Saturday, July 21, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 3

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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.

BD: Yesterday - Dead-on-the-board Holden On showed a bit of late interest to be a non-threatening fifth. Of course, my two alternates won and paid $15 and $31. You’re a lucky, lucky man, Sherack.
Today - Race 9 - GII Sanford S. - #7 Good Tickled (15-1)
   You almost always hear talk of how much pace there is in every early 2-year-old stakes race, but meltdowns rarely materialize as many graduates simply find themselves on the lead in maiden races because they are running against horses who they're much classier than. The early pace figures earned by some of these make me think that there's real speed signed on, however, so I tried to get a bit creative and find a longshot who figures to be far back. Good Tickled showed the ability to rate when second in his Keeneland debut Apr. 26, and would have cut the winner's margin of victory down significantly had he not been forced to wait for clear sailing in the lane. He bested Joha, who returned to graduate convincingly over the Belmont turf before taking Woodbine's Colin S., in a photo that day. Good Tickled subsequently earned his diploma on the Churchill dirt May 18, defeating Sanford foe John Gordon and well-regarded Positively, who finished second in the GIII Bashford Manor S. The fourth-place finisher in that heat, Show Some Magic, returned to run second to Bashford Manor winner Circle Unbroken before filling the same slot in yesterday’s second race. You can toss out Good Tickled's fifth-place run in the Bashford, as he was left at the break and forced to rush up. He fired a bullet four-furlong drill for this at Churchill July 16, and attracts Ramon Dominguez, who figures to find a good spot off the leaders. Play: $20 Win. Alternate 1: Race 1 - $20 Win on #6 Vicki's Dancer. Alternate 2: Race 3 - $20 Win on #3 Ezzy. Bankroll: $950

SS: Yesterday - Papa Tom set a pressured pace and enjoyed the lead as they kicked for home, but had little left in the tank when the real running began... Will gladly drop $25 on an 8-1 shot any day in exchange for another round of watching DiDonato’s featured selection finish up the track, and his back-up picks get the money.
Today - Race 7 - MSW, (S), 3yo/up, f/m, 1mT - #3 Irishtocat (15-1)  
   Taking a nice swing for the fences on a live longshot here. If stone-closer Irishtocat can take a step forward in her second start following a layoff, she is more than capable of lighting up the tote board. The dark bay made up a ton of ground and encountered some adversity in her first two starts when a very respectable third and fourth over the lawn downstate Oct. 16 and Nov. 4, respectively, then was placed on the shelf after failing to land a blow at the Big A in December. The 4-year-old daughter of Tomorrows Cat wasn’t given much of a chance at 38-1 in her June 17 comebacker at Belmont, but ran a sneaky-good race to finish eighth in a 12-horse field, beaten only 3 3/4 lengths. Immediately up against it after encountering an awful break, the David Duggan trainee was checked down the backstretch to trail the field by no fewer than 15 lengths, but still came alive in the stretch to finish with interest, reporting home within a couple of lengths of two horses likely to take a ton of money here in second- and third-place finishers Bunhead (3-1) and Madame Johar (5-2). It also doesn’t hurt that the co-fourth-place finisher that day Alwaysinmycircle returned to deliver a game victory at 5-2 on opening day. Play: $35 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 2 - $20 Win (Turf Only) on #1 Film Shot. Alternate 2: Race 2 - $10 Win (Turf Only) on #9 Our Entourage. Bankroll: $1,087.

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