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Friday, April 29, 2005

Spanish Rabbit

- Here’s that name again:

Despite back-to-back sixth-place finishes, trainer Patrick Biancone told The Courier-Journal that Spanish Chestnut is still a possible entry for the Derby.
Biancone dismissed the rumors that he would enter the front-running horse as a rabbit for Blue Grass winner Bandini. Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith own both horses.

"This horse is well inside the 20 qualified for the Derby, on his own merit and not anybody's else," Biancone said. [Courier-Journal]
I’m obviously not buying this. You just can’t tell me that this is a legitimate entry; he’s set the pace in his last two and was beaten by a total of 22 lengths while stopping badly; he’s never run higher than a 94 Beyer, and that was in his first lifetime race! Yes, there are others, particularly Going Wild, that certainly shouldn’t be in the race based on his last 2 races, but the common ownership between Spanish Chestnut and Bandini just makes this smell really bad. Perhaps the system that qualifies him “on his own merit” should be looked at. His graded earnings came in a first and third on the speed favoring Santa Anita track against a grand total of 11 9 rivals, so that’s a joke as far as I’m concerned.

The debate about putting hopeless rabbits into races to help an entrymate has been going on for years, so I’m not going to get into that now; but I think I can make an argument that this is just as “detrimental” to the integrity of the sport (not to mention to the poor horse himself) as most anything we’ve seen or heard of late, except for Sweet Catomine’s little midnight excursion; and I find Biancone’s statement just as disingenuous as anything Wygod or Canani said. Can a bettor now conclude that he can bet Spanish Chestnut because his trainer said the horse is well qualified on his own merit?

On the disclosure issue, Kevin Modesti in LA Daily News rehashes the arguments we’ve heard back and forth, but has a couple of suggestions :
It may be impossible for tracks to publicize the results of routine veterinary exams. But couldn't fans be given access to records of actual operations and off-track medical procedures?

And shouldn't owners and trainers be made to understand that more transparency -- to use Wygod's word -- would lift a little of the mystery that keeps a lot of would-be fans away? [LA Daily News]
While I agree with both of these suggestions, I’m a bit less agitated over the whole lack of disclosure issue than some – even my biggest supporter Jessica at Railbird seems to disagree with me on this! I dunno, perhaps I just don’t take it quite as seriously as more serious bettors. It’s just fun for me, and I accept that there are some shenanigans that I’m not going to be privy to and consider it part of the game and of the handicapping challenge, and I'm able to laugh it off. Having said that, I don’t expect to be lied outright to, and a change of attitude on the part of insiders, as well as some basic common sense changes are welcome. reports that Biancone will decide about Spanish Chestnut after a Monday workout; and that Bellamy Road, High Fly, and Noble Causeway will work tomorrow, weather permitting. Don’t forget about “The Works” on TVG at 11:30 a.m.

- Todd Pletcher on the “pressure” on him to win his first Derby:
''I don't feel any added pressure having not won a Derby. I'm 37 years old, and this is my 10th year as a trainer. I expect to get another opportunity. I hope to try again and again. If it happens this time, great. If it doesn't, I'm going to get up May 8, and go to Belmont. Life goes on whether you win or not." []

- Interesting race at the Big A tomorrow, on the last weekend there, in the G3 Withers, at a mile. Familiar names Survivalist, Naughty New Yorker, and Scrappy T will be joined by one-time Derby hopefuls B.B. Best, Park Avenue Ball, and Proud Accolade.

- Late word from the Form that General John B is out of the Derby.
His defection enables Going Wild to get into the field and, provided there are no surprise late entries, gives owner B. Wayne Hughes the option of running either Don't Get Mad or Greeley's Galaxy in the race. [DRF]