The Runhappy Hopeful Stakes on Labor Day is the traditional closing-day feature of Saratoga Race Course’s elite summer meet and often is a showcase of rising stars who will play a role on the road to the Kentucky Derby through the winter and into next year’s spring.
This year’s 116th renewal drew seven 2-year-old males, five of them entering off of a win at Saratoga, headlined by impressive Saratoga Special Stakes Presented by Miller Lite winner Jackie’s Warrior.
Jackie’s Warrior (#6) earned a 102 Equibase Speed Figure in the Saratoga Special and oozes potential as a Grade 1-caliber sprinter-miler down the road, although his pedigree is a bit light for the big Triple Crown races.
Another colt that caught my eye during this Saratoga meet is Reinvestment Risk (#5), a son of Upstart owned by Klaravich Stables and trained by Chad Brown. He won his career debut going six furlongs at the Spa Aug. 1, romping by 7 ¾ lengths. I think this colt might actually have more long-term potential going two turns than Jackie’s Warrior, but both of them should easily handle the extra furlong required in the Hopeful.
I’ll use those Jackie’s Warrior and Reinvestment Risk – the 7-5 and 8-5 morning-line favorites, respectively – atop a trifecta part wheel bet. In this wager, you put two horses in first and add extra horses in second and third, expanding the options underneath and adding to the overall total. Use ABR’s handy Gambling Calculator to plan out the wager and estimate cost. In my trifecta bet, I’ll start with a $2 base and add two more colts in the second- and third-place positions to total $24.
I envision both Jackie’s Warrior and Reinvestment Risk laying off of the early speed in the Hopeful, which I think will be set by two colts drawn on the inside, Fearless Fly (#1) and Papetu (#2). My two win selections should be positioned to take over in early stretch, and I’ll use two projected closers to rally and get either second or third. One is 5-2 third choice Mutasaabeq (#3), a son of top sire Into Mischief owned by Shadwell Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, who scored from off the pace as the odds-on favorite going 5 ½ furlongs on Aug. 8. I’ll also use Ampersand (#7), who won a 5 ½-furlong race at Saratoga on Aug. 22 that was rained off of the turf in a similar stalking fashion. If Ampersand checks in either second or third at anywhere near his morning-line odds of 20-1, that will spice up the trifecta payoff.
Strategy on a $25 budget
$2 trifecta: 6,7 with 3,6,7,8 with 3,6,7,8
What to say at the betting window: Saratoga, Race 13, $2 trifecta part wheel, 6 and 7 over 3,6,7,8 over 3,6,7,8.