- Bob Baffert told TVG that Roman Ruler has developed a foot problem that will keep him out of the Sprint. It’s not related to the quarter crack that plagued the colt earlier in the year. Baffert feels that it happened during his last work at Santa Anita, explaining that the track gets very hard after it gets wet, as it had last week. He theorized that perhaps Rock Hard Ten’s foot problem that has delayed his trip to New York could have also been caused by the same unforgiving surface.
As for Rock Hard Ten, he suffered what is being described as a “minor foot bruise.” If you listen to Richard Mandella, it was almost a non-event
"We galloped (yesterday) with a foot bandage," said Mandella, who often likes to gallop his horses barefoot anyway. "We found it (Friday) morning, took off the shoe and poulticed it. The only thing that has really changed is shipping. … We're in good shape." [Louisville Courier-Journal]For a horse for whom conditioning is a concern to some considering his one prep race after a seven month layoff, you would think that any setback is still a setback. I’ve read varying accounts of his race in the Goodwood. He had a good trip in a four horse field, but if you listen to Gary Stevens, he was just toying with Roman Ruler that day, saying “he actually only ran an eighth of a mile."
- Singletary has a big supporter for the Mile in handicapper/author Steve Davidowitz.
"Singletary was a revelation winning [the Oak Tree Mile] from off the pace......[Chatlos] is bringing Singletary to Belmont in career best form. … Can he beat the streaking Leroidesanimaux? A good question that might be posed the other way: Can Leroidesanimaux beat the Singletary we saw at Santa Anita?" [LA Times]I don’t hear from Davidowitz often these days, and I’ve always found his opinion to be worth hearing, so I’ll take another look in a race that I’d just about conceded to Leroidesanimaux. Singletary closed from last in the Oak Tree Mile in a race that did not have a particularly quick pace. He ran each quarter faster than the previous one, culminating in a sprint home in :22 1/5. Keep in mind though that the slow pace enabled him to stay well within striking distance despite being last, getting his first half in a leisurely :48 3/5. It was a similar effort to his close third in the Oak Tree last year which set him up for a win in the Mile. Of course, he didn’t have to face the King last year.
- Owner Bruce Lunsford is talking in extremely ambitious terms about his Juvenile favorite First Samurai, even suggesting he has a shot at the top prize.
"If we win it the way we just won the Champagne, and nobody is really impressive in the older-horse category, could we just be in the game?"Emphasis is mine; whoa boy, one thing at a time! It may not have been the greatest field, but it included some decent three year olds including Super Derby winner The Daddy.
Without pause, he was off comparing his 2-year-old with more established horses. He surmised that First Samurai would have been second to BC Sprint favorite Lost in the Fog if he had tried the Grade I King's Bishop. [Louisville Courier-Journal]
- Irish jock Mick Kinane had some interesting things to say to the UK's Times Online about some disadvantages faced by the European horses and jockeys when they face the American horses on their own turf in the Breeders’ Cup, starting with the general observation that the American racing is very repetitive and is run on similar tracks all the time, so their horses are used to it.
Many Breeders’ Cup races go badly for the European raiders right from the start. They lose valuable ground as they come out of the stalls and find themselves many lengths off the leaders before they have gone a furlong. It is this slow-starting tendency for which British and Irish trainers receive most criticism. Seemingly no amount of preparation is going to change things.Kinane will be riding Azamour, who figures to be one of the favorites in the Turf, and he said that Belmont poses a potential problem for his mount given his tendency to get unnerved.
“In America a bell goes as the gates open and the horses there jump to the sound,” says Kinane. “If for any reason the gates didn’t open, the horses would burst through because they leap forward when they hear that bell. Our horses listen to the unaccustomed sound and then jump. They are immediately behind and it’s very hard to train them the American way for just one day.”
The local jockeys ride what is known as “acey-deucy”, with one stirrup leather shorter than the other, because the tracks are on the turn much of the way and they want to lean in towards the rails to make sure they go the shortest way round.
Kinane has tried this method and rejected it. The muscles of his American rivals have become attuned to this unnatural practice, whereas for himself, Frankie Dettori, Kieren Fallon and the others on this side of the Atlantic, cramp would be much too big a danger.
“The exit from the paddock to the course is one of the noisiest in America....You have to go through a tunnel and there is plenty of vocal support when you come out of it. Horses can get on edge and then they are out on the track a long time before they start loading.”