- What I find particularly interesting about Ahmed Zayat's decision to pull his horses from Del Mar is that it's apparently not about the track being unsafe; but rather, about it not being fast enough.
Zayat said he was of the belief that "what distinguishes American racing is speed," but that Polytrack was "artificially slowing down" brilliant horses. "The way the Thoroughbred runs is so majestic," he said. "Why are we doing this? [Daily Racing Form]I've had the attitude all along that I'm not particularly concerned about slower times, if the trade off is less injuries, the end of speed biases, and horses that are able to run more frequently and have longer careers. But thinking about it, I can understand where Mr. Zayat is coming from. As an owner, he takes pride in the horses he owns, and time is perhaps the only measurement left in the game by which horses of our era can be measured up against those of the past. I suppose that baseball players wouldn't be happy if a rule change led to averages dropping 25% across the board.
The track has thus far been safe, and Del Mar officials insist that most horsemen are happy. The Form reports that Bob Baffert, one for 20 at the meeting, spoke about changing the way he shops for horses at auction.
"I know if I buy a fast-looking horse and I put him on dirt, he'll be a fast horse....Now, you need a turf-influenced pedigree. I've got some horses that it will move way up. The jury is still out on this." [DRF]Perhaps an early sign of the potential ramifications to the breeding industry should the synthetics continue to proliferate. And would an emphasis on stamina as opposed to speed be a bad thing?
- Another beautiful day at Del Mar on Wednesday. I gained some confidence early in the day even while continuing to lose; but at least I was having the right idea, which helps the fragile psyche. I loved Graham Motion's filly Cat Charmer in the 10th at Saratoga, and she ran a great race rallying wide for third after some early problems; I thought she was the winner, at 7-1, midstretch. Tab her for next time, but we'll surely be lucky to get 7-2. And then, though I couldn't come up with the apparently-out-of-form Atlando in the second at Del Mar, I at least had the right idea about AP Excellent, who was finished early, beating one horse at 4-5.
Backing up to the first for a moment, favored Newton's Memory showed that you can wire the field on the Poly if you're the only speed. But it also showed just how tiring this track is; after what would normally be considered a moderate half mile of 46.4, this horse hung on for dear life, struggling through the final furlong in 14.44 seconds, ugh!
I actually had the 4th race winner, Warren's Pepe, right on top, but didn't come up with the longshots who filled out the exacta and triple. But I felt I was at least making progress. And my efforts finally paid off in the late Pick Three. I went three deep in the 6th, and just barely hung on with Ex Caelis ($12). You may remember this filly from the Lukas barn last year; this was her first start for Richard Mandella, and her first outing since last October. She grabbed the lead turning for home, but again, you could see the tiring effects of the track late, as she just - and I mean just held on in a final furlong of 13.58. Another half-stride and she was a loser. This four-year old FuPeg filly showed some talent over the last two years, and it will be interesting to see how she does with her new conditioner.
I singled Ashley's Kitty, who I picked here, in the 7th, though she didn't turn out to be the value that her morning line of 6-1 advertised. But she was an easy winner as the 5-2 third choice; and is still unbeaten at sprint distances for trainer Ted West. And then I was spread five deep in the finale. I wimped out and included Frankel's favored Mezuzah even though I didn't like her off the long layoff; I wasn't letting the trainer beat me on this day. Second choice Forest Melody ($9) had the lead from the start, and I didn't have any of the fillies who were trying to run her down turning for home. But she hung on for a nice Pick Three return of $172.90. So I'm on the board.