Saturday, July 28, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 9

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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: Saturday - I think I scared my neighbors with an audible shriek after checking changes and seeing that my top pick was scratched again, but felt a bit better later after the nightcap came off the turf--Towner was a ‘turf only’ play, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for his name in the entries as the meet wears on. Speculative alternate Law of The Range looked terrible at every point in the Diana, and I wonder if they brought her here in search of firmer going--they certainly didn’t get it. Does anyone want to give me a price on getting shut out for the meet? That might be the only bet I could cash right now.

Today - Race 10 - GII Amsterdam S. - #3 Unbridled's Note (8-1)
    My first glance at this field made me think it would be a 'pass' race both here and in my personal wagering, but upon further review, I think the favorites might be vulnerable. Currency Swap could be the toughest to dismiss, as his recent runner-up effort behind Trinniberg in the GII Woody Stephens looks excellent on paper and comes up with a very fast pace on the Moss Pace Figure scale and a solid 102 Beyer. But that race was run as a total merry-go-round, with the 1-2-3 finishers traveling that way from start to finish. I didn't like Currency Swap's 3-year-old form coming into the Woody Stephens, so I'm going to take that last race as the exception rather than the rule. Doctor Chit has done little wrong this year, but he didn't face much resistance in the Western Larla S. last time against a very suspect field. Fort Loudon's defeat of Trinniberg in the GIII Carry Back at Calder last time was simply too much of an improvement for me to take it at face value--especially at a quirky venue like Calder. It doesn't help that trainer Nick Zito has been very cold so far at the Spa. Gun Boat looks good on paper, but his big-fig allowance win last time came on Betfair Hollywood Park's synthetic surface, and Bob Baffert's ROI in graded stakes here over the past five years is $0.81 (courtesy of DRF Formulator). That leaves Unbridled's Note as the best alternative. He has done nothing wrong in two career sprints, and took a reasonably tough and paceless Churchill allowance last time while displaying some greenness. He should get the right set-up here, and offers by far the most upside at what should be an attractive price. Play: $20 Win. Alternate 1: Race 2 - $10 Win on #6 No Nukes. Alternate 2: Race 7 - $10 Win on #7 Desert Storm (Turf Only). Bankroll: $830.

Sherack: Saturday - Seriously, Leparoux? Atigun looked loaded throughout while getting completely strangled for the majority of the Jim Dandy, but came up empty in the stretch to finish a disappointing sixth. Bombs away in the Travers with a new rider.

Today - Race 9 - Nani Rose S., 3yo, f, 1mT - #2 Alaura Michele (12-1)
   Concerned about the condition of the turf course after all of the rain Saturday, but hoping this one stays on the lawn. Alaura Michele looked like she could be any kind last year after transferring to the Bill Mott barn and switching to grass. The Siena Farms homebred was a bit headstrong when impressively wiring Belmont maidens going six furlongs in late June (shaded :12 in her final eighth), then showed the ability to settle and pounce when annexing the P. G. Johnson S. in style over the Saratoga lawn Aug. 31. Those two victories stamped Alaura Michele as a leading candidate for the GII Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs, but the wheels came off at 3-5 over a soft going in Belmont’s GIII Miss Grillo S. Oct. 2, and she hasn’t faced the starter since. Love that Mott has the confidence to kick off her sophomore campaign in this aggressive spot, and the steady worktab, dating back to mid-April at Payson, should give her a nice foundation to fire in her first try off the bench. It won’t be an easy task for Alaura Michele facing the likes of Grade I winner Karlovy Vary, but if she runs back to the promise that she flashed as a juvenile, Mr. Mott will be celebrating his 59th birthday in style. Play: $20 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 4 - $20 Win (Turf Only) on #7 Why Not More. Alternate 2: Race 10 - $20 Win on #6 Politicallycorrect. Bankroll: $1030.

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