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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Notes - Oct 11

- Tom Albertrani told the Albany Times-Union that no decision will be announced on Bernardini's future beyond the Breeders Cup until after the Classic.

"It's always good when you have a horse like this; more people focus on racing when they might normally not.....I would love to have him next year, but no one has mentioned anything to me at all."
I wrote in the comments section earlier that I'd be 'pleasantly surprised' if he raced next year, but I think that 'shocked' would be a more accurate description.

- Lawyer Ron worked a half in 48.02 yesterday at Belmont; his first work for new trainer Todd Pletcher. The 3-year-old could start next in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Classic. [NY Daily News]

- Steve Haskin writes of the Spinster and the other weekend stakes at Keeneland:
Speaking of Polytrack, it looks as if you can throw form for the most part right out the window judging by some of the weird winners over the weekend, most of whom had either run or trained over the track, and the number of good horses who didn't run their usual race over it, such as Happy Ticket and Spun Sugar in the Juddmonte Spinster (gr. I), and a host of others in the Phoenix Breeders' Cup (gr. II) and Alcibiades (gr. I).
Well, for one thing, don't we have to wait until the Breeders Cup before we decide that the preps were no good? Spun Sugar may have finished 8th, but after the 2 1/4 length winning margin, the margins from 2nd to 8th were nk, nk, hd, nk, nk, no; so it wasn't like she was trounced (the way she was at Belmont in the Phipps). And I think Mr. Haskin is just mistaken about Happy Ticket; she was checked severely midstretch while moving up the rail. And besides, her trainer Andrew Leggio told the Shreveport Times: "..she loved the surface. She literally glided over it."

As for the other races Haskin mentions, I already provided a perfectly reasonable explanation for the Alcibiades result. The Phoenix Breeders Cup result was a little weird, but no one was mistaking any of the runners for legitimate Sprint contenders anyway. And the winner, Kelly's Landing, had performances in his not-too-distant past that supported this performance, and who knows, maybe it's a case of a horse being revitalized on the kinder track.

Keeneland should be a huge story in our sport. This is the first major meeting to be run over Polytrack, and a successful meeting - one with competitive, full-field racing and a minimum of injuries (and not necessarily one in which form complies with anyone's standards of 'normal') - is a potential bonanza, if not a downright savior for the game. We all talk about how what the sport needs most are stars who stick around and race, and a track that causes less injuries and happier horses should translate into less early retirements. Who knows, if horsemen gain confidence that their valuable steeds are far less likely to sustain a life-threatening injury on the racetrack, perhaps that in itself would lead to more stars racing at four or beyond.


t said...

Alan, I saw something that not only have I never seen before, but didn't know existed. At Indiana Downs they had harness racing ON THE TURF. Are you familiar with this? Is this a gimmick like Calder doing a clockwise race, or is it just rare? I really don't know anything about harness racing, so maybe this has just escaped me for a long time.

Anonymous said...

My gut feeling is that you're probably right about them retiring Bernardini right after the Classic, but I'm wondering why they wouldn't want him to race against Discreet Cat if that's the case. I'm assuming they're losing tons of money on their horse racing it their goal here can't be to preserve the value of either horse. I'd have to assume that the ultimate goal is something pretty basic like "to breed and race great horses" why would they intentionally schedule their horses' races in way that they never really get to prove themselves among the all-time greats? If Bernardini races at 4, or beats Discreet Cat before retiring, he moves way up among the great horses. If he doesn't do either, he's basically no different than many other talented horses who will be pretty much forgetten in a few years because they never got to prove themselves.

Alan Mann said...

Brad - I have never, ever seen harness racing on the turf in this country, but I'm fairly certain than it's done overseas. I'll have to look into that.

Anon - Good point about Bernardini moving up among the great horses if he races at 4 and/or beats Discreet Cat. But if he romps in the Classic, do you think that there's enough upside in terms of stud fee or his book of mares if he races at 4, as opposed to the risk of him getting hurt or getting beat? They're getting 100K for Smarty Jones, and who, really, did he ever beat? Borrego? He never even faced older horses as Bernardini has, and will.

Anonymous said...

alan - I agree that financially, the risk probably isn't worth it. And with any other owners, I could see that playing a big part in their decision. But you'd think with all the $ these guys have blown on racing over the years, a place in history would be worth some financial risk. - Alex

Alan Mann said...

Alex - Well put. You'd think that they'd have enough of a sporting nature to do it. I mean, isn't the Sheikh himself curious to see who would win?

Anonymous said...

This from Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, and fresh off the Godolphin site:

"Although the colt is really well in himself, the plan at this time is to run him in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct before he goes back to Dubai. Discreet Cat stays in training next year and will be competing at the highest level."

Anonymous said...

My friend in Japan just informed me that Deep Impact will be retired after one more race, most likely the Arima Kinen.

Anonymous said...

Money is not a factor in the decision to retire or to race them against one another.

I believe they will face each other, but on the only stage that really matters to the connections, the Dubai World Cup.

Mr. Ed