- Great piece by Jay Hovdey in the Daily Racing Form today; he captures some interesting banter between Gary Stevens and Garrett Gomez, who will ride Rock Hard Ten and Borrego respectively in the BC Classic. It’s worth reading in its entirety. Though they are obviously friends, the two riders didn’t hesitate to exchange some barbs.
"In fact, here, stow that in your locker," Stevens added, tossing Gomez a handsome print of Rock Hard Ten winning the Goodwood. "I want you thinking about him."Stevens also got a shot in at Saint Liam, who may be the betting favorite come post time, calling him "A horse who needs two rabbits."
"Great," Gomez said. "And that will be my view - when I look over my shoulder at the two of you." [DRF]
- Roman Ruler and Choctaw Nation are on the fence for the Classic, and Imperialism appears to be headed for the Sprint. Kristen Mulhall says he was too rank after his sprint prep for the Gold Cup, and also raised the issue of the detention barn, the type of talk that NYRA doesn't want to hear. “When he got in there he didn't relax one bit. He was nice and quiet until we got into the receiving barn.” She’s counting on there being a lot of speed to soften up Lost in the Fog in the Sprint, and pointed out that “Imperialism annihilated Taste of Paradise (in the Pat O'Brien) so that's encouraging." [Bloodhorse]
But who exactly is going to run with Lost in the Fog? It certainly won’t be Woke Up Dreaming, who has been retired after his disastrous Vosburgh. I don’t think you can count on Pomeroy or Unfurl the Flag either, considering that neither of them could even stay close to Uncle Camie. Greg’s Gold is a closer, and Battle Won is more of a stalker who doesn’t have the kind of early pop to stay with LITF in those crucial early strides when he takes command of his races and demoralizes the competition. Taste of Paradise’s trainer Gary Mandella is wondering about this too.
"My biggest concern is that there won't be anybody to soften him up and they will just run one-two-three-four all the way around the track and it will be like watching a mile-and-a-quarter race.'' [DRF]The Form’s Mike Watchmaker, who last week had Woke Up Dreaming and Pomeroy ranked ahead of Lost in the Fog, notes that the latter once again faced a weak field at Bay Meadows (he earned a Beyer of 114) and laments that at the rate the sprint division is going, the Breeders' Cup Sprint may not be all that much tougher than this race was.
But so what if it isn’t? If contenders such as Woke Up Dreaming and Forest Danger have dropped by the wayside while Lost in the Fog has been in training virtually straight through since last November, it’s only to the undefeated colt’s credit and a testimony to his durability, a crucial championship trait. The Sprint will be Lost in the Fog’s eleventh career race at eight different tracks on both coasts, all in the space of less than a year. He will be at Belmont for the Sprint, ready to face the absolute best that the world has to offer, and if no one shows up, it’s not his fault. I don’t care if he faces two mules and Dick Cheney and his surgical knees, if he takes the Sprint, he has to receive strong consideration for the Eclipse for Horse of the Year.
I’ll make one exception to that statement – if Afleet Alex comes back and wins the Classic, he should get the award hands down, end of discussion. But even if he loses to Rock Hard Ten by a nose in a headbobbing finish; and even if he does so after almost tripping over Scrappy T; even if Jeremy Rose is thinking about the pros and cons of the Helen Meirs nomination, loses concentration and misjudges the finish line; then Lost in the Fog – if, of course, he wins the Sprint – has to receive serious consideration for the award. Undefeated is undefeated, and it’s not like he’s been hiding out at Riudoso Downs. And if you think he hasn’t beaten anybody, take a look at the charts for the Preakness and Belmont and ask yourself who exactly Afleet Alex defeated in those races, and what those horses have won since. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting Afleet Alex down here, but should Lost in the Fog take care of business on Oct 29, he deserves proper consideration for what he will have achieved.
- I know, these days, we in the racing blogosphere are all about the point standings for Horse of the Year that you see in the margin, revised to reflect all the action over the weekend. I think the concept is an essential way to present the sport to fans in a way they can understand and relate to, and to encourage owners to actually run their horses, and spot them in a way that will maximize competition. But even in pro sports that are based strictly on standings and statistics, there are still subjective awards voted on by the press, and the MVP does not necessarily go to the guy with the highest batting average. Awards generate debate and discussion, and I think that even if the sport ever adopts a points system like the Blog Standings, there will still be an important place for the Eclipse Awards and the controversy that they always inspire. So let the debate begin, even if a bit prematurely.