Pretty cool, eh? It ain't Aqueduct, by the way. It's Deep Impact returning to his adoring fans after winning the Japan Cup early Sunday morning NY time. You thought it was a little goofy to send get well cards to Barbaro? The fans there were chanting Deep Impact's name. Could you ever imagine the railbirds at Saratoga going "Ber-nar-di-ni! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap) Ber-nar-di-ni..!"
Walter discusses the question of why Deep Impact was on the pace at the Arc, whereas the late closing style that he returned to in the Japan Cup is obviously the horse's preferred style. (It's just as well he didn't win the Arc, because he would have been DQ'd for the nasal spray anyway.) I think it's a fair point that jockey Yutaka Take was still conscious of a much criticized ride in the Arc from the past, though I believe it was actually the one on White Muzzle in 1994. He was savagely criticized for moving too late, and twelve years later, the Brits were still writing about it in the papers. It's just human nature that he wanted to avoid the mistake again.
According to this article from the Japan Times, the chanting was actually going on during the race.
The crowd, 120,000 strong, was a wall of sound as it chanted Deep's name.Here, we only throw programs in the air when we get nosed out of the triple or Pick 4, and there would quickly be a swarm of people fighting to pick them up off the ground.
"I could hear them chanting," trainer Yasuo Ikee said. "It was really something and I was so grateful for it."
Passing horse after horse and gaining strongly, papers, hats and programs were hurtled into the air. Victory looked certain.
Wanted to mention TVG, which did a great job of covering the race, sending Simon Bray and Todd Schrmmmppff to Japan to cover the race live. Schrmmmppff is a guy who always has his TV face on, and it's sometimes hard to tell if his enthusiasm is genuine or contrived. But it was obvious that he and Bray were truly overwhelmed by the scene and by the unabashed affection the fans showed for the horse. Bray had a smile so wide that it extended back to the TVG studio and brushed up against Christine Olivares' leg.
The TV feed from Japan seemed to combine the best and worst of what we've seen on the tube lately. I like the idea of the camera panning through the whole field close up while they're on the backstretch. But not in the home stretch! While Deep Impact was rolling home on the outside, we were instead, for a few (long) moments, treated to a closeup of some fading horses towards the inside. Tough to figure that one out.