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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wowee Zowee!

- Oh man, ten years in prison for jockey Greta Kuntzweiler, and 25 for her boyfriend Bryan Beccia on charges of possessing, trafficking and making methamphetamine. The latter in particular would probably have been better off dabbling in second degree manslaughter, and certainly with conspiring to lie this country into war. The attorneys for Scooter Libby, sentenced to 30 months or the end of Bush's term, whichever comes sooner, (thankfully, for us as well as for Libby, it's the latter) attempted to block the release of letters written on his behalf. They included submissions from fellow war criminals like Donald Rumsfeld and Henry Kissinger, and the attorneys argued that bloggers would make fun of them (I kid you not). But I don't imagine that I'll have any such letters to ridicule in this very, very sad case.

Beccia was the exercise rider for Monarchos, and was mentioned in that Derby winner's breeder JD Squires' book A Horse of a Different Color. "A former assistant trainer himself, Beccia knew that as a rider he possessed the trainer's most valued tool - a clock in his head." I'm sorry to say that that's a trait that will not serve Beccia at all well in prison. Kuntzweiler, who hasn't ridden in more than a year, won 425 career races, but is known more to me as a former client of jockey agent Bob Nastanovich, a former drummer for the seminal 90's indie rock band Pavement.

- Garrett Gomez may have been the biggest loser on Belmont Day. Not only was he on the wrong horse in the Belmont having committed, too soon as it turned out, to Hard Spun, but he has apparently permanently lost the mount on Rags to Riches to John Velazquez. Johnny V earns that duty based on an absurdly wide trip that he would have been killed for had the filly lost. And if that's not bad enough, Gomez himself is getting killed for his ride on Hard Spun, who he kept wrestled back off the pace throughout the slow opening half mile and three quarters. Larry Jones lamented that Gomez did not seem to have the same talent as the unfortunate Bryan Beccia.

"I'm really starting to wonder whether any jockey has a clock in his head anymore. You could tell the old time jocks how fast to go and if they were off even a fifth of-a-second, they'd be upset with themselves. I really don't know whether these (modern) jocks have a clue as to how fast they're going." [NY Post]
Well, throughout his Triple Crown campaign, we've heard that Hard Spun has gone too fast, Hard Spun has gone too slow, but not much of 'Hard Spun was going too far,' the most likely explanation in my opinion.

Dan Illman was discussing the slow pace the other day (the slowest since 1969 according to the Post's Ray Kerrison in the abovelinked article) in the Formblog, and after he was finally done giving props to all his commenters who picked winners over the weekend (which is nice for those readers but, to me, doesn't make for particularly interesting reading), he wrote that the top two were "probably" the best horses in the race. In response, I would direct you to the early stretch run. Curlin and Rags to Riches just waved bye-bye to their opponents, leaving that field in the dust as they scooted away from them as quickly as Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani are running from their past policies as chief execs of liberal bastions. I think that they far outclassed the rest of the field regardless of the pace, and I say this with a certain amount of bravado since, for a BIG change in a Triple Crown race for yours truly, I was right on in asserting before the race that the two stood out. You can make the case that the gap may have been closer between the top pair and the rest had the pace been more realistic, but I don't believe there's any doubt that the result would have been exactly the same.

- And a reader traveling in China reports that Left at the Gate is blocked by the Internet Police there. Why, I can't say; probably isn't the lefty politics and can't possibly be gambling given the proliferation of casinos in Macau. Maybe if I change the background and link color back to red..


Anonymous said...

Post Preakness Jones continually ranted that Pino disobeyed his orders to keep HS covered since HS "takes off" when he sees open space. It was obvious from his comments that the plan was to stalk CPW and ST, which was implemented very professional and talented Gomez.

Did he maybe move a little late? Sure, but if he moved to the lead on the back stretch you would have heard Jones screaming to high heaven that GG moved to soon and cost him the race.

Jones, for all of his press friendly behavior and sportsmanship in running the horse, has proven to be a sore loser.

You hit is right on the head, "too far" is the reason the horse keeps losing, not the pace.

HS, a very talented son of Danzig, will make a tremendous free running miler on the turf if the trainer figures it out before ruining him by running him too far on the dirt.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, although it will never come to fruition.

As the site of the Breeders' Cup this year, Monmouth has a golden opportunity to attract all four of these horses for the Haskell. I mean, why not get a run over the track that's hosting the biggest race of the year?

If that happens, the shorter distance and more speed favorite track at Monmouth could turn the whole thing upside down, as I believe Hard Spun would have a HUGE advantage in that race. I'd be ready to take a nice plunge on him in the Haskell.

