- Likely post-time favorite Afleet Alex got back into his two-a-day routine at Pimlico and Tim Ritchey contemplates the Preakness:
"The shortened distance will help him....I don't anticipate the pace being like it was in the Derby. I would think we would be a little closer, a little more of a stalking position and, hopefully, from the three-eighths pole to the wire, he'll make that kick he made in the Arkansas Derby." [Baltimore Sun]That would be nice of course, though it seems unlikely. It was a slow pace at Oaklawn, and he had a pretty much ideal trip, being able to stay within striking distance without going too fast against weaker than he'll face at Pimlico. The expected presence of Going Wild should ensure at least an honest pace that he'd have to do more to stalk that way. Who knows what High Limit will be up to early with his new jockey Edgar Prado?
- More on the situation at Evangeline from the local Lafayette Daily Advertiser, where it’s the featured story. Too often this sport makes the front page for the wrong reasons.
Thursday's events reached a climax when Steve Bourque, the leading jockey at EvD, went down aboard Angelic Reason in the 5 1/2-furlong sixth race.While one trainer said he “didn't see any problems," one owner said: "They've got a problem down there," he said. "What they've been doing is putting more sand on top of it (track). That ain't going to solve the problem. They've got to come and re-do the whole thing. There are pieces of concrete showing through the sand."
The filly broke her leg in the race and was euthanized. Trainer Samuel Breaux said he didn't believe Bourque sustained any injuries, but it was the final straw for jockeys who saw at least two horses break down and two others struggle.
"I think three horses went down and after Steve went down all the jockeys got together and claimed the track wasn't safe," said assistant trainer Paul Johnson. "This morning they had a meeting, walked the track and decided to officially close until next Thursday." [Daily Advertiser]
- Magna vice chairman Dennis Mills appealed directly to House Speaker Michael Busch to break the slots deadline in Maryland.
"I say to him, humbly, respectfully, that we believe the future of the Maryland thoroughbred industry and the Preakness are really in the hands of the speaker of the House....We reach out to him and ask him to be part of a peace-making exercise so we can have a bill." [Newsday]Unfortunately, Busch declined to actually attend yesterday’s meeting that Mills had with the governor and senate president. "This is a big set-up," Busch said. "Basically, this is Mike Miller and Bob Ehrlich trying to blame somebody else for the fact that they didn't take the House bill.” Indeed, the House did pass a bill, but it didn’t have as many machines and racetrack locations as the one the Senate approved.
- The G2 Genuine Risk at 6 furlongs at Belmont today is a tough, wide-open betting affair. I don’t find any races more difficult than sprinting stakes like these. You can make a case for almost anyone. Elusive Diva comes off her smashing win in the grassy Las Cienegas at Santa Anita and goes back to the dirt. Forest Music earned a big number in a minor stakes at Laurel. Bank Audit cuts back to 6f, a distance at which she’s in the money 8 of 9. The 8 yo mare Lilah was extremely sharp at Gulfstream for Allen Jerkins and won a G3 in her last, with Forty Moves 3 lengths behind after a poor start.
And Todd Pletcher has a 4 yo filly named Forestier (Forestry), an improving sort who won a restricted stake at Aqueduct in her last. Pletcher is 0-8 at Belmont thus far with 5 favorites amongst them. Nick Kling writes that some suspicious horseplayers are buzzing about a connection between his slow start and the Belmont detention barn policy; and he feels that Forestier could break the schneid:
In her last race, Forestier looked like a new horse. She contested a solid pace in a restricted stake while firmly in the hands of jockey Richard Migliore. When asked to run, the daughter of Forestry drew off in a laugher. Forestier will not have the lead in the Genuine Risk. If she truly relaxed last time and can rate off the pace today, she could get Pletcher off his Belmont duck. [Troy Record]This filly certainly has speed in her bloodlines - she’s inbred to Dr. Fager 4x3. In fact, he’s her dam’s grandsire through her speedy broodmare sire Dr. Blum. (Since Dr. Fager is by Rough’N Tumble, he’s from the same sire line as Giacomo.)