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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday Night Notes - June 17

- Out of sight, out of mind, it is said, and that's kind of the way I feel about Churchill Downs these days since they moved to (and bought half of) HRTV. Since I wasn't at the track on Saturday, the stakes races there, lacking any national TV exposure, were just some other out of town races. (I opened up a NYRA Internet account today, but it takes 24 hours for the online access to take effect. Does anyone know if you get live video of the races they take?). Later on, I went to the Churchill site to watch a replay of the Foster (since Churchill tracks are not available on Cal Racing) but when I went to the replay page, it said "Flashy Bull Holds Off Magna Graduate" which kinda ruined the suspense.

Flashy Bull (Holy Bull) has come a long way this year after getting blown out in the three Grade 1 races he tried last year. He was so ridiculously wide in the Derby that some suspected that Mike Smith was instructed to merely get the horse around the track safely as West Point entertained their guests and prospective clients at the track. Regardless, he's now a Grade 1 winner, even though he beat a field that included no such horses; essentially a nice Grade 2 affair.

Robby Albarado made a decisive move on the turn to open up a lead, and just barely had enough to hold off the late charge of Magna Graduate; final eighth in 12.97 long seconds for backers of the winner at a generous 6-1. Also a nice move by Kiaran McLaughlin, who took a shot at a moderate Grade 1 instead of the Grade 3 Salvatore Mile for which he was training, and very well. The Whitney at Saratoga could be next according to the trainer. "We can figure where Invasor is going and go a different direction....But the main goal might be the new Breeders' Cup Mile." That's one of the new Friday races, and it will be run at a mile and 70 yards this year.

Chelokee (Cherokee Run) looked absolutely beaten at the eighth pole as Zanjero, who was briefly shuffled back on the far turn, went by to his outside; but the latter drifted out, and then back in late, which could have allowed Chelokee to see him and dig in to get up. That's his second win in two tries since his third in the Florida Derby, and you gotta think that Michael Matz did the right thing skipping the Preakness. He's a tough colt to be sure, but certainly seems a cut below the top colts in the division; at least at this stage. Perhaps he too will point to the new Mile, a race which seems to have the potential to become a consolation race for those who are not up to the competition or distance in the Classic.

Shaun Bridgmohan stole the Jefferson on Inca King, meandering through a first half of 49.95 seconds. 4-5 favorite Duveen had traffic trouble inside, and when he emerged in the stretch, it was too late. Inca King was rolling home in 11.5 seconds at 8-1. This three-year old son of Sir Cat, a Chile-based Storm Cat stallion, is unbeaten since switching to the grass three races ago after six losing tries on dirt and Poly. An impressive allowance win at Keeneland in his last led to a change in ownership; this was his first race for Steve Asmussen. Out of a mare by the Turf winner Prized, Inca King is from the distaff family of the Grade 1 winning mare Catinca.

Cherokee Run, the sire of Chelokee, is also the sire of Indian Flare. And like Chelokee, Indian Flare came back to win after being passed in the stretch in the Grade 2 Vagrancy at Belmont on Sunday. After encountering a little early traffic, Javier Castellano sat patiently, saved ground on the turn, and shot inside the tiring Any Limit turning for home. Oprah Winney came flying, and definitely appeared to edge past before Indian Flare came back to get his first graded stakes win, for trainer Bobby Frankel.

- There's been an anonymous commenter who is critical of NYRA, and I know that there are those with legitimate complaints against which I'm not going to argue. But this reader has referred a couple of times to people having "a terrible experience going to the track." That's one complaint that I certainly don't have. Give me a beautiful, well-maintained park, plentiful betting windows/machines, and thoroughbred racing, and I'm pretty happy. I can't really remember the last time I had a terrible time at a NYRA track. But I know that different people are seeking different experiences at the track, and I'm sure that NYRA doesn't meet everyone's approval - well, obviously it doesn't. But just this weekend, I enjoyed two fabulous days at Belmont - make that three, including last Saturday. On Friday, there were more than 5,200 out on a lovely late afternoon/early evening for twilight racing. A good number of them hung out to hear some live music after racing was done. And on Sunday, the Head Chef and our younger daughters were nice enough to accompany me to Belmont on Father's Day. The backyard was freaking packed! Father's Day is one of the biggest attendance days of the year - 13,820 today.

Some may blame NYRA for the fact that 13,820 is considered to be a big crowd these days. But I just didn't see many any people having a terrible time. Does anyone here appear to be unhappy?

Happiness also came in the form of the Pick 3 for races 4 - 6 on Friday, which I hit for $246. Uncle Indy was tonned at the windows again, this time to the tune of 4-5. That created lots of value for Zito's Advanced Signs, who went off at 7-1. After that, it was all downhill with the betting favorites taking the last two legs.


ljk said...

I have Dish Network so I get both TVG and HRTV. (I still refuse to get two wagering accounts though) I much prefer TVG where at least the analysts will make a pick.

Saturday really was a good day of racing at Churchill. I was impressed with Simon Pure, who won a NW2X for fun after transferring from Lukas to Asmussen. There's a stakes win in his near future.

Asmussen looked like he was going to win everything. I'm still not sure how Zanjero got beat.

alan said...

I read that Asmussen had a total of nine winners nationwide on Saturday. Nice day. Don't know how Zanjero got beat either; it looked like he opened up a a good length, maybe more on Chelokee when he went past. Asmussen must know now how Nafzger felt when Curlin came back to beat SS.

Brett said...

I was at Arlington Park for Fathers Day and they probably got their biggest crowd all year, probably bigger then Million Day. The place was a zoo but their was no problems at the betting windows which is always good.

I also had a good day which helps the fact. I wish Arlington kept attendance figures though.

Even Matt Carothers on :58 Flat on TVG commented on the crowd at Arlington. By the way :58 Flat is a great show even for non-racing fans. Matt is just flat out hilarious

alan said...

Brett - NYRA was also prepared for the big crowd for Father's Day, which wasn't always the case, and I encountered no lines at all. And I agree that Carothers is a pretty entertaining guy, and I wish I was able to catch that show more often.

How are you finding the Polytrack there?