Friday, July 27, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 8

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DiDonato: Friday - Scratched all the way through my alternates, leaving me at the mercy of the Sherack Express. A rough start and a promising Pletcher firster kept me safe from further abuse, however, and I’m thinking the momentum’s about to shift.

Today - Race 11 - CLM ($20K), N2x, 3yo/up, 5 1/2fT - #12 Towner (12-1)
   The reasons to like Towner fall so perfectly into place that it almost seems too good to be true. He debuted for trainer Darrin Miller for $50,000 over the Keeneland Polytrack going 6 1/2 furlongs Apr. 20, and scored by a nose against a group that has flattered that performance in subsequent efforts. The then-Silverton Hill colorbearer tried to stretch out against a tough group of allowance foes on the turf at Churchill May 18, but faded after pressing the pace. Miller dropped the chestnut back in for $30,000 sprinting on the dirt in Kentucky June 24 and, after some bad behavior in the gate and a rough trip proved too much to overcome (he was a distant fourth of six), Towner was haltered by Brad Cox for claiming powerhouse Midwest Thoroughbreds. Cox, who boasts a 31% win rate and a $2.39 ROI off the claim according to DRF Formulator, clearly claimed a number of horses for this meet, presumably because of the bloated purses. From three previous runners at the stand--all off the claim for Midwest--Cox has a second and two thirds. Those considerations might be enough to entice a play at 12-1, but Towner's pedigree puts his appeal over the top. Out of the all-turf mare Piconeach (NZ), he's a half to Silverton's Havelock (Great Notion), a MGSW turf sprinter who ran poorly in his one try over a conventional main track. Towner should get plenty of pace to run at here, and he won't have to be half as good as his big brother to mow them all down late on a surface that he is very likely to prefer. Play: $36 Win on #12 Towner (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 9 - $20 Win on #2 Law of The Range (Turf Only) . Alternate 2: Race 8 - $10 Win on #6 Dancing Winner (Turf Only). Bankroll: $850.

Sherack: Friday - Stage Street was hammered down to even-money (what else is new; he was the 7-2 third-choice on the morning-line!) once the rains arrived, and ran a big one to finish a solid second after nearly tossing Leparoux courtesy of a very hard bump shortly after they sprung the latch... First “profitable” afternoon for DiDonato, who broke even on the day after ducking me at the windows.

Today - Race 10 - GII Jim Dandy S., 3yo, 1 1/8m - #3 Atigun (8-1)   Landed on Atigun after watching him train with authority all week in preparation of the GI Belmont S., and the son of Istan gave me quite a run for my money at 20-1. Love that McPeek decided to freshen him a bit since that solid third-place finish behind Union Rags and Paynter, and the Shortleaf Stable colorbearer seems to have come out of the effort in top form, posting four solid drills including a five-furlong bullet in 1:00 4/5 at the Spa July 21. Hard to make excuses for his performances at Oaklawn in the GII Rebel S. and GI Arkansas Derby earlier this term, but he just has the look of a late-developing 3-year-old, who is clearly on the improve in his last two starts. Expecting a very big performance if he doesn’t fall too far back early. Play: $35 Win. Alternate 1: Race 5 - $30 Win on #5 Associate. Alternate 2: Race 6: $10 Win on #6 Adriatic Spirit. Bankroll: $1,065.

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