Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 18

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: Wednesday - How weird is this getting? Top-pick scratch number eight with Ageless. Is Sherack bribing trainers and stewards or something? Alternate Sweet Sway (14-1) (my second alternate also scratched) broke a bit slowly, rushed up from the outside to press and eventually faded to fifth.

Today - Today - Race 2 - Mdn $35K, 2yo, 5 1/2f - #4 Nubin Ridge (8-1)    I'm against a number of horses in here for various reasons, and Nubin Ridge feels like he might be live. I just don't know what to make of the Pletcher/Starlight runner All Keyed Up--his connections have been super live with firsters this meet, but it's pretty obvious that they don't think much of this horse. He's been based at Delaware and is a half to the good Canadian sprinter Atlantic Hurricane, so you'd think if he could run at all he'd be spotted differently. He doesn't need to be a monster to win this and might just prove realistically placed, but he's definitely not going to be worth whatever short price he'll be. The Rodriguez and Ward firsters both seem likely to want turf and/or more ground; the other Ward horse is being ridden by a 10-pound bug who I just can't trust; and Persaud and Zito's stats in the relevant categories leave much to be desired. Nubin Ridge, on the other hand, has a sneaky second-fastest-of-68 breeze over the training track July 22 and a pedigree top and bottom that is slanted towards sprinting/winning early. His dam was a second-out winner, and a half-brother (by Speightstown), was a decisive debut winner. Trainer Merrill Scherer doesn't win often with his firsters, but when he does, they're big prices. He scored at 27-1 last meet with a 2-year-old going long on the turf, and might pull off something similar here. Play: $20 Win. Alternate 1: Race 5 - $15 Win on #9 Sarjinsky (Turf Only). Bankroll: $865 - Record: 16-1-2-3.

Sherack: Wednesday - Why Not Whiskey looked like he was launched out of a cannon after finally finding racing room on the far outside in deep stretch, but just fell short by a neck to finish a painful second at a well-backed 3-1. Think I’d rather see DiDonato listed to ride next time instead of Lezcano.

Today - Race 5 - Msw, 2yo, 5 1/2fT - #6 Endorphins Fly (15-1)   Granted, Hall of Famer Bill Mott doesn’t have the best numbers out there with his debut runners, but that doesn’t mean that the blue-blooded Endorphins Fly can’t run a big one at first asking here. The son of the very solid debut sire Distorted Humor is the second foal from the lawnmower My Typhoon, who registered a career high over the Saratoga turf in the 2007 GI Diana S. My Typhoon, out of the bluehen mare Urban Sea, was also precocious enough to win her Saratoga debut at two, rolling to a 5 1/4-length decision going two turns on the grass. Think it’s a good sign that Mott decides to launch this youngster’s career going short, and there doesn’t appear to be anything else entered that immediately scares you here (ok, maybe the Graham Motion firster with six Fair Hill bullets scares me a little bit). Mott firster Apex outran his 31-1 odds to place a decent second to Palace Malice in a baby race Saturday. Hoping that’s a sign of better things to come. Play: $25 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 8 - $14 Win on #1 Papa Tom. Bankroll: $1,430.80 - Record: 17-6-2-1.

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