- Thursday's 4th at Aqueduct looks like virtually the same race as the one I handicapped on Saturday morning before it was canceled. So I re-present that to you here, if, for nothing else, the rather amazing stats on Barclay Tagg's first-time two-year olds this year.
Sleeping Indian took the Volponi Stakes, for three-year olds on the turf. This is another of those completely incongruous stakes names. Volponi, of course, made his name running on the dirt as an older horse, almost exclusively, with that one very notable exception in the 2002 Classic, running second. Sleeping Indian is now unbeaten in three turf tries. He's by Lemon Drop Kid, out of a mare by Dove Hunt, who won the grassy Pilgrim Stakes, and who is a half-sister to Student Council, who I imagine is presently brushing up on his Japanese in preparation for his start in the Japan Cup coming up later this month.
- Any Given Saturday has been retired to stud by Darley, where he'll stand for $40,000, and thanks a lot for that Your Royal Sheikhness.
"Sheikh Mohammed considered keeping Any Given Saturday in training but it was decided that it was in the horse’s best interest to retire him to stud. He'll join Discreet Cat and his old adversaries Hard Spun and Street Sense at Darley, and you couldn't wish for a more impressive bunch of new recruits." [Bloodhorse]It's in the horse's best interests? What the fuck does that mean? Talk about a horse who fizzled out! He seemed to jump into the top echelon of his crop with his impressive wins in the Dwyer and Haskell. But, despite the fact that the horse was fit and fresh at that point, having not raced since the Derby prior to those two efforts, Pletcher then held him out for seven weeks until the Brooklyn and, after that less than dazzling performance, another five until his disappointing Classic. And now he's off to stud. I think I said this before, but to me, he's a poster child for a lot that's presently wrong with this sport.
And speaking of a career fizzling out, I guess I just missed Discreet Cat's retirement; he'll stand for $30,000.
On the flip side, Dylan Thomas, who has run nine times this year, five of those since July 28, is now also being considered for the Japan Cup.
Regarding SHOWdown today, this is my first experience in the contest, and I can already sense the little nuances and strategies it must entail. I guess the idea is to stay alive until you can pick out an obvious choice which a lot of contestants will pick, but which you think is vulnerable, and come up with a more eclectic selection in the hope that all the others on the bridgejumper type get wiped out. The third race seems the best today, with its short field, and two apparent standouts. Barclay Tagg has Rollers, the 7-5 choice, dropping back to state-breds after placing in an open stakes. The only thing that concerns me about him is his slow workouts since that race. Four days before that stakes run, he worked a bullet half in 46 3/5, a drill which probably had Tagg bitching that it was too fast. So perhaps he draped an anchor on the rider who was on board for the two lethargic drills since.
In any event, I'm going to stick with that race, but go with Captain Backfire instead, for Linda Rice. He was very impressive in his well-bet debut, skipping away to win handily in a final furlong of 12 seconds flat. Always some risk backing a maiden winner graduating into allowance ranks, and Rice has a poor record with second-time starters. But he doesn't have to win, and at least he has an appropriate name should I flame out here on Day 2.