- Steven Crist in the Form picks up on the theme that we've been mentioning over at Racing Saratoga on Todd Pletcher - that he not only wins with his two-year olds at an absurd rate, but that you can actually make some money on them too.
Over the 365 days of racing through this past Wednesday, Pletcher-trained 2-year-olds won an astounding 78 races from 268 starts, a 29 percent strike rate. More astoundingly, even though 25 of the 78 winners paid even-money or less and only four paid 10-1 or more, a $2 win bet on all 278 would have gotten you back a little over $600 for your $556, an 8 percent profit on your investment. Billion-dollar hedge funds have been funded on less reliable returns.The editor-in-chief of the racing Bible goes on to inform us that Pletcher has won nearly 40% of the juvenile races he's been involved in nationally this year, as well as nine stakes with seven different horses. And then there are some of those prices.
Horseplayers tear their hair out when Pletcher wins 2-year-old stakes like the Schuylerville with Cotton Blossom at $17.40 and the Adirondack with Octave at $21.60 because while the trainer angle is so strong, the individual horses may not look all that good on paper. Both of those fillies came into their Saratoga stakes starts with only moderate speed figures earned in their winning debuts. What it pays to keep in mind is that he has his choice of so many juveniles for these spots that their mere presence in graded stakes races suggests they are thriving and may be capable of even better than they have already shown.- Lava Man heads the field in Sunday's Grade 1 Pacific Classic, where he'll face the rejuvenated Giacomo. I'll be handicapping this one in detail for Sunday's Saratoga Special.
Should Lava Man win, it will be another step towards Horse of the Year honors. Kevin Modesti, in the LA Daily News, points out that should he take the Eclipse, it would be the second year in a row that the HOY is trained by a trainer implicated in illegal medication. Last year, it was Richard Dutrow and Saint Liam. In 2006, Lava Man's trainer Doug O'Neill had his horses subject to the 24 hour pre-race detention barn for 30 days due to a "milkshake" positive on one of his horses in May. In fact, Lava Man himself did the detention barn gig prior to his hard-fought win in the Hollywood Gold Cup, and O'Neill mentioned that as one of the reasons for the close finish in the race. (The 24-hour detention barn is now a standard procedure for harness stakes at the Meadowlands.)
Now, O'Neill denies the charges, claiming that the positive was the result of a "testing error," and to be fair, it should be pointed out that the affected horse finished last. But Modesti is right on when he points out:
It would, as O'Neill said, be awful if the awesome performances of the Saint Liams and Lava Mans were tarnished by the sanctions meted out to their trainers.And isn't giving Eclipse awards to horses trained by those implicated in illegal medication doing just that?
Worse, though, would be if the racing world grew so jaded that such trends, or coincidences - or potential coincidences - passed without comment. [LA Daily News]
- Lost in the Fog will have surgery today to determine the extent of his cancer. If the cancer hasn't spread beyond his spleen, where he has a tumor the size of a cantaloupe, he will have the organ removed. Greg Gilchrist said: "In 30 years of training horses, I've never seen anything like this....He's probably had this for months. That shows what a courageous horse he is; he's been running with this." [Star-Telegram]
Lost in the Fog's sluggish Breeders Cup performance and his subpar races this year were one of the disappointments of the racing season thus far. And this might seem twisted to say given the fact that the horse's life is in most definitely in danger, but I actually find some solace in learning that there was a legitiamte explanation for the dropoff in his form. Nonetheless, it's the latest cruel twist of fate for the sport which is already reeling from the Barbaro injury. Let's all hope and pray that Lost in the Fog proves to be as courageous and resilient as the Derby winner.