- As mentioned here in the comments, Eibar Coa won his 300th race in New York this year when he won the 4th at the Big A on Friday. He then added two more, including the feature with Spooky Mulder, who had a much easier time than last time. Coa is only the 4th rider to accomplish that feat since 1940 (though remember that the season was about three months shorter for much of that time).
Nonetheless, he indeed joins distinguished company in Angel Cordero Jr., my favorite jock of all time, Mike Smith, who dominated here in the early 90's, and Stevie "The Kid" Cauthen, who had a Gretzky-esque 433 wins in 1977, almost 100 more victories than the next on the list!
Coa just missed getting the milestone win in the third race when he fell a neck short of Itsaffirmative (Songandaprayer). This West Point runner had made his only start almost a year ago, in January, when he ran a dismal 10th by some 24 lengths. He was listed as 10-1 in the morning line for his return, at least before the scratch of Darley's $5.2 million bust Ever Shifting (whose running line looked almost as bad). But Itsaffirmative was made the 5-2 second choice; with Jose Santos, he was easily 3-4 wide going into the first turn, opened up three lengths coming into the stretch, and managed to hold on in a 27 second quarter. You gotta love this game.
I've mentioned trainer Alan Klanfer from time to time. The conditioner for the fussy Paraneck Stable, he was winless for over two months during the summer. He probably would have been fired if the stable hadn't already gone through two other trainers this year. But the barn has been live of late, and at nice prices too; the median payoff over the last year is $20.50. Plus they've had a boatload of high-odds horses run second and third in the last few months. Of course, it's one thing to mention him and another to actually profit on it, which maybe I'll get around to some day.
Klanfer scored on Friday with Cabbage Patch Gal. This juvenile daughter of Not For Love had made four prior starts, going off twice at 4-1, once at 5-2 and most recently at 6-1; this despite the fact that she'd never finished better than 5th, and lost by 15 two back. After getting trounced by 13 in her last, the bettors finally gave up, to a certain extent anyway, and let her go off at 11-1, which still seemed short given her 15-1 morning line. This time she took the lead out of the gate and never looked back. You gotta love this game.
- Steve Davidowitz, writing in the Form's paid DRF Plus section, notes that the big question at Santa Anita, at least in the early stages of the meet, is how Cushion Track form will translate to real dirt in what will be the final such meeting held in Southern California. Too early to say thus far of course, but he has this observation:
Horses with a steady diet of moderately timed workouts on artificial tracks - especially at five furlongs or longer - apparently gain more conditioning and stamina compared to horses with much faster workouts on dirt racing surfaces. Thus, it seems likely that lightly raced horses, absentees, and first-time starters will be fitter when shipped from Hollywood Park to run over the usually glib Santa Anita dirt surface.- Santa Anita officials are investigating the claim of a horse trained by Bruce Headley by his son Gus. "Minutes after the race we began to receive phone calls," said steward Scott Chaney. "Given the peculiarity of the circumstances, we referred it to the CHRB to investigate the claim." [Bloodhorse]
But as the elder Headley said, "The horse was for sale and had a claiming price on him, period....Gus has a (trainer’s) license, he’s in that job, there’s no collusion." It's an interesting case because now that I think about it, I don't ever recall hearing of, for example, Jimmy Jerkins claiming from Allan, or Anthony Dutrow from Richard. Perhaps there's an unwritten rule about it. But if there's no written rule against a trainer claiming a horse from a relative, then there's no rule, and I suppose that should be the end of the matter.
- In Massachusetts, a bill that would have allowed the state's tracks to continue taking simulcast wagers failed to pass, and three tracks, including Suffolk Downs, will have to close on Monday if no agreement is reached. The bill was killed by Democratic Rep. David Flynn, who objected to a clause that would limit thoroughbred simulcasts at the Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park, a track in his district which conducts year-round live dog racing. Since the Legislature is in informal session, his lone vote was enough to keep the bill from advancing. [Associated Press]
Suffolk Downs president John Hall released a statement condemning Flynn as "callous" and calling it "frustrating" to try keep the track going under such circumstances.
"This would not be tolerated in other industries, and it is a very difficult way to ask someone to run their business," Hall said. [Boston Globe]