Sunday, August 19, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 28

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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: Sunday - And Steve thought Atigun’s ride in the Jim Dandy was bad... Wow. That was some serious ineptitude aboard Miami Cat at 9-1. Let’s go to the videotape... Off a bit awkwardly, the Florida invader was strangled back off a pace that never really developed (maybe because he was supposed to be involved in it?). He tried to pull himself closer on the turn, but was instead strangled back and buried in between horses. Dropped all the way out of it to last at the head of the lane, Miami Cat flew home on the far outside to be beaten a length and a neck in fourth.  

Monday - Race 1 - Msw, 3yo/up, 1 1/8m - #3 After the Bell (8-1)
   The top four favorites (two are coupled) in this six-betting-interest affair have a combined record of 39-0-12-9. Yuck. After the Bell, however, still has plenty of upside. The Darley homebred was devoid of speed when unveiled going seven panels at Belmont May 19, dropping far out of it after a slow break before showing some late interest to cut his losing margin to 12 1/2 lengths while checking in seventh. It seemed visually like more than just a clunk-up--he was doing some actual running--and three horses from that heat, including two who finished behind him, returned to break their maidens next out. More distance certainly helps After the Bell, as his pedigree is exceptional for 1 1/8 miles. By excellent stamina influence Empire Maker, the dark bay is out of GI Ashland S. winner and GI Kentucky Oaks runner-up Rings a Chime (Metfield), making him a full-brother to MGISW router Country Star. If that's not a nine-furlong pedigree, I don't know what is. I'm still a bit concerned that After the Bell may find himself too far out of it, as the works since his debut are incredibly slow, but that's how all Tom Albertrani horses work, and I'd think that After the Bell would be adding blinkers here if his lack of speed was that much of an issue. Play: $25 Win. Alternate 1: Race 8 - $40 Win on #8 Geisha Gal (Turf Only). Alternate 2: Race 2 - $10 Win on #7 Good Law. Bankroll: $800 - Record: 24-2-4-4.    

Sherack: Sunday - Better Lucky sat the trip in fourth and had every chance in the stretch, but was simply not good enough when the real running began in the Lake Placid.

Monday - Race 8 - Msw, 3yo/up, f/m, 1 1/8mT - #3 Opalite (15-1)
   Opalite caught my attention with a strong third at 12-1 going 1 3/16 miles last out at the Spa July 29, and can make some noise at a big price in this one. Hard held in eighth that day through a half mile in :48.56 and six furlongs in 1:13.90, Opalite hit the gas with a good four-wide move on the turn for home and kept on coming in the stretch to finish within 3 1/4 lengths of the impressive winner Riolama. The bay has continued to improve since receiving a freshening in the spring and switching to turf in her last two, and should save all the ground with an inside draw here. Deep closer should have more than enough pace to run at to make an impact and cutting back to 1 1/8 miles should be right in her wheelhouse. Play: $14 Win (Turf Only). Bankroll: $1,177.80 - Record: 27-6-4-3.

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