Saratoga: The best way to bet the Ballston Spa

Profile Picture: Keeler Johnson

July 24th, 2020

This is hardly a creative opinion — she is favored at 2-5 on the morning line — but it’s hard to envision a scenario where #5 Sistercharlie loses Saturday’s Ballston Spa (G2) at Saratoga, if she brings anything close to her "A" game.

The 1 1/16-mile race has drawn just six horses, and one will only run if rains force a surface switch to the main track. With no precipitation in the forecast, it seems Sistercharlie will face just four rivals, and it’s hard to make a case against her.

Trained by Chad Brown, Sistercharlie has won seven Grade 1 races, including back-to-back renewals of the 1 1/8-mile Diana (G1) at Saratoga. Voted champion turf female of 2018, following a gritty victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), Sistercharlie is known for her powerful finishing kick, which has carried the daughter of Myboycharlie to victory in 10 of her 15 starts.

I suppose one could argue Sistercharlie isn’t trustworthy in a return from an 8 1/2-month layoff, especially because her most recent run saw her finish a surprising third in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

But long layoffs haven’t bothered Sistercharlie in the past. She dominated the 2018 Jenny Wiley (G1) off a nine-month break and trounced the 2019 Diana in her first start off 8 1/2 months of rest.

I don’t see a reason to oppose Sistercharlie in the Ballston Spa. With stablemate #3 North Broadway possibly entered to serve as a pacemaker, Sistercharlie should receive the setup she needs to unleash her late rally and waltz to the winner’s circle.

Underneath, #6 Starship Jubilee is a logical candidate to finish in the money. A 7-year-old veteran of 35 starts, Starship Jubilee won the E. P. Taylor (G1) during the fall and is 3-for-3 this season, with winter victories in the Suwannee River (G3) and Hillsborough (G2).

But don’t overlook #1 Call Me Love, a Group 2 winner in Italy. While this talented daughter of Sea the Stars failed to handle 1 1/4 miles in the New York (G2) last month, two starts back she rallied to finish second in the 1 1/16-mile Beaugay (G3), behind Brown’s accomplished mare Rushing Fall. A return to this level of form can make Call Me Love a dangerous player for hot trainer Christophe Clement, who has gone 9-for-20 (45%) to start the Saratoga meet.

Let’s key Sistercharlie on top of a superfecta and emphasize Starship Jubilee and Call Me Love underneath.

$15 superfecta: 5 with 1,6 with 1,6 with 3 ($30)

Good luck!