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Saturday, April 30, 2005


- I think Bandini is the most serious threat to Bellamy Road, though I still waver on him a bit due to the slow come-home time in the Blue Grass, as well as that race’s poor record as a prep in recent years. (Perhaps the latter was why I threw out Lion Heart for the Derby last year after he ran second in the Blue Grass at 4-5, costing me the exacta as I had Smarty cold on top with 3rd place finisher Imperialism among others.) He did have a pretty perfect trip other than being 3-4 wide both turns (not an insignificant matter), sitting behind a tiring speed horse and another doing something unfamiliar, and drawing off after a sustained drive. But I do put a lot of importance on the closing fractions in the preps when trying to project how the horse will handle the extra furlong, and under other circumstances, it might turn the tide against him for me.

But two factors I think make up for the negatives - Todd Pletcher, and the way that the horse so clearly improves with every race - who knows how much more he could improve with another race and with the distance he should love. He passes all the standard tests - he’s had four races this year, will go in off of a 3 week layoff, and just barely passes the crucial raced-as-a-2yo requirement with a weak debut in November. Check out Pletcher’s defense against the critics of the Blue Grass:

Everybody made a big deal after the Blue Grass,'Oh Bandini didn't run as good as everybody said because Spanish Chestnut was in there as a rabbit.' Well, he was a rabbit for the whole field. He cleared the field. High Limit got a perfect stalking trip right off of him, which they said before the race they wanted to do, and had absolutely no excuse. We were parked three wide on both turns and ran by everybody and now they're saying, 'Oh, the Blue Grass wasn't a good race, Keeneland's a bad racetrack, and I didn't want to win the Blue Grass anyway.' Geez. There have been a lot of horses that haven't necessarily won the Blue Grass that come back to win the Derby, but I wouldn't think too many of them were beaten double-digit lengths." [Bloodhorse]
So far at Churchill, he seems to be lurking in the background a bit; Afleet Alex is getting more press due to the more compelling human interest angle in the stories of their owners and trainer. He has not worked out since the Blue Grass, and is scheduled to work out for the first time Sunday morning (TVG, 11:30 A.M. Eastern). Mike Welsch of the Form reported today that ‘Bandini galloped aggressively for the third straight morning while again throwing in a few extra bucks and kicks for good measure.’ [Daily Racing Form]

There’s also the matter of his breeding, as he hails from the Mr. Prospector/Raise A Native line that has been so successful in recent Derbys. He’s by Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, and is inbred 3x4 to Northern Dancer. He has Seattle Slew and Belmont winner Coastal in his dam’s pedigree. His second dam is SA Oaks winner Hail Atlantis, who’s produced some modest stakes horses including sire Stormy Atlantic. His third dam is stakes winner Flipper, but if you back to the 4th and 5th dams, you find the real serious stuff. Moccasin was a co-horse of the year in 1965 and successful broodmare, and 5th dam Rough Shod was an incredibly prodigious producer, having foaled stakes winners such as Lt. Stevens and Ridan, and from whom names such as Sadler’s Wells, King Pellinore, Gamely, and Drumtop, among others have descended.

And finally, there’s his trainer Todd Pletcher. We hear how he’s never won a Derby, but he’s only 37; Nick Zito was 42 before he even went to the Derby, with Thirty Six Red in 1990. The way Pletcher has become so dominant, you know it’s only a matter of time before he wins this race, and Bandini gives him a great shot.

- Pletcher also sends out Flower Alley. He’ll add blinkers and he says he hopes he’ll be further back than we’ve seen him.
I think what's happened in the last couple of spots is that he's broken, put himself in a good position, and then, because he's a little bit green, he starts looking around. He gets a little bit of dirt in his face and he starts to back up, so (jockey Jorge) Chavez has been 'no, you can't back up now, I need to you to stay here.' I think in this race (the Derby) we need to let him back up a little bit. If he wants to back up into 12th, 14th, whatever it is, let him back up. Let him get comfortable and then make a run. We can't chase them for a mile and a quarter. [">Bloodhorse]
Someone on TV, I believe it was Randy Moss said that the Pletcher barn feels this horse is as talented as Bandini, but Pletcher acknowledges that he’s “">still a pretty green colt.”

