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Saturday, November 06, 2010

BC Friday: A Tale of Two Tales

The first day of the Breeders' Cup is in the books, and I'll get to the actual races at some point soon. But the two bizarre incidents that book-ended ESPN's coverage - the ones that everyone will be talking about - surely demand attention. One of them will probably have too much made of it; the other couldn't possibly cause enough ado about something.

I don't think you could blame Calvin Borel for being pissed after the Marathon. Javier Castellano might be known as a clean rider as he was described on the broadcast. But there seems little doubt that he was clearly at fault for the near-downing of Martin Garcia aboard Romp, and the resulting contact with A.U. Miner that no doubt cost he and Borel a piece of the purse, if not the whole shebang considering the way he recovered and rallied for 4th. Castellano was rightly disqualified from second to 10th for steering Prince Will I Am out into the path of A.U. Miner to cause the chain reaction.

The scuffle and its aftermath (except the reported continuation of hostilities in the locker room) was caught close up on camera, in large part thanks to Jeanine Edwards' quick reaction in calmly calling for the cameras, and an alert director on the job. In my view, the fisticuffs between the two riders reflect no more poorly on the sport of horse racing than similar physical confrontations in other highly competitive and emotional contact-prone athletic competitions do on theirs.

After the two were broken up, there was one moron who tried to block the closest camera's view; I'd like to know who that guy was and who he works for. Maybe he was Borel's publicist. The crazed ferocity of the jockey's reaction provides the type of image that can overwhelm one's achievements and ultimately define his career, especially in the You Tube age. One example that comes to mind is Juan Marichal, the Hall of Fame pitcher who compiled a remarkable record of 243-142 and struck out over 2,300 batters in his 15 year career. Yet one of the first things that comes to my mind upon his mention is the image of him clubbing John Roseboro over the head with his bat. And you can't even find the video on You Tube.

If Borel was a baseball player and went that mental, you can just guess what people would be thinking. Instead of Calvin Bo-Rail, he'd be referred to as Calvin Bo-Roid. It took several beefy regular-size guys to hold him back. Borel has accomplished plenty enough on the racetrack to be inducted into his sport's Hall of Fame. But I imagine that this incident will always be an integral part of his legacy.

I've watched a lot of horse races on TV in my time, but I surely cannot recall anything comparable to what we witnessed on ESPN prior to - and during - the Ladies Classic. In case you missed it, Jerry Bailey asked John Velazquez during the warm0up how Life at Ten was taking to the Churchill track, and the jockey replied: "Right now I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. She's not warming up the way that she normally does." ESPN may have lucked into that stunning bit of inside info, but credit them for some excellent journalism afterwards. Jay Privman promptly sought out Todd Pletcher, who told him that the mare was "very quiet in the paddock. She was acting a little unusual." (If you have a tape, go to 13 minutes to post and you'll see exactly what the Toddster was talking about. And if you watch for a few minutes beyond that, you'll see that Pletcher was not at all forthcoming about those observations during an interview with Privman as the horses headed to the track.)

Bailey then asked Johnny V again, just a few minutes before post, if there had been any improvement. "Not really," he responded. And sure enough, Life at Ten, sent off as the 7-2 second choice to Blind Luck, showed no interest from the start and quickly lost contact with the field. Amazing, astounding, and not a good thing for the sport, especially as ESPN was touting the virtues of the first major racing event televised in "almost" prime-time.

So, plenty of questions here, all revolving around the main one of why Life at Ten was not scratched. Pletcher told the persistent and professional Privman afterwards that he told his jockey to make sure that she warmed up well....and that Velazquez asked the vets to look at her. However, Larry Bramlage, the on-call vet for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, told the Form: "Velazquez didn't say anything to the vet before the race." [DRF] It's certainly fair to question why he did not....and also to ask why the trainer, if he thought his mare seemed "almost sedated-like," as he told Privman, wasn't more explicit in his instructions to his rider about her being able to warm up properly, and what he should do if she didn't.

However, Bailey pointed out that "the attending vet is supposed to come over and ask 'is this horse ok?'" And Randy Moss said: "That's what the vet is at the starting gate for - to protect the public, to protect the horses, to protect the riders." Apparently, that did not transpire either. Ms. Edwards reported shortly before post time that Bramlage, when asked about the jockey's comments, told her that "the vets on the ground have not been made aware of the situation." However, Bramlage apparently had been! Is there no means of communication between he and those vets out at the starting gate?

I also wonder sometimes about the whole idea of these random pre-race interviews which occasionally - though never in my experience to this extent - make the viewers privy to information that other bettors lack. Not that ESPN shouldn't do its job of reporting as much relevant news as possible, and not to suggest that there be any form of censorship. But this is the type of incident that might make bettors feel as if they're better off watching at home than going to the track!

It's certainly quite clear that somebody should have said something to someone; and even Pletcher conceded that she "clearly should have probably not run." Of course, that clearly comes as probably small consolation to all of those who saw their money go down the drain.

