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Monday, June 19, 2006

Belmont Father's Day Musings

- Over 13,000 at Belmont on Father's Day, and with the possible exception of the 4th of July, that will likely be the second largest crowd of the spring meeting there, and by a pretty significant margin. Shows you once again that the things that once made Belmont such a popular destination can still draw them in on certain special occasions. And what better occasion than a special day with the family, all doing exactly what Dad wants to do?

There's always a nice crowd on Father's Day, and NYRA seemed ready to handle it. But where were the inducements in the form of, at the very least, free return admission coupons to get people to come back?

- In the second, Godolphin, looking for their 4th consecutive win, and 5th out of 8 at this meeting from their very exclusive stable here, sent out Rondo (Grand Slam), a $2.9 million two-year old in training purchase in February of 2005. He'd had one prior start last September, finishing second to the recently-revived High Cotton at Belmont. He was 7-10 here in his return, and was on his way to victory when Edgar Prado switched to a right-handed whip and smacked the unsuspecting Holly Time (Gilded Time) square in the snout. That's one type of inquiry neither side has to sweat out; the replay clearly showed Dutrow's colt recoiling indignantly from the blow, and the only question was why it took the stewards so long to take him down.

Rondo, unsuspecting of his rider's transgression, merrily galloped out in impressive fashion, and should be around 1-10 in his next start unless, perchance, he meets a horse that cost more than he. Holly Time was also coming off a long layoff, and had finished second to Doc Cheney and ahead of Achilles of Troy in his debut, earning a 90 Beyer which was equal to the favorite. Other than the purchase prices, a mere $80,000 in the case of the winner, there was little on paper to distinguish the two.

John Ward was in town with three runners after having sent out just two following the conclusion of the Keeneland meeting. After a 4th place finish in the Rondo race, his Lovely Dream won the 4th, a NY-bred maiden contest, by 16 3/4 lengths with Edgar Prado gearing her down late. This was a $220,000 two-year old in training Oxley purchase last year.

She's a daughter of Freud, the heavily-marketed full brother to Giant's Causeway who had his first stakes winner just the day before. Flirt For Fame took the Mystery Jet Stakes for Mass-breds at Suffolk Downs by a similarly ludicrous margin; according to his stud farm Lakland North's website, She bats her eyelashes at Mystery Jet field and romps by 14 1/4 lengths. Freud has 56 two-year olds this year, his second crop, after just 33 in his first.

In the subsequent 5th race, a six furlong maiden sprint on the turf (and we're seeing an increasing number of these, with good success at the entry box), Ward sent out Sweet September for her first start since a good 4th on the grass as a two-year old last September, naturally. This one got bet late to 3-1 favoritism after opening around 6-1, and if you want to see an example of a perfect trip, check out the tape on this one. Mike Smith inherited an inside pocket trip in 5th as the leaders went 21.37 and 44.36 up front. He held the rail around the turn, and when he swung the filly out for the stretch, he seemed to be just deposited into an absolutely clear 3 wide path, from where he glided to the top and held off the deep-closing Left Me Breathless, more on the latter in a bit.

Sweet September (Gone West) was a mere $200,000 Oxley purchase - we saw some of his bargains on display here - this one as a yearling at Keeneland 2004. She's out of a stakes winning Summer Squall mare, and has some European stakes winners in her female side; she's inbred to Secretariat and Buckpasser.

The runner-up was a first-timer with only three workouts from Christophe Clement; she was dead on the board at 17-1, but had some really serious turf in her pedigree. Left Me Breathless is by Belong To Me, out of a mare by Arc winner Trempolino who is a half-sister to Rothman's Int'l winner Lassigny. My experience is that if I see things in the pedigree that really scream 'turf,' it can be worth a bet even if the horse seems dead on the board. It's another thing to get myself out of that mindset and actually bet it.

I actually did in the 9th race, which I bet before leaving for a Father's Day dinner. No, my family did not wish to celebrate the day where this Dad does exactly what he wants to do. Well, not the losing of course. I used Trick Meeting on top in some exactas. Trained by Stanley Hough and making his turf debut, this colt is by Phone Trick out of a General Meeting mare who is a half to the dam of the Grade 1 turf stakes winning brothers Silvano (Arlington Million) and Sabiango (Charles Whittingham). This horse, sent off at 9-1, had trouble at the start and was dead last in a field of 12.

As a guy who always loves a good closer, I was heartened by Seek Gold's rally to victory in the Foster. If he could win that race, as far back as he was turning for home, any closer within shouting distance has a shot too. Trick Meeting started his move far earlier than Seek Gold, but it was an impressive run nonetheless. Of course, he missed by a head to 6-1 Meet My Buddy (second winner of the day for trainer Mike Miceli), one of my second horses in the exacta, which returned $133 the wrong way for this dad.

- Ward also has Strong Contender and Minister's Bid in town, and the latter will make his first start since his spectacular debut win at Keeneland in an entry-level allowance on Thursday, and Strong Contender will run in the Dywer on July 4.

6 Comments:

Anonymous said...

I think NYRA had a similar amount at the Park on Memorial Day, a very pleasant day. Enough people to make you feel like something is going on without overwhelming the services.

Walter said...

...those Godolphin boys are on fire @ Belmont, aren't they?...i'm afraid that isn't going to help the price on Discreet Cat come the 4th of July...not that he was gonna be too high anyway...please, please, let's get Corinthian and a few other name-brands in the race...just even-money, that's all i ask...

Kashatreya said...

I think you'll be lucky to get 4-5 on Discreet Cat unless he surfaces in the Travers; everyone will be on him. And understandably, he's a monster.

Letting that Clement horse go off at 17-1 was insane; the horse's pedigree and connections screamed turf, and the rest of the field wasn't exactly distinguished. The $165 exacta was a steal.

alan said...

According to Haskin's latest article, Corinthian is just breezing thus far. I don't know of anyone other than Strong Contender who is pointing to that race. I don't think you'll see even money either.

Walter said...

...i believe Latent Heat is pointing at the race as well, but i doubt he'll pull a lot of money...at least he's a Frankel, that should help a little bit...

Walter said...

...speaking of Frankel, he unveiled a very nice 3yo Broad Brush colt named South of Broad over the weekend...