None of the horses he beat in Lane’s End have particularly distinguished themselves since, and he was no match whatsoever for Afleet Alex at Oaklawn. Yet he did beat Andromeda’s Hero, who I've been following, in both races. He also hasn’t worked out since his last, but the clocker reports have been favorable. He’s by Distorted Humor, thus also from the Raise A Native line - he’s inbred 3x3 to Mr. Prospector and 4x4 to Northern Dancer. He’d really have to improve a lot to be a factor, and I think the fact that Pletcher adds blinkers and changes tactics indicates that he’s just taking a shot.

- I saw some of last week’s works on The Works just now. High Limit was going so easily; his rider was absolutely motionless. Afleet Alex and Andromeda’s Hero both seemed pretty hard-ridden compared to High Limit; in fact Frank Lyons said that Rose was waving his whip at him. Bellamy Road looks magnificent.

Knock on Wood

- I was happy to find on yesterday this article by John Pricci, who covered racing for Newsday here in NY for many years. He also has a handicapping and news website called He found a researcher who came up with a system of compiling “knocks” on Derby horses based on historical stuff like number of preps, etc., and the guy comes up with Bellamy Road, Bandini, and Flower Alley. Afleet Alex is out because he’s made over a $1 million!

One knock I’ve always been aware of is the one against horses who never started at 2; that hasn’t happened since 1882. In reading Pricci's article, I see that I was wrong in thinking that there weren’t any such contenders this year; in fact, Greeley’s Galaxy didn’t start until January 15, and he was beaten by 10 lengths in his debut. I’m reassessing his chances in a negative light; I think that’s a powerful angle that’s both logical and time-tested.

- Seguing smoothly to a knock on wood, the incredible story of the ivory-billed woodpecker, one of which was spotted in Arkansas; the last sighting had been in 1944! The bird was referred to as the Lord God bird, because people would say "Lord God!" when they saw it, similar to one might say when getting nosed at the wire by a 38-1 shot.

- Penn National is quite anxious to get going with their racino in Bangor. A company spokesperson said:

The project will generate income for Maine and Bangor, as well as "show that there's no big bad wolf at the door with this project..”

Industry estimates show the largest demographic the racino is likely to entice will be over 60 and comprised of more women than men. [Portland Press Herald, via Albany Law School]
So, they won’t be attracting many depraved criminals, but nor does it seem like a crowd likely to produce many new fans for the racing part of racino.

Saturday Morning Notes

- The first four finishers in last year’s BC Juvenile are expected to go in the Derby, but the so-called Breeders' Cup jinx remains firmly in place: No Juvenile winner has won the Derby, while only three Juvenile starters have won it, the latest being 1993 Derby winner Sea Hero. [Daily Racing Form]

- Funny Cide will make his 5 yo debut at the Big A Sunday, and he’ll be carrying 127 pounds, plus his own weight.

"At the moment he's a little bit heavier than we'd like," said Robin Smullen, Tagg's assistant trainer......He's certainly changed," Smullen said. "He's gotten massive. His neck's heavier and he's really filled out in the chest. He's a lot bigger now." [Daily Racing Form]
He sounds like he looks like the Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose approval rating is fading faster than Spanish Chestnut down the stretch. Trainer Barclay Tagg has the Pimlico Special in mind for his next start.

- From the weather map, it looks like there was much rain in Louisville overnight, so Zito’s scheduled workouts for Bellamy Road, Noble Causeway, and High Fly will likely be moved to Sunday.

- Dick Jerardi on Afleet Alex’s trainer Tim Ritchey’s long road to the Derby. [Philadelphia Daily News]

- Steve Crist, in his subscription, or print edition-only column, is optimistic about the Breeders’ Cup’s move to ESPN, despite the fact that it means that the races will no longer be on broadcast TV. He points out that Monday Night Football and much of the NBA playoffs have gone the same route, and that the viewers will benefit.
The content and quality of the telecast is likely to improve sharply. The network broadcasts have been so useless to actual bettors that Breeders' Cup has had to produce a separate simulcast show just to provide basic odds and payoff information. NBC's telecasts have become formulaic and bland presentations of Olympics-style human-interest stories. ESPN already produces 130 hours a year of racing telecasts, which will continue and probably grow under the eight-year deal, and has developed the game's premier on-air talent, led by Randy Moss.

