Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 17

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 - Over the Counter was 1st at 5-1 in the fifth. Oh ya! In your face, Sherack! What? I’m still down $580? Oh. Ok then... Had another top-pick scratch (number seven) with Bluegrass Summer in the second and, of course, Steve scratched into the nose winner of that one. But got a surprisingly generous 5-1 on Pompay/ Klarman/Lawrence firster Over the Counter--out of a French Deputy mare to boot--and came through with an elusive first winner of the meet. Ms. Pompay has an $8.41 ROI with 2-year-old firsters over the past two years now. I’m coming for you, Stevie. Better get out the whip.

Today - Race 8 - Mandy’s Gold S. - #4 Ageless (15-1)   I have nothing but respect for My Miss Aurelia's 2-year-old form, but would anyone really be surprised if she didn't return the same horse at three? We've seen the phenomenon time and time again with the brilliant/precocious types, so while I wouldn't be shocked at all if she dusted this field en route to bigger and better things, I'm certain she'll be a decided underlay in this spot and is well worth taking a shot against. It feels like several of these runners pose a problem for each other on the front end, so I'll try the turning back Ageless from off the pace. The bay began her career with a pair of sprint romps before being forced to chase loose-on-the-lead Agave Kiss (when that one was still in top form) in the May 18 Miss Preakness S. She still earned a career-best 84 Beyer Speed Figure for her third-place run while clearly being taken out of her game (she has always been close in her races, but she rates kindly and wasn't suited to trying to keep up with a speedster like Agave Kiss). Ageless pressed the pace in the extended-mile Go For Wand S. at Delaware June 9, finishing third, and chased wide last time in Monmouth's July 15 Serena's Song S. at the same trip before fading to fifth. Turnbacks remain one of the best value angles in racing, both because horses making such a move have a fitness edge and because most horses at this point are better suited to going shorter. I expect a big performance from Ageless returning to what she's best at. I'd think she's well-poised to run a new figure top--something around a 90--which should win this given the pace dynamics unless My Miss Aurelia has trained on. Play: $20 Win. Alternate 1: Race 1 - $15 Win on #8 Sweet Sway. Alternate 2: Race 3 - $10 Win on #6 Southside Molly. Bankroll: $880 - Record: 15-1-2-3.

Sherack: Monday - Well...well...well. Look who finally decided to come out and play on the 16th day of the meeting. Was actually glad to see DiDonato cash a ticket for a change, though; maybe now he’ll stop whining about all of his picks getting scratched!
   As for my selection Monday, scratched into another winner when the game Hangover Kid ($8.40) hung on to deliver by a nose in the second race. Only had $14 to win, but love seeing that batting average approach Ted Williams category.

Today - Race 7 - Msw, (S), 3yo/up, 1 1/16mT - #4 Why Not Whiskey (6-1)   Why Not Whiskey looked like a new horse returning from a November layoff and switching to grass with a very eventful third, beaten 6 1/4 lengths, in his sophomore debut going a mile at Belmont July 4. Not given much of a chance at 36-1, the Chalk Racing colorbearer was a handful for jockey Jose Lezcano from the git-go, and lost valuable positioning after getting checked repeatedly down the backstretch. Why Not Whiskey finally settled while last of 11 through a half mile in :47 4/5, and began to build momentum as they turned for home. He really came alive entering the stretch and slammed into a tiring rival like a fullback when angled out for his run. Seemingly undeterred by the aggressive move, Why Not Whiskey came flying down the center of the course to finish third, only a half-length behind second-place finisher Alarmed Ndangerous (7-2 second choice here), clocking his final quarter in a very sharp :22.25. The chestnut seems to have exited that performance in good form, firing an eye-catching four-furlong warning shot in :46.84 around the dogs over the Oklahoma turf July 16 (move matches up with Bruce Brown stablemate Subtle, who earned :46.44 bullet that day and graduated in style in a 5 1/2-furlong grassy maiden here July 28). Blinkers come off for this and Lezcano returns to ride. Any chance he goes off at 6-1? Play: $40 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 4 - $25 Win (Turf Only) on #4 Big Red Talent. Alternate 2: Race 10 - $20 Win (Turf Only) on #10 Four Reds. Bankroll: $1,470.80 - Record: 16-6-1-1

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