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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday Night Notes - Sept 16

- Blogger Pull the Pocket dropped by the other day to comment on the post about Big Brown's race, and it made me think that I probably should have at least qualified my "most impressive display..." comment by limiting it to thoroughbreds. That would be in deference to the Meadowlands Pace, in which not one, but two three-year olds each ran the races of the year....and in a way and for three-year olds, of all time given the world record mark of 1:47.

Pace winner Art Official drew the rail in the third elimination of Thursday's Little Brown Jug at the Delaware County Fair, which is actually in Ohio. "The colt has never been better. He is really, really sharp,” said his trainer Joe Seekman. Somebeachsomewhere will not race; it has not been on his schedule all along. I'd thought that they didn't want him to run multiple heats (a benign way of saying, run in more than one race). But not only did he do so, on a half mile track at Flamboro Downs, he set a world record of 1:49 2/5 in the second heat! Check it out here; they let him go a 29.1 quarter to the half, ha ha ha, are you kidding me??

But now trainer Brent MacGrath says that he doesn't want to race the Beach in the Jug just ten days before a date at The Red Mile, at which he seeks to break the all-time world record of 1:46.1, set by Cambest in a time trial at the same track. Whatsmore, the format of the Jug could require three, or even four heats. He may meet Art Official in Lexington; and/or locally at Yonkers, in the Messenger, or the Breeders Crown, at the Meadowlands. And how keyed up would we be for that?

It's not always the case that a well-hyped race meets expectations. The Meadwolands Pace and the Whatever It Was Called race that Big Brown won on Saturday are two that did. Of course, last year's Belmont was another one, when Curlin lost to a girl who never won again...

Aw c'mon guys, I'm just having some fun with you. Besides, have I ever written here that I think Big Brown would beat Curlin? Huh? Or that Big Brown is better? I guarantee that you won't find that anywhere. Where we disagree is as to which party has the right to accuse the other of doing the ducking. (And I think at least some people are starting to see it the same way as I.)

Now, there are a couple of qualifications. For one thing, I do think Big Brown could beat Curlin on the grass. I don't buy Steve Crist's G1/G2 argument, and I think Watchmaker is totally off base in his column entitled Big Brown's win not so hot in the paid DRF Plus section. The Watchman points out, as a reader did in correcting me, that Kent D. "in fact hit Big Brown underhanded with the whip on the right shoulder several times." And he speculates that Kent D. couldn't have gone to the windup anyway because Proudinsky was too close. All of that may be true. But the fact is that, for whatever reason, he didn't go to the roundhouse whip and he was practically wrapped up at the wire, at least the way I saw the race. He toyed with these my opinion, of course.

I do agree with Watchmaker, though just to a point, that the idea that the race "advanced Big Brown's position vis a vis Curlin is just plain silly." No reason to ridicule what I think is an opinion within the bounds of reasonableness. I think there would be a good argument for any horse who wins the Derby and Classic in the same year to be Horse of the Year. In that sense, his win at Monmouth doesn't change the fundamentals; but I do think it reinforces that notion in this case

The other qualification about Curlin is that I want to see more in the Jockey Club Gold Cup than we saw in the Woodward. I'm not really buying that 112 Beyer; not that it doesn't actually measure how fast his final time was. But you can't come home in 14 seconds and not at least have like a minus sign next to it, like on those Timeform numbers we used to see in the Form; or a sad face :-( or skull and crossbones.

Of course, regardless of what Curlin does in the JCGC, the question of how either of the two would fare if they meet in the Classic - and I do believe that Jackson will ultimately do the right thing - will remain unclear. Since I've admitted that an all-synthetic Go Between HOY award would not at all sit well with me, I can't say that such a synthetic showdown would necessarily be definitive in the argument of who's "better." But they would be meeting, straight up, and with the same uncertainty about the surface. So I think it would be a totally legitimate deciding championship race.

- The Mets, oh man....


Unknown said...

I agree with you. 112 Beyer? How did that happen? Curlin crawled home in 14 seconds and got a 112 Beyer? I don't know how Andy Beyer calculated that one but I was shocked. I would have guessed a 102.

I think Big Brown beats Curlin on Turf and Artificial and Curlin probably beats Big Brown on dirt.

I'm not holding my breath that a match between the two ever happens, however.

El Angelo said...

The real pickle will be if Curlin wins the JCGC, they both run in the Classic, and we get a result like this:

1st--Go Between
2nd--Student Council
3rd--Big Brown

Not at all impossible.

Wholly unrelated, I like Dr. Pleasure as a sleeper bomb for the Classic.

Anonymous said...

Mike, Beyers are based on comparitive final times, not final furlong.

El A, you won't get a result like that will all the foreigners lining up to face America's best on the phoney balonga surface;

Casino Drive and Arlington Million winner Spirit One are now confirmed for the Classic.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien is considering both Duke of Marmalade and Henrythenavigator, while his fellow Irishman Jim Bolger is contemplating a run with New Approach.

Big Brown is certainly not scaring anyone. It will be a very interesting race whethar Curlin shows or not.

El Angelo said...

Anon: your point is well taken, but let's dump my order of finish and say that we instead get:

1st--Casino Drive
2nd--Duke of Marmalade
3rd--Go Between
4th--Big Brown

Now what? My point actually wasn't who finishes in front of them in particular, but rather, let's say they both run so-so, and finish somewhere between 3rd and 6th. That's not going to help with the HOTY debate unless you're in Zenyatta's camp.

Anonymous said...

Screw the Mets.