- Florida Senate President Tom Lee, who earlier in the week said odds of passing slots legislation was 50-50, now says that is "has a very unlikely chance of passage.....There are some deeply held philosophical beliefs that I think are going to make it difficult to resolve this piece of legislation....Unless somebody really blinks." [Sun-Sentinal]

Friday, April 29, 2005

Notes - April 29

- Steve Haskin has some more weak quotes from Patrick Biancone on Spanish Chestnut’s possible entry into the Derby:

"Number one, it's the Kentucky Derby….Number two, the horse is qualified to run on his own merits. He hated the ground at Turfway and his race in the Blue Grass wasn't that bad. And number three, he will only run if I find him in great form. I want to see how he moves over the track. When I ran Lion Heart last year, everyone said he couldn't stay a mile and a quarter." [Bloodhorse]
Well, he did beat one horse in the Blue Grass! And he may be right about Lion Heart, but at least we knew he could at least stay a mile and an eighth. I mean, he was the 5-1 second choice!! Who is going to bet on this horse?

Well, some people will. It’s one thing when you run half of a coupled entry as a rabbit for his entrymate; the ethics may still be debatable, but at least the bettors get the two as a team. In this case, you’ll have your beginning hunch player types who may know someone who owns a chestnut tree in Spain betting on him; maybe he/she reads Biancone’s comments and figures they’re making a good longshot play.

Why, if he even comes in the money, I’ll register as a Republican …..contribute to Tom DeLay’s legal fund…..put a ‘W’ bumper sticker on my car…..spend an entire weekend listening to Creed’s Greatest Hits…..join the Sean Hannity fan club….watch a marathon of The Simple Life…..become a regular reader of The Drudge Report….become a NY Islanders fan…….

I’ll get back to you on this.

- ESPN picks up the Breeders Cup; NBC had broadcast the races since its inception in 1984. They will present a 7 hour telecast of the races! Their pre-race show will commence around Labor Day, I guess.
Last year's Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park produced the lowest television ratings in the 21-year history of the event. The national rating was a 1.4 share, down 22% from the 2003 share. Each rating point represented 1.08 million households.

When asked about the ratings, [ESPN’s Mark] Shapiro said: "I don't believe Breeders' Cup has been a priority to NBC Sports for years. That's one reason it's moving to ESPN. Somewhere in this cluttered environment and competitive universe, it has gotten lost on NBC." [Bloodhorse]
Not often in this situation that you hear a network executive dis the previous broadcaster like that! Not very classy!! ESPN has sports, like hockey, that they treat like garbage too.

- Mike Welsch of the Form observed Bellamy Road’s gallop on the muddy Churchill track (no official Derby workouts today) and comments that he continues to look every bit the part of the race favorite. [DRF] The Form’s Byron King was looking to beat him, but
Then I watched the replay of the Wood Memorial, not having seen it since the day of the race. My doubts in Bellamy Road ceased. He was awesome. [DRF sub only]
King wrote that he was looking at Afleet Alex and High Fly as the likely candidates to topple BR. Well, I would substitute Bandini for High Fly - there’s little not to like about he and Alex (his jockey?), especially, in my opinion, Bandini, who I think could be sitting on a huge race for Pletcher, more on him soon. Like Brad Free writes in his subscription only (or print edition) column, I’ll be looking for a longshot (or two) to key in the exotics with my top choices. He likes Buzzards Bay as that longshot; I’ll be looking elsewhere – right now Andromeda’s Hero and Noble Causeway are still my top two candidates.

Spanish Rabbit

- Here’s that name again:

Despite back-to-back sixth-place finishes, trainer Patrick Biancone told The Courier-Journal that Spanish Chestnut is still a possible entry for the Derby.
Biancone dismissed the rumors that he would enter the front-running horse as a rabbit for Blue Grass winner Bandini. Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith own both horses.

