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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Odds and Ends

I got a little beat up over comparing the fractions of the Woodward to the Haskell on the grounds that Monmouth is a faster track, and that's a fair point. Still, while we can quibble over a few tenths of a second, the Haskell was fast too; so was the Mother Goose for that matter - six furlongs in 1:09.29 is still quick, down a straightaway or not. So my point remains that she ran basically the same race in the Woodward as she has in her four races for Asmussen...and really, if you look at her pp's, all year long too if not quite as fast early on in the year.

Now, Team Rachel is hinting that Rachel Alexandra seemed tired before the race, and that her training regimen was interrupted by the bad weather. A reader reminded me that she threw Borel during the warm-up, (though reader o_crunk says she was just getting sick of his hotdogging).

But who knows if Macho Again really would have gotten by had the race been a bit longer. Sure looked that way, and that seems to be the common wisdom, especially now in light of the excuses we're hearing from the winning team. But you never know, and can't really make assumptions. Maybe Borel was thinking about how he was going to celebrate and took his foot off the pedal in those last couple of strides when the colt really seemed to surge. I dunno, given the determination that the winner showed, I think she would have taken a piece of his left ear off before she let him pass.

- I think I was pretty good with my over/under of 30,000 for the crowd, though a couple of thousand or so short with my actual crowd pick. I think NYRA did pretty well to draw some 9,000 more than last year; and it's remarkable how easily they handle a crowd of that size there. It was a bit strained at 39,000 on Whitney day, but the lower 30's are a cinch. They announced over 50,000 on the Spinner Sunday, which we know is malarkey. But I thought they had at least as many actual bodies in the house as they did on Saturday.

- Johnny V took the shorter route home on Pyro; that's the long and short of the Forego. I had runner-up Kodiak Kowboy, who took the overland route with Gabriel Saez, to start off pick three's and four's, and I'm really sick of losing to Sheikh horses. Pyro got a Beyer of 103.

Saranac winner Al Khali is the 4th graded stakes winner of the year (from eight overall) for Medaglia D'Oro. Easily the top second-year sire by earnings, he's 4th on the general list behind Giant's Causeway, Tiznow, and Distorted Humor. I loved Al Khali in this race, but fell a nose short of nailing a $48 double when 7-1 Chorus Music got nailed at the wire by Ketubah in the preceding race....that one hurt.

Dublin is the first stakes winner for rookie sire Afleet Alex; it had been a quiet year for the Preakness/Belmont winner with just seven winners, and a couple of minor stakes placings, from 35 runners to date. They pretty much walked home in the Hopeful; it took the winner 40.13 seconds to get home, final furlong 13.44, ugh. Dublin is out of the Grade 1 winner Classy Mirage, who is, in turn, a half sister to the Grade 1 winner Missy's Mirage.

- Linda Rice threw everything but the stable sink into winning the training title, as I'm sure you noticed from all of the coupled entries you saw from her over the last few days. The Toddster has the numbers, so Ms. Rice had to scrounge for runners.

"I'm looking at the horses standing in my barn and not sure if I can follow through, so I was concerned the last couple of days because I didn't have the right horses in." [NY Daily News]
I'm happy for her; a training title obviously means far more to her than to Pletcher, at least from a business standpoint. To get that close and fail would be particularly tough for a relatively small barn like hers; that as opposed to guys like Pletcher who have the sheer numbers to compete for the title every year. But if Richard Dutrow had said that he was concerned about not having the right horses, but that he was running them anyway because of some personal goal, he'd get slammed for putting his own self-interest ahead of his horses' welfare.

12 Comments:

Sunny Jim said...

Meanwhile, a $1 million dollar race was run at Philadelphia Park on Labor Day and who noticed? Soul Warrior was the scratched favorite who was the only horse I immediately recognized - he had beaten Mine That Bird in the West Virginia Derby (another racino-padded "major stakes").

That left a Shug McGaughey horse with more lifetime 80's Beyers than anything else to wipe away the field at 9-2. (Quick - can you remember the horse's name?)

