Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Nomination Is In: August 29, 2009; The Travers Stakes Grade I at Saratoga

Our sport is rich in tradition, something the Turk hopes it can retain in these darker hours of its history. The oldest stakes race in America, the Travers goes to post today for the 140th time at 5:45 ET on the main track in Saratoga. Awaiting the winning stable is the canoe, to be painted in their colors, where it will remain until next August to remind everyone who is the King of Saratoga at least for one year. The colors of Colonel John will join the other coats of underpaint after today.

Race 12 SAR, Post Time 5:46 ET; The Travers Grade I; 1 1/4 miles on Dirt for 3 YOs.

The Turk hasn't been a very good dirt handicapper at Saratoga as I highlighted in my analysis of the King's Bishop. Sometimes the best way to break out of a funk as a handicapper is to just keep handicapping and breaking down the results afterwards. I have spoken before about being humble or being humbled by this game; It's your choice. No matter what success I can talk about in the past, its a what have you done for me lately business and I've been a money burner on the dirt this meet. The Turk has almost stopped betting the dirt at Saratoga but I've been handicapping almost daily. I do that when I need to clear my mind, to not feel any pressure, and just take it back to basics. Saratoga is a tough play for many 'cappers, so I'm not down on myself, just reflective and being as analytical as I can be. Never lie to yourself and don't try to bet your way out of a rough patch.

Supers are in Vogue for this race and that's what I'm planning for. With that in mind, I like the morning line chalk Quality Road to win today. Three straight 110+ BSF's have placed him near the top of the 3 YO class after the maddness of Triple Crown Season ended. Training very well with Pletcher after an odd switch from Jerkens. An Owner has the right to do that and at least it was handled in a manner that didn't air publicly the raw emotions it must have unleashed to those involved. The distance and the lack of sloppy track work only concern me slightly. The son of Elusive Quality has what it takes.

My handicaps this weekend are more of a bet strategy then a dispassionate view of the horseflesh involved. Summer Bird and Kensei are clearly better horses, but I'm backing Charitable Man in the place spot. Working lights out since his solid 3rd place in the Grade II Jim Dandy, this is his second effort off a >45 day layoff, something Trainer McLaughlin hits 25% of the time.

Warrior's Reward and Summer's Bird will be right there to pounce off the pace, much of which will be driven by Trainer Zito's Our Edge. Kenesi may press the pace sooner then either of these two and I'm looking for him to falter because of this. I may be wrong, and the Asmussen trainee is a fine horse who may make me look foolish, but again, this is gambling and I'm shading him down a tad, no higher then fourth in a few of my tickets.

Warrior's Reward has the tepid Borel up. He's won only 1 of 31 races at the SPA and his in the money percentage is very poor. I'm a big Bo-Rail fan, and perhaps Warrior's Reward will help him break out. I like the 5F work on the off track and the race best 113 BSF on a wet track. Only 8-1 on the Morning Line, that will surely go up but at post value will still be there.

Summer Bird is also on his 2nd off a >45 day layoff, something Trainer Ice only hits 7% of the time. He does have a 106 BSF from his effort at the Haskell on a wet track, but an 86 from the slop at the Kentucky Derby which was also at this classic distance. Is this a BC Marathon runner or a BC Classic runner?

I am hunting for a strike today and I will employ a matrix and not a box strategy. It will aproximate a wheel and almost all my tickets will place Quality Road at the top, and the value tickets will have Charitable Man, especially if >6-1, and several will have Our Edge holding on for fourth, with Zito/Garcia a formidable team and just sparkling bullets for this rabbit. Garcia has really brought it to Saratoga, 29 wins so far and 44% in the money. Yeah.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

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