- Dick Powell previewed Gulfstream in his Handicapping Insights column at BRIS. He noted that, on opening day, the rail on the grass course was set out at its maximum 84 feet, which he finds gives the deep closers a chance to rally wide. The rail was also set there on Friday, and indeed, closers won all four of the grass races, including Host in the Canadian Turf Handicap. Making his second start for Tom Albertrani since being moved there from the Toddster, the eight-year old son of Hussonet came from absolutely out of the clouds and blew by the field with Johnny V for his first graded stakes win since the Shadwell in October, 2005. Powell also writes: When the rail is taken down completely, inside, tactical speed has a big advantage; so we'll keep an eye on that.
In detailing the highly-speed favoring nature of the main course last year ("You have to go to a bull ring like Great Lakes Downs to find a similar speed bias"), Powell touches on a theme I've explored here:
And one more note from this column: For those of you who just can't wait to get started on the Derby, BRIS has available for purchase a pp file called 'Ky Derby Only,' which contains the past performances of 373 three-year olds. Maybe that's why we haven't heard from Haskin lately; his next Derby Trail column may make a case for every one of them!
Can you imagine the outcry if this was a synthetic racing surface and it had such a pronounced bias? Synthetic racing surface critics pounded Del Mar's Polytrack this summer yet where are they with Gulfstream's main track? Just like a speed horse was at a big disadvantage trying to go two turns on Del Mar's main track, horses trying to rally off the pace are at an equal disadvantage in sprint races on Gulfstream's main track.
- Friday's card at Santa Anita went off without a hitch (good thing for Discreet Cat), that after the Cushion Track was sealed the night before. That's unprecedented for synthetic racetracks. "It's still soft. You can still dig into it. We put the seal of all seals on it. It's best we could do."
"No one's ever done this," jockey Mike Smith said during training hours. "Maybe horses will bounce over it like reindeer. On Dasher. On Dancer."The track was harrowed before the card, but the times were fast, including a record 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.69. Rain is expected throughout the weekend, and the cards are very much in jeopardy.
"It's like the Bonneville Salt Flats," added jockey Richard Migliore, who had just walked the surface at the top of the stretch. "They might as well run on this," he said, pointing to the concrete near Clocker's Corner. [Daily Racing Form]
Anticipating soft turf conditions, Nashoba's Key will skip Sunday's grass stakes. Trainer Carla Gaines has, I imagine, seen enough of wet grass after the Breeders' Cup. "We'll wait for the Sunshine Millions." [LA Daily News]
- Dan Illman, over at his WonkBlog at the Form, went through the charts from Golden Gate's inaugural Tapeta Footings meet, and came up with some disturbing stats.
In thirteen days, seventeen horses had to be helped off the track. That's not a very good ratio. It may be premature to blame the track, however. Some of these horses were big longshots, and some competed in cheap claiming races prone to sore horses. Still, it's a trend worth following. [DRF]Out of the 17 horses he lists, nine were vanned off, six were walked off (one due to a slipped saddle), and two broke down.