- As some commenters were quick to point out after the race, I summarily and rather rudely dismissed the chances of Da'Tara in the Belmont. Another unqualified entry for the team of Nick Zito and Robert LaPenta, nice going guys, I wrote. D'oh! I see that some readers and even another blogger have taken some obvious delight in turning those words against me. I feel as if I'm expected to offer a humble mea culpa, as Homer always does in the end.
But all I'm going to offer is - "so?" I had a strong opinion about a particular horse, and I was wrong, what's the problem? I don't really understand what that has to do with my "credibility." I don't advertise this as a tout site. I sometimes express opinions about races; sometimes I'm right, most of the time, I'm wrong - though this is the first time in 3 1/2 years that I recall regretting such a snarky toss as this. I think that's a decent record.
In any event, if I looked at this race 100 times, I'd come to the same conclusion. This is a horse with a 425 Tomlinson mud number whose only win came in the slop, and who'd never gained ground in the stretch in any of his six fast track races. I thought that made him unqualified, and I have no problem standing by that. Perhaps that was too strong of a word, probably prompted by my annoyance with Zito who, as one commenter so correctly put it, has been "throwing darts" in Grade 1's over the last few years. But I'm far more inclined to chuckle about it than to lose any sleep.
I could certainly make a case to dismiss Da'Tara's win as a fluke given the bizarre circumstances of the race; and I suspect that his Beyer will ultimately support that contention when it comes out - especially given the fast times during the day. These tracks just can't seem to resist the notion of souping up their surfaces on big race days. But he set fairly steady fractions - as far as these things go - of 23.82, 24.48, 24.60, 25.06, 25.25, and 26.44. So he did enough during the race to win legitimately, though I think it's certainly fair to say that Denis of Cork and the others fizzled out late. In retrospect, one could look at his form and see a colt with improving form. But there was certainly no guarantee that he'd get a mile and a half just because he's by Tiznow (gimme a break), and it's not the first time that Zito has asserted that he has a horse bred for the mile and a half distance (see Hemingway's Key and Pinpoint for starters).
I've also read some talk about how much class Zito showed after the race; and indeed, he was, as usual, humble, gracious, and deferential to his competitors and to the game at large. However, I myself would like to know what Zito would have said if any of the reporters in the crowd had asked him if Da'Tara was running on steroids. I know the racing press treats him with kid gloves (as they do for most), but, given all the angst and derision over Big Brown's Winstrol, shouldn't that have been one of the first questions? Wouldn't it have been in a comparable situation in any other sport? And ten times more so in this case given the fact that Zito declined to comment when asked that question by Bill Finley last week?
Since the regulars didn't ask, I think that one William C. Rhoden should have been the one to do so. He was very quick after all to speculate in the Times today that Big Brown's missed steroids shot of May 15 is the explanation for his non-performance yesterday. So don't you think it was his journalistic responsibility to get Zito to clarify his earlier non-remarks?
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Posted by alan at 11:13 AM