Friday, August 31, 2012

Showdown at the Spa: Day 38

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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: Friday - Noosh’s Tale was just atrocious. . . I should’ve known better. And how about that freaky performance by My Happy Face in the first? That’s at least the third horse I had as a top pick to come back and win.

Saturday - Race 10 - GI Woodward S., 3yo/up, 1 1/8m - Cease (10-1)
   It feels like there's enough tactical speed in here to soften up Mucho Macho Man, who's the most formidable of the favorites. After him, it's wide open. Cease has an excellent record at both the distance and Saratoga and figures to be charging late. He's three-for-three at The Spa, all at this trip, and took Sam Houston's Maxxam Gold Cup H. in his only other dirt run at 1 1/8 miles. The Claiborne/Dilschneider homebred's best career Beyer Speed Figure of 102 came in an emphatic graduation romp here a year ago, and he exits a visually impressive allowance tally July 25. Closing into a below-average early pace, Cease circled the field and powered home in the lane to a somewhat workmanlike, but decisive victory. He only earned a 95 Beyer last time, but since he's run faster before, it's not much of a concern and can only help his price. Play: $25 Win. Alternate 1: Race 8 - $25 Win on #4 Dominus. Alternate 2: Race 9 - $15 Win on #3 Isn't He Perfect. Bankroll: $1,280.90 - Record: 33-4-4-5.

Sherack: Friday - Ughhh. Not again. My alternate pick Conspiracy delivered at 5-1 in the seventh, but the top selection on the day Beer Is Good was anything but good in the finale, chasing the early leader before folding in the stretch. Looks like you still have the lead for now DiDonato, unless you’ve got some more hot Pat Kelly firsters up your sleeves?

Saturday - Race 9 - GI Forego S., 3yo/up, 7f - #6 Emcee (9-2)   I hope there’s still some room in the Godolphin/McLaughlin trophy case for one more Grade I win at the Spa this summer. I’ve been on the Emcee train the entire season, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets his paws on one of these. The lightly raced 4-year-old showed his class while making his third career start, dueling with the fleet Royal Currier throughout and collecting third in game fashion behind inner track specialist Calibrachoa and the classy Caleb’s Posse in the GIII Tom Fool H. over the Big A’s winterized surface Mar. 3. I was banking on the GI Carter H. to be Emcee’s shining moment, but it clearly wasn’t meant to be after he lost all chance badly missing the break en route to a disappointing fourth-place finish. Wisely given a shot to regain his composure in his next try at Belmont May 5, the son of Unbridled’s Song did exactly what he was supposed to do as the 1-2 chalk in a $50k optional claimer, stalking on the outside in third and pouncing in the stretch to post a smart 4 1/2-length victory at this distance, good for a gaudy 107 Beyer. Freshened following that score, he was drawn on the inside and forced to duel early through :21.99 and :44.61 in the six-furlong GI A.G. Vanderbilt Aug. 5, and ran his heart out to be a close third after doing all of the heavy lifting over a tiring and harrowed muddy strip. This race figures to set up much more like his aforementioned score downstate with him being drawn to the outside and the price will be right to make a nice score here. Play: $40 Win. Alternate 1: Race 2 - $25 Win (Turf Only) on #2 Knock Rock. Bankroll: $1,204.30 - Record: 37-8-4-4.

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