sprints                        speed and front half stalkers over deep closers

Routes                                    closer                     


Want to have fun and select more winners?  Check out Tom Amello’s Gateway to the Game!             

Saratoga 2015 – Week One Stats

Our guest writer Tom Amello has compiled some very interesting statistics on the opening week at the Spa.

Saratoga Shippers – July 24-July 27, 2015

Track Last Raced Wins Starts
Aqueduct 1 (12-1) 11
Arlington Park 0 1
Belmont 22
Churchill 4 33
Delaware 0 3
Ellis Park 0 3
Gulfstream 2  (8-1, 22-1) 13
Finger Lakes 0 2
Indiana Downs 0 3
Keeneland 0 2
Monmouth 2  (55-1) 12
Laurel 0 1
Parx 2 9
Penn 0 1
Pimlico 0 2
Prairie Meadows 0 1
Presque Isle 0 2
Santa Anita 3 7
Saratoga 0 1
Tampa 0 1
Woodbine 0 3
First Time Starters 5 45


Want to learn more about the game, select more winners and have fun?  Check out Tom Amello’s Gateway To The Game

Saratoga Track Profile – July 24 – July 27 

Main Track

July 24, 2015  outside paths better, front speed failed, stalkers ruled

July 25, 2015  main track tighter, track played fair

July 26, 2015  kinder to speed

July 27, 2015  kind to speed 


Nothing like Saratoga racing in the summer

Inner Turf:    No Bias

Mellon Turf:  No Bias

Main Track

5.0       (2) 0 Wire, sustained pressers

5.5f      (4) 0 Wire, front pressers

6.0f      (6) 2 Wire, Pressers, Closer

6.5f      (5) 3 Wire, no closers

7.0       (3) 2 Wire, 1 Closer

9.0       (4) 2 Wire, 1 Closer  


 Inner Turf:

8.0                   (4) 3 Wire, 1 up-close

8.5                   (3) 1 Wire, 2 closers

1&3/8              (2) 1 Stalker, 1 Closer


Mellon Turf:

