- I'd DVR'd the Man O'War "coverage" on ESPN News, and we watched it on Saturday night upon returning from Big Vinny's 40th birthday party. Randy Moss had to correct the talking head, and inform him that he was in fact at Delaware Park, and not actually at Belmont. Moss set the race up by repeatedly and emphatically informing us what a difficult task this was to be for Curlin - "monumental," he called it at one point. He practically had the Head Chef in tears. "Oh, poor Curlin, why are they doing this to him?" she asked before she left the room, too terrified of what could happen to watch.
Curlin was fine, of course. But his defeat demonstrated how the sport in this country, as opposed to in Europe, are poles apart, as articulated by Julian Muscat in the UK's Guardian.
Curlin did not remotely resemble himself on Saturday. An entirely new set of circumstances essayed his defeat by Red Rocks, who has yet to win a group one race in Europe. Strengths that have propelled Curlin to exalted heights on dirt were neutralised by the different demands of racing on grass. Here are two for starters.If you buy that theory about his pedigree, one might postulate, looking back at the Belmont Stakes, that it was the pedigree of Rags to Riches that helped get her head in front at the wire, and the sheer class of Curlin that even got him close.
Curlin's greatest strength is his attritional, grinding style, yet he ran on a surface that favours acceleration. He is also an unlikely horse on pedigree to stay ten furlongs. While dirt racing regularly mocks such theory, it is not true of grass. The son of a miler from a mare of sprinting origins would be expected to weaken towards the end of an 11-furlong grass race, which is exactly how Curlin ran on Saturday. [Guardian]
- When Magical Forest survived a stewards' inquiry to win Sunday's Barbaro Stakes (Delaware Park edition), he became the third rank outsider to win a short-field stakes for three-year olds colts this weekend; Tres Barrachos and Truth Rules in the Swaps and Long Branch respectively were the others. I suppose there's a message in there somewhere, and I think it's that this three-year old crop sucks. The reason I think Magical Forest may have indeed deserved to come down is that jockey Jorge Chavez persisted in his use of a left-handed whip even after the horse first responded to it by bearing out to bother Garrett Gomez and favored Cherokee Artist. Perhaps, with less at stake, Chavez would have been penalized for that.
Nonetheless, it was the second stakes win in a row for the Paraneck runner, coming after three unsatisfactory performances. One might have thought that the colt was getting tired given his non-stop schedule this year, but he seems to be getting stronger despite already having run 11 times this year - right on! He's a son of Forest Camp. I wrote last week about the Stallion Register versus the Thoroughbred Times Stallion Directory; and here's a clear advantage for the latter - despite the fact that Forest Camp stands in Korea, TT still has the full range of information on him and his progeny. The Stallion Register pays him little more attention than if he were dead.
- Two more winners on Sunday for trainer Christophe Clement, and at generous prices too! Clement now has 18 winners (from 73 starters), just five less than meet leading Dutrow. His first-time starter Cable ($12.40), winning on the grass, is a Dynaformer half sister to Exchange Rate, and to UK stakes Sabre D'Argent. Remember that this barn lost its first 16 races at this meeting, and is therefore winning at a percentage of 32% since. Two winners for the sharp Stanley Hough barn as well.