Saturday, September 1, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 39

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 - Wow. This is really coming down to the wire. Was rooting like crazy for Emcee’s odds to come down so I could maintain the lead no matter what happened yesterday, but a late uptick on the Forego winner and then a too little, too late run from Cease put Steve Sherchalk back on top. You can cut the tension with a knife in the TDN’s Red Bank headquarters right now, and the mind games have begun. I think I’d rather be chasing than leading right now, as Mr. Sherack has some tough decisions to make. I’ll be laying a bit low today, but only to set up a big late push on closing day.

Sunday - Race 2 - Msw, 2yo, f, 7f - #1 Cue the Moon (6-1)   I said Thursday that Cue the Moon would be interesting if older workmate Run for Riches ran well. She didn’t--at all--but I still think Cue the Moon is pretty live. The $310,000 KEESEP yearling is a half to stakes-winning juvenile Red Hot Buddha from the family of GII Prioress S. winner and GI Ballerina S. runner-up Hurricane Bertie as well as MGSW and GI Alabama runner-up Allamerican Bertie. There’s some serious quality under the third dam as well, including GI Futurity S. winner Traitor, and GSW/GISPs Sun King and Ocean Drive. Trainer Jim Bond has a $4.19 ROI with 2-year-old firsters over the past five years according to DRF Formulator thanks to two bombs, but I’m more interested in his numbers when partnering with Ramon Dominguez. I rarely am even aware of who’s on my horse most of the time, as I think generally riders can only get horses beat with poor rides and it’s hard to predict when that will occur, but I can’t ignore the success of the Bond/Dominguez combo. They’ve hit at a 30% rate with a $3.42 ROI together since 2010, and an even more incredible 41% clip with a $5.18 ROI at the Spa. Those are some serious numbers, and support the notion that Cue the Moon will prove well-meant. Play: $10 Win. Alternate 1: Race 4 - $10 Win on #8 Twigazuri Straight (turf only). Alternate 2: Race 9 - $10 Win on #9 Spring to the Sky (turf only). Bankroll: $1,255.90 - Record: 34-4-4-6.

Sherack: Saturday - You seriously didn’t think that I’d let DiDonato come back and win this thing, did you? Emcee got pounded at the windows at 3-2 after the key early scratch of Shackleford in the Forego, but he thankfully still paid enough to vault me back into the lead with my $40-win ticket. DiDonato has already started talking to himself in the office Saturday night, and we’ve still got two days to go. Man, we couldn’t have scripted this any better!!

Sunday - Race 4 - Md 65000, 3yo, 1 1/16mT - #8 Twigazuri Strait (10-1)   Not in love with anything on Sunday’s card, but Twigazuri Strait is certainly playable at a nice number in the fourth. The son of English Channel looks to be as difficult to ride as his daddy was (Rosario really never looked comfortable on this guy in his first two attempts), so the rider change to Johnny V is really nice to see here. He’s finished with interest in a pair of paceless races thus far, including a sixth-place finish in a Aug. 3 Saratoga merry-go-round affair, and he figures to finally have the perfect set-up here. Will be running late for at least a piece. Play: $10 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 11 - $10 Win (Turf Only) on #12 Simple Exchange. Alternate 2: Race 6 - $10 Win on #2 Harmony Hills. Bankroll: $1,266.30 - Record: 38-9-4-4.

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