Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 35

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 - Chief Gaga left himself with a bit too much to do and could only muster a mild bid to be fourth. He might be interesting stretching out on the turf next time.

Wednesday - Race 6 - Win S., 1mT, 3yo/up - #5 Nine O Wonderful (8-1)
   While speed figures are much less reliable on the turf due to the slow early pace of most grass races, come-home times can be very useful for uncovering runners who are better than they look on the figures. Nine O Wonderful is that type of horse--his 82 and 84 recent Beyers don't compare favorably with the 90+s of many in this field--but he absolutely flies home. Let go at 13-1 in a first-level allowance at Belmont May 13, the 4-year-old covered his final furlong in :22.03 to best decent French GSP runner and subsequent winner Barocci, who covered his last eighth in :22.64. Nine O Wonderful was dismissed at the same price in an optional claimer on opening day here, but looked like a winner at every point in the race and put in a final furlong in :21.83 to get up by a measured neck. Stakes-winning runner-up Followmyfootsteps was clocked in :22.47. Group 1-placed Salto, who had a bit of trouble, was the second-fastest closer in :22.03. I'm not sure the fields Nine O Wonderful exits were much weaker than this one, and I'm positive he's better than he looks on the Beyers. The projected early pace might not be as fast as I'd like, but I know who will be moving quickest in the lane. Play: $30 Win (turf only). Alternate 1: Race 8 - $25 Win on #6 Skyfall (turf only). Alternate 2: Race 5 - $10 Win on #9 (turf only). Bankroll: $1,350.90 - Record: 30-4-4-5.

Sherack: Monday - My Barclay Tagg firster Judy G took more money than expected at 4-1, but didn’t run to it, coming up empty in the stretch to finish sixth after briefly leading once the pacesetter bolted on the turn.

Wednesday - Race 8 - P.G. Johnson S., 2yo, f, 1 1/16mT - #5 Da Mi Basia Mille (6-1)
   The price is just going to be too nice to pass up on impressive debut winner Da Mi Basia Mille here. Overlooked at 8-1 while attempting this same distance in her unveiling over the Mellon course July 23, the gray bided her time toward the back through fractions of :22.55 and :46.99. With Jose Lezcano aboard, Da Mi Basia Mille crept up closer down the backstretch, hit the gas with an impressive wide move on the turn for home and exuded class while charging down the center of the course to win by a geared down 1 1/4 lengths, earning a respectable 71 Beyer in the process. Fifth-place finisher that day Broken Spell came back to earn her diploma Aug. 19, and returns on quick notice for this contest. Da Mi Basia Mille will have more than enough pace to run at with several sprinters stretching out here, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that she represents one of  the top barns in the country in the Christophe Clement stable. Nothing but respect for Pletcher’s big two of Top Tier Lass and Tara From the Cape, and the European invader Watsdachances (Ire) certainly merits attention as well, but just think that they will all be running for second in this one. Play: $40 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 10 - $20 Win (Turf Only) on #9 Corinzia. Alternate 2: Race 9 - $10 Win on #2 Slamm’n Lou. Bankroll: $1,096.80 - Record: 34-7-4-4.

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