Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 36

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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: Wednesday - Nine O Wonderful got a weak ride, failing to go through a wide-open seam at the top of the lane. When finally guided clear after being stymied on the inside, he flew home fastest of all (:22.96) to finish a close fifth. Probably would’ve been right there with better handing.

Thursday - Race 4 - Msw, f, 3yo/up, 7f - #6 Run for Riches (15-1)
   Steve and I were both going to pick Buleria, who had an awful trip last time and figures to get a ton of pace, in the fifth, but for the good of the contest, we agreed to stay away from her. There were some real tense cat-and-mouse moments there and I was trying to calculate the best amount to bet if we were both going to take her... I’m glad it didn’t come to that. Instead I’ll go with Run for Riches, who feels like she has to be better than she showed on debut. Bet a bit at 6-1 when unveiled going a mile at Aqueduct in November, the grey showed early interest before stopping badly. She’s worked very well in preparation for this return--apparently in company with well-bred expensive unraced 2-year-old Cue the Moon, who may be one to watch for depending on how Run for Riches does. More interesting is trainer James Bond’s past success when making this sort of move. He’s scored twice since 2009 with maiden second-timers turning back off the bench at Saratoga--both were 8-1 and had similarly uninspiring running lines first out. Play: $20 Win. Alternate 1: Race 9 - $20 Win on #7 Twilight Eclipse (turf only). Alternate 2: Race 3 - $2 Win on #3 Archwarrior. Bankroll: $1,320.90 - Record: 31-4-4-5.

Sherack: Wednesday - Da Mi Basia Mille had every chance in the P.G. Johnson, but just didn’t kick on in the stretch like she did in her debut to finish a disappointing fourth at 5-1... Of course my alternate pick Corinzia came charging in the nightcap to light up the tote board at $25.00... Hoping a day trip to the Spa turns my luck around today.

Thursday - Race 9 - Equalize S., 3yo, 1mT - #1 Csaba (3-1)
   Was convinced that I found a horse that could get me back in the lead in this thing with Buleria in the fifth, so you could only imagine my frustration when DiDonato confirmed via email Wednesday morning that he was on the Empire Maker filly as well. At least I can still bet plenty of real currency on her though. I couldn’t have been more impressed by Sonofasamurai’s maiden breaker Aug. 18 (you just don’t see 2-year-olds split horses the way he did in the stretch and continue to punch on home) and couldn’t wait to bet him back, but shouldn’t the man aboard that day, David Cohen, be even more impressed than the guy that was watching on a television screen 200+ miles away in Red Bank, NJ? Cohen is instead listed to ride stablemate He’s So Fine, and after still kicking myself for landing on the wrong McPeek horse in the Travers, I’m going to look elsewhere for my main play today. That leaves me with Csaba. Loved him on either surface for the GII Hall of Fame S. (click here for my Aug. 10 analysis), but had to swallow a much shorter price when the rains arrived. He still ran great that day, coming up only a nose short while delivering an ultra-game performance. Shorter distance will help, gets a favorable rider change to Castro and should be out there winging from his inside draw. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s coupled with Brian’s trip horse from Aug. 19 Miami Cat, either. Willing to take a shorter price than usual to help bridge the gap with DiDonato. Likely favorite Finale certainly looks vulnerable in this spot off the bench. Play: $50 Win (POE). Alternate 1: Race 10 - $25 Win (Turf Only) on #2B Sonofasamurai. Bankroll: $1,056.80 - Record: 35-7-4-4.

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