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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Notes - May 31

- Walter admonished us for not discussing the Shoemaker, and it was a Grade 1 after all, so I guess we should mention it. Once the racing starts to really pick up here in New York after a long, cold winter on the inner track, it’s easy to forget that there’s important racing going on elsewhere. Winner Aragorn was the longest shot on the board at 6.50 to 1 despite three close seconds and a win in his last four starts, and a 108 Beyer two races back that was tied for the highest in the field. He stalked Willow O’Wisp, who absolutely walked through a first half of 47.88, which enabled him to sprint home in 45 seconds; with a final quarter of 22.22 and a last eighth of 11.23! Wow! Jockey Corey Nakatani stated the obvious when he said: "I could tell that he was full of run. When I asked him the question to kick on, he did." [LA Daily News] Second place finisher Charmo obviously did quite well to rally for that placing.

Aragorn is by Giant’s Causeway, and it seems to me that he is the first U.S. Grade 1 winner on the turf for the sire. First Samurai won two Grade 1’s – the Hopeful and the Champagne – on the dirt last year. Aragorn is out of a winless Mr. Prospector mare, but his second dam is Savannah Dancer (Northern Dancer), who won graded stakes here on the grass and dirt, and the third dam is the Irish champion Valoris, winner of the Epsom Oaks and Irish 1,000 Guineas.

- Amid the latest theory as to how and why Barbaro got hurt, Edgar Prado visited the stricken Derby champ, and related to the Albany Times-Union just how deeply the injury affected him.

"I really thought about taking some time off.....But I thought it would be very hard for me to stay home and just do a lot of thinking so I went back to riding. It was tough to concentrate but I had to continue to work and move forward."
The latest theory, as posted in the comments section by reader twba, is that Barbaro, when bearing out slightly, was struck on the leg by Brother Derek, who was trying to scramble back from a slow start. I suppose that this may be a more comforting explanation to some, as it would be just a freak accident, and not something that was somehow foretold by the gate incident before the race.

Nor would it be a wider indictment of the sport as a whole for the scheduling of the Triple Crown races or the weakening of the breed. Of course, it doesn’t erase those questions raised either; but perhaps those who are calling for an immediate change in the Triple Crown scheduling will pause to formulate a less emotional response.

I happened to come upon a copy of Conquistador Cielo’s past performances yesterday. Some of us remember as if it wasn’t 24 years ago the way he won the Belmont just five days after winning the Met Mile. But do you recall that he also ran not once, but twice prior to the Met Mile in the month of May alone!? And that was after a race in mid-April. Is it really possible that the breed has become so fragile in such a relatively short period of time? Perhaps....unlike some writers who seem to know for sure despite hardly being experts in horse genetics, I’ll readily admit that I don’t know. But I think I can say that Barbaro, who is bred along more classic lines than many of his more commercially-bred peers, was likely a victim of just plain bad luck that is, as un-politically correct as it is to say these days, just part of the game.

- Bill Finley, on, reveals the cold, hard reality of Sheikh Mohammed’s decision to keep Bernardini out of the Belmont.
Because he is a Grade I winner by a top sire (A.P. Indy), he could be retired tomorrow and still be worth $20 million. Why worry about a $600,000 payday that will do little, if anything, for the horse's stud value? []
By that logic, why risk racing him again at all? So he could be worth $30 million instead? (And this is not an issue of how little time there is between the Preakness and Belmont, unless the latter is run at Saratoga in August.) Though his plans call for a fall campaign, Finley is no doubt correct when he says that Bernardini will likely make two or three more starts and then be retired to stud after the Breeders' Cup.


Anonymous said...

...yeah, no doubt the Sheikh is strapped for cash...the lure of a cool $30 million will be too much for him to resist... 8^P

...btw, the big 3yo retirements in Europe over the last decade or so have been Lamtarra and Dalakhani...Dalakhani was owned by the Aga Khan (another guy who's really hurting for cash), and i don't remember whether there was some kind of injury issue or not...but i don't believe for Lamtarra, it was well-documented that he was retired for breeding purposes...but i wasn't paying much attention to the Euros back then, so i'm not sure who he was owned by...might've been the Sheikh, i'm not sure...bottom line though, Bernardini skipping the Belmont has nothing to do with his stud value or impending retirement...hell, if the Shieikh wanted to increase his stud value, why not run him in a prestigious Grade 1 like the Belmont, a race in which he'd be a prohibitive favorite?...i think he's simply looking after the horse's best interests, something which Godolphin (or Darley in this case) is pretty well-known for...the Sheikh knows that Bernardini/Discreet Cat have BIG futures in front of them, and it looks to me like he's concerned about asking too much too soon...both horses are very lightly raced, and i know Discreet Cta was a late foal (not sure about Bernardini)...i think he just wants to give them time to grow and develop them slowly, as opposed to potenrtially squeezing the turnip dry...keep in mind that the Sheikh lost Dubai Millineum to grass sickness at a very early age not long ago, and that hit Godolphin VERY hard...more than likely it's altered their way of thinking, as they certainly appear more conservative with their young horses than they had been in the past...

Anonymous said...

...i just did a search on Lamtarra, and found that he was indeed campaigned by Godolphin...he ran only 4 times, reeling off victories in the English Derby, King George, and Arc de Triomphe...WOW...he was retired after the Arc and sent to stud in Japan...and apparently he was booed off the course after winning the Arc (over the retirement thing)...what a way to go...

Anonymous said...

Walter's last comment makes me less certain of mine but will post anyway.

The Sheikh is a true horseman and sportsman. I honestly think he believes the horse needs the time to develop further to his full potential. if anyone is ever going to run a non-gelded classic winner at four it would be these connections.

These guys think globally. I believe the ultimate goal with Bernardini and Discreet Cat is the Dubai World Cup, which means one or both will run in 2007.

Hopefully a four year old American campaign will follow.