(4) 1 Wire, 3 Closers

8.0                   (3) 0 Wire, 2 Stalkers, 1 Closer

9.0                   (2) 0 Wire, 1 Stalker, 1 Closer                   

Gateway to the Game by writer Tom Amello

Click here to learn more


147th Saratoga Meet Kicks Off Friday

from the NYRA Press Department

The 147th summer of thoroughbred racing at historic Saratoga Race Course gets under way on Friday with a 10-race card that includes the first two of 69 stakes worth a record $18.7 million during the 40-day meeting.
Saratoga’s traditional opening day feature, the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies, is joined this year by the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake George for 3-year-old turf fillies. Post time for the first race is 1 p.m.
Saratoga canopy walk throughRacing will be conducted six days a week, excluding Tuesdays, through Labor Day, September 7, highlighted by the 146th renewal of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday, August. 29.
Travers Day includes six other graded stakes, five of them Grade 1s, worth $4.6 million as one of three spectacular Saturday programs put together by the New York Racing Association. The others are August 8, offering five stakes worth $2.15 million anchored by the Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney Handicap for older horses; and August 28, featuring six New York-bred stakes worth $1.15 million.
Seven-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher looks to get a head start on his sixth straight Saratoga training championship and 12th overall when he sends out contenders in each of Friday’s stakes: impressive debut winner Positively Royal in the six-furlong Schuylerville and Grade 3 winner Feathered for the 1 1/16-mile Lake George.
The 97th renewal of the Schuylerville is set for race 4; the 20th running of the Lake George will take place in race 9.
A bay daughter of champion Bernardini, Mathis Stables’ Positively Royal cruised to 3 ½-length victory in her June 18 unveiling at Belmont Park, covering five furlongs in 58.49 seconds. Pletcher, 48, has won the Schuylerville five times (2002, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2014) and gone on to take Saratoga’s training title in each of those years.
“She’s a very professional filly,” Pletcher said. “She trained at my dad’s all winter and trained very well. She was one of the first ones to come in. She ran to expectations first time out and has trained accordingly since then. We’ve been fortunate over the years to have some nice fillies in here, and I think she is of that same caliber.” 
Fellow defending meet champion Javier Castellano, looking for his third consecutive Spa riding title, has the mount from post 7.
Trainer Wesley Ward will send out both Mark Dodson’s Banree and Ten Broeck Farm’s Moment Is Right for the Schuylerville. A daughter of multiple Grade 1 winner Medaglia d’Oro, Moment Is Right is unbeaten in two starts having romped over colts in her May 15 debut at Gulfstream Park and followed up with a front-running 1 ½-length score in the June 4 Astoria for fillies at Belmont Park.
Banree, by Macho Uno, similarly beat colts in her debut April 16 at Keeneland  Race Course and faced males again in the June 5 Tremont at Belmont but was taken out of her game following an awkward break and wound up a non-threatening fifth.
“They’re doing really well. Both are coming into the race great, so we’ll see what happens,” Ward said. “I don’t know what happened [in the Astoria]. She’s always kind of been pretty quick out of the gate but she was really compromised and lost all chance. [Moment Is Right] has been super. Going into the race it’s a toss-up as to which one’s better, that’s for sure, and I’d even lean the other way a little bit. A lot of it has to do with the trip and what have you, but they’re both pretty talented 2-year-old fillies.”
Joel Rosario, up for the Astoria, gets a return call from post 6 on 121-pound top weight Moment Is Right, who spots two pounds to each of her rivals. Saratoga newcomer Rafael Hernandez will be back aboard Banree from post 8.
Also entered are Decked Out and One Minute, who ran 2-3 in the Astoria; fellow stakes-placed Areolite; and debut winners Little Miss Miss and Off the Tracks.
Pletcher has the lone graded stakes winner in the Lake George in Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Feathered. In two starts since being moved to the turf this spring, the daughter of Indian Charlie won the Grade 3 Edgewood May 1 at Churchill Downs and was a stubborn second in the Grade 1 American Oaks 29 days later at Santa Anita.
Feathered will be ridden for the first time by Luis Saez from post 10 at top weight of 123 pounds and cuts back from 1 1/8 miles for the Lake George, run at the same distance as the Edgewood. Pletcher won the Lake George in 2005 and 2006.
“In her first couple of starts this year she didn’t seem to have regained her 2-year-old form,” Pletcher said, “so we turned to the grass and that seemed to take care of it. We’re not surprised with her pedigree that she likes it, but she’s a good, versatile filly that handles multiple surfaces and distances.”
Third in the Edgewood and second by a head in the Grade 3 Regret, Three Chimneys Farm’s Lady Zuzu is entered for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who captured the 2009 Lake George with Be Fair. Most recently, the Dynaformer filly set a blistering pace before fading in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational July 4.
“We’re going to look at it. I’ll let the owner decide. I think she fits the race pretty good,” Lukas said. “The last race was a debacle with the rider. He just opened up and went unrealistic fractions. We’re going to change that.” 
Corey Lanerie, riding at Saratoga full-time this summer, has the mount from post 8 at 115 pounds.
Trainer Chad Brown is represented in the Lake George by three fillies: Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s Mrs McDougal, Klaravich Stables’ Partisan Politics and Martin Schwartz’s Irish-bred Sivoliere.
Partisan Politics is already a stakes winner at Saratoga, having taken the 1 1/16-mile P.G. Johnson last summer under Castellano, who returns to ride from outside post 12. She has been winless in three starts since, returning from a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf to run second by a nose in the Wild Applause Stakes June 14 in her sophomore debut.
Unraced at 2, Mrs McDougal won her debut over the winter at Gulfstream Park and most recently was fourth by 2 ¾ lengths in the Grade 1 American Oaks. Sivoliere has been off the board in three North American starts since arriving last fall from France including a fourth-place finish in the Wild Applause, five lengths behind Partisan Politics.
Sivoliere will break from post 6 under Jose Ortiz at 115 pounds, while Mrs McDougal will carry Irad Ortiz, Jr. and 117 pounds from post 9.
Rounding out the field are Celestine, a winner of four straight starts including the Wild Applause for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott; Mississippi Delta, having captured three consecutive races including back-to-back stakes at Woodbine; Indy Star Stakes winner Cara Marie; All in Fun, Robillard, My Year Is a Day and Jellicle Ball, the latter making her U.S. debut for trainer Graham Motion.

Pace Predictor Forecast for Friday at Saratoga

Pace Predictor: These are not selections but rather forecasts for the anticipated pace scenarios in select races at Saratoga today, Friday August 15, 2014.  Understanding the race shape is critical for successfully handicapping the races, because how the pace sets up early often determines how things will shake out late.

Let us know how you think we did with the pace predictions in the comments below after today’s races.  Best of luck!

Saratoga, August 15, 2014

R3) # 1 – 2- 3

R4) # 1 – 2

R5) # 1 – 8 – 3

R8) # 2 – 7- 1

R9) # 2 – 3- 5

R10) # 6 – 3- 7


How I Nailed a 22-1 Longshot at Saratoga

By Dan Costanza

What happens when you pair some solid handicapping fundamentals and a little bit of luck? You get a 22/1 winner at the Spa that pays $46. A rarity for sure, but my longest price in recent memory was helped by a bit of my own misjudgment.

When looking through the past performances to make my selections on Monday at Saratoga, race 8 was one of the four races I had selected to make plays on. This was a longer-than-usual maiden race at a 1 1/8 miles and it gave me a chance to look deep into the race, beyond just where these horses finished in previous races.

