Thursday, August 9, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 19

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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 - Nubin Ridge took the type of action in the second that could only mean he was very live, going off at 4.3-1 when he was at least double that on paper. He got the job done and, all of a sudden, I think Sherack’s starting to hear the hoofsteps. He still has a big lead and will probably shut the door on me again soon, but at least there’s a glimmer of hope.

Today - Race 9 - GII Hall of Fame S. - Spring to the Sky (12-1)
    I've been a big fan of Spring to the Sky since his debut romp sprinting in the slop at Belmont last September, and think he might be poised for a breakout performance this time if he can take advantage of his greatest asset--hit serious early speed. He put up a half in :46.24 while pestered by a headstrong rival when trying the lawn for the first time in Belmont's one-mile GIII Hill Prince S. June 16 and hung in until late to be fifth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by top turf sophomore Summer Front. Quite surprisingly, though, the grandson of champion turf mare Soaring Softly didn't make the lead in the Duluth S. here July 22, as a rival to his inside appeared a bit keen and forced Spring to the Sky to track him. The posted splits were very slow--:24.54, :49.26 and 1:12.49--but something doesn't add up. They appeared to be going much faster visually, and the resulting come-home times are too quick to be believed. Spring to the Sky still managed third, but it's a better third than it looks on paper. It's not as if there isn't some speed signed on in here, but nothing quick enough to run with Spring to the Sky--especially considering that he enters off a :59 flat work on the Oklahoma course with the dogs up (more than 1.20 seconds quicker than the next work). He should be able to get some early separation this time and, after essentially pairing Beyers in his last three races, should move forward against a group that seems maybe a cut below what he's faced in his last two. Play: $30 Win. Alternate 1: Race 5 - $25 Win on #7 Insolvent (Turf Only). Alternate 2: Race 7 - $10 Win on #9 Goodtolook. Bankroll: $951 - Record: 17-2-2-3.

Sherack: Thursday - Uh oh. DiDonato starting to make a run as we approach the half-mile marker after striking with another first-time starter. Looks like there will be a Showdown after all. Time to get refocused. Thought I was live when my Mott firster Endorphins Fly received plenty of action at 5-1 (he was 15-1 on the morning line), but he could do no better than a mediocre fourth. Certainly one to watch going forward with that high-powered pedigree.

Today - Race 9 - GII Hall of Fame S., 3yo, 1 1/16mT - #4 Csaba (4-1)
   Csaba hasn’t raced on grass since posting a couple of solid efforts behind smart company at the Gulfstream meeting, but he’s really stepped up his game on the Calder dirt since. A very respectable third behind Howe Great and Dullahan in the GIII Palm Beach S. in March, the turf-meant son of Kitten’s Joy out of a War Chant mare fell victim to the Miami rain in three subsequent attempts, including a sharp 5 3/4-length off-the-turf allowance win with a 97 Beyer May 12. DQ’d from second and placed third in a roughly run Mambo Meister S. on quick rest May 26, he resurfaced without blinkers for the first time with a career-high 99 Beyer while wiring four rivals by an eye-catching 8 1/4 lengths in the El Kaiser S. July 21. Love the four-furlong grass move around the dogs in :48 at Calder July 30, and have nothing but respect for the Phil Gleaves barn, which does extremely well with a limited amount of runners. There’s plenty of other speed entered here, but he’s proven tactical enough to be well-placed early. If this rapidly improving sophomore’s recent dirt form translates to turf, the rest of this group will be running for second. Play: $40 Win.
Bankroll: $1405.80 - Record: 18-6-2-1.

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