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Monday, October 16, 2006

Gorgeous George Goes Classic

- George Washington, considered to be the top miler in Europe, is headed for the Breeders Cup Classic, despite the fact that, as articulated by the UK Independent's Chirs McGrath, he shares with Galileo, Oratorio and Hawk Wing the turf genes that condemned them to obliteration in the Classic. Aiden O'Brien was to have George have a training session on a dirt track, but that was cancelled.

Seems like a no-lose gamble for Coolmore, as explained by Greg Wood in the Guardian.

Defeat for George Washington in the Classic, meanwhile, is a 1-12 chance at the latest odds, but would do no damage at all to his stud value, since no-one expects him to win. Hot favourites who get turned over in the Mile, though, do tend to stick in the memory.

So a run in the Classic is a free bet which could be worth many millions of dollars, since victory, unlikely though it might be, would add thousands to the fee for every cover performed by George Washington during what promises to be a long and busy career at stud.
Those who have Gorella in a futures wager are happy about this development. But the defection of the probable Mile favorite could attract another imposing threat. The Form reports that Barclay Tagg is rethinking his decision to skip the Breeders Cup with Showing Up. Assistant Robin Smullen said: "He was very impressed with his kick. I think [Showing Up] impressed him more than he usually does."

Still, she indicated that Tagg thinks that the prudent thing to do would be skip the big day with Showing Up, and with Nobiz Like Showbiz as well. Someone commented on my post on Gorella how it's funny how different people see different things in a race. I wrote of Nobiz Like Showbiz (a horse whose bandwagon I'm admittedly not yet on) that, while I was duly impressed by his effort in the Champagne, I was more impressed by the race by Scat Daddy. I downplayed the bad start by Tagg's colt as an excuse for the loss. So when I saw that the main story in today's Form is about not the winner of the Champagne, but the second place finisher, I went back for another look.

I haven't seen the ESPN close-up of the start that Watchmaker refers to in his article, but I don't need to to know that he had a bad start; he was second to last, after all. Still, he wasn't out of contact, and again, this time watching the head-on shot, I see him move up on the inside rather comfortably and without traffic, and save a lot of ground on the turn compared to Scat Daddy. So, I'm going to stick to my original position.

And that position is not that Nobiz Like Showbiz isn't an extremely talented and promising colt (though with an annoying name) who ran a great race in a Grade 1 in just his second start. I'm just saying that I thought that Scat Daddy was the best horse in the race despite running a bit greenly in the stretch, and that he deserves more than just some credit for being good enough to capitalize on Nobiz Like Shobiz's trouble, which is how Watchmaker put it. And I believe that, should they meet in the Juvenile, Scat Daddy has just as much license to improve going two turns as Nobiz does.

- Steve Davidowitz, in the subscription-only DRF Plus, is one who has some extremely heady praise for Nobiz Like Showbiz.
Few hugely proportioned 2-year-olds are capable of demonstrating agility, much less high-class speed under the gun. In fact, Nobiz Like Shobiz's size and generous stride vaguely recalled two of the greatest horses of the 20th century: Seattle Slew and Forego.

Seattle Slew was a strongly built, very fast champion 2-year-old who developed into the 1977 Triple Crown winner. Forego also was a fast young horse, but did not reach his peak until he turned 4 in 1974.

Nobiz Like Shobiz has a long way to go to be favorably compared to either Seattle Slew or Forego, but it was remarkable that this hugely proportioned colt performed so well in the Champagne while obviously needing time to grow into his body.


Anonymous said...

Rock Hard Ten is another massive animal who had speed and athleticism, and he turned out okay. Didn't start until he was 3, however.