Let me step back to my thoughts when I dived into this race. A quick look through the past performance and I see that this race does not have much early pace, and a speed duel doesn’t seem likely. There are two horses at short odds both of whom are deep closers. With the lack of early speed, I look deeper to try and get on a price that might be getting overlooked. I immediately focus my attention on the #2, Tiz Yankee, who is the 9/5 morning line favorite, and Grandpa Len, who at 12/1 seems worth analyzing as the race could set up nicely for him. I assume that Grandpa Len is going to be on the lead early because of the lack of early speed in this race. After looking at Tiz Yankee, his race over this distance back in April caused me to subtract him from the equation because of his early running and faltering late in that race. With no interest in playing a 9/5 horse anyway, I focus on Grandpa Len and see if I can make a case for a play on him.

PPs of winner at Saratoga July 23 2012




A quick look at the start of Grandpa Len’s career and I like what I see. In his debut, he finished 4th, beaten 9 lengths, to Currency Swap, who was 6 lengths ahead of the 2nd place finisher. Currency Swap went on to win the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes after that maiden victory. Next time out for Grandpa Len, he clashed with another classy horse in El Padrino who was on the Derby trail for much of last year. He finished 3rd in this race, and just over a length back from El Padrino who came home 2nd. His 3rd time out, Grandpa Len is pegged as a favorite, but faces another tough one in eventual stakes competitor News Pending. Once again it isn’t in Grandpa’s cards and he finished 4th, only beaten 1 3/4 lengths in a race which News Pending finished 2nd.

The next few races he has legitimate excuses. Grandpa Len tried the turf next and was not successful at all on that surface, so I am not counting that against him. Then he goes on a 5 month layoff and comes back in a sprint where he is not a factor. Again, not counting this against him. Then he has a race which really makes me think he can be a winner today. He is entered in a 1 1/8 miles race and while it is over a muddy track, he leads nearly the entire way and stays on to finish 2nd. This makes me think that he can certainly get this distance, and if he is on the lead or near it, he can stay there if it isn’t very fast. After this race, for whatever reason, they decide to try him on the turf two more times, both of which I am not counting against him for the race today since it is on the main track. So with this information in mind, I settle comfortably and confidently on Grandpa Len. I know that 12/1 will probably go up, so even if he doesn’t wire this field, I am thinking I will still get some nice prices if he hits the board.

Well to my surprise the race begins and Grandpa Len is not leading this field early on as I anticipated. He is actually forced 4 or 5 wide going in to the first turn. Despite this, he is forwardly placed and sitting just a few lengths back while Tiz Yankee is leading them around at a snail’s pace. When the half mile goes up and they are still crawling around, I know my horse has a chance because he hasn’t used much energy yet and is just a few lengths off the lead. Tiz Yankee on the lead was not what I had handicapped, and is still at the front and has me worried that he would be the one wiring this field with such a slow pace [instead of my longshot].

At the far turn though, Grandpa Len picks it up and with a fantastic move by Cornelio Velasquez, is now right in the thick of things turning for home. Instead of swinging 5 or 6 wide and circling the field, Cornelio sees an opening and cuts Grandpa Len around the turn and towards the inside. This is a move that in my opinion won the race as it saved a lot of ground and strides, while leaving less work to be done to collar the leader. As expected, the deep closers are nowhere to be seen and it is actually Grandpa Len who is charging home and passing Tiz Yankee to come home a 22/1 winner.

While I may have overlooked the early speed of Tiz Yankee and his ability to slow things down, I found the positives of in this live longshot. I believed I was getting a great value for a horse who had faced some top class runners in the past and would benefit from both the lack of early speed and surplus of late runners. The result was a juicy payoff at the Spa!


About the Author

I am 25, from New Jersey, lived there my entire life but now currently living in the United Kingdom. Have loved and played sports my entire life and love handicapping horses and sports.

How to Beat Saratoga!

By Rich Nilsen


Nothing like Saratoga racing in the summer

How can one possibly beat Saratoga, one of the toughest meets that handicappers will face all year long? The top barns converge on the beautiful upstate New York track every summer, and the money of horseplayers everywhere follows in droves. Pools are plentiful, but so are the contentious races. And it is those contentious races that can make Saratoga racetrack so difficult to beat.

I have been going to “the Spa” since I was a young boy. In fact the first trip I know of, there were a couple of two years olds by the name of Affirmed and Alydar running that day. My Dad liked Alydar. My Mom and brother, neither of whom knew how to handicap, were on Affirmed. I guess this was my first lesson that handicapping can be a humbling game.

Over the past several years I have skipped my trip to Saratoga and instead watched this fabulous meet from the comfort of my home. However, that is changing this year as I head back to Saratoga in August. I can’t wait! There is nothing like Saratoga racing in the summer. For a horse racing fan it doesn’t get much better.