"This horse is well inside the 20 qualified for the Derby, on his own merit and not anybody's else," Biancone said. [Courier-Journal]
I’m obviously not buying this. You just can’t tell me that this is a legitimate entry; he’s set the pace in his last two and was beaten by a total of 22 lengths while stopping badly; he’s never run higher than a 94 Beyer, and that was in his first lifetime race! Yes, there are others, particularly Going Wild, that certainly shouldn’t be in the race based on his last 2 races, but the common ownership between Spanish Chestnut and Bandini just makes this smell really bad. Perhaps the system that qualifies him “on his own merit” should be looked at. His graded earnings came in a first and third on the speed favoring Santa Anita track against a grand total of 11 9 rivals, so that’s a joke as far as I’m concerned.

The debate about putting hopeless rabbits into races to help an entrymate has been going on for years, so I’m not going to get into that now; but I think I can make an argument that this is just as “detrimental” to the integrity of the sport (not to mention to the poor horse himself) as most anything we’ve seen or heard of late, except for Sweet Catomine’s little midnight excursion; and I find Biancone’s statement just as disingenuous as anything Wygod or Canani said. Can a bettor now conclude that he can bet Spanish Chestnut because his trainer said the horse is well qualified on his own merit?

On the disclosure issue, Kevin Modesti in LA Daily News rehashes the arguments we’ve heard back and forth, but has a couple of suggestions :
It may be impossible for tracks to publicize the results of routine veterinary exams. But couldn't fans be given access to records of actual operations and off-track medical procedures?

And shouldn't owners and trainers be made to understand that more transparency -- to use Wygod's word -- would lift a little of the mystery that keeps a lot of would-be fans away? [LA Daily News]
While I agree with both of these suggestions, I’m a bit less agitated over the whole lack of disclosure issue than some – even my biggest supporter Jessica at Railbird seems to disagree with me on this! I dunno, perhaps I just don’t take it quite as seriously as more serious bettors. It’s just fun for me, and I accept that there are some shenanigans that I’m not going to be privy to and consider it part of the game and of the handicapping challenge, and I'm able to laugh it off. Having said that, I don’t expect to be lied outright to, and a change of attitude on the part of insiders, as well as some basic common sense changes are welcome. reports that Biancone will decide about Spanish Chestnut after a Monday workout; and that Bellamy Road, High Fly, and Noble Causeway will work tomorrow, weather permitting. Don’t forget about “The Works” on TVG at 11:30 a.m.

- Todd Pletcher on the “pressure” on him to win his first Derby:
''I don't feel any added pressure having not won a Derby. I'm 37 years old, and this is my 10th year as a trainer. I expect to get another opportunity. I hope to try again and again. If it happens this time, great. If it doesn't, I'm going to get up May 8, and go to Belmont. Life goes on whether you win or not." []

- Interesting race at the Big A tomorrow, on the last weekend there, in the G3 Withers, at a mile. Familiar names Survivalist, Naughty New Yorker, and Scrappy T will be joined by one-time Derby hopefuls B.B. Best, Park Avenue Ball, and Proud Accolade.

- Late word from the Form that General John B is out of the Derby.
His defection enables Going Wild to get into the field and, provided there are no surprise late entries, gives owner B. Wayne Hughes the option of running either Don't Get Mad or Greeley's Galaxy in the race. [DRF]

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Thursday Night Notes

- The CHRB, who has been in the news a lot lately, rejected the Jockey Guild’s request to increase the minimum riding weight to 126 pounds. A hilarious attorney for the Guild said that the board was on a“death crawl towards nothing.” The attorney also told the board that "You've got a sick population of jockeys today."[Bloodhorse] The Guild is always good for a laugh, and I say that without trying to make light of the issue at hand, nor with any legitimate issues they may raise. They just have a funny way of putting things sometimes. For one thing.

