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Steve Matthews' Saratoga selections for Friday, July 26

Best bet: CLOONTIA (8)

Best value: IVY'S COLLEGE FUND (5)

FIRST: Countenance returns from layoff and drops to lifetime low; tight work tab seals the deal. G.T. Sonia is speedy and returns to dirt; very interesting. Karabessa owns competitive numbers on best efforts.

SECOND: Kobe, from a dam that has thrown two turf winners, moves to grass after useful fifth in debut; barn switches to go-to rider. Mitzrayim is riding a forward line on the numbers; dangerous. Victory Built noticeably upped tempo of final work in preparation for debut for Mike Maker; could be a runner.

THIRD: All Systems Go notched crisp half-mile drill since speed-and-fade tightener last time; all systems go. Carotari has been the runner-up in last two starts; second again? Thousand Percent moves to grass in first start since claimed by Jeremiah Englehart; must respect.

FOURTH: Queen of Beas is working swiftly for first start in seven weeks; rail draw is the clincher. Indy Union also is training sharply and packs potent kick on "A" game; very dangerous. Nonsensical is 1-for-1 at the 9-furlong distance; don't ignore.

FIFTH: Ivy's College Fund has won two in a row at Monmouth and is nice on the numbers with the locals at this level. Malarkey, an ultra-game second in last, is 1-for-1 at the Spa; very playable. Moondance Joy consistently delivers strong efforts; must use in exotics.

SIXTH: Funny Flowers was pace- and position-compromised when an even fourth in last; forward move predicted. Beau Belle is speedy but has six seconds and three thirds from 14 starts; another minor award? Passive Investing tallied rapid late-pace figure when a game second in debut; could easily take this.

SEVENTH: Righteous Ruby logged swift final fraction when winning second straight at Churchill Downs last time; ready for prime time. Fair Lassie, a front-running winner in last, could play out as the controlling speed once again. Alvernia, another that's riding a two-race winning streak, could fall between the cracks in the wagering; worth long look. Olive Kat owns speed and solid numbers on best efforts; must consider.

EIGHTH: Cloontia, a two-time winner on Spa sod, should pack intensified late wallop with cutback to sprint; half-mile bullet last week seals the deal. Steam Engine moves to grass after determined, front-end score in last; big-time player. Colonel Tom needed last and drops and is 1-for-1 on Saratoga turf; right in the thick of this.

NINTH: Rowayton regressed in the Dwyer after fast-figured win two starts back; rebounds on Friday. Direct Order tallied fast internal and final numbers in Monmouth stake last out; dangerous. Endorsed has trained sharply since last-to-first win in most recent; must be factored into the mix.

10TH: Golconda cuts back to shorter route after better-than-it-looks fourth in last; sitting on breakthrough in third start of form cycle. Mr. Vincent was a strong third in 12-horse field in first start since three-month layoff last time; very interesting. Awesome Adversary logged five seconds and a third from last six starts; must consider. Champagne Chills, on the AE list, runs late and could appreciate added ground; stay tuned to scratches.

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