Friday, August 17, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 26

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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: Friday - Leaping Lady chased the pace before fading badly in the ninth. One race earlier, alternate Crafty Push scored at 6-1. For once, I was rooting for a late off-the-turf announcement.
Saturday - Race 2 - Msw, 2yo, 1 1/16mT - #5 Elmutahid (8-1)
   Shadwell homebred Elmutahid was unveiled by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin going seven panels over the Belmont sod July 15, but was sandwiched at the start and dropped back. He got a bit headstrong down the backstretch and into the turn, and faded to seventh after pulling himself into contention. The dark bay should show more with a better trip today, and McLaughlin excels with maiden second-time starters stretching out on the turf. According to DRF Formulator, over the past five years, he boasts an 8-for-19 record (42%) with a $3.82 ROI in the relevant category. One of the runners who accounts for McLaughlin’s lofty numbers is Elmutahid’s dam Alwajeeha (Dixieland Band). Alwajeeha was fifth first out as a juvenile going six panels on the Belmont lawn in 2007, but broke through when stretched to a mile at Aqueduct next out. She’d go on to annex the GI QE II Challenge Cup S. at Keeneland the following year. Play: $25 Win (turf only). Alternate 1: Race 4 - $15 Win on #3 Bad Hombre. Alternate 2: Race 2 - $15 Win on #13 Never the End. Bankroll: $845 - Record: 22-2-3-4.     

Sherack: Friday - Chat Me Up was hammered down to 2-1 after a pair of gate scratches, but ran like she was scratched too, finishing last of five.

Saturday - Race 10 - GI Alabama S., 3yo, f, 1 1/4m - #1 Sea Island (12-1)
   Grace Hall and Questing will obviously be extremely tough to beat in this spot and are very deserving favorites, but I’m willing to take a chance at an enticing price with Sea Island, who may take a big leap forward with the added distance here. The Phipps homebred couldn’t have been more impressive when stretched to 1 1/8m at the Spa last time, defeating classy older fillies and mares, including St. John’s River and Acting Happy in a $50k optional claimer, clocking her final eighth in a sharp :12.67. Sea Island has since returned to the worktab with a best-of-36 four-furlong bullet in :48 1/5 over the Oklahoma training track Aug. 13, clearly a good sign for a barn that rarely works them fast. Sea Island’s dam Resort, a close sixth in this race in 2000, could run all day, finishing second in the CCA Oaks held at 1 1/2m that term. Stranger things have happened at the Graveyard of Favorites. Play: $20 Win. Alternate 1: Race 8 - $20 Win on #11 Ivanho. Bankroll: $1,227.80 - Record: 25-6-4-3.

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