- Took a few days off from writing, and I had a few things to say so it's a pretty long post covering a fair amount of ground. But it does actually have a logical flow to it all, so here we go.
- Orb was declared a 'go' for the Belmont on Sunday by trainer Shug McGaughey following the colt's half-mile work in :48.30 at Belmont Park and gallop-out of five furlongs in a sharp 1:00.48.
"I was looking for a strong gallop-out and we got what we were looking for. I want to have a good horse for the summer, but he's doing good right now, and you never know what can happen between now and then." [Bloodhorse]But even as the trainer looks forward, did I hear a hint of new excuses for Orb's failure at Pimlico?
"I’m sure when the other riders had him down inside they weren’t going to let him out especially as slow as they were going and I think the racetrack was different. It was very loose. It just wasn’t our day." [NY Daily News]Don't think I've heard the 'loose and different track' excuse before nor, at least from Shug, a notation (with a slightly whiney tone) that the riders race rode against him. But of everything we've heard from anyone in the two + weeks since the Preakness, the most succinct, and most likely accurate, is: "It just wasn't our day." If we all had just acknowledged and accepted that, we wouldn't still be taking about it.
(Then again, that wouldn't be any fun. For a Triple Crown series with different Derby and Preakness winners, and neither race being particularly competitive, it sure has generated a lot of discussion.)
I'm a fan of the horse, and think he'll be a fair price in what is expected to be a big field. Shug noted that: “My biggest concern is a 14- or 15-horse field because I don’t think a lot of them belong." [NYT] The thing is though that horses that don't belong don't get bet that way in Triple Crown races these days, so each entry should inflate Orb's odds more than it should. Still, I dunno, just have a gut feeling that he's gonna lose. With all the stats and angles we horseplayers consume ourselves with, sometimes you just gotta go with that, right?
The filly Unlimited Budget had a nice half mile work on Monday and is in.
“She worked really well,” Pletcher said. “I thought she was full of run throughout, finished up strongly, galloped out well, seemed to cool out well. [DRF]I'm excited that she's running, as explained in the prior post. As a young filly, she gets a pass for throwing in a bad one - that wasn't really all that bad. (It was better than Orb's Preakness in terms of finish position and Beyer, so if we're giving him a pass, why not her.) Hopefully she won't attract too much casual money with the Rosie/filly angle, but regardless I can definitely see her on my tickets in some way on Saturday.
I was at Belmont for awhile on Sunday and ran into a friend who was with a group with an impressive two-table picnic display. We were talking about the Belmont, and got the sense they didn't know the security rules. 'Y'know, you can't bring coolers next week.' 'WHAT??' These guys all seemed like regulars and they had no idea. Thinking about it, I've seen the press release, and it's posted on the NYRA website. The rules were widely tweeted, and I suppose they got some mentions in the press and blogs. (Though if I Google 'belmont stakes security measures,' all I get is stories about the security at the barns for the horses.)
But I think NYRA really needs to go the extra mile to get the word out on this. I know they want to get the most out of their advertising dollars, but they really need to devote some ad space or time to advise people of, particularly, the no cooler policy. Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen anything in the ads I've seen, most recently in my inbox via the Village Voice. Nothing. If people don't know that they can't bring coolers for their picnics, there could be a crush at the parking lot entrances as people try to arrive and leave at the same time.
At Belmont on Sunday, another winner for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, and two for David Jacobson, and these barns are most definitely HOT. McLaughlin had won five in a row on May 30-31, and here he got back on the board with Which Market ($6.70) in the 3rd. This horse was going first time for a tag, and that's a 33% winning move and $2.53 ROI for this barn over the past three years. Jacobson now has 25 winners from 84 runners for a win percentage of 30%. He didn't lose even when Big Business ($4.30) made every effort to do so by lugging in for the entire length of the stretch.
Rudy Rodriguez had a winner with Quiet Power ($14.40) in the 9th. But he is definitely not hot. In fact, he's decidedly COLD. That win broke a winless streak of 31 at Belmont, according to my unofficial tabulation; he also had a futility streak of 24 in April. Based on a quick scan through his races going back to his start as a trainer in Feb 2010, I'm gonna play Elias Sport Bureau here and guess that either of those would qualify as the longest winless streaks of his career. He's 22% on his career, but 11% at this meeting. I think that if you've followed along here over the years, you know that I'm quite careful about drawing conclusions and throwing accusations at trainers. And I'm not gonna do that here (specifically). However, coming on the heels of his suspension, and the subsequent positives, and the extra scrutiny by the racing commission in Kentucky......man, there's no denying, this looks really, really bad.
Continuing to ramble on, the last I've read about the Federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is via press release on Paulick's site last month in conjunction with the bill being introduced in the House of Representatives. I think I'm on record somewhere in the 3,965 posts here as saying that such legislation would never pass. That remains to be seen, but this bill has a long ways to go; it's merely been referred to a House committee. The GovTrack.us site gives it a prognosis of a 13% chance of getting past committee, 6% chance of being enacted.
Indeed, it seems quite hard to believe that it will get much attention in the House this year given the current environment there. The majority party, instead of actually trying to pass laws, has been busy voting 37 times in a futile and petty attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And they are currently consumed in a frantic investigation frenzy of so-called scandals, most ludicrously their attempt to elevate what was clearly, in my view anyway, poor judgment on the part of low level staff at an IRS office in Cincinnati as to the best way to seek out supposed "social welfare" groups that seek to abuse their tax-exempt status, into a grand plot to sabotage conservative groups directed personally by the president. Absurd.
And besides, even if this bill ever made it to the floor, considering that Republicans are so against government regulation of business and markets - even if human lives and livelihoods are potentially at stake - and were so ardently opposed even to common sense background checks as a prerequisite to purchase guns in the wake of the gruesome massacres of recent times as an unacceptable intrusion by the government, I'm supposed to believe that a relative handful of horse racing trainers caught cheating with drugs raises to the level in their eyes of an acceptable encroachment of the evil government?
Was reading, for the first time, this article by Joe Drape from May 1 about how the racing industry is "eager" for such a bill that would allow the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to establish national medication rules and penalties, and couldn't help but think about this piece about gun company executives that was on the front page of the Times a couple of weeks ago. Opposing regulation at every turn, they testified in depositions a decade ago that they basically didn't really care who their guns are sold to. And to leave them the hell alone.
The executives claimed not to know if their guns had ever been used in a crime. They eschewed voluntary measures to lessen the risk of them falling into the wrong hands. And they denied that common danger signs — like a single person buying many guns at once or numerous “crime guns” that are traced to the same dealer — necessarily meant anything at all.I've written often about how the racing industry has been painted into a cowering defensive posture, and nowhere is it more apparent than here. As despicable as these gun stooges are, refusing to even acknowledge, and expressing cold indifference to, the tragic consequences of unregulated distribution of their products, to see that kind of backbone from racing executives would surely be a sign of a healthier industry. One would think that, in a more ideally structured racing world, industry officials would be standing up to say "Hey, we know what's good for our game, we're taking steps to address the problems, we don't need the government telling us how to run our business, and hey, we can't control bad guys who don't follow the rules. So back off." (And then going out and actually addressing those problems.) Instead, they're like "Oh yes, please regulate us, oh mighty federal government agency with your expertise in baseball and Lance Armstrong." Seriously, this is what it comes down to? Is this industry really that helpless and pathetic that this is what it really wants? To throw up their hands and cede significant authority and control of their business to the government? Did any "eager" racetrack officials even read the part of the bill that would make their interstate simulcast rights subject to "consent" by the USADA?
OK, I'm done...