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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coming and Going

Jimmy Jerkens' reward for winning 24 races from 130 starters and purse money totaling $2.2 million for owner Edward Evans was to have the horses taken away. Tough business. Those were not the kind of stats that were crying out for Dan Bylsma or anything. But it's true that the new trainers, Kiaran McLaughlin, Anthony Dutrow, and Todd Pletcher, generally win at percentages higher than the nonetheless perfectly respectable 18% that Jerkens had for Evans (and are all doing so thus far this year).

However, it's been a slow Belmont thus far for the Toddster. Just five winners in 34 attempts; one in his last 18, two for his last 25. Four of the five winners won stakes - Munnings, Yes She's A Lady, Light Green [and Atoned]; and the other was the impressive American Dance (who he already trains for he did the now stakes-placed Rap Tale), now headed to the Dwyer. So it's certainly been a case of quality over quantity!

If you look at the stats, the fact is that Pletcher's winning percentage has been on the decline on the NYRA circuit as opposed to elsewhere. He's won at a 17% clip on here over the last two years - 16% for the past year, and that's three points below his overall 20-19% over those respective time frames. He was 20-21% at NYRA tracks over the last four and five years, so you can see the way he's dropped off in the last two. Remember he had won those five straight training titles at Saratoga, but then had a long cold streak there in 2007 when Mott broke his streak. Interesting...I don't think Pletcher has ever really recovered from that in terms of his winning percentage here; seems to be a real turning point.

Anyway, the Toddster now has Quality Road, who might very well be the best most talented three-year old colt this year; though, besides the obvious physical questions, I harbor doubts about his distance ability. He worked out last week, and they're aiming for the Haskell or Jim Dandy / Travers deal.

The article in the Form mentions that Quality Road is a temporary next-stall neighbor to Dunkirk. However, any friendship will be short-lived, as Dunkirk will be leaving shortly to recuperate from surgery to repair the condylar fracture discovered after the Belmont.

Pletcher said Dunkirk would be able to resume light training sometime in September.
Well, I really hope - he's the kind of dead closer (at least at normal distances) I can really get into. But do you really think so? Could be that somewhere, the Stallion Register blurb is already written.
$3.7 million son of top sire Unbridled's Song. Finished 2nd in Grade 1 Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes. Earned 108 Beyer in third lifetime start.
Sure would be a shame, especially since the colt got hurt running his heart out for a mile and a half in just his fifth career start, and his first real competitive race in ten weeks given his Derby disaster. I don't feel I'm second guessing here to wonder why he ran in that race, since I wrote all spring that I hated the way he was being prepped and campaigned up to the Derby and the Belmont. I didn't frame it though as being concerned for his physical well-being. Given the concern I expressed for Rachel Alexandra and the way I questioned the motives of her connections and accused them of being reckless, maybe I should have.


Amateurcapper said...


If you get the chance, read my blog on it...for me it's about loyalty lost on owners.

As for Pletcher and DUNKIRK, I did have the concern for the colt prior to the Belmont and wrote about it:

"Finally, I am confused that DUNKIRK is coming back so quickly after a terrible stumble in the Kentucky Derby. He is the short price “X-factor” in this year’s race. DUNKIRK started the Kentucky Derby as a well-supported 5-1 second choice on the strength of his fast G.1 Florida Derby second to QUALITY ROAD. After that dismal Derby result, he can bounce back and challenge CHARITABLE MAN and MINE THAT BIRD down the stretch as easily as finish off the board. I just don’t know if that stumble may have caused an injury that will manifest itself during a race. Remember that stumble TODD PLETCHER-trained RAGS TO RICHES had when she upset CURLIN in the 2007 Belmont Stakes? She raced only once more, upset by LEAR’S PRINCESS in the G.1 Gazelle, before an injury was detected. A healthy RAGS TO RICHES would have torched that Gazelle field."

I'm no horseman...why can't the real horseman see that it was a bad idea to bring DUNKIRK back so quickly? Was running 2nd in the Belmont S. really worth it?

Glenn Craven said...

Wow ... had a lot to get off your chest! Good read.

I feel for Jerkens. He did a good job and got kicked to the curb anyway.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that Dunkirk was going to recuperate at a Stallion Farm, I believe Ashford.

Not that I am skeptical, but I dont remember too many horses being laid up off an injury at a Stallion Farm, do you?

How long before we see the following in the Blood Horse;

"Ashford Stud today announced that Dunkirk's injury is healing slower than anticipated and he will need to miss all the important fall races. Consequently, we have decided to retire him to stud."?

The Jerkins thing is just plain sad. Don't you think Jerkins winning percentage would be just as high as the corporate barns if he had regular access to those types of horses.

He insisted on doing the right thing by the horse and was punished for it.

alan said...

Amateur - Nice job! I mean, the horse has (had?) such potential, and there are so many more suitable opportunities down the road! But we know that Magnier/Tabor/Smith only have the bottom breeding line in mind.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to note that Belmont's 6th and 8th races today are the old fashioned top notch allowance races that everyone has been pining for. Good contentious races, wide open from top to bottom.

With the 7th being a nice deep turf starter allowance it makes for a very interesting P3.

Wait! No P3 beginning the 6th, only a P4 sequence ending with an inscrutable maiden claimer on the Turf, making it unplayable.

NYRA giveth and NYRA taketh away.

Anonymous said...

NYRA has a Pick-3 on every race where there are at least two more races to be run. The previous poster is incorrect.