- Afleet Alex is scheduled to work out on Friday morning at Belmont, his first since his surgery on his left front leg. Tim Ritchey said it will take one or two works to determine when and where he will make his return to the races. [NY Daily News]
Saint Liam worked five furlongs in 1:00.93 at Aqueduct on Saturday as he continues to train up to the Classic which Alex is very much doubtful for. Some have cited the history of horses generally needing a race closer to the Classic than the nearly two months Saint Liam will have had, but this horse has proven not only his ability, but his preference for longer rest, and I don’t think it will present a problem.
- I had written during the Saratoga meeting of Todd Pletcher’s futility with his first time starters there, usually at low odds. He’d popped a couple during the first week, but none thereafter, and his streak of first-time non-winners in New York lasted 20 races and six weeks, finally ending on September 18 with Lasting Appeal.
Keep an eye on him with second time starters; according to Formulator, he has three wins and a second with the last four he’s sent out at Belmont. On Saturday, he won with second-timer Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat), who had debuted for now-retired trainer Elliot Walden at Churchill in June. Bluegrass Cat won the 7 furlong race in style by 6 ½. He’s a half to 2005 Grade 2 winner Lord of the Game, and she’s out of an A.P. Indy half sister to Daydreaming, another G2 winner this year. His second dam is a half to Travers and BC Juvenile winner Rhythm.
- Bright Abundance (Quiet American) got a nice trip from Richard Migliore and took the Grade 3 Noble Damsel at Belmont, holding off favored My Lordship in the stretch. In handicapping this race, I noticed an extreme example of the Beyer guys making adjustments to the raw speed numbers. Several of the horses were coming out of the De La Rose stakes at Saratoga, which was split into two divisions. Cloak of Vagueness had won one of those with a final time of 1:34.3. Path of Thunder took the other division; she set a snail’s pace of a 51 second half, as opposed to the :47.2 in the other race, and finished in 1:36.4, a full 2 1/5 seconds slower than Cloak of Vagueness. Yet Path of Thunder earned a 96 Beyer rating as opposed to Cloak of Vagueness’ 95!. The heats were run two races apart and there was no difference in the turf condition. I’d be interested to know exactly how they came up with that, though the slow pace engineered on Path of Thunder by John Velasquez was no doubt a big factor.
The bettors seemed to discount the numbers, dismissing Path of Thunder at 12-1 (she ran a very involved 4th), and making Cloak of Vagueness the 7-2 second choice (she never got a call, finishing 9th).
Nice job by Brian at Triple Crown Racing, tabbing Bright Abundance ($15.60) as well as the $51 exacta; and also the way overlaid Ever Elusive ($18.40) in the 8th. Check out the exacta payoff – with 9-2 Flaming Heart in second and the 3-5 Play Ballado in third, it returned a paltry $66 in an eight horse field. There’s no way the winner should have been 8-1, and the exacta players seemed to have it much closer to right.
- Matt Hegarty’s piece in Sunday’s Form sheds some light on the imprecise and sometimes casual procedures used to account for proper weights before and after a race, and how they may have contributed to some of the accusations leveled against the riders and clerks in the NYRA Weightgate indictments.
On Friday, several racing officials questioned whether prosecutors made allowances for safety equipment carried by riders and the fact that riders typically weigh anywhere from three to seven pounds more after a race than before it. The procedures of accounting for weights vary from state to state and sometimes from racetrack to racetrack within a state, depending on different rules and how strictly they are enforced.You wonder how much of that is known by prosecutors that are obviously going strictly by the book.
According to two clerks of scales and a retired jockey who gives advice on riders' issues, those differences do not show up on the clerk's official weight sheets, which are filed with the racing office. Those sheets appear to represent critical pieces of evidence for the prosecutors, who say the sheets are the basis for the charges of "falsifying business records."
According to the racing officials, the clerk of scales typically subtracts the weights of helmets and safety vests - which are required equipment in all jurisdictions - before and after a race from the official weight and will many times give allowances for any dirt, water, or sweat that a jockey and his equipment will pick up during a race. In addition, in many jurisdictions, riders carry more equipment to the scales after a race than before, and that weight is also subtracted from the official post-race weight.
"Let's say a guy checks in with 115 pounds, and that's without the helmet and the jacket," said Victor Sanchez, the clerk of scales at Calder Race Course in Miami. "You're going to expect him to come back 118 or 119 because now he's got the jacket and helmet, and he's carrying the saddle girth which soaked up a lot of sweat plus his pommel pad and saddle, and if it's muddy, then you've got all that dirt and water, and that stuff is heavy. You still mark 115. That's just logical."