- I don't think I'm a terrible handicapper, but I haven’t been winning that often over the last 10 years or so. You may be interested to know, however, that I have done well in the Derby, and I’m far ahead on a ROI basis, thanks in part to Lil E. Tee, who paid $98.60 in New York back in the good old days when there were different pools in each state and you could shop for the best price. He paid only $35.60 at the track. That was 1992, the year that Arazi, who won the BC Juvenile in one of the most awesome performances anyone has ever seen, was made the 4-5 favorite despite having had a knee operation and only one prep race, and that was in France! Anyone who saw him come from the back of the pack to win the Juvenile easily will remember why he was such a big favorite despite such a totally unorthodox approach. So I think that Bellamy Road's Wood will make bettors overlook that he's only had 2 races this year. It's actually less of a historical burden than the 5 weeks before the race is, at least in terms of the last time it's happened, which was Sunny's Halo in 1983. I don't expect him to be 4-5, that's for sure; I could see 9-5 though maybe? I was fully on board with Arazi, but had to take a shot with someone else at a price, and I plan to do the same next Saturday (next Saturday!).

Now Jay Privman is saying there are 22 entrants, including B. Wayne Hughes’ pair Greeley’s Galaxy and Don’t Get Mad. The latter will run in the Derby Trial Saturday, which means he’ll likely continue to be a Derby candidate, since I think he’s going to love the one turn mile. But since Hughes prefers to see Greeley’s Galaxy in, then if Don’t Get Mad is the in the top 20, he’ll want to pull him to make room.

Doug Bredar, Churchill's racing secretary, confirmed that an owner can enter with a preference declared, allowing Don't Get Mad's entry to be withdrawn at the 11th hour if it would put Greeley's Galaxy in the Derby.

"That's probably what we'll do when we enter," Hughes said. "One will have a preference." [Daily Racing Form]
I notice that I don’t see Spanish Chestnut entered in the Derby Trial. Is he one of the 22?

- TVG will start its “The Works” series on Saturday at 11:30 A.M. in the east; it will run through Thursday.

Exception to the Rule

- The other day I wrote that I try not to get too excited by the minutae of daily Derby reports filed by Steve Haskin and others that tell you how great every horse looks and acts. I forgot to mention my exception to that rule: If it’s about a horse that I either like, or are looking for a reason to like, then BRING IT ON, BABY, I’M ALL EARS!! (or eyes, as the case may be.) I also recently mentioned that I’m intrigued about Andromeda’s Hero, after watching several times his efforts in the Arkansas Derby and Lane’s End, in which he closed extremely well and blew by everyone on his gallop-out.. Haskin writes of his 1:01 4/5 work this morning (which he timed in 1:01 1/5, with a final eighth around :11 2/5).

For a horse who has been coming from far back in his races and closing too late, he's extremely quick-footed. He's very smooth and doesn't hit the ground hard. In his last two races, he didn't start running until the race was over, and managed to pass the winners both times after the wire, including Afleet Alex, on whom he made up almost nine lengths while galloping out. If only he could use the quickness he shows in the morning in his races he could make a major leap in the 3-year-old division. One thing is for sure, the 1 1/4 miles of the Derby will help him. This likely will be the most unnoticed work of the morning, but it was one of those sneakily good works that you look for if you're searching for a live longshot. [Bloodhorse]
That’s exactly my concern, that he did not seem very quick-footed around the turns in those races, nor when maneuvering through and around traffic, and just got started too late. Big difference between a morning workout and a race, but his stock has risen for me, and he’s one of the horses who will go off at fairly high odds that I’m considering.

Mike Welsch of the Form checks in with his report as well; he got Hero's final quarter in 23.71 seconds, and comments that This was just the kind of work one would expect from a strong finisher like Andromeda's Hero who caught and galloped out past Afleet Alex shortly after the finish in the Arkansas Derby. [Daily Racing Form]. Greeley’s Galaxy apparently had a very interesting work from both accounts, which ended with him (and his rider) staggering to the finish, check that out.

- The Racing Form has free past performances in PDF format on this page. I've also posted it in the sidebar under Ky Derby Sites. Don't you start to get the point where you feel you don't even need to look at them anymore?

- Bellamy Road's full brother brought only $80,000 at Ocala.


