Been quite the miserable week for racing at Belmont. Thus far, through Saturday's races, not a single fast track race to be found; and despite a gorgeous Mother's Day, looks like there won't be one on Sunday either. Must say though that the field sizes have held up pretty well - a lot more horses running than we saw on many a fast track during the Aqueduct meeting past. One guy who certainly hasn't seemed to mind is trainer David Jacobsen, who has compiled a record of 16-6-2-2 on the surfaces ranging from sloppy to good (coming into Sunday's races in which he had some good prospects, including Saginaw) ; so a Happy Mudder's Day to him!
Another one who loved the off going was Freedom Child, who romped in the Peter Pan in the easiest kind of win one will ever see. 12-1 in the morning line, someone must have known he'd like the slop.....or maybe it was just that West Point Thoroughbreds partnership money pouring in. Despite a bit of a slow start, the son of Malibu Moon (also the sire of Orb), pranced to the lead and effortlessly blazed a half mile in 46.67. From that point on, he decelerated steadily even as he continued to widen - subsequent quarters of 24.31, 24.97, and a final furlong in 13.14 while drifting out to the middle of the track, despite the efforts of jockey Luis Saez who, according to the race chart, was applying some strong right handed stick work as a corrective measure, particularly once past the eighth pole, to no avail.
Sounds like a true Belmont horse, eh?
Well, considering the historical precedent of the Peter Pan as a Belmont prep (though, according to Michael Veitch in the Saratogian, it's been since 1999 (Lemon Drop Kid) since a horse used the race as a stepping stone to Belmont glory), and the public partnership owning Freedom Child that is always looking for a marketing/publicity edge, we can surely expect to see this one lined up come June 9. And he'll likely attract some attention too given that running line from 11/24/12 in which he finished two lengths behind Orb and a couple in front of 3-10 favorite Revolutionary. Nevermind that that race, like the Peter Pan, was a one-turn route, and that his only two-turn win came in a maiden race at Gulfstream in which he came home in a pedestrian 39 1/5 for the last three-eighths and earned a Beyer of 83. Who knows, maybe it will rain. But in any event, color me highly skeptical of both the colt's ability and the motivation for wheeling him back at a mile and a half as opposed to what's really best for the horse.
One (mildly) interesting note on pedigree - Freedom Child, out of a Deputy Minister mare, is related to the one-time Pletcher Derby hopeful Shanghai Bobby; they have the same third dam, and their second dams are full sisters, both by Carson City. (And note that the Toddster does not have a single horse listed amongst the Preakness eligibles at this point in time.)
The winning margin of a bit over 13 lengths is reminiscent of the Peter Pan win by Coastal in 1979, who won the race by the same margin, and went on the win the Belmont 13 days later (after being supplemented for $20,000). And, of course, Coastal foiled the Triple Crown bid of Spectacular Bid that day, thus kicking off the current drought which many of us hope that Orb will finally break. Always fun to go back in the NY Times archives to see what they had to say. And Coastal was just an afterthought, as the big news was the defection of Czaravich, a Nijinsky colt who had created excitement since a belated debut earlier in the year, then running second to Instrument Landing in the Wood and winning the Withers (and who went on the following year to win the Met Mile and the Carter).
Czaravich's withdrawal dimmed the luster of the big Memorial Day weekend of racing and most of the 30,597 fans on hand were disappointed. Some will be back to watch Alydar in today's $100,000-added Metropolitan Mile, the first leg of the handicap Triple Crown, after watching Davona Dale outrun the fillies on Saturday [in the Acorn].Ah, Davona Dale and Alydar, not a bad weekend of racing, eh? Wonder how this year's Memorial Day weekend cards will stack up? Alydar was back at four after he just failed to break up that last Triple Crown the year before, and ran 26 times in his career; ten of those as a juvenile, wow. But he did not fare well in that Met Mile, struggling home in 6th after unexpectedly challenging early for the lead, as State Dinner splashed home on a sloppy track to return $61.40.
Said John Veitch, Alydar's trainer [of jockey Jorge Velazquez), "The boy rode the horse wrong."No, we don't refer to jockey's as 'boy' anymore! Gee, I wonder why! Back then, a horse with no rider listed might be designated as 'no boy;' and one might sometimes see 'good boy' as a preview comment for a horse. Also interesting to read about the holiday crowd of 50,504. As Steve Cady reported:
The Saturday-Sunday-Monday total was 113,081. But neither Alydar nor State Dinner could take credit for yesterday's unusually heavy traffic. The added gimmick was an after-the-races workout by Pablo Cruise and Pure Prairie League, the opening attraction in a Belmont Park series of 15 rock'n'roll concerts.Yeah, thinking that probably didn't work out. But the OTB era was underway, and NYRA was making the good effort to attract new fans on-track. But Pure Prairie League? Man, I was never a fan of that band. (The Belmont show I recall most fondly was the one by Dave Mason.) But I know there must be some PPL fans out there (Figless? Nick Kling?), and some Vince Gill fans as well, so I will leave you today with this.
With yesterday's concert attracting thousands of young patrons, management didn't miss the opportunity for a little promotional propaganda. At every entrance, hostesses distributed a variety of brochures that included such instructional literature as "How to Get to Saratoga" and "How to Read Daily Racing Form Past Performances."
Said Tom Leonard, a Fordham sophomore who came out to hear Pablo Cruise and Pure Prairie League: "It's true we're not helping the betting handle much. But maybe in a few years, when we've got more money, we'll be coming here to play horses."