08/15/2013 9:35AM

Saratoga: Dave Litfin's Analysis August 16, 2013

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Dave Litfin's Analysis [BEST BET: Dayatthespa (3rd race)]

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1 POPPY'S WATCHING and GENTLE JIM are tough to separate based on their July 20 meeting, when they finished noses apart while drifting out through the late stages. The former has improved with each turf sprint, while the latter has failed to hold leads in four consecutive starts. SLIMSHADY has closed fast for second in two of his last three outings, beating the top pick and the consistent SELJUK; 0 for 17 but not easily eliminated. Closer Looks >>
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2 All-firster start to the early pick 4 includes three entries. ARTEMIS AGROTERA is out of a full sister to $1 million earner Stephen Got Even who has produced three winners, and workouts are promising; mate STAR GRAZING is a half-sister to Empire Classic winner Friend Or Foe. FREUD'S SUNSET (kin to three winners) and NOON TIME SHOWER (half to $419K earner Perfect Shower), and coupled for different trainers who are each profitable with new shooters. ALWAYSINSTILETTOS is out of a half-sis to Shesastonecoldfox, a Saratoga debut winner for these connections who produced Fox Rox, second in debut for this barn opening weekend. Closer Looks >>
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3 DAYATTHESPA had easy time of it in seasonal debut when in vs. New York-breds for the first time since Spa unveiling; Grade 1 winner hard to go past after running subsequent Diana heroine Laughing to close decision at Monmouth Park. INIMITABLE ROMANEE has been in the money 10 straight on turf since Apr. 2012, but has picked up only a single victory during that stretch; involved in repeated close finishes with SHAKEIRA. The latter lost all chance when taken up sharply opening day, snapping string of seven straight exacta finishes since last August; started the year in promising fashion. Closer Looks >>
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4 MAHNA smashed into the gate and then bucked to spot the field several lengths, and finished with good energy when tried on turf in local bow vs. Kiss Me Lola (see 8th); second best both dirt starts at Churchill on Lasix, including top-figure effort June 23. LAGUNA GIRL has been second all four starts on fast dirt, while employing different pace tactics in first two outings this year; faster at 3 than at 2, a promising sign. DELANY ROAD is a half-sister to two multiple winners; $340K juvenile purchase has been readied by a trainer with three debut winners at the meet (all on turf). Closer Looks >>
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5 AIREOFDISTINCTION was bumped soundly at the start from the inside post, and finished evenly behind favored Kiss Me Lola (see 8th) when switched to turf by new barn; Churchill dirt form indicates she's capable of showing more early speed. SWEET POTATO went well in debut last fall behind Jubilant Girl (now 3 for 4 including minor stake win), and returned in key race at Belmont from which the 1-2-4-6 finishers won next out; on her third trainer. TRUE COURAGE, a half-sister to Grade 2-placed dirt sprinter Doctor Chit, was bet to favoritism for lone outing at Gulfstream; promising work tab for top layoff outfit. Closer Looks >>
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6 SOUPER SPEEDY was coming off paired 105 Beyer tops in the James Marvin when he found himself embroiled in an enervating three-way pace battle; solid candidate to rebound with class drop and more patient handling. BRIGAND won or placed in nine consecutive dirt starts Mar. 2012 through Feb. 2013, including a couple runner-up finishes in graded stakes and four wins from 7-8 furlongs; freshened after pressing pace in Grade 1 Carter, lone Spa winner. PRAETEREO withstood stretch-long drive to prevail in July 7 return over Don Dulce, who then won $100K optional claimer here; now with David Jacobson, who has won two overnight stakes with Strapping Groom since claiming him from Carl Domino. Closer Looks >>
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7 The late pick 4's opening leg may boil down to a confrontation between CORALITA and CORIANDER, who are closely matched off their recent form. Coralita improved with a barn and surface change first out in nearly 10 weeks, running her last quarter in well under 24 seconds, and was flattered when third finisher Pan Dulce returned to win as much best for $35K. Coriander is third back from a layoff and dropping from special-weights after leading midstretch vs. 9-5 The Lady Says Yes; turnback in distance helps. ALLIE SWEET is a half-sister to two turf winners; good finish after being carried out at the break off-the-turf debut. Closer Looks >>
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8 KISS ME LOLA has improved with each start, and was very "tactical" pressing a fast pace for maiden win July 29 over Airofdistinction and Mahna, who run back earlier on today's card and may provide further insight into the quality of that performance; little margin for error moving to next level. SPUN SILKY set/forced the early issue and was outfinished in her first two starts off the claim, then won with a change of pace rallying from midpack with a new top figure; yet to have same rider twice. QUIET ENDING a consistent New York-bred freshened since notching N2X statebred condition; good finish in 4-year-old return vs. open company. Closer Looks >>
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9 BIGGER IS BETTOR won the Albany at 26-1 as a 3-year-old, and didn't run at Saratoga again until July 22, when he came through along the rail and outfinished several of these to win the Evan Shipman at 11-1; been showing better positional speed this year. AWESOME VISION had dead aim outside but drifted out badly while neglecting to change leads in the Shipman off a seven-week break; deep closer should get decent setup with MOST HAPPY FELLA and GROOMEDFORVICTORY in the mix. ZETTERHOLM is the lone entrant Bigger Is Bettor hasn't beaten; returns for new trainer 13 1/2 months after going off as second choice in Grade 2 Dwyer. Closer Looks >>
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10 Let's do the math: AWAKINO CAT is a four-time stakes winner at Saratoga who missed in a head bob first off the claim to former stablemate Jess Not Jesse (now 4 for 5 on Spa turf after being out-bobbed Sunday), and he's won eight races at today's distance while today's rivals are a combined 2 for 27; strictly the one to beat. ALCOMATCH has held good form on turf and dirt since mid-spring, and is now in the hands of Linda Rice; all five prior Spa turf races were routes. SYNTHESIZER has had both scheduled grass races rained off since NYB allowance win on this course a year ago; drops to new low. Closer Looks >>
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