- Given all the defections and after all the lamenting about how weak this year’s Breeders’ Cup could be, after reading the lead to Jay Privman’s piece in today’s Form, it seems that things haven’t turned out so bad.
Led by four defending race winners, an unbeaten sprinter who is a candidate for Horse of the Year, an unbeaten 2-year-old colt, a miler who has won eight straight races, a deep, talented pool of European raiders, and several Classic candidates seeking Horse of the Year themselves, a total of 117 horses were announced on Wednesday as pre-entries for the 22nd Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on Oct. 29 at Belmont ParkThe picture is pretty clear with only three horses pre-entered in more than one race: Sir Shackleton and Starcraft in the Mile and Classic, and Laura's Lucky Boy was pre-entered in the Mile and Turf.
- Thanks to Alex in Lexington for commenting in support of Aqueduct. “Could you imagine being at Belmont for 10.5 months a year? It turns Belmont into a 'factory' like Philadephia Park or Charles Town.” The sameness of those one turn races would become unbearably monotonous, particularly from a handicapping standpoint. The change of venues throughout the year, with their different track configurations, provides the kind of angles that helps keep the action lively. First there’s the switch from the one turn at Belmont to the Big A main track, where races over a mile go around two turns. This creates the chance to catch some horses that may appreciate that change (or not), as well as horses you think may be better suited to Aqueduct whether it be because of running style or just an affinity for the track (or not). Same goes when racing moves to the inner track, which some horses seem to prefer, then again back to the main, and back to Belmont. Without that kind of change, there would be a lot less juice to the game here, and believe me, there are times in February when it ain't so hot to start with.
I also wanted to clarify the point I made in my previous post about there being no sun out in front of the grandstand - I meant to specify that that’s during the winter. No, I haven’t actually been there in January, but I’ve seen that argument used against winter racing at Belmont in the past, and it makes perfect sense given the sun’s position in the sky behind the grandstand there at this time of the year. At Aqueduct, if it’s a sunny day, one can actually spend some quality outdoor time by the rail if it’s not too windy even in the dead of winter. Belmont would be all shade in front, and on a cold day, no one is going to venture outside to watch the races. They’d be better off putting the 1800 or so people who would show up on a freezing Thursday afternoon in Radio City Music Hall, let them watch on the big screen and run the races with no people at the track – no one notice the difference anyway.
- Gary Contessa is red hot at Belmont. He had two more winners on Wednesday, both of the longshot variety – Jules for AJ at 25-1, and Signore William at 13-1. He now has ten winners at Belmont in the month of October alone. Two winners for apprentice rider Kyle Kaenal, who I read in a forum posting is the 16 year old son of “Cowboy” Jack Kaenal, does anyone know if that’s the case?
- Matt Hegarty refers to Dr. Wayne Gertmenian (I wonder if the guy is really even a doctor!) in the Form today as "resilient,” pointing out that even amidst all the scandal and deception under his regime, he may be moving closer to what he wants.
The hearing illustrated a sobering point that jockeys are only now just beginning to realize. With Stupak's calls for federal intervention, and the rising number of racetracks that have purchased insurance policies that cover riders for $1 million in medical bills, Gertmenian's mission to improve riding conditions appears to be succeeding - but only through turmoil that he has helped to create and that many jockeys contend has ruined lifelong friendships. [Daily Racing Form]Can’t you picture him from a prison cell proclaiming that he was right all along? And maybe some day we’ll hear Karl Rove, perhaps from the same cell, bragging that the Bush administration was right about Iraq all along? Nah…