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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ouija Board

- Ouija Board will try to make it two in a row in the Filly and Mare Turf, and a look at some of the press in the UK shows that our British friends don’t give the home team much of a chance. One site, called Readabet.com, advises that Ouija Board’s price of 6-4 should be gobbled up for maximum stakes.

Many doubted whether Ouija Board had trained on when she disappointed on her return to action this season at Royal Ascot at York. However, she was found to have lost a shoe during the race and sustained an injury. She then missed her next two engagements owing to a cough, but bounced back in no uncertain terms when cosily landing a Group Three contest at Newmarket last month.

That was effectively her seasonal reappearance, so to see her travel through the race so easily before settling the race with a decisive move two furlongs out, only needing to be kept up to her work to score by two and a half lengths, was most encouraging.

As it stands, it would appear that she retains most of – if not all of – the ability she showed last season. Therefore, I would be absolutely perplexed if she were to be beaten in this event.
- Sportinglife.com says that Megahertz is a decent sort but should be no match for this supremely talented filly and 6-4 with Coral is about the right price for her in a race where rivals look thin on the ground. For whatever it's worth, Frank Lyons on TVG said that the field that Ouija Board beat at Newmarket was not the best, and that he felt that she didn’t seem like the same horse.

I watched last year’s race on the Breeders’ Cup time capsule page and there’s no doubt that she won pretty handily against several of the horses she’ll be facing here – Wonder Again, Riskaverse, Film Maker, and Megahertz. She had a good trip, saving ground around all three turns, which helped her to close for the win despite the last three furlongs being run in :35.49 seconds. Megahertz was caught four wide around the first two, and Wonder Again was much further back of the crawling pace. The race is a furlong shorter this year – it was run at a mile and three eighths at Lone Star - and perhaps the trips will work out differently. She deserves to be the favorite, no doubt, but I for one would not be "perplexed" if she’s beaten.

- I know I write too much about the crowds, or lack thereof, at Belmont this fall, but seeing the place so empty is something I just can’t get used to. On Sunday, the crowd of 4,640 seemed like less, with many huddled inside on a gusty autumn day. There’s an enormous tent up in the backyard right smack in the middle of an area which gets much needed sun. October 29 could be an extremely cool day as those who were at the 2001 Breeders Cup can well recall. Whatever crowd there is, and I have no idea whatsoever what to expect, won’t find many places in the sun.

There were a couple of interesting two year old maiden specials for fillies that were run within a few minutes of each other at Belmont and Keeneland. The Belmont race had only one filly, Diamond Spirit, that had raced before, and she was the 9-5 favorite. Tim Ritchey had first timer Lady of Summer at 7-2. She’s by first-year sire El Corredor (Mr. Greeley), who has nine winners in 24 starters in an 81-foal crop. He’s the sire of two stakes winners, including Adieu, who may be the second choice in the Juvenile Fillies. Adieu has earned over $500,000, enough to propel El Corredor into the top spot for first year sires by earnings. Tom Albertrani had Calla Lily (Pulpit) a $400,000 yearling at 9-2 who is out of a winning Housebuster half-sister to Gilded Time.

The 4th at Keeneland featured an Asmussen first-timer, Good Witch Glinda, as the 2-1 favorite. (On Saturday, Asmussen pulled over debut winner Catonight at 14-1). This Unbridled’s Song filly sold for $510K last August; her dam, by Forty Niner, is a half to current sire End Sweep, and her second dam is Alabama winner Broom Dance. I was interested in another firster, Sweet Cash, who was 10-1 morning line but getting bet on the nose, drifting up to 5-1 at the bell. She’s by Exchange Rate, who I’d posted about in the morning, and she's trained by Lynn Whiting, hitting 27% with firsters a fine ROI of $3.22. Frank Brothers, another high percentage/ROI debut barn had the second choice, Coronado’s Vision (Coronado’s Quest).

But both races demonstrated the hazards of investing money on races filled with horses that have no track records to go by. At Belmont, it was 31-1 Bella Fortuna (Louis Quatorze) winning her first start for trainer Barclay Tagg and jockey Pablo Fragoso, who picked up the mount when Richard Migliore was shaken up in a gate incident in the third. And at Keeneland, I bet Sweet Cash and she turned for home looking like a winner despite a stiff first quarter of :21.68. But in the end, she succumbed after a stubborn duel with 44-1 Sumneytown (Deputy Commander); tough beat.

- Reunited (Dixie Union) was the only three year old filly in the field, and was able to pass the fading Forest Music and hold off the tough Miss Terrible to take the G3 Thoroughbred Club of America at six furlongs at Keeneland.

1 Comment:

Walter said...

...first off, Jerry Bailey has NOT been named to ride Ouija Board, as is being reported here in the States...i saw a quote from her trainer (Ed Dunlop) today, saying "that's news to me"...he reiterated that Fallon (her regular rider throughout last year)is his first choice, and short of that he wants to see whewther Detorri (who rode here most recently) will be committed to Sundrop...Bailey remains in the mix, but he's more of an escape hatch in the event that Fallon isn't available...anyway, i've followed Ouija Board's career very closely, and while i wouldn't say there's value at 6/4 odds (3/2 here in America), she certainly ranks as the horse to beat...she was unquestionably the best turf filly in the world last year (having finished a tough-trip 3rd vs. older horses in the Arc de Triomphe, where many observers thought she may have been best), and reportedly had been training well into her seasonal reapperance in the Spring...that turned into a debacle, however, as she apparently stepped in a hole during the race, lost a shoe, and came out of it with a stress fracture in her leg...she went onto the shelf until just recently (after suffering a few setbacks), and her career was very much up in the air pending the result of the Group 3 race...in fact, her connections stated beforehand that if he didn't look like her old self, they would retire her...that being said, she came through with a very impressive performance, dispatching the overmatched field with consummate ease...no doubt, as the TVG Euro-sharpie (yeah, right) noted, she wasn't beating a whole lot...that's not the point...anyone with a brain knows that Ouija Board is Group 1 caliber, so it's just a matter of whether she's healthy and back fine fettle...all accounts are that she is...furthermore, as many superlative as were heaped on her after the Breeders Cup win last year, she had been more impressive in Europe previous to that, and there was much concern leading up to the race that she might not enjoy the rain-softened Love Star turf course (the fact that she's European notwithstanding)...her better races in Europe had come on "good" ground, and i'd have to surmise that the didn't run up to her usual standards in the Breeders Cup, and won the race simply on her overwhelming talent...now, whether she's currently her old self, that's open for debate due to the injury issue...but it's ridiculous to denigrate her form based on the fact she's coming out of a Group 3...she's the best turf filly in the world until proven otherwise...in fact, she was so impressive in the Group 3 that there waas talk immediately afterwards about running her back in the Arc two weeks later...thankfully, her connections kept their heads, and kept their eyes on the prize...all systems appear go for what's been her goal all year, back-to-back wins in the F&M Turf...