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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Saturday Morning Notes - Feb 4

- Brad may have at various times jokingly (so he says) called me a whore [to the radical left] and a bitch, but I still like his blog Brad Buys A Yearling nonetheless. He recently linked to an interview with Michael Wrona, the track announcer at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate. Besides his frank comments on drugs in the sport, Wrona provided some details about the way the sport is conducted in his native Australia that I found no less than jaw-dropping. I’m going to quote here at length; it’s worth reading about how the racing authorities in Australia seem to have a lot more respect than us punters in the USA get here.

Apart from the obvious nationwide complaints of inconsistencies in disqualification rulings, American Stewards and, therefore, American racing lack the transparency of their Aussie counterparts. Down Under, there’s a “Stewards’ Report” issued on a daily basis. This details what action was taken concerning horses that suffered trouble and interference, including the dialogue between the Stewards and the jockeys (or a jockey’s translator). Also, horses that performed unexpectedly well or poorly are immediately investigated. Connections are quizzed, wagering patterns are scrutinized and vet reports are released. In Australia, the intention to change riding tactics must be advised and publicized prior to a race. Trainers scratching from feature races up until a couple of hours prior to post time – which happens in at least some states here – is simply not permissible in Australia. Neither are overweights of more than a couple of pounds; and suspensions never exclude “designated races.” Aussie punters would tear down the grandstand if there were announcements in the post parade about equipment changes and horses having been gelded. Such late announcements are commonplace here, and I feel thoroughly embarrassed every time I have to make them. [Love Da Goat]
For one thing, there’d be a lot of investigations for unexpected performances here; probably could employ several hundred people. And the idea of say, Todd Pletcher letting us know “well, we’ll take Flower Alley far off the pace today” is almost unimaginable; in fact, that seems almost hard to believe. I’d like to know exactly what Wrona meant by that. What if Flower Alley broke well, a speed horse got left and the rider made a tactical decision to go for the lead?

- Monmouth is running behind on its new turf course, and it may not be ready until early July. But New Jersey racing officials have actually come up with a creative solution. They plan to cancel several early season dates, and instead run three all-turf programs at the Meadowlands in June , on Mondays, a day when Belmont is closed. Good thinking! Several years ago, they ran a grass race prior to a few harness cards and had an interbreed daily double, which was pretty cool, and I don’t know why they didn’t continue. With thoroughbred racing limited to six weeks in the fall, there’s no reason not to take advantage of a perfectly good turf course in June, and this seems like an excellent job of creating good out of some bad.

- Nice easy win for Steppenwolfer (Aptitude) at Oaklawn on Friday; add him to the Southwest Stakes coming up on the 20th.

- With the quarantine for equine herpesvirus lifted, 14 horses stabled at Pimlico have been accepted into the entries for Laurel’s races on Wednesday. They will be permitted to race barring any new cases of the virus developing. [Washington Post] (I’m actually a whore [to the Washington Post]; will do anything for a link.)

2 Comments:

Walter said...

...well, i caught Barbaro's act in the Holy Bull today, and he looked pretty good...that being said, i wonder how much notice will be given to the fact he was outrun by approximately 8 lengths by Brass Hat, who won the Donn over the same surface and distance a just ahalf-hour later...of course, the older stakes horses SHOULD run faster, but that's still a rather large discrepancy...it's also woth noting that the Hutcheson went in 1:27 and change earlier on the card, so it's certainly not as if the track was running slow...i don't know about you guys, but i just can't get too excited over a 1:49.1 running time, even from an exciting prospect such as Barbaro...the feeling here is that he doesn't deserve all the praise which will undoubtedly be heaped upon him now...on the positive side, he showed that he canndle dirt, but even there, we're talking about a sloppy track...so maybe the jury is still out on that?...i'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, as he's obviously run very well over a variety of surfaces...can't see any reason he won't handle dry dirt just as well...as for his future odds, he was a ridiculously low 20/1 in Vegas BEFORE the race (many places dropped his price to reflect his terrible pari-mutuel pool odds), so no doubt he'll be dropped even further to around 8/1 or so, along with Stevie Wonderboy and First Samurai...i do like Barbaro as a Derby prospect, because he certainly seems talented, he can handle a variety of surfaces, and he's known to handle distances up to 1 1/8 miles (how many horses can say that this time of year?)...but again, his effort today didn't exactly knock my socks off...as for the big California races yesterday, i was particularly struck by how well Mister Triester was finishing in that two-turn maiden race...he got out in about 12 flat, in the process outfinishing the highly-regarded Royal Legacy, who himself was striding out extremely well...now, the early fractions of this race were extremely slow, so these two had no excuse NOT to finish strongly, but finish strongly they did...both should continue to do well as the disytances increase, me thinks...it's also worth mentioning that Mister Triester was coming out of the HUGELY productive maiden heat won by Cindago on Opening Day...he's at least the THIRD horse to win coming out of that race, the other two being Latent Heat and Point Determined...boy, Latent Heat keeps looking better and better these days...i read the other day that Frankel's not gonna rush that one, and will likely start him in an allowance race next time out...and speking of allowance races, Point Determined was upset by the Mandella-trained One Union, which was unexpected but certainly not a shocker...that one has been Mandella's #1 prospect right along, and was simply out for excercise in the San Miguel last time out...it would've been too much to expect a good outing there, as he was coming off a lengthy injury-induced layoff and was lined up inside against some SERIOUS speed...obviously Mandella was more concerned with the stretchout attempt, and according to my clocker, had been working on trying to get this horse to relax in his workouts...well, mission accomplished i guess, as he seemed to relax pretty well on the lead thtur some very fast fractions (especially compared to the maiden race a half-hour earlier), and was able to out-kick Point Determined to the wire DESPITE failing to change leads throughout the entire stretch run...that really caught my eye, particularly because this was One Union's first attempt at a route...looks like he's found a new home...he finished up much slower than Mister Triester and Royal Legacy, but that was obviously due the the fast early pace...if he's able to conserve a bit more energy early, and change leads on cue, this horse is gona be a handful, particularly with the initial route race under his belt...if this horse can rate off the early pace just a little (something he's yet to do), he could be a MAJOR player this year...as for the final time, it was almost an exact match of the maiden race that preceeded it (he may have outrun Mister Triester by a length or so)...as for Point Determined, he lost nothing in defeat, especilaly when you consider he stumbled pretty badly leaving the gate and lost early position...he was definitely coming after One Union late, but just had too much to do to catch that nice colt...a better break and a better trip may have been enough for the win, hard to say...in any case, all four horses ran well, though it IS a bit disconcerting that Royal Legacy has yet to win a race...he and Point of Impact are really behind the 8-ball now in regard to GRADED EARNINGS...it's already February, and if you assume that each horse will break his maiden in a maiden race (as opposed to a stakes), they're gonna have to accumulate a lot of graded money in a BIG hurry just to make it into the Derby starting gate (you can ask Rock Hard Ten about that)...

thecalicocat said...

That 6-furlong time for Keyed Entry is pretty impressive. Will he be a sprinter?
Barbaro's race - I'll take it, but his last few strides before the finish looked out of sync.