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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Out With a Whimper

- Reader Saratoga Spa writes:

I have to say the Harness executives have done a good job marketing the sport of late. I dare say Somebeachsomewhere and Deweycheatumnhowe have more buzz out there than the Flat track stars of '08.
Don't know if that's exactly true, but it's probably not far off if it's not. And I'd also say that, speaking specifically of Somebeachsomewhere, who I've followed closer than his trotting counterpart, most of the buzz was generated by the horse itself. He's been absolutely spectacular and breathtaking, even in the race that he lost.

You can't say that about Curlin this year. I've seen a lot of speculation as to why nobody outside of the already converted care about his retirement, but I think the answer is extremely simple. Curlin was electrifying as a three-year old, dominant in his World Cup victory in Dubai. But since then, he beat ordinary fields in ordinary fashion, and lost rather decisively when asked to expand his repertoire, going out with a whimper in what was quite likely his final race. I'd guess that the Lawyer Ron who he edged out in last year's Jockey Club Gold Cup might very well have blown the doors off this year's version; Curlin never again equaled the 114 Beyer he did in that race. It takes a lot these days for a horse to break through the mainstream barrier, and Curlin, as a four-year old, didn't even come close.

- DiscreetCat checks in with a selection from Hollywood Park.
Hollywood - Race 4

#5 Royal Taat (5/2 ml)

Been on this Sadler/Doubledown filly in both starts thus far, and no reason to get off her now after her superlative performance last time, where she encountered heavy traffic in the stretch but finally found a seam and exploded late to win off comfortably. Small field and small morning line, but she's a bit light in the Beyer department and it APPEARS that Bejarano is jumping ship in order to ride the Frankel entrant Pretty Carina, who incidentally is the 2/1 ml favorite. Bit of a misnomer there as Gomez is Sadler's #1 guy anyway, and has been aboard the top Doubledown horses in the past. Should hopefully avoid traffic this time in this small field, and it looks as though she'll get some pace to run at. Onward and upward.
Speaking of Sadler, interesting article in the Form about his Cost of Freedom, who state veterinarians have described....as unsound.

- Fight!

6 Comments:

libby said...

Out with a whimper, gone without notice. Well I think (mind you) Curlin is getting a lot of attention in his sort of retirement , except for maybe one more race(?)... Race horses are so prone to vanishing, does a horse ever make news due to a retirement?

Many people know less about sports than do, it all depends on what your interests are. I like horse racing - you like horse racing, we know what's going on.

What gets me is that I am always being reminded of how Curlin is not a rock star. Well ok so he is not a rock star but he gets a lot of print over it.

The demise of horse racing cannot diminish what Curlin has accomplished, he is whimpering all the way to the bank.

Glimmerglass said...

A lot of the press received by Curlin has been solely the result of Jackson PR department pushing it.

Unlike the late Lost In The Fog, for example, I don't see this widespread base of fans tickled to see him run or even organic articles done on him vs. spoon fed by the Jacksons. I recall reading an entire article in San Fran newspaper that talked about just LITF's blaze on his face!

The notoriety of the biggest bankroll - in my view - will be surpassed in a far shorter period then it took to overcome Cigar's. Dubai, BCC, KY Derby, and many $1M G1 races add up faster then ever. Let alone the bonus money that Smarty Jones hauled in. Least we forget Suffolk offered $5M to BB and Curlin to run there provided they were undefeated. Those big purse lures while unlikely in this economy now will return mark my words.

Maybe if Curlin hadn't been associated with Midnight Cry, if Jackson was more like Harry Aleo, or if the constant feeling of it all being about the money then I think people may have warmed more up to this story on their own. It's not Curlin's fault but he didn't run a 4-yr old season like Spectacular Bid and in fact far from it which didn’t help.

It would be hard to convince me that Curlin's career in the context of 21st Century racing has been any more accomplished then Invasor.

A telling sign with people making the effort: Curlin couldn't muster 9,000 folks to see him in the 2008 JCGC at Belmont yet Funny Cide in a little stakes race at Finger Lakes pulled in over 11,000 in his final run over a sloppy track.

libby said...

9,000 people who braved a hurricane warning, flooding everywhere, electricity out for a large majority of the area and a rumor he wasn't going to race. It took courage for those horses to run that day. The race card was fantastic, it is too bad Curlin kept all those fans away.

I find you to be sage. You see the future, the present, and the past all at the same time. Just like a crow. So much knowledge of horses and how great they were in the past. So much better than Curlin, I mean wwaaaaayyy better. Now you are marking words for the future of horse racing, it is remarkable how sage you are. The freeze dried in a tin can variety.

Anonymous said...

Whew, Alan.Still hatin' on Curlin.Time to let it go.

DC said...

Royal Taat wins by a nose @ $6.60

jeff said...

Thanks again for sharing your insight, DC. Nice hit.