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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Notes - Feb 23

- The 6-1 morning line on Strong Contender (Maria’s Mon) was a pipe dream to be sure; try $6.60 for a $2 win bet, and even that may turn out to a bargain in retrospect. Edgar Prado was duly impressed. "Other horses could come to him and he would just take off again ... a really nice ride. And he did it easy, and that's the scary part." [Sun-Sentinal] He was able to lope along through a very easy quarter of :23.81, and when Big Lover rushed up on the rail, he looked like he repulsed him easily. But as Walter pointed out in the comments section, covering for me as I traveled back home to chilly New York, he was actually zipping the second quarter in :22.08. Trainer John Ward would prefer another allowance spot, but the Rebel or the Gotham are possibilities, and we’re obviously rooting for the latter, which would set up a compelling match with Achilles of Troy.

Still, this is a horse with only two lifetime starts, so it’s a bit surprising to see a horseman like Ward, who is not generally subject to flights of fantasy, so insistent on rushing him up to the Derby, which would likely be only his 5th career start. He must either think he has an absolute freak on his hands, or has fallen victim to Derby fever like the rest of us.

- This quote by Winstar Farm’s Elliot Walden shows part of what’s wrong with the game.

"The thing that makes [Bluegrass Cat] so exciting is not just the ability he's shown on the racetrack, but the ability he's going to have in the stallion barn. You don't get horses bred like he is very often that can match the stallion potential with the racing performance.” [Thoroughbred Times]
Five races into his career, and you can already hear the pencils being sharpened on calculating his stud fee, determining desirable broodmare matches, and plans for shuttling. Don’t expect to see this one around at four; nor later this year should his Triple Crown campaign turn out to be a success. Why take the risk on something as trivial as the Breeders Cup or an Eclipse Award if a fat stud fee is already assured?

- Great job by Brad of Brad Buys A Yearling in catching this story on Thoroughbred Times about an improper dose of Lasix administered to eventual Eclipse winner Intercontinental last September. The CHRB didn’t release information on the incident until last week when it slipped the official ruling onto their website, which made any official protest, required within 72 hours of the posting, unlikely, if not impossible given the fact that the announcement lacks useful details such as the race and horse involved.

My only problem with Brad’s post is that he actually seems to have taken the time to make some calls and dig into the story, revealing, among other things, an inaccurate statement by CHRB Executive Director Ingrid Fermin in the TT article to the effect that a protest would have to be lodged within 72 hours of the race, not the posting. I thought racing writers didn’t have to do things like that! What, are you trying to make us all look bad?

3 Comments:

Walter said...

...very pertinent point Alan makes concerning trainer John Ward's Derby aspirations for Strong Contender...that's what sparked my interest in the horse, and that's why i made it a point to run out and watch the race yesterday...keep in mind, this was a colt with only ONE career start, and that was way back in August, at 6 furlongs no less!...furthermore, he had suffered some type of injury, and and hadn't been seen on the racetrack since...and yet, i'm reading about how Ward is pointing the horse at the Blue Grass/Wood Memorial, and then the Derby???...and he said that BEFORE yesterday's race???...that tells you all you need to know about Strong Contender...Ward KNOWS he has a good one on his hands...and sure enough, the horse went out and ran a HUGE race yesterday...i also think it's pertinent that Strong Contender got pounded at the windows...there must have been quite a bit of buzz around the racetrack from people who have seen the horse working out in the mornings (that's further backed up by the report of Strong Contender getting the last furlong of a recent drill in 11 seconds flat)...you guys know me well enough by now to realize that i'm not one to get swallowed up by the hype surrounding Derby prospects, and over-estimate their chances of winning the race...but after the recent developments regarding Strong Contender, well, i think his name says it all...the two-turn question has yet to be answered (or even asked), but right now that looks to be the only unknown factor regarding this horse...no doubt the talent is there...incidentally, i see some similarity between Strong Contender and Bellamy Road, at least at this point in their careers...Bellamy Road registered a front-running win in a 1-mile allowance race @ Gulfstream about this same time last year (a few weeks later, perhaps), and parlayed that into his big Wood Memorial win and Derby favoritism...i'm sure Strong Contender will race again before the Blue Grass/Wood, but you see my point...incidentally, Alan referenced the Rebel/Gotham as possible starts for Strong Contender...seeing as how the horse hasn't been two turns yet, i have to think that's #1 on the agenda right now...that would rule out the Gotham, at least from my perspective...btw, a huge thanks to Alan for those links he provided regarding Ward's quotes, and the 5-furlong workout...i probably wouldn't have had any interest in the race otherwise...just another reason why this is one of the best horseracing websites in the world...thanks again, buddy...

alan said...

Hey Walter, thanks man, for the kind words! Just so you know, the Gotham will be run at a mile and a sixteenth on the inner track this year. Don't know if that's a permanent change, but the main track will be opening a bit later this spring than usual. Maybe NYRA ran out of money to work on the main track during the winter.

Walter said...

...thanks for the update, i didn't realize the Gotham was two turns this year...that certainly changes things...

...btw, Brother Derek drilled 6 furlongs in 112.20 this morning, his last major piece of work for the Santa Catalina...Hendricks said he'll probably blow him out Wednesday or Thursday...man, that horse is like a fine Swiss watch, he never misses a beat...looks to be as steady and solid as they come...i know that some people out there question his breeding (not me), but i don't think anyone can dispute that this horse is well-put-together...looks every bit the legitimate Derby favorite from where i'm sitting, at least at this point in time...incidentally, also listed as "probable" for the Santa Catalina is none other than Latent Heat...now THAT should be an interesting matchup, particularly because both horses possess keen early speed...however, i don't think either one is a need-the-lead type...Latent Heat was able to lay off Cindago down the backstretch in his debut run, and you need look no further than Brother Derek's debut to know that he can come from WELL off the pace, should circumstances require it...should make for a very good race, i'm looking forward to it...