I agree with those saying that Philadelphia Park should push this race into early October to maybe make it a Breeder's Cup prep. But overall is it healthy for the sport to have these big purses at tracks that were formerly strictly minor league players? I guess so, I don't know.

To Philly's credit, though, they say that their new casino is almost ready to be opened next door to the track and that in response to much griping they will be giving back the original building's first and third floors strictly to horse racing.

I don't know what they will do with the second floor, which had all the windows sealed off to make the casino. Bingo maybe?

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Pletcher did his share of "self interesting", not sure how many were claimed since NYRA STILL does not list the claims on its website, but seemed he was dropping and popping quite a bit the last two weeks. Sure how those owners could not have been happy exposing horses for the sake of a training title attempt.

alan said...

>>Meanwhile, a $1 million dollar race was run at Philadelphia Park on Labor Day and who noticed?

I did Jim, and lost some money on Pletcher's colt at what I thought was a generous price of 6-1.

El Angelo said...

>>But overall is it healthy for the sport to have these big purses at tracks that were formerly strictly minor league players?

Well, the connections of Mine That Bird would probably say yes.

ballyfager said...

Philly already has its best race in the suggested timeframe. A race for 3y.o. fillies called the Cotillion. It has drawn good to very good fields for years.

As opposed to the PA Derby which is bunched in between the Haskell, Travers and Super Derby. Even the Super Derby has become an afterthought.

What would happen if they kept the purse the same and made it a seven furlong race?

Or, better yet, make it for 3y.o. & up at seven furlongs with a million dollar purse.

I think particularly this year, with the Breeders Cup having marginalized itself, that might have been a very successful move.

El Angelo said...

Or how about putting it in July? There's a dearth of prep races for the Haskell.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for pointing out the hypocracy of the media when it comes to Richard Dutrow, Jr. Like him or not, he rarely if ever gets a fair shake in the media. Mike D.

McCarron said...

Great point on Dutrow...The media has a different sent of rules for Tricky Dick versus some of the other repeat offenders running high profile barns. He's brash, speaks his mind, and rubs people the wrong way. I'll take that over the dull, no personality, slick suit wearing excuse making Todd Pletcher.

A mute Dutrow would be more interesting than the combined personality and interview presence of Barclay Tagg, Todd Pletcher, and Steve Asmussen combined.

Anonymous said...

Dutrow just got another slap on the wrist in the face of the new tough laws in KY, 30 day suspension, can keep his horses with assistant, and gets to chose the timing. Surprise, he selected the winter meet over the Holidays.

That'll teach him.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, all things come at a price. Linda Rice is reknown at Belmont for having the most horses breakdown every year. Did you ever see her train her horses at Belmont in the morning? Absolutely brutal. If they survive, they have a pretty good chance to win. From an owner's standpoint, I would never seriously consider her to train my horses. I like my horses to live.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 422am.

Assume you are the same anon that has criticized Rice's tough training regimin before in this space.

First, I have not noticed many of her horses break down in the afternoon, so unless you provide evidence everyone should take your assertions with a big grain of salt.

As for "wanting your horses to live", I wonder if you provide a retirement homes for all of your horses?

If you do, you have a right to criticize training methods, but most owners do not, and the vast majority of thoroughbreds meet a fate down the road that is much, much worse than anything that could possibly happen to them in the mornings.

I am not cruel, I would love each and every horse to be well cared as they live out their natural lives and I try my best to provide that for the horses I breed and race, but reality is the vast majority, especially male horses, are not so lucky.

It can be easily argued that those that break down in the morning and are quickly put down are better off than those that stay "sound" enough to work their way down the claiming ranks ladder progressing every day closer and closer to the killers.

I really wish the industry could find a solution to this dirty little secret, and perhaps the decline in foal crop is a blessing in this regard, although these tough economic times are resulting in a tremendous unwanted horse problem right now, with not so good results.

Anonymous said...

Linda Rice yuck!....since she WON that title she hasn't done much this past fall, winter, or so far this spring. If it's not a race on the turf she's only fair. She should move her barn to the West Coast....