- I had a major thrill on Saturday when, in my professional public handicapping debut, I nailed the Arlington Million, picking The Tin Man and Cacique one-two on the nose. (And I actually bet it myself too.) Along with my picks for the Beverly D (in which I didn't do quite as well picking 4th place finisher Honey Ryder...but still had Gorella second, and the longshot Love Live third....that may qualify as hitting the triple in tout-sheet land), I had a full page in the print edition of the Saratoga Special. So I was rooting for more than just some money during the races....it was like my virtually non-existent reputation was on the line.
So I was greeted with congratulations at the backstretch Sunday morning, with the promise of more assignments to come. We'll see. The thing is, it will be hard to top a $70 cold exacta in my debut, and I'll be feeling much pressure next time.
As far as the race goes, not only did I pick the winner, but I pretty much laid out exactly the race was going to go. I think it was pretty flawless if I say so myself! You can check it out here.
If racing was a major sport, this could be a major story. The Tin Man seemed to be on the decline in 2004, racing just three times with just an allowance third place finish to show. He then missed 15 months with a bum ankle. Now, at the age of 8, Richard Mandella has this horse as sharp as nails, man; he's just a second place finish to David Junior at Dubai away from undefeated in five races since his return.
Victor Espinoza was allowed to set a slow pace, to put it mildly, though I (obviously) didn't think that should have been a huge surprise given his inside post, and the outside posts for Cacique and English Channel. Mandella said: "I couldn't believe they let him do that (a half in :50 1/5). I had it in my mind that someone will press him a little bit." After six furlongs in 1:15.18, he sprinted home – and I mean sprinted – in 23.46 and then, unless my eyes are deceiving me, 22.71 for the final quarter – are you kidding me? Is this horse smokin' or what? The rest of the field had no shot....Espinoza said "This was the second easiest win I've ever had – the first was the (2002) Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on War Emblem." [Bloodhorse]
(Just to contrast, the half in the Beverly D went in 46.82, and pacesetter Live Life, also with Espinoza aboard, managed to hold on for third.)
The British press had their own take on the proceedings; check out this article from the Independent Online:
The Tin Man was foaled some time around Prohibition, but he was granted such an easy lead that his rivals seemed stricken by a misplaced respect for the elderly. The fractions might sooner have been measured with a sundial than a stopwatch. By the time the other jockeys woke up to what was happening, Victor Espinoza and an eight-year-old gelding had stolen a million dollars in broad daylight. Chicago has seen nothing like it since the days of Al Capone.Mandella told the BBC that he'll point The Tin Man to the BC Turf, where you can be sure he won't be walking unattended on the lead. Where's Shake the Bank when you need him?
- Showing Up remained undefeated on the turf with his win in the Secretariat. He didn't need to set a crawling pace, getting his half in 47.83 and six furlongs in 1.11.19, and was under just mild pressure from midstretch to hold off Ivan Denisovich. The final time of 2:00.09 (final quarter in 24.30) was a full 1.35 seconds faster than the Grade 1 older animals in the Million. ''I cannot believe how well he ran,'' trainer Barclay Tagg said. ''He ran much better than even I expected, and I expected him to run very well.'' [Chicago Sun-Times]
And the most impressive visual move of the day was that of Gorella in the Beverly D. Julien Leparoux "produced" her (seems to be a new favorite track announcer expression) wide from second to last at the top of the stretch, and she mowed the field down effortlessly. Biancone said: "She's a machine, and my jockey is the coolest guy, waiting for the last quarter-mile for her to explode." He also spoke about her getting the longer distance, though it was just a sixteenth longer than the mile and an eighth that she's won at before. I would think she's a more likely candidate for the BC Mile than the Turf if they're inclined to run her against the boys again....but wouldn't it be cool to see all three winners – Showing Up, The Tin Man, and Gorella – face each other on Breeders Cup day?
- The connections of David Junior took note of The Tin Man's win.
"It's always nice when the form works out, so we are obviously very happy with the Arlington result," said Eamonn Connolly, racing manager to David Junior's owners Roldvale Ltd.- AP Warrior won the G3 LaJolla Handicap at Del Mar on Saturday in a thrilling stretch duel, outlasting the 6-5 favorite Porto Santo. He was pretty dead on the board at 5.50 to 1 (3-1 morning line). But a look at his pedigree could have been a tipoff. By AP Indy, he's out of Warrior Queen (Quiet American), a stakes winner on the grass in Ireland. If you go back to his third dam, you'll find a host of Euro stakes winners, including Grade 1 winners Green Tune and Pas De Response. John Shirreffs has some options with this colt now, and it will be interesting to see which way he goes.
David Junior is reported to be on top of his game and is likely to take in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York or the Baileys Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown before a possible crack at the Breeders' Cup Classic. [The Herald (UK)]