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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Saratoga Wednesday

- Here's some thoughts on Wednesday's card. This is just some thinking out loud about some horses that interest me for one reason or another. I may or may not end up betting on them; that will depend on the vibes and the odds, in that order. So they're not official "picks," unless, of course, they win.

I mentioned that George Weaver is on a little hot streak - perhaps a bigger one in the making? In the first, he has the 5-2 morning line favorite in Eddie C. This gelding hasn't run since March of 2006; a repeat of that race, or any of his prior two efforts would likely put this one right there. Weaver is solid in the 180+ category; eight for 30 over the last two years. Earlier this month here, the barn sent out Ground Copy for the first time since April of '06, and that one ran a huge second after rallying five wide.

Not likely to be much value there, nor in the daily double with he and Syriana's Song, the 8-5 morning line favorite in the second off a high figure (87) second here earlier this month behind Irish Smoke (94), 5-2 in her first start for Biancone, and ahead of a Pletcher 3-2 favorite. (This was back on Aug 2 before the Toddster really started to sink - he now stands at a winning percentage of 11%.) So, I'll take a peek at a trio of first-timers that look intriguing. Armonk, by the $15,000 sire Mizzen Mast, sold for $400,000 at Keeneland in April. I used to spend time looking up the breeze times, but I think I can use my time more efficiently. If a horse is by a relatively cheap sire and sells for many multiples of the stud fee, we can just figure that he worked well; 21.2 or 21.4, what difference does it make, really? Kiaran McLaughlin doesn't win with many debut babies here, but he's certainly capable and this one has some highly impressive works.

Little Miss Julien debuts for the tip-top juvenile outfit of Wesley Ward. By the $5,000 Is It True, she drew a winning bid of $170,000. Ward has won with eight first-time two-year olds this year from 18 starts; and none of them have paid more than $7.60. So if this one is anywhere close to her 8-1 morning line, she's probably not live. The doubles however can offer value on a horse that subsequently gets bet to a larger degree in the second leg; that's another sign of "smart money" that I like to look for.

And Stormy Blessing makes her debut for Darley and trainer Eoin Harty. Not much to report from the A.M. But with breeding like this - by Storm Cat out of Bless, an unraced full sister, by Mr. Prospector, to Fusaichi Pegasus - I'll be doing the paddock and tote check on her.

- The 4th is a pretty crummy state-bred maiden race, with two obvious stickouts in Staid (2-1) and Madam Commander (5-2). The latter checked in 4th for Mike Hernandez after a stumbling start, just about a half length behind Staid in the last for both. But Madam Commander was extremely wide on the turn and had some trouble in the stretch too, while Staid had a clean trip towards the rail. So, while the extra distance is a question for both of these to be honest, I'll likely use Madam Commander as a single if I decide to get involved in some Pick Threes around the race, as I do like a horse in the 5th:

Stag Dancer is 6-1 in the morning line and could provide some value, especially with Pablo Morales in the irons. This mare has excellent back form in state-bred company, and in fact has already won for these allowance conditions, at Belmont in May; he gains entry due to his $30,000 claiming tag. His efforts in his last four, in which he was overmatched in open allowance and state-bred stakes races, were perfectly honest tries, and she should just love this dropdown.

You have a couple of horses in this race that figure to get bet in Follow My Dream and Fairytale Story; they both move up off wins. Follow My Dream hadn't won in two years, and given his deep closing style, he'll need a lot to fall into place to win two in a row. And Fairytale Story comes out of an entry-level allowance that has not been at all productive thus far. I think that Stag Dancer has a class edge on those, and I'll try others who have been competitive at this level - Higher Incentive, Love Cove, and Nehantic Cat, for the minor awards.

In the 6th, a maiden claimer, the entry of Cherokee Time and Wild Logic is listed as the 9-5 favorite, and they would certainly look to be vulnerable and overbet favorites. Two first-timers rate a look. Vesper goes for Richard Violette, who scored with the well-bet debut runner Stand Pat on Monday (also in a maiden claimer), and ran second with Hedgefund Investor on Saturday. You might have read in the Form or heard Jan Rushton mention on Monday that Violette has more debut winners over the last four years at Saratoga than anyone other than Pletcher and Zito (he has eight). Vesper is by the 8% debut sire Black Tie Affair, and has a couple of fast works amid mostly slower breezes.

And Michael Trombetta sends out Stormy Miracle (Hennessy). As I mentioned the other day when he popped the debuting Cave's Valley, this guy is batting .333 with first-timers, though a mere .250 with two-year olds. He's two for six, with a second and two thirds, with two-year old first-timers in maiden claimers. Watch the board....but not too much, remembering that Cave's Valley was 6-1.

The 7th is too hard, so I'm going to cop out and skip to the 9th. The two morning line favorites in this dismal state-bred maiden affair couldn't be more vulnerable. One in a Romp (5-2) has raced in sprints, both on dirt and grass; but has fared poorly in each of her two turn tries. And The Ag (2-1) has been burning money for Pletcher; enough said (unless the guy comes into the race with three prior winners on the day).

So I'm taking a look at La Gioia Ditutti. She's trained by Gary Sciacca, who had his first winner of the meet with Grosvenor Square on Monday. We've seen trainers go on a bit of a roll after breaking through; and while Sciacca doesn't win like he once did, he's certainly a capable conditioner. This one showed improvement when switched to the grass, and progressed up to an excellent closing second to 3-5 favorite As Do I, subsequently third in a state-bred stakes (and then 9th in an allowance), earning a 70 Beyer that likely wins this. Since then, her last two weren't great to be honest. But I suppose you could argue that she bounced two back; and she flattened out after a big wide move in her last. The key could be the switch to jockey Ramon Dominguez, who has won at a 28% rate in 29 rides for Sciacca, pretty impressive when you consider the trainer's overall percentage. This Signal Tap filly looks worth a shot at her 8-1 morning line.

2 Comments:

Walter said...

Alan, are you gonna be @ Saratoga for the Travers?

Anonymous said...

No mention of Chief's Lake's attempt to become the first winner of the NY Bred Triple Crown??

Tough for me to make anyone else in this spot, but in attempt to find some value in the late multi race exotics will try Stunt Man, who appears the most likely to pick up the pieces IF the favorite fails to get the 9f while carrying 124 pounds.