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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Xmas!

- The closest I came to a white Xmas Eve was watching the 11th race from Monticello, where the snow was plentiful during the week. But whatever color your holiday is, I hope that's it's a happy, healthy and safe one.

As is tradition, the Head Chef is having her entire family over for holiday dinner, preceded by an extended session of gift giving. I told her that if anyone gets me another horse racing book, I'm not even going to pretend to be excited. Can't understand why people think of me that way; I mean, do I talk about racing a lot?

Well, there's no racing today as you know, and not much traffic on the site, so I'll assume that you're either hanging with the family or trying to figure out the Malibu. So much for the worries that the fields at Santa Anita wouldn't be full; 99 runners are entered in the ten races, 14 each in the Malibu and Sir Beaufort, as three-year olds get their last chance to play together without (what's left of) the older guys butting in. The Malibu is impossible, and I think that part of Keeping It Simple Stupid has to be finding easier races than this, doncha think?

Graded stakes winners Great Hunter, Horse Greeley, and Divine Park all make their first start since the spring, and the latter, the Withers winner, is unbeaten in three tries for Kiaran McLaughlin. The trainer is making a very rare appearance on the SoCal circuit - just his 4th in the last five years. They've all been for Grade 1 stakes as you might imagine - Randaroo ran second in the La Brea in 2003; Bending Strings did the same the following year; and Lady of Venice was third in the La Matriarc last month. So I suppose that McLaughlin has always covered his airfare.

Divine Park is by Chester House, who had a stakes winner at Fair Grounds on Saturday. I must admit that I completely missed the fact that Steve Asmussen had an incredible six winners there that day, sweeping the four stakes, all with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard. The jockey has endured a couple of tough summers at Saratoga in sticking with the barn, and it certainly pays off on days like this. Tres Dream, by the aforementioned stallion, won the Esplanade, but I of course can't tell you how many stakes winners Chester House has. A Dead Stallion Register is one book I would actually gladly accept today!

Divine Park is out of a mare by Ascot Knight (Danzig), and his second dam is by Czaravich, a favorite from the past whose name I don't see all too often in pedigrees. Czaravich won the Withers himself, in 1979, and took the Met Mile the following year for trainer Bill Turner and jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. Czaravich is by Nijinsky, so there's some more Northern Dancer blood; and Divine Park is in fact inbred to ND threefold, 4x4x5. His second dam is a half-sister to a couple of fine fillies, the Grade 1 winners Sardula (Ky Oaks, Hollywood Starlet) and Imperial Gesture (Beldame, Gazelle). He has some excellent drills for this race, though all at Belmont, and the barn does well with layoffs. But this is a tough spot, and I'd certainly demand value far in excess of his 5-1 morning line.

- Someone left a comment telling me to keep my hunch bets to myself next year. I mean, you don't really bet on those, do you? They are meant strictly for entertainment. Of course, if you read the rest of the post, you could have scored on Greeleylikealady ($14) in the 5th at Calder. That's the latest winner in an incredible stretch for trainer Kirk Ziadie, wow. This filly won first off the claim, and, over the last two years, Ziadie has won with 20 out of 39 such starters. He has one horse scheduled to start on Wednesday; Real Truth (2-1) is an obvious contender in the 8th.

I guess that's it for now, as we're preparing for some 25 guests, ten of them of the "kids" variety. I'll leave you with my favorite Xmas song of all time. This really old clip of the Kinks lip-synching to Father Christmas is of very poor video quality, and it's totally out of synch. But the audio is fine, and it rocks. So crank it up and have a fantastic day. (Though don't forget the kids who got nuthin / While you're drinking down you're wine...)


Anonymous said...

Brutal--no action!
Next year, we rent our own horses and run them down Queens Blvd. The Continental Avenue cross-street factor is tricky but we'll be vigilant.

Old school Forest Hills in da house!!! 18 years Gerard Towers!

Anonymous said...

excuse me Alan but there is NOTHING that say's anything about betting or any hunch bet regarding Greeleylikalady 5th at calder. Are your hunch bets for only entertainment. Yea, if any of those entertainment bets came in thats all we would hear is how you gave it out. So please lets not go there about they are only entertainment. I told you I have high respect for you with what you do and how informative you are in the racing industry. Lets not get away from that. Keep it real...............lets not make any excuses like they do on TVG,,,,,,,you have alot more class then any of those Matt Carothers touters.

have a good holiday

Anonymous said...

No wonder everything in America needs warning labels. Allow me to explain for you anonymous. Greeleylikalady is trained by Ziadie who is "profiled" in the post following the hunch list. If you need that spoon-fed to you, then perhaps betting hunches is the best you can do. Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

cool song

Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,

Just to comment on your blog part about the last chance for the 3 yr olds to face each other without the older boys butting in....SA still has the first two legs of the Strub series for 4 year olds "only". The El Encino on Jan 13th is a Gr2 for 4 year olds at 8.5F and the Strub Stakes on February 2nd is also a GR2, at 9F for 4 year olds only. The Santa Anita Hdcp is when the 4 year olds have to face the older crew.

Best Wishes for the New Year.