- Hearing the Europeans' complaints about the turf course being too firm, and seeing Shared Account ($94) hold off favored Midway in the F&M Turf, I feel more emboldened to try and beat Goldikova in the Mile today. As I've mentioned before, The Usual Q.T. (15-1) has excellent form at this distance and seems at peak form at this time. And Proviso (12-1), trained by Mott, who sent out Unrivaled Belle ($17) to win, by the way, that Ladies Classic, is similarly sharp and enamored of the route.

I like Supreme Summit (15-1) in the Sprint; sharp synthetic shipper seems well worth the shot here should be around those odds. I saw that jp likes him too, and thought he'd be upset that I do, fearing that I was jinxing him. However, after seeing his picks for Friday, maybe it should be the other way around! Welsch didn't care for his workouts, but, then again, Switch sure ran pretty well, didn't she? Big Drama (7-2) is, I think, clearly the horse to beat. Warrior's Reward (12-1) likes the track, has reportedly worked quite well, and is poised to pick up a piece with a late rally.


Figless said...

Good call on Switch, kudos!

Hope you played accross the board.

Figless said...

Pletcher indicated she was fine in the morning, passed all the vet tests, but might have had an "allegic reaction" to the Lasix treatment.

I suspect a Lasix overage, all the classic signs, lethargy, dehydrated resulting in "tieing up" syndrome. She walked stiff as if she was cramping.

Obviously she should have been scratched.

While Bramlage is the "on call vet for the AAEP" I believe that he really has no official capacity in Kentucky. He is not on the State or CD veterinary team and likely does not have any ability to contact the on track vet.

His function is more as a liason between the BC and the media.

Once the horses are on the track, the responsibility lies only with the Jock and the track Vet. It was JV's responsibility to report this information to the vet.

Of course, the vet could have noticed this himself, but its not like the horse was limping or anything, lethargy is not something that would ordinarilly merit a vet scratch.

So I blame JV.

EagleEye Po said...

Allowing Life at Ten to run highlights the greatest problem with the game, 'the protection of the wagering public'. It is not Pletchers or Jonny V responsibility but rather the Stewarts JOB! In North America we don't seem to emphasize the ‘protection of the wagering public’. Perhaps if we did, the game wouldn't be losing their customers.

Figless said...

Only long shot I like all day is Debussy in the Turf, his Arlington race is good enough to win this.

JT - hate the Euros, Soldat, Banned
S - Big Drama
TS - Silver Timber
J- Jaycito, lone closer, Mo, JBT
M - Gio Ponti with the upset
DM - Tizway over HC Ben
T - Above
C - Z and LAL

Good luck to all, outta here.

Anonymous said...

Alan, they also loaded horses into the wrong gates in the Winter Memories race. That was part of a very nutty day.

I suspected that the previous jockey was a big problem with Backtalk. He would get in traffic in five-horse races. Now that he looks like a race horse, get him on the turf.

Jackson Bend did not look good in the undercard.

Thanks for Switch. Nice second.

Hoping for some good luck for Lucky. He deserves a break.

El Angelo said...

What happened with Life at Ten yesterday is a complete and utter disgrace. Pletcher and Velazquez should both be fined and suspended.

Anonymous said...

Anyone see the classic double will pays? Can't seem to find them.

ballyfager said...

Was all set to load up against Zenyatta but if she runs the race she ran last year she'll win again. IMO it's not a strong field, although better than last year.

Blame close at a mile and an eighth and likes CD but his last race, his only race at a mile and a quarter, is not all that impressive. Quality Road is the fastest horse but questionable at the distance. Lookin At Lucky is the best of a mediocre bunch of 3 y.o.

Frankly, the horse I like because he'll be a great price is Etched. If you like him then you also have to use Musket Man who fires every time but is probably distance challenged.

The issue with Zenyatta is dirt. Her first dirt race, two years ago, was very good. Her dirt race this year was NOT good. As I tried to tell you guys earlier in the year that's why they took her back to California (against their stated intention of taking her around the country). Also, her penultimate race at Del Mar is probably the worst race of her career. Yet she came back to run well at Hollywood last time.

So, if she runs back to last year's Classic, she wins. If she runs the race she ran at OP (on dirt) in April, she loses.

SaratogaSpa said...

Anon 10:36-The Classic Double Plays can be found over at DRF

..Credit goes to ESPN for jumping right away on Life at Ten story

..Been saying all along, I really expect Lookin at Lucky to have run a great race today

Anonymous said...

Did anyone hit anything yesterday? I was ice cold and got stuck about 2g's. Then I hit the early Pick 4 at Los Al twice. So now I'm ready to fire again, but I need to get 'Lucky.


Anonymous said...

POS Workforce out

Steve Zorn said...

