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SportsHorseracing

Steve Matthews' Saratoga selections for Thursday, Aug. 30

Best bet: MERLIN'S MUSE (8)

Best value: CAPTAIN DIXIE (6)

FIRST: Cats Halo should pack intensified kick with slight cutback in distance. Unrepented is rested and training with a purpose; front-end threat. Timely Tradition fired 5-furlong bullet since determined win at Finger Lakes last time; worth long look.

SECOND: Chantry Flats displayed noticeable improvement when a front-running fifth in first grass start last out; more to give. Strategic Outlook bested a next-out winner when second in debut; short price is the problem. Bail Out logged seven tight works for first start since June; very interesting.

THIRD: Bramble Queen notched rapid late-pace figure when a hard-fought winner at Arlington Park last out; pairs up. Theodosia wheels back in a hurry after much-improved fifth last week; very playable. Matty's Magnum owns competitive numbers on best efforts.

FOURTH: Taruca gets confident two-level price hike after clear-cut win in last; keeps on giving. Stoney Bennett hasn't worked since fast-figured, front-end score 34 days ago; bounces today? Zombie has won three of last four starts at Prairie Meadows; nice fit with the locals at this level.

FIFTH: Reconsider It is riding a forward line on the numbers and could offer generous price in wide-open turf dash. Paz the Wine endured very rough trip through the stretch when a close-up fourth in last; very dangerous. Bid You Adieu is speedy and makes first start since claimed by Chris Englehart; right in the thick of this.

SIXTH: Captain Dixie overcame soft flow when a convincing winner versus cheaper on Delaware sod last time; ready for prime time. Nileator drops to lifetime low in first start since claimed by Eddie Kenneally; dangerous if not damaged goods. Sycamore Lane, another that takes suspicious price plunge, has trained sharply for first start since June; mixed message.

SEVENTH: True Gold is training swiftly for debut; timid call in field of 13 newcomers. Prince of New York concluded work tab with crisp half-mile breeze; follow the money. Tapit Tango fired 5-furlong bullet on Spa soil on Aug. 10; happy hunting.

EIGHTH: Merlins Muse was a hard-charging maiden winner the first time she touched Spa sod; more to come. Lulu's Pom Pom is speedy and owns swift final figures; likely underlay. Stonefactor also is quick from the gate and consistently delivers strong efforts; be no surprise.

NINTH: Chasing the Kitty was a much-the-best, 10-length winner in debut on Presque Isle Downs' all-weather surface; handles surface switch and class jump. Miss Technicality has trained sharply since displaying solid late kick to win debut on Belmont turf; very dangerous. Dogtag, a maiden that has never run on grass, moves to turf for Chad Brown; would it really shock you?

10TH: San Juan Diego tallied solid final fraction when third in last; added sixteenth plays to strength. Ready to Escape is training sharply and makes first start since gelded; could be ready off the bench. Dark Ops is speedy and firing bullets for first start since November; dangerous. Santo Antonio is another that's fleet-footed and working with a purpose; contentious finale.

New York Sports