- Let’s wrap up the Breeders’ Cup with the Turf, in which it was a long way back from the four European invaders that took the top four spots to Shakespeare, who burned a lot of money at 7-2, ugh. It was a lot to ask of this horse, and he wasn’t up to the task, especially on the soft turf. Bailey said: "He didn't handle the ground at all." Favored Azamour (also 7-2) ran a fine race to finish third in his final start, and trainer John Oxx reported that "Mick (Kinane) reported he lost his place three and a half furlongs out and if not for that, he would have won.” [Sporting Life] I also saw him alter course in upper stretch before rallying strongly for third.
The winner Shirocco is all German and European on his stallion side; his sire is Monsun, a multiple Grade 1 winner in Germany; but his dam, So Sedulous is by The Minstrel (Northern Dancer). Her other foals are named Satchmo, September Storm, Shoah, So Squally, Storm Trooper, Subiaco, and Swish; so they got that ‘S’ thing going on. Shirocco was 20-1 morning line, but with all the talk of how he was the invader that would benefit most from soft going, I wasn’t at all surprised to see him go off at 8-1 (to the disappointment of our friend Walter from Las Vegas). The four year-old is slated to return next year, so perhaps we’ll see him at Churchill Downs for Breeders’ Cup 2006.
- The crowd of 54,289 was a pleasant surprise, and the largest BC crowd in New York; this despite no local promotion or advertising at all. Steven Crist wrote the other day that NYRA had a whisper over/under number of 45,000. There seemed to be many foreign visitors there, and it gave the event the international feel that it deserves. After initial indications that the TV ratings would be down, the final numbers showed a slight increase, with the best numbers in St. Louis (located in a non-parimutuel state) and Seattle (was that you Monica?). NBC gave the telecast the amount of promotion you’d expect given its lame duck status – none. ESPN has big plans for the event next year, and Jerry Bailey said that “in 10 years when we look back, we'll say, 'My God, ESPN was the force of all sports. Why didn't we move it sooner?' " [Louisville Courier-Journal] It’s an eight year deal, and it’s 1-9 that Bailey will be a commentator on the telecast before too long.
- Unfortunately, the Classic was not one of Tom Durkin’s finest moments. The first time through the field, he referred to the “pent-up power of Borrego” and then, moments later, the “latent power of Choctaw Nation,” which not only was repetitive, but a bit of a stretch in the latter's case. He later called “Flower King” before correcting himself to “Flower Alley.”
- I have no idea where Fauquier is, but a columnist from that city’s Times-Democrat newspaper had some humorous observations of how the pressure effected some of the celebrity horsemen there:
For the most part, they were displaying big-race nerves. TV chef Bobby Flay, for example, part owner of Wonder Again, one of the favorites in the Filly and Mare Turf, looked as nervous as a cat near a Korean restaurant.- And so, it’s on to the Road to the Triple Crown I suppose. Trainer Doug O’Neill envisions Stevie Wonderboy having "two or three" starts before the Kentucky Derby on May 6. [DRF] Huh? Besides the fact that we all know that by virtue of winning the Juvenile he has no shot in the Derby to start with, doesn’t he know that no horse has won the race with only two prep races since…..
New York Yankee manager Joe Torre looked like The Boss George Steinbrenner had just traded Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter to the Red Sox for a $10,000 claimer. A couple of the sheikhs looked as though the price of oil had dropped to $1.50 a barrel.
Nothing like a big race to bring out the heebie-jeebies.
Here we go again.