There are several facets of Saratoga that every handicapper should know, and there are some strategies that I recommend for beating the upcoming 2012 meet or at least putting the percentages in your favor over 95 percent of the wagering public.

How the Tracks Play

On most days the Saratoga main track plays very kindly to speed horses. It can be very difficult to make a wide move on the turn for home, sustain that run and get up for the win. The predominant speed bias, of course, is more prevalent the shorter the distance, but on many days, the tracks favors speed in all of the dirt races.

However, there is always a range of days at Saratoga when the speed bias not only disappears but the track starts to strongly favoring closers. This is one of the most important times of the meet for the serious player. Catch on to this reverse bias early enough and you could “make your entire meet” in a matter of days. It will happen so keep an eye out for it.

In my opinion the two turf courses can be very inconsistent, especially from one year to the next. Just because the inner turf course favored closers in one mile races last year doesn’t mean that is going to happen in 2012. In general both turf courses give the edge to closers, but there are plenty of races and plenty of days when that is not the case.

Do beware of the inside posts in the now commonly-run 5 1/2 furlong turf sprints. The rail (one post) has only had four winners from the last 129 races. That is pretty remarkable; especially when you consider that every turf sprint features a horse breaking from the rail. Middle and outside posts are the best draws in this swiftly run races.

Winning Strategies for the Spa

Have a game plan. How often do we approach an important meet like this and we have no idea what we are hoping to accomplish and how we are going to wager from one day to the next. The overwhelming majority of players, myself included, oftentimes just shoot from the hip. We will make plays based on the races we handicap and “who we like.” We will make all sorts of bets, from straight wagers to stabs at the Pick Six.

The better choice is decide what your game plan is going to be prior to opening day. It is certainly fine to make various types of bets, but you may want to focus most of your wagering strategy on one or two bet types.  Maybe you are good at structuring Trifecta or Pick-4 wagers. Well, there you go. Having a game plan falls right into the next suggestion.

Pick your spots. This is the key to beating the meet. You are not going to finish ahead by the time Labor Day rolls around if you are playing every available race at the Spa. This simply isn’t going to happen, with rare exceptions.

Needless to say, this is good advice year-round for horseplayers but especially so for Saratoga due to all the contentious races. Handicappers looking to turn a profit over the 40 days have to pick their spots. Focus on the races you excel at and avoid the ones you typically don’t have a good handle on. You know what they are, so use that knowledge to your advantage. Or pay the consequences.

More Advice

Keep a horses to watch list starting…yesterday. Follow the action every day and take note of horses who were “up against it” for various reasons. It may be a typical Saratoga speed bias and you see a horse that made a strong wide, middle move only to flatten out in the lane behind the gate-to-wire winner. Or maybe it is a contender who breaks from the rail in a turf sprint and encounters a difficult trip as a result. There are numerous, valid reasons why horses don’t run well. We will offer any troubled trips runners we see in our FREE “Off the Charts” Trip Notes feature here at

Know the barns that win, and the ones that don’t. Typically, some of the best claiming barns during the other 10 months of the year (at both Aqueduct and Belmont Park) hit the skids when they come to Saratoga. There are exceptions to this rule, such as Richard Dutrow and Rudy Rodriguez, who learned his trade under Dutrow.

Trainer Chad Brown, who apprenticed under the great Bobby Frankel, may not be a household name, yet, but he has been the best trainer to follow and support over the past two years. Brown, unlike many trainers, wins at a high percentage in all types of races. Two of his best categories are runners making their second start off a layoff and claimers dropping in class.

Trainer Todd Pletcher is the leading horsemen and almost always over bet. Look for every opportunity you can to beat the Pletcher-trained underlays. Surprisingly, Pletcher has been very poor in turf races over the past few years, hitting only 14 percent. I don’t have the specific numbers, but can you imagine how many of his losers on the lawn were 4-1 or less.  Instead, look for opportunities to play solid grass trainers such as Chad Brown, Bill Mott, Linda Rice, Tom Proctor, Jonathan Shepard, George Weaver, both Dutrows, and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Keep an eye on the weather. There are few meets where Mother Nature can wreak havoc more than at Saratoga. If you are handicapping a day or two out, be sure to check the weather forecast before you waste time handicapping a turf race that might not happen.

If the races do come off the lawn, and the track is indeed wet, be sure to closely examine each horse’s record for their off-track performances. Horses with proven fondness for the slop or mud are the ones most likely to succeed on a wet main track at the Spa. Think long and hard before you wager your dollars on a horse that either lacks a wet track pedigree or lacks a proven record on that type of going.


You can enjoy the best meet in the country without wagering on every race. Pick your spots, be prepared and focus on your strengths. If the race is too tough, pass.  Sit back and watch as you may see a horse or horses to bet on later in the meet.

Best of luck!