- Lava Man made what seemed on paper to be a nice Grade 1 field seem ordinary. Corey Nakatani said that he "chirped" to him before he quickly drew away to leave the Pacific Classic field in the dust. "That horse said, 'Goodbye, it was nice knowing you,'" said Bob Baffert, the trainer of Preachinatthebar, who had the poor judgment to knock heads with the favorite on the lead early on. Later on, he was gone. And though the time and the final quarter may not have been quick (2:01.62, and 26.12 respectively), the message is clear that there's nobody on that coast that's gonna beat this guy. The win completed an unprecedented sweep of the Big Cap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and the Pac Classic.
I'm reading more and more of Perfect Drift's trainer Murray Johnson's bitching about the track condition. As we were discussing in the comments section, Johnson saw the track being graded, or scraped, the night before, which he feels favored the front-running Lava Man to the detriment of his own. Sounds like the usual sour grapes, but I'm pretty shocked at the personal nature of some of his remarks.
“There are a lot of people who manipulate things in this game. It's like the drugs and what they treat the horses with. They all think they've got an edge. We know how (Lava Man) does back East when he travels. (Lava Man hasn't won outside California.) I'd love to know his bicarb (bicarbonate) level, too. I'll guarantee it's in the 30s. Which means he's . . . it's not a legitimate thing. I'm not bitching because I lost. I'm just telling you what I saw.” [SignOnSanDiego]Seemed like a not-veiled-at-all barb towards the winner's trainer, who recently had a positive for milkshakes that caused his entries to be quarantined.
I was a bit surprised (and disappointed) that Giacomo didn't attract more mutuel support - he was 9-2 third choice. But then again, it was right there in black and white if you looked at the Beyers, and at the fractions of his mile and a quarter races. Shug McGaughey has been percolating at Saratoga, and the second by Good Reward contines that trend.
I had the Pick Three, and didn't use Declan's Moon anywhere on the tickets. Easy to say now of course, but as much as I admired his comeback race, I thought he was an awful favorite in this spot. Again, his Beyers were nowhere near these, and the improvement he would have needed to compete with what was a very tough bunch was just too much to ask in my opinion. I would have loved Pure As Gold to hang on at 8-1, but once Siren Lure got going, the race was over. This is one nice five-year old gelding, and it was his third consecutive graded stakes win. Whatsmore, he can run on the grass too.
Nonetheless, it's disappointing to see Declan's Moon run so poorly, and Victor Espinoza eased him up in the lane. “He didn't want to run today....On the turn, I just stopped trying with him. Today was not his day.” Ron Ellis said that "He ran like a horse who might have bled,” and I hope the explanation is as simple as that.
In the middle leg, I left out a 9-5 Frankel favorite, and had Sartorial, making his first start on the grass at 5-1. So I must say that while I'm of course not complaining, I was a bit disappointed with the $128 Pick Three payoff. I know it's hard to create value when there's a big favorite involved, but I did beat two favorites, and Lava Man wasn't that big of a favorite. He was in the Pick Three pool though. Sometimes you can get a surprise, especially with a first-time turf winner who gets bet on the nose, but this wasn't one of them.