Saturday, August 18, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 27

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: Saturday - Elmutahid, let go at a generous 12-1, set easy splits and gave me quite the thrill before Sonofasamurai showed an impressive burst of speed to blow by him. He was game to battle back for second, though.

Sunday - Race 6 - Str/Opt Clm, 3yo, 1 1/16mT - Miami Cat (12-1)   An abundance of early speed signed on scares me a bit, but I can't help but think that Miami Cat is entered here for a reason. The chestnut's Calder form is decent--he earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure for a 6 3/4-length off-the-turf allowance win in May, and was subsequently flattered when the runner-up came back to score twice. Miami Cat pressed a hot pace (nine points above par early on the Moss Pace Figure scale) last time in the also rained-off Mambo Meister S. May 26, but faded to sixth. That field featured a trio of next-out winners, including a pair who took stakes. One of those stakes winners was fellow Phil Gleaves trainee Csaba, who was second by a nose in the off-the-turf GII Hall of Fame S. here last week. Miami Cat clearly accompanied his stablemate from Florida, and could be poised to follow in that one's footsteps and give a good account of himself. The pair worked in company over the turf in Miami July 30, covering four furlongs around the dogs in a quick :48 flat. It's hard to imagine that Gleaves, who bred and co-owns Miami Cat, couldn't have found a spot at his home track for this runner. He's got no pedigree whatsoever to suggest the surface switch will suit him, but I'm betting that Miami Cat proves very well-meant. Play: $20 Win on #4 (turf only). Alternate 1: Race 8 - $20 Win on #3 Medolina (turf only). Alternate 2: Race 9 - $15 Win on #6 Marvelous Margaret. Bankroll: $820 - Record: 22-2-4-4.

Sherack: Saturday - Sea Island had the perfect set-up in the Alabama, but just never fired behind the ultra-impressive Questing.

Sunday - Race 8 - GII Lake Placid S., 3yo, f, 1 1/8mT - #4 Better Lucky (5-1)   While much will be made about the unlucky trip that last year’s GII Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine Stephanie’s Kitten’s received when fourth as the favorite in the GII Lake George S. at the Spa July 25--and rightfully so--things didn’t exactly go according to plan for Darley homebred Better Lucky that day, either. Checked hard repeatedly while entering the clubhouse turn, Better Lucky was forced to trail the field of eight early, but wanted no part of it, and immediately started making a solid middle move into quick fractions of :23 2/5 and :47. She impressively kept the momentum rolling with a four-wide sweep on the far turn to challenge for command and kept on fighting on bravely in the stretch in a very roughly run race to come up only a neck short of the streaking Centre Court. The daughter of Ghostzapper proved that she was a quality runner when annexing her turf debut against graded company with a game nose tally in Belmont’s GII Sands Point S. May 28, and should only move forward with the added distance in her second try since. If she’s ridden aggressively early, Better Lucky should be in a perfect stalking position behind Medolina in second, and will have a nice jump on the aforementioned big two, which may be the deciding factor. Play: $30 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 2 - $14 Win (Turf Only) on #3 Johar Beauty. Bankroll: $1,207.80 - Record: 26-6-4-3.

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