- Not sold. That’s the notation next to Hip 1180 at Ocala. The reserve was set at $49,000, and as he was led into the ring, that seemed high to me in comparison to what others were getting and considering his mediocre breeze. His breeding as announced there sounded quite impressive – and it is. Out of a graded stakes winning mare who earned over $190K, and she’s a half to three stakes winners, including G1 winner Super May and G3 winner (Southwest and the Rebel) Ide. She’s also a half to the dams of other stakes winners, including G2 winner Diamond on the Run; in fact her second dam takes up the rest of the catalog page. If the third dam fit, you’d see she’s the dam of Florida Derby winner Croeso.

So perhaps that’s why, despite the “slow” breeze, the bidding started out fast and it didn’t take long for the bids to go through the 20s and 30s, to 40, 45… Then 47. I’m yelling “go, go!” and the auctioneer was begging, pleading for 50, but it was not to be. Sold, $47,000. I think he actually did fairly well, drawing a bid well above the sale average, though it’s certainly not what we had in mind when we bought him last September. Perhaps since the high bid was so close to the reserve, they’ll end up selling her privately, we’ll see. Otherwise, it’s been mentioned that they might try for Ocala or Timonium in June; or perhaps we’ll race him ourselves. I did have a lot of fun though.

On The Air!

- OK, I got the plug-in working so I have the live coverage from the sale, and we're coming up soon. My first impression is just how fast the whole thing goes. They whiz the horses in and out of the ring faster than some of them (including mine) worked out!

- Some workouts at Churchill this morning (with trainers’ comments):

Sun King – 5f in 1:00 ("I thought he went very, very well”)

Andromeda’s Hero – 5f in 1:01 4/5 ("worked extremely well because all I wanted was the last part”)

High Limit – 6f in 1:13 in company with Ghostzapper, who went 5f in 1:00 2/5 ("He needed a good work….We hope he's dead fit")

Greeley’s Galaxy – a mile in 1:40 3/5 ("It was a little fast….He's in good enough shape, if he gets beat it won't be because he's not fit.")

Greater Good (remember him?) – 6f in 1:17 2/5 (“He was a little rank early….It was not the way we planned, but he settled in and finished well [last eighth in 13 1/5]." [Bloodhorse]

Florida Slots Stalled

- Competing proposals on slots have emerged in the Florida House and Senate on slots approved by Broward County voters, and, like in Maryland, the differences are profound and some, including Senate President Tom Lee, are not optimistic: "I would say it's less than a 50-50 chance right now.” The House bill is much closer to the desires of Governor Jeb Bush, who just signed NRA-backed legislation increasing citizens’ rights to shoot first and ask questions later; in fact, Lee says there could be "nothing happening until there is a new governor." [Sun-Sentinal] The House provides for a high tax rate of 55%, and declares that the voters who clearly went to the polls thinking they were voting for genuine, Las-Vegas slots, in fact voted for the Class II “bingo-type” machines. The idea that they might be voting for anything else but the real deal was not even a possibility until Bush mentioned it shortly before the vote, when he also promised that despite his opposition, he would follow the will of the people should slot be approved.

Given the fact that his last name is Bush, his dishonesty should be no surprise. His brother pledged to “reach out” to Democrats after the election, and he has done so by trying to ram John Bolton down even moderate Republicans' throats, as well as re-nominating already-rejected and contentious judges with wacked-out conservative views like California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, which may lead to the Republicans to invoke the nuclear option by arbitrarily changing the rules of the Senate to prevent filibusters and snuff out the voice of Democratic Senators who represent nearly half of American voters.

The Florida House bill also contains a provision that would allow slots to be overturned by referendum, which some say will discourage companies from commencing building projects. The Senate’s bill is far more friendly to the pari-mutuels, with Las Vegas slots, a lower tax rate, and no limits on the number of machines. The pari-mutuels could file a lawsuit if no agreement is reached.

- I mentioned the other day the move to re-open Hialeah as a way to gain approval of slots in Miami-Dade county. (via Albany Law School) notes that: Instead of slots saving the tracks, a track would reopen to save slots.

- Embarrassed after the resounding defeat of their botched investigation of Marty Wygod, the CHRB has dropped their “conduct detrimental to racing” complaints against Julio Canani and Jeff Mullins.

