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Friday, August 24, 2012

Bad Start to an Off Day

Thursday's racing at Saratoga will not go down as one of the banner days in its glorious history.  Just - egads - nine races, one of them a steeplechase, followed by two short-field (five and four horses) races won by 1-5 favorites, followed in turn by two maiden-claimers; and generally a parade of chalk - six winning favorites on the day, all 2-1 or less (mostly less).  Either a glaring case for five day-a-week racing, or a massive purge to clear out all the cheap racing in advance of Travers day.  (And indeed, the only tags to be found on Saturday are optional ones.)  And, on top of that, not a single Pletcher horse to be found on the day!!  Why even bother getting out of bed?

The day got off to a particularly shaky start in the steeplechase event when, a day after at least one more fatal breakdown which followed the one on Wednesday, two of the jumpers fell at the final fence.  This prompted Jerry Bossert of the Daily News to tweet:  Seriously. With all the scandals in the news about racing do we need jumpers falling in front of crowds?

Well, on one hand, I suppose that's a fair point.  As Bossert subsequently pointed out: And the handle is pitiful. Who cares?  I myself enjoy watching those races, and they're surely part of the vaunted tradition of the place.  But I don't bet on them, and I don't think many people outside of the Clancy brothers would mourn their disappearance.   On the other hand, seems a bit of a cheap shot.  After all, as usually seems to be the case, the horses and riders were fine; and I'd love to know what the injury rate is for jumpers as compared to the flats. 

It's also emblematic though of the defensive and apologetic pose the sport has been in ever since the Eight Belles tragedy; presently hunkered down as it is, battered by the repeated (and redundant) attacks by the New York Times.  Only in the hyperbolic world of the Times would the shortened career of I'll Have Another (remember him?) be referred to as being "tragically foreshortened," as stated in an editorial today, breathlessly entitled Run to Death at Racetracks.   Tragic?  Seriously? For whom?  For the horse, healthy enough to appear in the paddock on Belmont day?  For the owners who shipped him off to Japan for a cool $10 million?  I for one - while again and as always acknowledging that improvements can and must be made - am really tired of this crap.  At some point, people need to stand up and say, look, this is our sport;  we're a bit degenerate, and there are bad actors who go beyond the rules to gain an edge just as there are in any financial endeavor.  The vast majority of horsepeople treat their horses with the utmost of love and care, and do the best to keep them happy and safe.  But accidents are going to happen and if you don't like it then go watch fucking NASCAR races, ok?

Chad Brown took the late double - or perhaps, since there are doubles in every race, we should say the late, late, late double -  to give him 20 winners.  He's not going to catch the Toddster, (27) but he's having a great stand, having started 39 less horses than the leader.  The day at least ended with a rousing finish as Yes She Rules rallied wide and held off Donttngowithmngo (apparently pronounced don't tango with mango), who was maneuvered in the stretch brilliantly by Ramon in search of a seam after saving ground to the stretch.  We talked in the last post about riders stealing turf races on the lead; but when Castellano gunned front-running Gold Love to a second quarter of 22.98, this race was a cinch for the closers.  Yes She Rules is by Monarchos out of a Dehere mare; she's a half-sister to the multiple graded turf stakes winner Buddy's Humor, and this is the distaff family of Super May, a popular handicap horse from the early 90s.

7 Comments:

Figless said...

Editorial just a tad over the top.

Anonymous said...

11 Belles?

Anonymous said...

11 belles?

alan said...

>>11 Belles?

*__* I need an editor, sorry!!

Anonymous said...

Alan,do you not love the NYT's anymore?Hahaha!


Good for you.

SaratogaSpa said...

The New York Times gets worse by the Day. The editorial is disgraceful. Remember how the Times became Judge and Jury on the Duke Lacrosse players, never bothering to examine the facts.

Matt said...

I for one - while again and as always acknowledging that improvements can and must be made - am really tired of this crap. At some point, people need to stand up and say, look, this is our sport; we're a bit degenerate, and there are bad actors who go beyond the rules to gain an edge just as there are in any financial endeavor. The vast majority of horsepeople treat their horses with the utmost of love and care, and do the best to keep them happy and safe. But accidents are going to happen and if you don't like it then go watch fucking NASCAR races, ok?

This is the quote of the year. A hearty applause.