Alan: the ESPN folks said they called the Stewards about Life at ten. That made it the stewards' responsibility, lets Johnny V off the hook, and lets the Toddster slide by, as usual. But someone needs to hold a hearing on what the stewards didn't do.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Over 300k just to win on Life @ 10. That's not including any exotics. Could be upwards of 1 million in "dead money."

steve in nc said...

Good job by ESPN, and by you, Alan. Hoping you cash a few to get you out of your funk.

I'm the fig guy standing with Figless on Big Drama in a moment.

How about Sidney's Candy as a shot to beat the Euros? I'm not going to try to beat Behkabad. A mile and a half is their game.

Anonymous said...

I'm taking a little Central City. Couple little exactas.


Alan Mann said...

Hope you guys cashed on Big Drama....I did use him on top of some exactas but ran out of ground with Supreme Summit, who made a decent run at 18-1. Denman was calling Warrior's Reward like he was Forego, but he hung, for a change. Hope you guys are right about this Euro horse in the Turf; don't know what else to do but to use him as a single and pray. Can't see any of the US horses beating him. Love the Dirt Mile...Here Comes Ben, and also Tizway and Thiskyhasnolimit. Good luck everyone!

Alan Mann said...

Steve - Thanks, that's interesting about ESPN. Certainly raises questions about the stewards. Also wonder if it's really ESPN's role as a news organization to contact them like that? Maybe the stewards should have the TV on. I'm sure the SEC enforcement guys always have CNBC and MSNBC in the background.

Alan Mann said...

ESPN sucks.

steve in nc said...

The umps & refs use the TV crew for their replays, right? And never mind professional codes, lives were at stake with a possibly infirm horse getting in the gate.

I did get the Big Drama exacta but not the big exotics. The Lukas horse had a big sheet number and while orthodox sheet players had him bouncing, I wasn't so sure.

BRIS doesn't have the exotic pools in their tote anymore neither DRF nor Churchill has any tote going. I hate betting half blind. Any other sites that a non-member can access?

Don'tcha love the BC getting no non-horsey network air at all right now because of an OT football game? The players are getting paid OT now - 3X nothing.

I too love open races like the dirt mile. Don't ignore bombers like Cool Coal Man and Hurricane Ike. The latter has some decent figs and has been burning up the track.

That import Murjan looked nice on the track, no? I'm covering her.

Alan Mann said...

Ugh, tough beat for me with Gio Ponti coming on to beat out The Usual QT for second. Alive going forward though.

steve in nc said...

Damn, wrong bomber. Nothing like going 7 deep in pick 3s and getting beat by a nose.

Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine the pressure on Mike Smith. The legacy (if you believe the media), and now she's 3/5 as well.

Anonymous said...

Alan's homeboy Muttonchops coming up after the break. Who's he on this year?

Anonymous said...

Such an amazing moment coming up.

Anonymous said...

I can't even handle it. If I was mike smith i would have a stroke.

Anonymous said...

Oh brother. Checks in the mail.


Anonymous said...

Man o man. I was so sure she would get there. Blame really dug in when the big mare made her run. Mike Smith blames himself but the real fault lies with me, as I picked Zenyatta to win. Not really sure what else to say. Incredible, heartbreaking horserace. Not a bad day for the jp-dawg thanks to The Usual Q.T., but I should have had the late p3 as well. But seriously, enough about me. Kudos to Zenyatta's connections for keeping her in training as a 6yo and giving us such amazing moments. I'd like to say she loses nothing in defeat, but it's not exactly true. Either way, she's an equine hero and I was lucky to see her run. -jp

Figless said...

Right before the Big Race a guy in the simulcast said he wishes you could bet on the last place finisher, that Pleasant Prince would be a lock.

I told him I wish I could get down on Quality Road for last at big odds.

Damn I wish I could have done so.

So much for his "greatness", they should move him to the turf if they can resist sending him to stud, would have been tough in the Turf Mile (or Dirt Mile).

Another horse that ended up in the wrong race was Gio Ponti, who should have been in the TURF, would have won that race for fun yesterday and may have won it last year too although the Classic on AWT was a great try.

Figless said...

Regarding Z, will simply say the simulcast was amazing, with hard core players and newbies alike disregarding their wagers and rooting her home down the stretch, never felt that much electricity at an off track facility, sure it was just as thrilling at home in everyone's living rooms.

Hope they bring her back but only if they truly want to tour the country with her.

After that performance she will actually do what many other horses have promised but failed to deliver, actually draw crowds to the tracks and creat fans, an opportunity I hope the Moss's embrace.

I hope Mine That Bird enjoys his retirement, hope they put him at Best Friends instead of New Mexico.

What an inglorious end to a great story, somewhat due to mismanagement and in fighting among the connections and advisors, which will come out in the movie.

IF I owned him I would give him an nice break and try to bring him back with one of the Super Trainers (Assumussen?).

Lukas was absolutely a horrible choice to train this horse, actually a downgrade over his prior trainer which was tough to do.