- Cooler weather and a smaller crowd on Sunday, and some huge betting moves that went right down the drain. I'm a big board watcher as you know, and love to hop on board if I see something of interest developing. But sometimes, you see "them" getting really carried away, and you just have to step back, and, even better if you have the stomach for it, plunge away with an opposing view.
The 5th was a baby race, and Pletcher had an entry which included first-time starter Phi Beta Mom, a full sister to the crack sprinter Teuflesberg, 4th in the G1 King's Bishop the day before. The Toddster does not seem to be the least bit revived from Wait A While's win, and continues to struggle mightily here. This entry opened at around 4-1, and got pounded steadily, finally landing at a minuscule 3-2. I liked the earlier action, but sometimes it just gets to the point where you sense it's totally outta hand. I think you have to look at the big picture, and ask 'what am i getting here for 3-2? Can't I do far better for that price at another time?' Here, you were getting a first-time starter from a barn which hasn't won with one (on the dirt) with ample tries this meeting, along with another who hadn't raced since fading to 5th in the spring. Pick your spots, and for 3-2, you can get a much better bet - a horse that actually has established form; even a Grade 1 stakes winner! I mean, there's gotta be better ways to invest one's money! Phi Beta Mom got left at the gate, checked on the turn, and ran dead freaking last, with the stablemate 9th.
Intrique got punched in the 7th in her first start for Tom Bush, a trainer who, as I've noted before, is not particularly adept at keeping the good word under his hat. 2-1 on this first-timer, and she checked in 6th. And in the Ballerina, I saw Burmilla on the tote at 2-1 with two minutes to go, and when I looked at post time, she was 6-5! And she was just godawful, unable to keep pace and dropping out of it early. Godolphin Guy Rick Mettee said that "she did lose a shoe." Some well-intended horses burned a lot of money on this day.
It's easy for me to say this when the horses lose, so I'll also mention Hammock, the winner of today's second. 6-1 morning line, this one got punched to 3-2 on the basis of a hot trainer (Schosberg), a somewhat similar pattern to his winner Pennylove from Sunday (returned off a layoff from a poor race at Aqueduct), and the presence in that pp line of Premium Wine, a winner here on Friday. Those are all good reasons, and nice going if you had her; but 3-2 on a horse beaten 13 lengths in its only start, in April at the Big A? There's gotta be a better way.
- A couple of bizarrely tragic items in the news. Indian Flare, who set the pace in the Ballerina, collapsed after the race and died of heart failure brought on by a fractured pelvis.
"She fractured her pelvis, probably at the break, and died of cardiovascular shock," [track vet Anthony] Verderosa said. "It's not uncommon for a horse to run their race and come back like that." [Bloodhorse]And Russell Baze has accepted a 15-day suspension for whipping his mount Imperial Eyes after he had taken a bad step and suffered an ultimately fatal fracture. You can watch the race on Cal Racing if you have the stomach for it. The gelding had a long lead midstretch when he took his misstep. Obviously in distress, he switched leads and labored on. But Baze, instead of pulling him up, actually applied the whip late in a vain effort to get the horse home first (he finished second). It was a split second decision that the all-time leading race winner will obviously regret.
"I’m not going to try to defend what I did," said the Hall of Fame rider. "There is no way to defend it. I made a bad decision in the heat of the moment, and I am truly sorry. I made a bad decision, and I’ll take the punishment that was handed to me.And back to the Ballerina, Doug O'Neill pulled a Christophe Clement in reverse, shipping Maryfield out east to take a Grade 1 sprint, with the benfit of a fortuitous bob of the head right at the wire. O'Neill also shipped her in to take the G2 Distaff BC at the Big A earlier this year. And unless my eyes are deceiving me, Maryfield is the only graded stakes winner in the U.S. this year for her $100,000 Elusive Quality, can that be right?
Stewards withdrew two other CHRB-initiated complaints against Baze arising from the incident -- for cruelty to an animal and actions detrimental to horse racing. [Bloodhorse]