Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 11

click for details
We have given our two TDN crack handicappers, Brian DiDonato and Steve Sherack, a mythical $1000 bankroll and told them they can bet no more than 5% of that on any given day at Saratoga on a straight win bet. The winner, at the end of the meet, gets $100 in a TVG betting account, along with bragging rights until next July.

DiDonato: Monday - River Cruising showed good early speed to press the pace before completely stopping in the stretch. I guess that’s the danger of stats plays--you never know when you’re getting one who just can’t win despite how good the numbers look. I still think horses like that have a positive expectation in the long run, so we’ll try again, though I’ll tread lightly today as I struggled to find any horse who I really liked on this card.

Today - Race 4 - Mdn 25000, 3yo/up, 1 1/16mT - #8 Lawyer Jim (12-1)
    Lawyer Jim overcame a disastrous start before running on late for third when debuted on the dirt for this claiming price at Gulfstream on New Year’s Eve. His move might have been a bit of an optical illusion as the pace was quick and the runner-up also came from very far out of it, but it was at least somewhat interesting despite the 42 Beyer Lawyer Jim earned for his effort. The chestnut followed trainer Lisa Lewis up to Woodbine, and returned going a mile on the turf for a $50K tag July 18 for Wayne Green, who was filling in for Lewis as she served a suspension. Lawyer Jim showed a quick work on the turf July 1 and took early money before drifting up, but did little in the lane in his second go after racing a bit wide (just 13 feet more than the winner according to Trakus). It’s hard to really have confidence in Lawyer Jim off that effort, but Lewis has some intriguing numbers to consider--even before she upset Monday’s feature with 19-1 shot Rosa Salvaje. She does very well at the Spa (I guess we all should have had Monday's winner), and now has a 6-for-31 record (19%) and $5.92 ROI over the past five years, according to DRF Formulator. She also excels second off the bench--$2.18 in general and $3.75 when restricted to maidens. So, while Lawyer Jim needs to step it up to contend with this suspect group, there are strong reasons to believe he will at a decent price. Play: $15 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 5 - $10 Win on #7 Liquid Lunch. Bankroll: $785.  

Sherack: Monday - Backdown had to work too hard to show the early way while pressed through fractions of :22.31 and :44.99, and tired in the stretch to finish fifth.

Today - Race 6 - OC 25k/N2X, (S), 3yo/up, 1mT - #5 Unbridled Command (8-1)   Unbridled Command gets a chance to turn the tables on likely chalk Ampersand after finishing a well-beaten third to that one as the 8-5 favorite in their May 26 encounter at Belmont Park. The gray was up against it from the git-go that day, breaking a bit tardy and racing uncharacteristically toward the back of the pack in eighth. Unbridled Command made an eye-catching middle-move to reach contention while traveling four wide on the far turn, but flattened out in the stretch, finishing 7 1/4 lengths behind his aforementioned rival. Switching pilots to Julien Leparoux in his latest, the Lakland Farm colorbearer was sent to the lead, and made all the running through easy fractions to impressively annex his first-level state-bred condition by 4 1/4 lengths going 1 1/8 miles June 23. Unbridled Command boasts a runner-up finish as a maiden over this course last term, and also has a solid third-place finish (Ampersand was a neck back in fourth) behind a pair of subsequent stakes winners in Fox Rules and King Kreesa in his sophomore debut at Belmont May 5. The very tactical Unbridled Command has proven that he doesn’t have to be on the early lead to be effective, and will certainly have a nice jump cutting back to a mile on the stone-closer Ampersand in a race void of early speed on paper. An aggressive ride by Leparoux (holding my breath) can go a very long way here. Play: $35 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 7 - $20 Win (Turf Only) on #6 Princess Malia. Bankroll: $1,141.

No comments: