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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hoping PLEADING For Alex

- “Depleted” seems to be the operative word to describe the prospective field for the Breeders Cup Classic, but trainer Tim Ritchey is still holding out hope that Afleet Alex can make the race, and oh, what a bonanza that would be. Nobody wants to see him rushed back too soon, but anyone connected with the sport has to be hoping that he can make it. After the lung infection fiasco in the Rebel, some people, including myself, scoffed at the notion that he’d be able to come back and win the Arkansas Derby.

Of course, that was just a little mucous, and not a leg injury, so, as Jay Privman writes in the Form today, It's a longshot. Maybe not Arcangues at $269.20, but a longshot nonetheless.

The situation seems Herculean. Afleet Alex had his surgery two months ago, and has not even advanced from jogging to galloping, though that could change imminently. Ritchey also wants to get a prep race into Afleet Alex. Do the math - this year's World Thoroughbred Champion-ships are a bit more than six weeks away - and the window of opportunity seems barely open.
"We will know more after he starts galloping [perhaps Friday]," Ritchey said. "He has been jogging a mile and a half early in the morning, and then another mile and a half later in the morning, for the past two weeks. Once I start galloping him, and get a breeze into him, we will know more about him in terms of fitness. I want to get a prep into him, either a sprint at six or seven furlongs on dirt, or even a mile on grass, to get him to the Classic. I could wait until as close as two weeks out.
- Sun King, back in favor after winning the Pa. Derby from the 14 hole, will train up to the Classic. The Form starts their individual coverage of the eight Breeders Cup races today.

- Storm Cat already commands the highest stud fee (for horses, anyway) in the world at $500,000, but after the select portion of the Keeneland September sale, he could be due for a raise. An astounding seven yearlings by Storm Cat sold at the Sept. 12-13 select sessions for at least $3 million. In all, 22 were sold for an average of $2,028,409.
"The impact is a combination of factors," [Overbrook Farm’s Ric] Waldman said. "One, I think this is the best group of Storm Cat yearlings that have ever come into this sale; and two, there is a strong turnout at this sale--all of the major buying groups are here."
"The older he gets, the more success you see coming from him," Waldman said. "Not only on the track, but from his sons. The success of Giant's Causeway has done an awful lot to help sons of Storm Cat." [Bloodhorse]
Paul Moran of Newsday writes about some absurdly priced sale horses of the past.
The names are not particularly impressive without the accompanying pricetags. Consider Seattle Dancer and Snaafi Dancer, the two most expensive yearlings ever sold at auction at $13.1 million and $10.2 million respectively.

Then there was Imperial Falcon ($8.25 million), a colt sold last year for $8 million and still not named, Jareer ($7.1 million), Laa Etaab ($7 million), Tasmanian Tiger, Amjaad and Van Nistelerooy, all between $6.4 and $6.8 million.

None of these horses accomplished much or earned even a small fraction of their purchase prices. This does nothing to dissuade the very wealthy from spending fortunes on unproven horses with promising pedigree, however.
- NYRA's federal monitor Neil Getnick (whose firm, by the way, will reportedly be paid between $4 and $5 million by NYRA), blasted NYRA's regulators, blaming them for not having taken action that would permit NYRA to make up revenue lost by their cutoff of rebate shops, and to get into the 21st century of racing.
Getnick had harsh words Tuesday for the State Racing and Wagering Board, lashing out at the agency for failure to act on pending simulcast contracts and proposed rule changes that would permit NYRA to institute a player rewards program - read rebates…

The board, publicly scolded, under pressure and short a member, may actually take action within a reasonable period of time.

"Right now," Getnick said, "the regulated is leading the regulator." [Newsday]
- The Meadowlands opens its abbreviated thoroughbred meet on September 30, and they’ve dedicated the weekend of October 7-8 to raising cash for the Katrina relief effort through the NTRA Charities Racing to the Rescue Fund. And in keeping with the times, the track will give away $500 gas cards to five very lucky winners each Friday night of the meeting.


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