Thursday, July 26, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 7

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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: Thursday - I hated the ride/trip that Geisha Gal got in the seventh, and I doubt she’ll be a maiden for long. She was taken further back than she had to be early and was forced to go very wide around the home bend before coming home in :22.99 vs. the winner’s :23.23. Look for her to return later in the meet, but I don’t expect 7-1 again.  

Today - Race 7 - Alw/Opt. Clm ($25K), (S), 3yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16mT - #9 Color Blind (30-1)
   To call Color Blind's 2011 dirt form 'ordinary' would be very generous, but she showed an immediate affinity for the grass first off the lay-off at Belmont May 6, blowing up the tote at 38-1 against fellow New York-breds. The turf was yielding (it may very well come up that way again here if they even stay on the turf), but everything else about her performance is pretty tough to discount. She was back off an average pace, covered a lot of ground on the turn when making her run and beat a decent enough first-level allowance field. Two also-rans came back to win, including fourth-finisher Elusive Rumour, whose fairly close eighth in Wednesday's GII Lake George S. would make her plenty competitive here. Color Blind returned against open company back in Elmont July 7, and was simply in too tough, finishing eighth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths. Her trip certainly didn't help matters, as the dark bay was hung very wide and without cover at all points in the race. Finger Lakes-based trainer Anthony Ferraro scored with a 22-1 winner on the turf here last year, and he could be poised for another longshot victory if Color Blind runs back to her good turf race stepping back into restricted company. Play: $15 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 9 - $10 Win on #1 Relentless Road (Turf Only). Alternate 2: Race 8 - $15 Win on #8 Morgan’s Guerrilla. Bankroll: $850.

Sherack: Thursday - Thought I hooked another live one after watching my selection All Class get hammered down to 7-2 from his 12-1 morning-line quote, but he failed to run to the money after setting a pressured pace and folded to finish a disappointing eighth.

Today - Race 4 - Msw, 2yo, 5f - #1 Stage Street (7-2) Making my biggest bet of the young meeting in this one. If not for Shane Sellers falling asleep at the wheel on Stage Street in his 4 1/2-furlong Churchill Downs unveiling June 1, the speedy son of Street Sense would already be looking to take on stakes company at the Spa. The $300k KEEAPR graduate flashed sharp speed after breaking from post six, looked home free while being extremely confidently handled in the stretch, but never saw the fast-closing Malibu High coming (yet to return to the races or worktab), and was beaten by a half-length. The well-beaten fourth-place finisher that day Sky Captain has since returned to graduate by daylight in an 11-horse field beneath the Twin Spires July 1. Stage Street has been patiently handled since the debut, posting a typical Steve Asmussen worktab, capped by an easy five-furlong move in 1:03 3/5 over the Oklahoma training track July 16. The always-dangerous Asmussen barn is off to a great start at Saratoga, and always seems to improve with its second-time starters. Will gladly take my chances against the surprisingly cold Pletcher barn (he has two entered here), and the likely favorite from the D. Wayne Lukas barn, who had no real excuses when registering a third-place finish at first asking. It’s not much of a secret what Julien Leparoux’s game plan is going to be from post one here. Come and catch me. Play: $50 Win. Alternate 1: Race 8 - $20 Win on #1 Politicallycorrect. Bankroll: $1115.

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