- Those silly 'audience reaction' lines during Friday night's debate were still seared at the bottom of my TV screen on Saturday. Except that now, instead of DEM, REP, and IND, they were labeled CUR, BB, and OTH. The Curlin line went up, as Big Brown's went down, when Proudinksy was a weak fifth in the Turf Classic. It took a nosedive around halfway through the Jockey Club Gold Cup, when Curlin dropped back a slot to 6th, with Albarado seeming to invite traffic trouble by taking a seam between horses.
However, by race end, it had reached the highest point of the day. Nothing to nitpick about this one, as Curlin strutted his stuff despite a less than ideal pace scenario and a wide trip. Wanderin Boy, a legit speedball enjoying a resurgence for Zito this year, went a soft opening half of 48.79, and got to the three-quarters in 1:13.08. That's pretty slow going for this guy, and Alan Garcia opened up around the turn to try and get away. With Merchant Marine in pursuit, he rounded the turn to the quarter pole in 23.64.
It was into that quarter that Curlin, three wide or more for a good portion of the sweeping turn, moved effortlessly towards the leader. According to Formulator, he ran that quarter in 22.97, not too shabby especially considering that he was hung wide. I think this time I'm right in saying that Albarado never went to the whip as Curlin surged by and held his rival safe. Final quarter of 25.23 was not outstanding but certainly understandable. I think it's safe to say that it was his best U.S. effort since the Classic; also, coincidentally or not, run on a sloppy track.
And the champ is off to Santa Anita on Sunday, and Jess Jackson said they'll "consider" the Classic. Just do it, man.
Now, I know that Curlin broke the earnings record and all, and deserves the top billing of the day. But a couple of fillies at Santa Anita merit a lot of attention as well.
In the Lady's Secret, Zenyatta faced circumstances similar to Curlin; even more extreme perhaps, with Hystericalady the lone speed in a field of only four. Hystericalady also set a moderate pace, getting to the half in 48.32. After that, she really took off, with subsequent quarters of 23.13 and 22.94. It was into those fractions that Zenyatta had to close wide from 4th, and she did so, according to the chart, under a tap on the shoulder with the whip turned down and a moderate hand ride. She got the final sixteenth in 5.89 seconds and is now eight-for-eight. No talk of her trying the Classic, and she'll proceed to the Distaff instead.
I'd proposed some horses to try and beat Stardom Bound in the Oak Tree, based on it being her first two turn try. But I knew that was a mistake the moment I saw this filly on the track before the race. Oh man, are you kidding me? I mean, I'd watched her last race and was impressed; but seeing this gorgeous sculptured grey filly absolutely towering over the others was a whole other story. She was far back again, but just toyed with this field with another electrifying rally. The comparisons on TVG to Zenyatta are most definitely premature, especially considering that we know little of the true quality of those she beat. But the excitement is certainly understandable. Too bad that so few people will see either her or Zenyatta - nor Indian Blessing and Music Note for that matter - when their Breeders' Cup races take place on a Friday afternoon.
- Somebeachsomewhere won at The Red Mile in 1:46 4/5; fastest mile ever for a three-year old pacer, and tied for the fastest ever in a pari-mutuel race. It was 2/5ths short of the fastest mile of all time, achieved by Cambest in a time trial. The Beach will take a shot at that in Lexington next week.
"He had three weeks off and he was a little sick in his last start," [trainer Brent MacGrath] said. "I think we've got him close to 100 percent now. I think he's got another half-second in him." [AP]Close to 100%?!?