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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 - Letshootpool could not have run any worse. Luckily, Mr. Sherack has been equally cold after his successful start. Going to stick to stats-based plays and be a bit more conservative, letting him come back to me before I make my big late run... or have to be eased.
Today - Race 5 - Msw, 2yo, f, 5 1/2f - #2 My Happy Face (8-1) Rudy Rodriguez boasts excellent numbers with his 2-year-old firsters, and My Happy Face’s pedigree suggests she can win on debut. According to DRF Formulator, Rodriguez is 4-for-18 (22%) when unveiling juveniles in dirt sprints, good for a $4.23 ROI. All four winners came in maiden special weight company, boosting Rodriguez’s stats in the relevant category to a downright absurd 4-for-7 (57%) with a $10.90 ROI. Two of those three non-winners ran second, with one losing by just a head at 15-1. The other one was fourth at 23-1 here. My Happy Face’s freshman sire Tiz Wonderful was a super-impressive debut winner here in 2006, and he has done well with his first babies to hit the track. The Spendthrift resident has a 5-1 winner, a 5-2 narrow runner-up and an 18-1 show horse from six progeny to make their first starts. My Happy Face’s dam Summer Star (Siberian Summer) didn’t win first out, but she had some speed and her first foal, My Boy Jimmy (Teton Forest), broke his maiden for a tag at Pimlico in April, paying $15. Play: $25 Win. Alternate 1: Race 7 - $10 Win on #14 Seminole County. Alternate 2: Race 8 - $20 Win on #6 Cease. DiDonato Bankroll: $900 - Record: 4-0-0-1
Sherack: Monday - My Big Brown firster Aventurine failed to land a blow in the fifth race Monday, but didn’t run that terrible either, making up a decent amount of ground to finish sixth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths. Can’t complain getting 10-1 on Pletcher and Dominguez, that’s for sure.
Today - Race 3 - Md 50000 (50-40), 3yo/up, 1 1/16mT - #4 Knock Rock (20-1) We’ll be putting up the blue screen for DiDonato at TDN’s Red Bank office Wednesday after Knock Rock lights up the tote board here. Yes, Knock Rock has been awful in his last two runs at this level downstate, and is 0-for-14 lifetime. And yes, trainer Scott Schwartz is somehow one-for-53 (hard to believe) this term. But trust me, it gets better. Knock Rock, a $40K OBSAPR grad, was once thought of so highly by his connections that he contested the GII With Anticipation over this course and GII Pilgrim at Belmont as a maiden last term, and didn’t embarrass himself. He finished only 4 1/4 lengths off the mark in the With Anticipation, placing a solid fourth behind State of Play, Optimizer and Dullahan, and was also a decent fifth in the Pilgrim over a soft going. Granted, the son of Corinthian needs to run back to his much more appealing 2011 form to make an impact here--which also includes a couple of solid efforts behind Shkspeare Shaliyah and Liquidity Trap--but based on the horses that will be taking money, he certainly has a chance at a huge price in a pretty bad field. Seems to run better when ridden a bit more aggressively early, and has a favorable inside draw. Watch out if Junior catches a flyer out of the gate. Play: $20 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 7 - $25 Win on #7 Chief Gaga. Alternate 2: Race 4 - $20 Win on #10 Salvar. Sherack Bankroll: $1,027 - Record: 4-1-0-0