- I know of at least one person at Belmont Saturday who was skeptical of Shakespeare despite his successful stretch out to a mile and a half in winning the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. There are those who feel that the colt is a freak, but this horseplayer wasn’t impressed by a life and death win over three year-old English Channel in a time of 2:27.1 that seemed pokey compared to the fillies and mares that went a mile and a quarter in 2:00.1 a bit later on in the Flower Bowl.
But Jerry Bailey points out, "He had the worst trip of anybody....I was parked on both turns, and I had to put him into a four-and-a-half to five-furlong drive.’ [Daily Racing Form] And for good measure, he told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he was more worried about yesterday's race than he will be in the Breeders' Cup because Shakespeare was running back in three weeks.
"I think he probably regressed a little bit....He was still good enough to get the job done."He was floated wide on the first turn by John Velasquez on English Channel, and lagged back while leader Islero Noir was crawling through fractions of :50.3 and 1:15.4. He was four wide on the final turn as they were speeding that quarter in :23.3, and held off his younger challenger in a final quarter of :24.1. Perhaps more important than the fact he was running three furlongs further than he had before is that it was also the first time he faced a challenge through the stretch, and he showed grit and heart in getting to the wire first over a fresh, improving three year-old. Mott said A lot of horses won't win a dogfight....He showed today that he had it in him to do that. That's most important." [DRF]
So I for one am pretty impressed. No, the race did not prove that he’s a monster, but I don’t believe that it dispelled that notion for the believers either. It’s impossible to compare the relative merits of the European horses that are sure to challenge him in the Turf, so that race is always a bit of a guessing game. While he didn't blow away the field in a manner that would have clearly made him the Turf favorite, my guess is that he still may be too short of a price to back against some of the more accomplished shippers that he’ll face, but I’ll keep an open mind for now.
- Hurricane Run stormed up the inside in a driving rainstorm to take the Arc D’Triomphe.