Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 30

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 - Just for Today was too far back and couldn't make up any real ground in the lane. Looking like I'm going to need a miracle and going to have to take some big swings in the final week.

Thursday - Race 6 - Msw, 2yo, 5 1/2fT, #4 Kamchatka (5-1)   I didn't love anything on this card, to be honest, so I'll take a shot with a horse who just has to be better than he showed in his debut. Kamchatka sold for $550,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale after breezing an eighth in :10 2/5. It was a nice enough showing--he has a high action that might be good for the turf--but the breeze and his page which, again, is decent, doesn't scream $550,000 to me. I'm going to assume someone who knows a lot more than me about that kind of thing liked the horse for good reason. Given a 9-2 chance first out on the dirt at Churchill June 17, Kamchatka basically tried to prop early, made a brief move and then stopped. It wasn't particularly promising, but he returned to work a third-fastest-of-52 five furlongs on the training turf here July 30 and could improve with the addition of blinkers. There's a little turf in his pedigree--Tale of the Cats like the lawn and his dam's a half to a GSW in France and England--and trainer Mike Maker does alright switching to grass second out. According to DRF Formulator, Maker maidens score at a 31% clip with a $3.14 ROI trying the turf in their second starts--slightly higher ($3.28) from a small sample size when reduced to just sprints. Play: $20 Win (turf only). Alternate 1: $20 Win on #1 Espiritu Libre. Alternate 2: $15 Win on #11 Never the End (turf only). Bankroll: $740 - Record: 26-2-4-4.

Sherack: Wednesday - Knock Rock (took a very large win bet late to go from 10-1 to 6-1 once they sprung the latch; I swear it wasn’t me) sat a perfect stalking trip behind the eventual winner, and just got tagged in the final jumps to get nailed for second.

Thursday - Race 6 - Msw, 2yo, 5 1/2fT - #2 Central Banker (4-1)   I, too, didn’t find anything that I loved on this card, so I decided to go with a runner in Brian’s race to make the day in the office slightly more interesting. Central Banker, a $200,000 KEESEP yearling graduate, gained valuable racing experience in his unveiling, finishing a clear-cut distant third behind the very impressive Canadian shipper Jocosity in his Saratoga debut Aug. 3. Love Speightstowns on the grass, and this guy’s dam Rhum was a steady stakes performer on the green stuff, too (16-7-2-1). Central Banker’s half-brother, the very in-form sprinter Gantry, handled turf quite well earlier in his career, getting a win and also a close fifth-place finish in the GIII Jaipur. Also like that Central Banker went out for a four-furlong spin around the dogs on the training turf since the debut. Hoping to pair him up in the gimmicks with the Asmussen firster at a price. Play: $20 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 8 - $14 Win (Turf Only) on #2 Star Torina. Bankroll: $1,138.80 - Record: 29-6-4-4.

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