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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: Wednesday - Can’t believe Knock Rock kept going... He’s never done that when I needed him to. He must really like Saratoga--unlike me right now. Luckily, the Sherack steam kept the price down. Of course, in my race, My Happy Face had to run up against a track record breaker. She wins a very large majority of maiden races here and was clearly well-meant. Steve, please go easy on me today.
Today - Race 7 - Msw, 3yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16mT - #4 Geisha Gal (12-1) I found two very potent trainer angles in this race, so I’m sure whichever one I go with, the other one will come in. In fact, I’ve already changed my mind once. Bill Mott does very well with maidens coming off lay-offs and trying turf for the first time, and he sends out the intriguingly bred Geisha Gal off a fifth-place finish in the slop on debut at Belmont May 25. According to DRF Formulator, over the past two years, Mott is 4-for-17 (24%) with a gaudy $5.59 ROI making this move. Geisha Girl is by Japanese Group 1-winning turfer Agnes Tachyon (Jpn) (Sunday Silence), who was the leading sire in his native land in 2008. She’s out of a full-sister to European GSW and sire Ishiguru (Danzig), making her second dam the GI Spinaway and Matron winner Strategic Manuever (Cryptoclearance). Geisha Girl appears to have worked six furlongs on the turf here alongside Grade II-winning turf horse Newsdad (Arch) recently, which is certainly another positive. Other stat: After Da Mi Basia Mille scored at 8-1 Monday, trainer Christophe Clement is hitting at a 28% strike rate with a $4.12 ROI over the past year with his firsters going long on the turf. His other runner in the same category on opening day was a solid third at 6-1. Flower Mart, who’s well-bred for turf top and bottom, will be my first alternate for that reason. Play: $25 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 7 - $25 Win on #7 Flower Mart (Turf Only). Alternate 2: Race 8 - $10 Win on #3 Single Malt Mac (Turf Only). DiDonato Bankroll: $875 - Record: 5-0-1-1
Sherack: Wednesday - Had DiDonato immediately shook after Serling backed up my selection Knock Rock ($13.80) during NYRA’s handicapping show Wednesday morning, and the smart money came pouring in. Didn’t get anywhere near the 20-1 that was quoted on my boy on the morning-line, but we’ll gladly cash another ticket ($20 win) while my opponent continues to get blanked through the first five days of action. Alternate pick Chief Gaga was also a good second at 12-1 in the seventh.
Today - Race 6 - Clm 20000, 3yo/up, 5 1/2fT - #4 All Class (12-1) All Class figures to have plenty of company on the front end, but I’m banking on him to be the speed of the speed over a course playing quite kindly to front runners at the moment. The gray son of Value Plus returned from a December layoff in top form, clearing his n2L condition ($20k) in style by running a field of 11 off their feet over the Belmont lawn June 17. He was immediately flattered by the runner-up that day in Thomas Hill, who has since returned to win at 19-1 in a $35k tagger at Belmont June 27, and also place a close third at 18-1 in a $50k optional claimer July 13. All Class graduated over the same course-and-distance in a New York-bred maiden special weight at the Spa last August, and is a perfect two-for-two with Cornelio Velasquez in the irons, who returns to the saddle today. Play: $30 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 2 - $25 Win on #1A Believe in A. P. Sherack Bankroll: $1,145 - Record: 5-2-0-0