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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Met Musings

I couldn't even remember who Alan Garcia rode to win last year's Met Mile after it was said that his win on Bribon (almost had to look that up too) was his second Met Mile win in a row. Oh yeah, Divine Park; I remember that one, whisked away to stud after just nine career races. His next start after the Met Mile was his last; the Woodward confirmed that he was never going to win any real distance races, so now he stands at Airdrie Stud for $17,500. I looked back at the news articles regarding his retirement, and didn't see anything about an injury. If you go to his Stallion Register page, there's a promotional video from Airdrie. In it, the farm's Bret Jones says: "Obviously, he's a Met Mile winner, which we've always viewed, and so many people viewed as one of the stallion-making races."

And maybe that's part of what is wrong with today's breeding - when a distance-challenged horse like Divine Park can be touted as a hot stallion prospect, in large part by virtue of winning the Met Mile with a final quarter of 26 3/5, passing exhausted horses who ran much too fast early. Monday's Met Mile was a similar scenario, though Bribon was a bit better, earning a Beyer of 106. He's a solid miler to be sure, but still it was a pretty grim affair in the stretch, with the winner laboring home in 25.24 after middle splits of 22.35 and 22.84. His connections have no intentions of trying him at anything but one turn distances.

There have been recent Met Mile winners who were not one-dimensional to be sure - Corinthian and Ghostzapper were proven as routers and ran dynamic Met Miles; the former earned a 108 while coming home in 24 1/5; and Ghostzapper made his final race a memorable Met with his spectacular romp in 1:33 1/5 in 2005. But a look at other recent winners - Silver Train, Pico Central, Aldebaran, Swept Overboard, and Exciting Story were all strictly sprinters and/or one-turn specialists (and, of those, only Silver Train is standing in the US). A big contrast from a peek back to the [Met Mile winners of the] 60's and 70's with proven distance horses like Forego, Cox's Ridge, State Dinner, Nodouble, In Reality, Executioner, and Buckpasser; and in earlier times, Kelso, Sword Dancer, Tom Fool, Gallant Man and Native Dancer. My, that was a versatile bunch. And indeed, some of those are familiar names in the pedigree charts. But I think that today, the notion of Met Mile as stallion producer is one that needs to change.

- There was talk before the Met Mile that it was a wide-open betting race, but I think that was false. Sure, it was an interesting, if somewhat ragtag collection of various disappointments, but, looking back - and this is more self-criticism than redboarding since I was guilty myself of buying the 'wide-open' hype - man, we should have all nailed that exacta. Bribon - Smooth Air were clearly the most likely winner and second most likely winner, in that order for a cool $32.20. Not bad at all for an easy exacta. And what the hell was up with Mr. Sidney being 6-1?

= The crowd was 10,099, which I guess isn't too bad, considering. It seems to me though that the card runs too long and far too late for a holiday such as Memorial Day. I didn't go myself; we had a BBQ planned, and why would I instead want to be at Belmont at 6PM in the dying moments of the three-day weekend? NYRA should try an early post time and get people out by 4:30. Then, I might have gone and made it an even 10,100.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Sydney underlay had to be due to fig slaves ignoring that the big number was derived on grass.

Imagine the value if the always underlaid Mr. F had made it to the gate?

I used only the two favorites in my P4's, to no avail mind you. Played Smooth Air to Win, no Exacta play. Horrible wagering job.

Good point about Stallion making races, a perfect counter point to Lukas' assertion this week that The Belmont needs to be shortened since it is no longer viewed as a Stallion producing race.

In recent years the Belmont has produced more important stallions than the Met Mile, yet the perception exists.

Either that or Wayne is just losing it, which is entirely possible based on some of his statements lately.

El Angelo said...

You beat me to the punch on posting about the fallacy of the Met Mile winner being a great stallion prospect. I like Corinthian's and Ghostzapper's chances at stud, but since Gulch won it twice in the late 80's, the only "notable" sire that's won the race is Langfuhr. Heck, in 1998, Wild Rush won it over Banker's Gold, while up the track was Distorted Humor. I think that says it all.

Sunny Jim said...

Hi Alan -

No complaints here about Belmont - that $32 exacta was the LOWEST payoff of the day, which means a two-dollar bettor has a chance for a decent score. In this game, as you know, a guy (or gal) needs those to keep going.

The Belmont card was by far the best of Monday's menu (saw it from afar at a simulcast outlet). Seems that when you watch racing on any weekday you can't help but notice the depressed state of things.

Are you so soon forgetting those putrid Aqueduct cards? When was the last time you saw such full fields as Belmont had on Monday, and six turf races on one card?

In contrast, you see nothing but maiden and non-winners-of-one races at the other Eastern tracks competing with Belmont. Here in Jersey Monmouth is already in full swing with their patented 5 and 6-horse fields (sometimes even 3 or 4 horses).

At the other tracks, the number of bad horses during weekday racing makes you wonder: What is the point? Why even keep some of these tracks open?

And even in harness racing: I see that the once-ruling Meadowlands - feeling the effects of racinos at Yonkers, Saratoga, Pocono and Chester, PA - cannot fill up their cards and for the first time in 30 years is fielding $10,000 claimers. They also have a new category: non-winners of $4,000 in last 6 starts, which is for horses one step away from the Amish buggy.

onecalicocat said...

What's with these fillies?
Indian Way smashed a track record at Philly Park Saturday, going six furlongs in 1.07.61

Barbaro's little brother Nic looks like he could be a real good turf horse after his smashing win at Delaware Park.

The best of the Smarty babies could be Dr. Smarty Jack, (nice recent win at Belmont) but that isn't saying much.

Anonymous said...

Early post times should be something tracks look into for weekend cards as well. In Japan post time on Saturday is 10am. It is to ensure people can get home by 4ish. Makes total sense but of course we won't assume that track managemnet will let a good idea get in the way of empty stands and declining revenues. Plus what would the Japanese know, they only get 70 odd thousand out at the Tokyo Racecourse every Saturday.

forego is my witness said...

Regarding attendences (which my dad and I love guessing on each weekend): Monmouth has been consistently beating Belmont since it opened. Makes me happy for the Jewel by the Shore....

Jim O said...

Hmm. My comment about your comment about Gitmo a few post back ain't there.
I guess you really don't like me (:-()

jk said...

A new player emerges for the Big A racino....

“We’re surrounded by the wealthiest communities in the country, yet the state of affairs on the reservation is one of offhanded neglect,” said Frederick C. Bess, one of the Shinnecock Nation’s three trustees.

But the prospect of a large gambling center in the Hamptons has not been palatable to Long Island leaders, and the tribe, which has about 1,000 members, would prefer to build a full-blown casino somewhere else. One potential location is the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, the site of interminable state negotiations over a gambling complex.

alan said...

>>I guess you really don't like me (:-()

No man, I loved that comment, you sure it's not there???

This one, right?

Jim O said...

That wasn't it. Maybe I messed up on this end. Anyway, I still think you're the best racing writer around, even if you are a lefty.

alan said...

Jim O - Thanks for the kind words. I really don't reject many comments at all, just the stupid name-calling crap, and always welcome opposing views. So maybe your comment ended up in cyberspace somewhere?