Thursday, August 30, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 37

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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 - Wow. . . That’s hilarious. I picked Miami Cat last time when Leparoux absolutely butchered the ride and he finished a much-the-best fourth at 9-1. Sherack didn’t even like the horse today (who would’ve been 15-1 on his own and would’ve interested me)--he liked the other half of the entry--but he ended up benefitting from the rider change and our stupid decision to count both halves of an entry to make things very close going into the last four days of the meet. I’m not happy, Sherack. This means war. Oh ya--and my pick Run for Riches didn’t run for anything. I knew I should've made Archwarrior my top pick.

Friday - Msw, (S), 2yo, 5 1/2fT - Noosh's Tale (6-1)
   Goodtolook figures to be a big favorite trying the turf here, and while the Disco Rico on the grass angle is at play, I think you're supposed to look for regression and try to beat him. He was bet down to 7-5 favoritism when unveiled on the main track Aug. 22, but faded to fourth after setting a below-average pace (seven points below par early on the Moss Pace Figure scale). Trainer Gary Contessa must have had Goodtolook cranked up first out considering the money he took, and the conditioner's stats in similar spots to this leave a lot to be desired. According to DRF Formulator, Contessa's 0-for-15 over the past five seasons with maiden second timers trying turf in sprints. The trainer stats on Noosh's Tale aren't any better, but he's got a big-time pedigree for this. His dam Upper Noosh (Red Ransom) took the GIII Miss Grillo S. by five lengths as a juvenile over the Belmont sod, and she's produced five surface winners from six foals to race. Noosh's Tale's siblings include familiar MGSP turf sprinter Yield Bogey and Upper East Sider, a very impressive first-turf graduate at 12-1 in 2010. Trainer Pat Kelly did run third at 18-1 with another 2-year-old firster over this course and distance on the 17th, so there's reason to believe Noosh's Tale can be well-enough prepared to let her pedigree shine. Play: $20 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 4 - $15 Win on #4 Ear D' Rhythm (Turf Only). Alternate 2: Race 4 - $15 Win on #2 Dancinginyourdreams. Bankroll: $1,300.90 - Record: 32-4-4-5.

Sherack: Thursday - Not quite the way I drew it up, but I'll certainly take it. The other part of the entry Miami Cat saved me big time with a powerful late surge to deliver in the Equalize. Extra sweet throwing a little salt in the wound cashing on DiDonato's trip horse from last time and getting right back within striking distance here. Feeling pretty good driving home from the Spa after this hit and run job.

Friday - Race 9 - Clm 35000B, 3yo/up, 5 1/2fT - #1 Beer Is Good (12-1)
   Beer Is Good has a lot more going for himself besides having a great name. The Mid-Atlantic shipper proved he belonged in these parts with a strong second to Precious Metal (returned off the Jacobson claim to run a career-best 86 Beyer behind the in-form Mineswept at the Spa Aug. 20) after dueling throughout and leading in deep stretch in a $20k beaten tagger for conditioner Robert Bailes July 26. Claimed by Team Clear Star Stable and trainer Rick Schosberg out of that effort, the son of Bob and John returned on relatively short notice hiked up to this level Aug. 10, and just never showed up, flashing early speed and tiring to finish a well-beaten ninth at 5-1, but he does have some excuses to consider. The skies opened up in upstate New York while they were in the paddock for the opener that day, and the turf course turned into a complete swamp, clearly not to Beer Is Good’s liking after posting three straight big efforts on firm ground for his former connections. He’s now had the proper time to adjust to Schosberg’s program, has breezed twice since (he didn’t even get a work in prior to his last start), has smart speed, is drawn on the rail, and Johnny V taking over the reins from Lezcano is a major plus as well. This isn’t the easiest spot ever, but I think he can be dangerous at a nice number if able to kick clear on the turn for home if the course stays as firm as it’s been the past few weeks. Play: $30 Win (Turf Only). Alternate 1: Race 7 - $25 Win on #2 Conspiracy. Alternate 2: Race 8 - $25 Win on #2 Alaura Michele. Bankroll: $1,234.30 - Record: 36-8-4-4.

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