Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 29

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 - After the Bell was an even fourth. Starting to run out of time, but really like my horse today, so we’ll see. 

Wednesday - Race 8 - Str/Opt Clm, 3yo/up, 1 1/8m - #8 Just for Today (15-1)   After two middling tries at Churchill this spring, Just for Today overcame tons of adversity to earn his diploma in a $50,000 maiden claimer over track and trip here Aug. 6 (making him the only runner in the field with a win at Saratoga or at the distance). Dropping out of it early after an awkward beginning, the Claiborne homebred looked hopeless as he lagged towards the back of the pack behind an opening half in :51.01, good for a 53 Moss Pace Figure (22 points below par). He inched closer to the frontrunners entering the stretch, however, and mowed them all down to get up by a nose despite a little greenness. Just for Today only earned a 67 Beyer, but that'll help his price. There's no way the final time could have been fast considering how slow they went early, and the 81 final Moss Pace Figure Just for Today received seems closer to what he probably ran Beyer-wise. A figure around 80 is very likely to take this against a field of shaky dropdowns and distance question marks, and it's worth noting that trainer Al Stall, Jr. elects not to dangle Just for Today in for the $50,000 optional tag. Stall hits at a 33% clip with a $2.37 ROI in dirt routes off a maiden win, according to DRF Formulator, and he's scored at a 38% rate with a $2.74 ROI in dirt routes at the Spa over the past five seasons. Play: $35 Win. Alternate 1: Race 6 - $25 Win on Impetuous Spirit (turf only). Alternate 2: $15 Win on #1 Goodtolook. Bankroll: $775 - Record: 25-2-4-4.

Sherack: Monday - Opalite looked loaded while under a tight hold down the backstretch, but never really fired in the stretch, reporting home a non-threatening sixth at 14-1.

Wednesday - Race 6 - Clm 35000B, 3yo/up, 1 1/16mT - #5 Knock Rock (8-1)   The versatile Knock Rock returns on quick notice against slightly tougher following a strong third after an eventful trip versus $25k taggers Aug. 13. I’ve made my case for him in each of his last two starts, and he’s produced career-best efforts on both occasions, including his long overdue maiden win July 25. He’s run big on short rest before--co-career high 75 Beyer in salty Belmont maiden 13 days after a fifth-place finish in the GIII Pilgrim S. as a maiden last October--and love seeing him spotted aggressively here. Don’t think you’ll get the 8-1 quoted on the morning-line, but he should still present good enough value on a horse-for-the-course that’s in top form at the moment. Play: $25 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 10 - $14 Win (Turf Only) on #5 Snookie Slew. Bankroll: $1,163.80 - Record: 28-6-4-3.

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