- At Churchill on Saturday, it was the "other Zito," Anak Nakal, taking the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club, as the trainer's 6-5 favorite Cool Coal Man faded to last. It doesn't take much to generate a lot of Derby hype, and only one poor race to douse it. Cool Coal Man's allowance win at Churchill on Nov 3 earned him two paragraphs from Haskin in his initial Derby Trail article (slow time of year, as we've said), and Dick Powell was all hepped up about him too. But after this uninspiring stakes debut, Zito could only offer that the colt ran "worse than he is. I think he’s got a future, so don’t be surprised to see him come back here too in the spring.” [Bloodhorse] Truth is that Cool Coal Man was between horses contesting a pace that was two full seconds faster to the half than the Golden Rod for the fillies, so perhaps we can give him another shot. One of these days, Zito's War Pass will find himself in a similar situation, and we'll see how he does then, won't we now??
Meanwhile, Anak Nakal sat the perfect trip on the rail behind the leaders, swept to the lead authoritatively turning for home, and held off challenges to his inside and out to get the win. I was surprised to read Leparoux say: "I was kind of asking him (leaving the backside) because he does not have much of a kick," [Louisville Courier-Journal], because he staged an improbable late rally to win his debut that I guess the jockey hadn't seen. I wrote about that race in this post, and also wrote about the colt's unusual pedigree at that time. (I also mentioned Etched at that time, who beat Anak Nakal by six lengths in the Nashua.)
- Steve Crist blasted the NY Times for this editorial on NYC OTB, but I think he may have blamed the messenger rather than the messengee, or however that expression goes. After all, the editorial writer was merely relating that the Mayor "believes that the city should not be asked to sustain a system that encourages people to squander the rent money or, worse, their lives," something that I've read elsewhere. I would instead aim my accusations of hypocrisy at Bloomberg himself, whose fortune was built via a company that serves the giant casino that is Wall Street.
One commenter in the thread went off-topic and blasted the Form for including past performances of the Breeders Crown races instead of Fair Grounds, but I say that it's about time that racing's version of the Paper of Record did something useful with all that harness data they purchased from Sports Eye a couple of years ago. The three-year old trot ended in disappointment for Donato Hanover, who, unfortunately, goes off to stud after closing his career with two losses after his 19 consecutive wins. When Arch Madness beat him in the elimination, Donato's driver Ron Pierce offered the five week layoff as an excuse. This time, all he could come up with was:
"He must have a touch of a flu or a cold, otherwise he would have run off. He did what he could do, but it just wasn't good enough. He probably has something deep down that doesn't show up until he's stressed." [Harnesslink]That's pretty weak. Arch Madness' owner was more gracious during post-race interviews, calling Donato Hanover the "best three-year old trotting colt I've ever seen." The bettors dismissed the elimination result, making Donato the 3-5 favorite despite starting from the ten hole. But even though he got caught wide on the turn and had to grind his way to the front down the backstretch, Arch Madness came at him without cover, again, and simply wore him down in the stretch as he did a week ago. No excuses for Donato Hanover at all. And Arch Madness is a gelding, so he'll hopefully have ample opportunity to prove that his wins were no fluke in years to come.