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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Break in the Gloom

The past performances are out for Saturday's 11 race Wood Memorial card at the Big A on what is supposed to be a gorgeous day. Even a couple of grass races on the program. But who knows, could be the last time the historic Derby prep will be run there. Maybe it'll go to New Jersey like the Cane Pace did after the slots debate moves to Belmont and the wrecking balls move in. They could have a one day meet at the Meadowlands and raise the purse by a few million bucks. The April 11th deadline for NYC OTB to close is approaching, and the New York racing world is watching with dread.

Many industry leaders are concerned NYRA might not be able to stay open this spring and summer.

“It’s going to be close,” Rick Violette, a prominent trainer, NYRA board member, and New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association president, said on Wednesday. [Thoroughbred Times]
I'm sticking to my usual belief, confirmed up to this point in time, that, in the end, the politicians in Albany will not allow the industry to fail; especially in this case where the blame would be squarely on their shoulders. But today, on the E train home, I was listening to J Mascis sing, on Get Me from Dinosaur Jr.'s Where You Been LP: "You're not going to get me through this, are you?" And one sure couldn't blame NYRA and the horsemen if they're starting to think that way about their elected leaders who have put them in this position through their incompetence, arrogance, and unmitigated gall.

I mean, don't even get me started about these three stooges in the Senate who are fighting the Inspector General's subpoena into the all-too-blatant political favoritism they lavished on Aqueduct Entertainment Group. A state Supreme Court judge ruled against them on Wednesday, saying their objections were "without merit." However, they intend to appeal. Seriously, which is more blatantly obvious, the selection itself, or this clumsy attempt to cover it up? Man, I can't wait to see what they're trying to hide. And to hear what the governor has to say too, especially given his lame duck status and his continuing descent into paranoia and incoherency.

Anyway, back to the Wood, and, unfortunately, the race has no buzz or juice at all around here, despite the presence of the horse who I guess is considered the consensus Derby favorite at this time. Maybe they'll get 4500 people there. That's what happens when the headlining horse has only five career races at this point in time, and last raced in New York in an off-the-turf stakes race last October. I'm not intimidated by that 106 that Eskendereya earned some six weeks ago in the FOY.

Not to say he wasn't impressive of course. I particularly liked the way he calmly and effortlessly glided up into stalking position after breaking a bit sluggishly from a treacherous outside post. However, on the other hand, once he did so, he sat behind a moderate pace (slower to the half than the 10K claiming race which was the only other two-turn dirt race run that day) set by a horse making his first start on dirt, and with Buddy's Saint getting jostled down inside. He was set up well then to make the big move in the stretch that he did, finishing up in racehorse time of 12.33 seconds; final three-eighths in a solid 36.46. I'd be willing to take a shot against....

....though moreso in a deeper field than this where one might find some value. Just six entries (and only 23 betting interests in the four graded stakes); including a state-bred allowance runner with a standardbred name, and a recent maiden graduate. I was against Awesome Act on price in the Gotham, and suspect I'll be the same on Saturday in just his second start of the year, anticipating that he'll be a well-bet second choice.

Schoolyard Dreams is the kind of horse I like, and I'd take a look at decent odds. He's making his - gasp - 4th start of the season. It's been just three weeks since his grueling and improbable loss to the impressive Odysseus in the Tampa Bay Derby. These days, some might consider that to be too little for a horse to recover from such an effort, but I'm taking it as a positive in this case. He's improved solidly in his last two since adding blinkers, and should have the upper hand on the top two in terms of foundation and tough race experience. And you gotta love the bullet half mile on the 27th. In the money in all of his five career races, he somehow got beat at Tampa after changing tactics and making a bold sweeping move around the turn. Schoolyard Dreams has gone through jockeys like Governor Paterson goes through senior staff members; and here, for his sixth jockey in his sixth race, he lands Ramon (in fact, he's one of the reasons the horse is running here instead of in the Illinois Derby). Trainer Derek Ryan will be looking for a better timed move than the one supplied by Jeremy Rose in the TB Derby. "You can't hit the front too soon," Ryan said. [DRF]


Mutaman said...

"However, they intend to appeal."

Who's paying the legal fees for this appeal?

ballyfager said...

I tend to agree with you about Schoolyard Dreams, Alan. Running in NY you can be sure Eskendereya will be overbet. I think his race in the FOY is an indictment of the horses chasing him.

I've yet to see a 3 yr. old this year that really impressed me. For that reason i will stab with the horse from Maryland in the exotics.

A horseplayer friend of mine calls that sort of thing, chasing moonbeams. It may not be productive but it's fun.

DiscreetPicks said...

