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Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday Morning Notes - May 22

- Todd Pletcher ran four horses at Pimlico on Preakness Day. He ran 1-2 in the Sir Barton with High Cotton (Dixie Union) and Ultimate Goal; and won graded stakes with Friendly Island (Crafty Friend) and Master Command (AP Indy).

But Pletcher was instead at Belmont saddling Sunriver on Saturday, who will no doubt go on to the Belmont after his very impressive win in the Peter Pan. He got up for the win despite the final furlong being run in 12.11 seconds. I’m not quite sure where that effort from Lewis Michael came from, but he was sure tough on this day in his second straight try on dirt, besting Strong Contender for the place by more than three. The latter's trainer, John Ward, said: "The winner deserves a lot of credit....He should have been in the Kentucky Derby. My horse is still a baby." [] Perhaps the trainer should treat him like one and find a softer spot. Pletcher said that the Belmont is a “possibility,” (as is High Cotton) but I’d say it’s a pretty darn big one.

So that was four stakes winners within two hours for Pletcher - all in a day’s work. Garrett Gomez rode all three of them at Pimlico. When Master Command took the G3 William Donald Schaefer, it started an AP Indy double that was completed by Bernardini. Master Command is out of Lady Lochinvar, a mare by Lord At War, and she’s a half to stakes winners Al Mamoon, La Gueriere (the dam of Lasting Approval), and Lost Soldier. Master Command is inbred 3x3 to Secretariat. He couldn’t handle Buzzards Bay at Oaklawn, but proved best here after getting pounded to 6-5 from his 5-1 morning line (before Reckless Ways scratched).

- Keep an eye on Nick Zito; some of his biggest disappointments this year have quietly put in some decent efforts in the last few days. Even Hemingway’s Key managed to get up for third in the Preakness. Little Cliff got third behind the two Pletcher horses in the Sir Barton. In The Gold got the show spot in the Allair du Pont on Friday. In the Peter Pan, Hesanoldsalt showed some speed and hung on for 4th.

- The biggest cheers I heard at Belmont this weekend was during the Yanks’ four-run rally to tie the Mets in the 9th on Saturday. People are funny, that’s all I can say. You can stick them into a racetrack, with ample money at stake and everyone rooting for a different result, yet I rarely ever see people get into fights over a race. And that’s even on an oppressive summer day at a crowded Saratoga or Monmouth, and no matter how excruciating it can be for someone to get nailed at the wire by a horse some guy is screaming ‘GO, GO, GO’ for into his or her ear. Yet put some Mets and Yankee fans together in front of a TV for the 42nd game of a 162 game season, and all hell breaks lose.

Tensions were high as the teams moved into extra innings; this was serious stuff, and it had nothing to do with bets on the game. I heard the ‘ef-you’s’ flying. Even though the commentators scoff when the players say “it’s just another game," insisting that “it’s not just another game,” the fact is that these are just another games in the scheme of things. With the teams in different leagues, these showdowns have no implications beyond the W or L that result from them. Even the home field advantage in a real Subway Series is determined by the All-Star Game. And hell, they play each other six times every year now, so the novelty has totally worn off at this point. But one of NYRA’s Peace Officers came over to the TV, and it was certainly to keep the Peace rather than to watch the game.