Friday, August 19, 2011

Spa Watch: Week 5

--Brian DiDonato

After a week of mostly uninspiring cards made even less interesting by heavy rain, this weekend's action at Saratoga features full fields of maidens and a short, but very intriguing running of the historic Alabama. See below for analysis of some of those events.

Race 2 - MSW, 2yo, (S), 1 1/16mT
Unbridled Command (Master Command), a slow-working OBSAPR buy who figured to want more ground than he got in his July 14 Belmont debut, had one of those rough first-out trips that young horses return from much better for the experience. He was green and bounced around several times, but showed a few flashes of interest that hint that there's more to him than meets the eye (TDN Video). The grey has had three steady works over the turf in the interim, and trainer Tom Bush is two-for-three over the past five years with 2-year-old second timers going dirt sprint to turf route, according DRF Formulator.

Race 6 - MSW, 2yo, 7f
If statistical records were kept for owners like they are for trainers, Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence would boast some incredible numbers with their 2-year-old firsters. Klaravich/Lawrence debuters win at an inordinate rate and often at nice prices, seemingly regardless of conditioner. They successfully unveiled two babies just last Saturday--Clip the Coupons (Congrats) here last 6.5-1 with Chad Brown and Managed Account (Malibu Moon) at 6.8-1 at Monmouth withTerri Pompay. Pompay also shipped Currency Swap (High Cotton) up to Saratoga for a jaw-dropping, 98 Beyer-earning debut two weeks ago for the Klaravich/Lawrence team at 9.9-1. Dale Romans, a capable enough debut conditioner, sends out News Pending (Harlan's Holiday) here for the connections in question. The $250,000 Timonium grad shows just five published works for this demanding seven-furlong test, but being a 2-year-old sales grad who worked fairly quickly (:10 3/5) means he's probably more seasoned than just the drills would lead one to believe. News Pending is out of a half-sister to Adore The Gold (Formal Gold), who took a maiden seller by 10 3/4 lengths first out at two before annexing a 1 1/16-mile stakes race a month later and the GII Swale S. at seven panels the following winter.

Race 9 - $50K OC, f/m, 3yo/up, 1mT
Mega Dream (Medaglia d'Oro) needs to improve significantly to contend here, but she'll be a very big price and has a chance to pull of the shocker as she tries turf for the first time. An allowance winner over Keeneland's turf-like Polytrack in April, Mega Dream is out of a half-sister to 1991 champion turf horse Tight Spot (His Majesty) as well as GISW Valiant Nature (His Majesty). Another one of Mega Dream's siblings produced MGISW Premium Tap (Pleasant Tap).

Race 10 - GI Alabama S., f, 3yo, 1 1/4m
It's Tricky (Mineshaft) is the one to beat, but an extra furlong does not seem to favor her or Plum Pretty (Medaglia d'Oro) if they take it to each other early here as they did in the nine-furlong CCA Oaks. Of the three alternatives, Royal Delta (Empire Maker) is the most formidable--and offers the best value if her 6-1 morning line proves accurate. Royal Delta was 2-1 last time--double the price of It's Tricky--off her smashing win in the GII Black-eyed Susan S., but will now be abandoned by the wagering public because of one dull race that she probably needed considering the time she missed in her training and her conditioner's well-documented patience. The Palides homebred runs like more distance will suit her, and hails from a good, stout family. She can bounce back in a big way at a price that will reflect the public's fickleness.

Race 6 - MSW, f, 2yo, 5 1/2fT
Fly to the Sky (Lone Star Sky) didn't do anything particularly encouraging in her sloppy-track debut here July 25, but the Walter New homebred was entered that day for the turf and will get it this time if Mother Nature cooperates. The chestnut is the first foal out of Flying Circle (Pembroke), an accomplished turf sprint stakes winner for these connections who broke her maiden at second asking. Trainer David Fawkes does extremely well in turf sprints in general and all of the relevant subcategories therein, and scored with 9-1 2-year-old second timer Valley of Avoca (Intidab) towards the end of the Belmont meet when putting her on the turf for the first time.

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