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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

News and Notes - September 20

- You could see Angel Cordero’s one-day comeback coming from furlongs away. More and more we'd been reading about him exercising horses in the morning, even taking a month off from his duties as agent for John Velasquez to work horses full time for Todd Pletcher. It’s too bad he won’t be riding in New York, where for years he was serenaded with cries of “monkeeee,” and vilified and lionized by the railbirds in seemingly equal measure. To me, he was the best. Day in, day out, race after race, he always had his mount in position to win, and the jeers were misdirected when he didn’t find the winner’s circle.

The 62 year old Cordero, who weighs in at 115 pounds, will ride two horses for Pletcher at Philadelphia Park on October 1, when John Velasquez will be at Belmont to ride Flower Alley and possibly Ashado. The 3 yo colt Yes Yes Yes and the unbeaten 3 yo filly Indian Vale will receive his services, and Cordero has pledged to donate 25% of his earnings to the Katrina relief effort.

- I guess Shiek Maktoum isn’t tapped out after his wild spending spree at Keeneland last week; Godolphin has purchased Discreet Cat, the 2 year old who earned the year’s highest juvenile Beyer thus far (106) when he won his debut at Saratoga. Well, at least this one has already shown something on the track; I’d be most curious to know what the price was. You would think that Discreet Cat’s former trainer Stanley Hough would be devastated, but he’s realistic and said that it made good business sense. "He's a lot of horse. It was a very fair offer, one that was hard to turn down. In my opinion, he was well worth it." [Daily Racing Form]

Discreet Cat has a shin condition and will likely not run in the U.S. again before being shipped to Dubai. Godolphin has tried and failed in the past to win the Derby with horses based in Dubai, and we’ll see if they are determined to make the same expensive mistake again. This is likely another net loss for North American racing.

- Whitney winner and Woodward rabbit victim Commentator is out for the year. It’s been a real roller coaster ride for Nick Zito this year. At one time he seemed to hold all the Derby cards, and then crapped out on all the Triple Crown races. Things were looking up with Commentator, and with Bellamy Road’s second in the Travers, but not for long in each case. A scan of the Blog Standings indicates that his 3 yo filly In The Gold is his only current championship prospect, and, in my opinion, she’s a longshot. He does have the revived Sun King, about whom, at least right now, everybody’s laughing/everybody’s happy after his win in the Pennsylvania Derby. He’ll train up to the Breeders Cup Classic.

- Folklore earned a Beyer of 99 in her Matron win, the highest for a 2 yo filly this year, on a day that featured, according to the Form’s Mike Watchmaker, a drying track that was a bit tricky to make speed figures for. [DRF] That’s 18 points higher than her previous high, and I think the Beyer folks may be coming back for a second look at that number at some point.

- I love Sorcerer’s Stone’s win in the Arlington-Washington Futurity more each time I watch the race. The one turn mile should set him up perfectly for his next scheduled start, the Breeders Cup Juvenile, for trainer Patrick Byrne.

"He couldn't impress me any more than he did today….Favorite Trick was a brilliant 2-year-old, but I didn't feel he would turn out to be a [Kentucky] Derby winner. This could be a special colt."
"Time will tell how good he is," Sorcerer's Stone's jockey Mark Guidry said. "Today if he'd have been pressed he could easily have gone 1:34." [Chicago Tribune]
We noted the short fields in the Matron and Futurity, and Steve Haskin at Bloodhorse points out some of the problems.
The scheduling of the Futurity and Matron pretty much leaves the participants of the two races hung out to dry, either having to go from seven furlongs straight into the Breeders' Cup off a six-week layoff or squeeze a race in between. The change in distance back to seven furlongs is a good one, but the races likely should have been run a week earlier.

Trainers of horses competing in the Hopeful and Spinaway have shown no desire to run back in the Futurity and Matron, so there is no reason for the extra week. And most trainers pointing for the [one mile] Champagne (gr. I) and Frizette as their final Breeders' Cup preps are not likely to subject their young horses to three grade I stakes in six weeks by running in the Futurity and Matron. If the Futurity and Matron were run on the big Woodward weekend, it at least would give trainers four weeks to the Champagne. NYRA could get lucky this year, with Private Vow and Folkore possibly coming back for the Champagne and Frizette, but that is only because they were so dominant on Saturday. It is still asking a lot.


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