Aqueduct - Race 9

#2 Awesome Act (9/2)

Big fan of this horse. Shipped over from Europe to run close in the BC Juvenile Turf last year (finishing behind recent San Felipe second Interactif), then went back to Europe and was training @ Newmarket before shipping over for the Gotham and running a huge race right off the plane. That race marked his dirt debut, and he clearly relished the surface, moving smooth as glass from in-and-among horses to assume a striking position on the turn while still totally in hand. At that point Leparoux took a very confident look back, because he clearly knew that he had the leaders beaten at that point. A moment or two later he shook the reins at this horse, and he just bounded into the clear to win very easily. Finished very strongly, and and should appreciate the stretchout to 1 1/8 miles here, because he's bred top-and-bottom to run long, with BC Classic winner Awesome Again on the top side and the bottom side consisting of the Arc winner Bago. Could even improve today, as this marks his only second start of the year, and rather than traveling back to Europe again, he's remained in New York to train towards this race (and eventually the Derby). He did miss a scheduled workout on Wednesday due to the wet weather, but it was just a 3 furlong blowout, and they said beforehand that they could just gallop him into the race no problem if he happened to miss the drill. That's really my only concern here, as i think this guy represents a huge threat to the heavy favorite Eskendereya today, and obviously the difference in odds will be substantial. Expecting a solid effort from this colt, at an overlaid price.

DiscreetPicks said...

I thought Awesome Act looked extremely strong approaching the turn, very much like last time, but he just stopped running. Not sure what happened, but no doubt Eskendereya looked fantastic.

Sidney's Candy looked great once again, but he's enjoyed a soft early lead in both the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby. Gonna be hard to evaluate that guy on Derby Day, especially with the added unknown factor of dirt mixed in. But he has shown the ability to rate, and he's already proven himself capable of finishing strong even after fast early fractions (which is why i liked him in the first place).

Also, i've gotta think that Lookin At Lucky's price in trhe Derby just soared. Haven't gotten a real good look at his trip yet (just the inquiry shots), as i was focused in on Sidney's Candy during the race, but if he had a legitimate excuse today then he'll probably offer some good value.

Speaking of which, nice run by the longshot Setsuko, who figures to really enjoy the Derby distance (he just made the race as far as i can tell; he had to run at least second to get the earnings and he did). Problem is, he doesn't have much tactical speed at all, and he's liable to get buried in that 20-horse cavalry charge. Think he might pose a threat if he can manage to get out into the open and stretch his legs, but it might be too little too late. Seems to be sort of a habit with him already, even in the smaller fields. Figures to be a very big price though; worth keeping tabs on.

Anonymous said...

maybe next time you can write a whole chapter about Awesome Act. Ya he was a overlaid price and ran like he just got laid hours before the race.

Dirty said...

Anon... I get that you wanna be a hater, but the horse lost a fucking shoe.

DC - in regards to Looking at Luckys trip, baffert was fucking livid, and gomez and victor espinoza had a scuffle at the scale.

From Drf:

Baffert blamed Gomez for a bad ride.

“It was bad luck. It was a bad trip," Baffert said. "You can’t be on the inside on this track. (Gomez) took him back and he was fighting him. It was horrendous; his ride was horrendous. It’s unfortunate. The horse is a good horse. That’s the thing about synthetic. They’re not going to go fast. Keep him up there. He’s so afraid to let this horse run early, and it’s a shame, because that’s not Garrett. I don’t know why. He threw an interception.”

Baffert said he could not say if he would replace Gomez. “I’m not going to talk about that right now," he said. "I cannot believe he rode him that way. It’s ridiculous.”

Asked about the inquiry that followed, in which stewards made no change in the order of finish, Baffert said: “I didn’t really care. When I saw him on the rail, I said, ‘What is he doing?’ He must not have seen Jerry Bailey’s tape. We’re going to buy him some DVDs.”

LOL. Martin Garcia just got a derby mount.

Anonymous said...

Oh and speaking of tough luck... How much the best was cozi Rosie?

Anonymous said...

If Eskendereya continues to improve like this he is a definite for The Belmont Stakes and should win the Derby off this form. However I have a question mark over him for the Preakness. Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Esk is the real deal but has the wrong trainer. Had to be forced to run in the Wood by his owner, and now they ship him back to Florida instead of straight to CD to prepare?

Right running style for all legs, enough speed to work out a stalking trip, but the one thing he lacks is seasoning, never been banged and bumped as he will in the Derby. He is a big long striding horse with a nice cruising speed but does not seem all that athletic which may be his downfall on Derby Day. I would say, like every year, the Derby will be the toughest leg to win.

Lucky got beat up yesterday and still showed heart and will be ready for the rodeo. Baffert should be thanking Gomez as long as the horse came out of the race ok which I am sure was his true concern.

Sidney is a pure bet against as is the ILL derby winner, they will be part of a fast pace, especially if Pletcher is smart enough to use one of his six runners as a rabbit for Esk.

Setsuko, my bet yesterday, is going to need a total pace collapse and a lot of racing luck, hope they switch to Borel or Dersormeaux. He could be the upsetter in The Belmont though but might just be a true BC Turf type.

Anonymous said...

hey Dirty take a few xanax and relax.Perhaps you can shoe the horse next time he runs so I won't have to read your lame excuse. Go buy him a pair of shoes from aldo. They stay on much better. duhhhhh

DiscreetPicks said...

To the guy who said Sidney's Candy is a bet-against because of the projected fast pace, what makes you think he's dependent on the lead? I think he's demonstrated that he's not.

Anonymous said...

DP, SC may not be "dependent on the lead" (I did not think I indicate he was, just that he would be part of the pace), but even if he is sitting 5th he will run faster and harder early than he has in his last two cakewalks around the track and have to negotiate two more furlongs on the dirt, a bet against in my book, but thats what makes the game.