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Friday, October 06, 2006

Gold Cup Day A New York Afterthought

- Tom Albertrani says that he prefers 'freshness' to 'tested' for Bernardini going into the Classic, and he may (or may not) get his wish with Saturday's four horse field, the smallest for the Jockey Club Gold Cup since Waquoit beat three horses in 1988. No Invasor, but Wanderin Boy plays the role of 'Invasor Light.' Zito's horse has a similar style to the missing Uruguayan star, but his figs have been on a steady downturn since he romped over the Keeneland track during the spring, and his ability to go beyond nine furlongs is in question. While he adds an element of speed, it would be shocking if he turned out to be anything but a target for Bernardini here.

The wild card, of course, is Dylan Thomas. I was told that NYRA is trying to market the race as the equine equivalent of the Ryder Cup. But does anyone even know (or care) what the Ryder Cup is? Man, are they grasping for straws, or what? In fact, there are five Grade 1's on the card, and I can tell you that virtually nobody in this city, which has both of its baseball teams in the playoffs (and the Yanks in action at 4 PM, possibly facing elimination), could possibly care less. Add in the expected blustery day, with temps expected to barely break the 60 degree mark, and it will seem like it's been months since Saratoga.

Coolmore's Michael Tabor told the Independent's Chris McGrath of Dylan Thomas' prospects for the Gold Cup:

"As with George Washington at Goodwood, Saturday will not be this horse's Derby. Obviously you hope to win, but the main thing is you're training an athlete and the priority is to have him cherry-ripe on the big day."

Tabor revealed that the door is open for Dylan Thomas to return to familiar ground in the Breeders' Cup Turf should he fail to convince on Saturday. That race had been on the agenda for Hurricane Run, but he is now likely to run in the Emirates Champion Stakes at Newmarket. "For Dylan Thomas, this is a test to see whether he acts on dirt," Tabor said. "We haven't had the best experiences with Danehills [offspring] on that surface, but if he can do himself justice he'd go on to the Classic."
Albertrani expressed some dismay at drawing the rail, telling the Form:
"I was hoping to be on the outside of Wanderin Boy. This way he could jump out and do what he wanted to do. He looks like he's a front-runner, anyway. If Bernardini breaks sharp, I wouldn't want him to be chasing after [Wanderin Boy] or be head and head."
But the trainer also told Gary West of the Star Telegram: "He's giving us every indication that he's at the same level he was going into the Travers," and if that's the case, then Wanderin Boy is nothing but a middling test at best, and if he turns out to be more than that, well...

Dylan Thomas' trainer Aiden O'Brien told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the colt has great tactical speed. On the turf, anyway.
"Sometimes when we go to the dirt we lose too much ground at the start....They have to make too much of an effort to get into a challenging position, and when they get into it they have to use their reserves."
- The Vosburgh comes up short too, with just five entrants. Henny Hughes looks to really be up against it against Silver Train. The latter will be on his beloved home field, and looks as imposing as the Twins with Johan Santana starting at the Metrodome. And Dutrow told Bloodhorse: "Since I have had him, this is the absolute best he has ever been." I can't disagree with Dutrow when he said: told the Form: "I'm not afraid of him; I think we're the horse to beat.....We have faster numbers than him....It seems like we have a more determined horse than him, too. Silver Train ain't going to let you get by him." Those are fair points. The Beyers aren't really even that close. And all of Henny Hughes' wins have been daylight victories. When he was challenged last year by the likes of Stevie Wonderboy and First Samurai, he went down to defeat. Here he breaks from the rail against four older horses, three of whom have similar close-to-the-pace running styles.


Patrick J Patten said...

Who's the Cowboy! da-da-dadada
Who's the Cowboy! da-da-dadada

Anonymous said...

I agree with your take on Henny Hughes. Despite the 5-horse field, he really looks to be up against it. And it doesn't help that he drew the rail. I don't have the PP's in front of me, but isn't Attila's Storm a big-time speedball? Silver Train has no shortage of gas either, and then you have War Front ready to pounce from just off the pace. Luckily, Henny Hughes is the hype horse (is it okay to call him a hype horse...he he he). Of course Henny is the real deal, always has been, but what i mean is that he's gonna pull a TON of money here (perhaps even going favored), off reputation alone. This is a pretty severe class hike for Henny, who has never had to deal with this type of competition before. I'd also like to point out that, fast as Henny is, he hasn't exactly been burning up the track this year. Despite the big Beyer figures, in his Monmouth win a while back he actually ran a slower half-mile than did an allowance filly earlier on the card. And in his King's Bishop win, his first half-mile was virtually equalled by the Godolphin 2yo Incriminate. While Henny was obviously doing it pretty easy both times, and finishing out strong, he's gonna have to run a whole lot faster this time around in order to keep up, and he's gonna be facing older horses who can finish up strong themselves. I think Henny is in for a real battle here, and i think he's gonna get beat. If he can win this race from the rail while taking the class jump, my hat's off to him.

Anonymous said...

Conspiracy theorists unite! Belmont's cancellation of the Pick 6 so that the $400k+ carryover goes tomorrow smacks of chicanery. I'm pleased, but with a $62 horse beating a heavy fav in the sequence today, they could have been looking at over $1 million in the carryover pool had a Verizon "glitch" not blown it.

Anonymous said...

Henny is the real deal sprinting, undefeated at 6f or less. With all due respect, First Samarai and Stevie were at the top of this very talented class of sophomores before prematurely retiring. They are the only two horses to beat HH. HH has been beautifully managed, allowing him to develop and mature into a horse ready to move to the top of the sprinting class. He is my single today in the big Pick 5.

Silver Train is a G2 horse that turns into a monster on this track, but this year has been all out to hold off Sun King and War Front, a proven G2 horse. Had Taste Of Paradise gotten even a mediocre ride in the Cup last year ST's record would not be so impressive, TOP was ton's the best.

Mr. Ed

Anonymous said...

PS- The Belmont fall meet will always be a marketing nightmare, just too much competition for the dollar, MLB, NFL, back to school, kids soccer and football. Such a shame because the racing is terrific, but it will not matter who takes on the franchise this meet will always have its problems.