Monmouth should jack the purse up to $2 million, provided that the winners of the Triple Crown races ALL participate, and they should pay appearance fees of $50k to each trainer...something that they've never hesitated to do in the past.

Alan Mann said...

Steve D -

That's the kind of scenario that perhaps, if we had some kind of commissioner of the sport, he/she may be working on coming to fruition right now. And for all my negativity on Hard Spun during the TC, I would certainly consider him at a price running nine furlongs at Monmouth. With Mario Pino. Or Gomez.

Patrick J Patten said...

I think you'll get HS, and Curlin, but SS won't face HS unless it's absolutely necessary (read : BC) and R2R would be awesome, but I think her plan is a 3yo filly prep and then the Travers.

I'd wet my pants for all 4, and will personally up the purse to $2 if I hit the lotto anytime soon, but I think you have to be happy with what Monmouth is currently looking at.

No word on where Chelokee is going

Anonymous said...

Good points by Steve . Monmouth does have a chance here to have a big race. Alan, you may have missed it while being away, but Asmussen already committed Curlin to the Haskell, Jones metioned that Hard Spun would not do anything until "at least the Haskell" and Naftzger said Jim Dandy or Haskell. The Haskell will get a bigger look than normal this year because every wants a spin over the track before breeders cup day. They should absolutely jack up the purse, pay those appearance fees they give to Baffert all the time and try and have a huge day there. Also Alan, I'm curious to see how monmouth did on their ridiculuos reserve ticket policy ($100 minimum seats-reserve by June 6th)for Breeders CUp Day. Any word on what type of demand there was for ticket lottery ?

Alan Mann said...

No, I haven't heard anything about the demand for BC tickets, and I'd be quite happy to hear an announcement that they'll be accepting more applications due to an underwhelming response. Not rooting for a small crowd you understand, but the pricing policy is just awful.

Regarding the Haskell, we have to keep in mind that it's "only" three weeks before the Travers, so it seems very unlikely that Pletcher would run her in both.

ljk said...

I think best chance for pants wetting is August 25th at the Spa. I frankly don't care if Hard Spun shows though - good horse, horrible trainer. Saw Tabor say in Belmont post race interview that he'd like to see Rags in the Alabama. She'd be 1-9. I hope they opt for the Travers.

Saw that Tiz Wonderful is back in training. Ran a maiden race monster at the Spa last year. Think Asmussen would put him in the Travers with Curlin?

Anonymous said...

Alan...didn't know you were an indie rocker. Told my friend, with whom I have a standing, even-money bet about whether or not Pavement will re-unite before 2011 (I don't think SM will ever agree to it), that Nastanovich is now going to be begging SM to get the crew back together.

Alan Mann said...

D - I worked at the indie distributor Dutch East India in the early 90's. We had the Homestead label (post-Cosloy) and Rockville Records, the home of Uncle Tupelo, and a lot of other pretty cool stuff. So I was there when the first buzz came on Pavement, and the guy who was doing A&R for Homestead wanted to sign them (which probably would have ruined their career). I have original copies of the Demolition Plot J-7 7", and the Perfect Sound Forever 10".

Anonymous said...

I remember Dutch East India. I also remember Uncle Tupelo...I went to school in Ann Arbor from 1988-1992, and those guys would make regular passes through town. Still prefer Son Volt to Wilco (the band, not the horse).
I remember first hearing Slanted and Enchanted as a senior in the early winter of 1992(which means, of course, I wasn't on the boat first, as they had already released all those singles beforehand) and being blown away. I'm always surprised how many fellow indie rockers play the ponies. Maybe I shouldn't be.

Are you familiar with the Figgs? Great band....guys all went to high school together in Saratoga, they are now based out of Boston. They originally signed with Imago back in 1994. Sometimes I see their drummer, the great Pete Hayes, at the track.

Alan Mann said...

Dennis - I've heard of the Figgs, but not familiar with their music. I'll have to check it out; any indie rockers from Saratoga gotta be worth a listen.

Anonymous said...

When I was with her for three years, Greta drank Michelob Ultras and smoked cigarettes. I don't remember her ever smoking a joint. Beccia destroyed alot of girls by hooking them on meth. Greta was the most famous one. He's not all to blame because they were all adults. Several months before they hooked up, he would stare at her for hours at The Purity Lounge in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was strange. Anyways, the guy got what he deserves as far as I can tell. Bob Nastanovich

Alan Mann said...

Bob - Thanks for stopping by the blog and for the note on Greta. Hope things are going well and that the new year treats you well!