- 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 ESPN.com, 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? [ESPN.com]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.