In regard to the Nobiz Like Shobiz, what i'm having a hard time understanding is that i read several quotes from Tagg leading up to the Champagne where he said, "Well, if we want to run him in the Breeders Cup, then yada yada yada". As if they were hoping the colt would run well enough to earn himself a spot in the Juvenile. Then, after he does so, Tagg pulls back and says, "I'd like to run him in the Remsen". What??? Pick a position, and go with it. I swear, sometimes i think these guys pull this stuff just to make my life difficult. Incidentally, i read in that DRF article where Robin Smullen (Tagg's assistant) was mentioning Nobiz's rough trip in the Cha,pagne, and said, "Better it happens now than the First Saturday In May." Again, already with the Derby Stuff??? Is that all anyone cares about anymore??? Exactly when did the Breeders Cup become so unimportant? As if passing the Juvenile somehow stamped your ticket to Derby favoritism. First the Godolphin guys pull Rulers Court (who would've been a huge favorite) out of the Juvenile so that he can "point to the Derby", and now Americans are doing it??? We can all see how well it's worked for Godolphin. And now Godolphin is passing on the Breeders Cup who's very possibly the best in the world. What's the point of having a good horse if you're not gonna run him? I fail to see how the Remsen and the Cigar Mile make more sense than the Breeders Cup Juvenile and the Breeders Cup Classic. And now George Washington is apparently passing the Mile, where he'd rate an excellent chance of winning, so he can run in the Classic, where he'll be a big longshot. Is it just me, or are these people insane? At least with the George Washington move, the motive is clear. It's all about money. But what's the motive behind the Nobiz like Shobiz and Discreet Cat moves? I don't see how skipping the Juvenile to run in the Remsen is gonna do anyone any good, including the horse. Is it so much to ask to run a horse back in 3 weeks, after which he'll be given a long break anyway? And don't even get me started on Discreet Cat.

Alan Mann said...

Do you get the feeling that some trainers are starting to take the Juvenile/Derby jinx seriously? I got that impression from the Asmussen barn when they announced that they would not proceed with Tiz Wonderful, but would instead 'save' him for next year.

Anonymous said...

I doubt if they're considering the "jinx", but to me it's beyond presumptuous to hold a horse out of the Juvenile because you're "saving them for next year". If the horse isn't good enough to compete, or he's injured, that's one thing. But holding out a perfectly healthy animal so that, in your own mind, he has a 10% better chance of fulfilling some pipe dream that's still over 6 months away, that's just ridiculous. Speaking of Ruler's Court, whom i alluded to earlier, he ended up getting hurt during a training mishap, and i don't believe he ever ran again (in the Derby, or anywhere else). As fragile as horses are (particularly as they progress down the Derby Trail), i can't believe that anyone thinks passing the Juvenile means smooth sailing the following year, or even gives them a better chance at all. If anything, it probably IMPROVES their chances. Remember, Derby Day produces a screaming crowd of about 100,000 strong, most likely resulting in a lot of spooked horses. Now, how would you go about preparing a horse for that kind of mental anxiety? Well, i guess you could school him in the paddock on Oaks Day, but aside from that, the Breeders Cup is about it. Might as well get him used to it, as much as you can. I'm not suggesting that people run in the Breeders Cup for this reason, but i can see where it would be an added benefit, should their horse be lucky enough to make it to the Derby. It's gotta help at least as much as running in the Remsen does. Good Grief.

Stalusk said...

I'm very confused by this change in plans for GW. It's probably just me but it just doesn't make sense. They already tried a Danehill colt on dirt against Bernardini, a colt who was already proven at the longer trip. That plan backfired dramatically.

They say they have nothing to lose regarding his stud career. If I was with Coolmore, I'm not sure I'd want my squillion dollar colt thrashed in his final racecourse appearance, particularly if it meant further emphasizing the total dominance of a Darley homebred.

And if he does happen to win in the Classic, does it really add thousands of dollars to his fee? Is there a huge demand for Danehill stallions in North America? I'm a long way away but most of the forums I read don't have this as a common thread.

Again it could be just me, but there seems to be a lot to lose for little gain.

Erin said...

It won't hurt GW's stud value because, as you said, no one expects him to win. His stud value is based on him being a superior grass horse, so if he fails on dirt no one's surprised and no one is disappointed. Because he still has that grass record.
But if he can make a miracle happen and win (or at least finish strongly), well, he will exceed everyone's expectations and prove a versatility that would make him rare among Danehills. In the global market that would make him quite unique, and therefore, I believe, raise his stud fee quite a bit.
Regardless, I doubt he'd stand in North America.