- This is a great piece by the Philly Daily News’ Dick Jerardi on the local gang that owns Afleet Alex, detailing the road the group and the horse each took leading up to the purchase. As he notes, it really is amazing that for the second time in three years, you have a prominent contender owned by a bunch of regular guys that hit the big time, in this case with their very first horse, that they pooled their money to buy for $75,000.

Within days, Ritchey was telling the partners they had something special, that they might be taking the colt to Saratoga for the big races. Five weeks after he was purchased, Afleet Alex made his debut at Delaware Park. He won by 11 lengths. Barely 2 weeks later, the colt won by 12 lengths at Delaware.

They were all off to Saratoga, where Afleet Alex won the Sanford Stakes in a time so fast that it seemed something must have been wrong with the teletimer. Only it (1:09.32) was real. So was Alex's victory in the Grade I Hopeful Stakes at the Spa. [Phila Daily News]

- As for my so far somewhat less fortunate entry into horse ownership, the final day of the Ocala April sale is underway, and our Tactical Cat colt, hip 1180, will be, hopefully, sold soon. I don’t have the proper plug-ins to watch the sale live, which really sucks! But we should hear something soon.

Wed night (Thurs A.M.) Derby Stuff

- Ah good, Mike Welsch of the Racing Form has joined the party at Churchill and files this report on Consolidator’s work today (it wasn't a move that should alter any pre-conceived opinions) and on the favorite:

Bellamy Road was the first of Zito's quartet to hit the track at 6:15 a.m. and he made a particularly strong first impression with a vigorous one and one quarter mile gallop under regular exercise rider Carlos Correa. Bellamy Road may be a bit short on experience but he certainly looks the part of a horse who is currently the leading candidate to win this year's Derby. [Daily Racing Form]

- Wayne Lukas is unbowed:
"The only thing I can go on is that they're both doing so well here. You know me, I've won the Derby with $30 and $40 horses. The horse that's really doing super is Going Wild. I know if you tried to sell that to someone, you wouldn't get very far. I just have to call on 25 years of doing this, my experience, and knowing more than someone who's not here. I go on that." [Daily Racing Form]
He is still just a bit scary, isn’t he? But Going Wild? No, he can’t sell that to me. He also had another dig at the Keeneland surface: “A race at Keeneland generally stresses a horse."

Consolidator causes stress for me; I loved his win in the San Felipe - but can you really just throw out the Blue Grass, as Lukas insists? I read this today in Matt Graves' column in the Albany Times-Union:
History tells us to also insist upon a good race in the final prep, albeit not necessarily a winning effort. Sea Hero (1993) and Thunder Gulch (1995) were both off the board in the Blue Grass before their Derby wins. Every winner since has been first or second in its final prep race.
Thunder Gulch was trained by Lukas. I think Consolidator still bears watching.

- There was a horse making his debut at the Meadowlands tonight named Pansexual - by The Panderosa, out of Outin The Open.

Prime Number

- The Head Chef was off to a seminar tonight, so I was off to the Meadowlands. There was racing from Lone Star, Penn National, and Charles Town, and the tracks were fast. I resolved to concentrate on those three. I was outside on a humid but comfortably warm evening with lightning in the distance, and there were horses warming up on the track. Harness horses warm up on the track about 4 races before theirs - a bit more than an hour there. They wear saddle cloths with a color indicating what race they’re running in so you can identify them. I wasn’t paying any particular attention, kinda just admiring the trotters on the track; I enjoy watching their gait; it’s far more graceful than that of the pacers. Suddenly, this horse comes whizzing by, trotting up a storm - the 2 horse in the 5th. I went back to handicapping a race at Charles Town, and a couple minutes later, I hear a horse storming down the track, and I looked up, and it was once again, the 2 horse in the 5th. He looked terrific. His name is Prime Number, and he was listed at 12-1 in the morning line for the 5th.

Looking at his form, one didn’t have to stretch much to make a case for him. He had raced well just last month against much tougher, then had a string of breaks. (I won’t usually touch trotting races because they break far more often than pacers.) However, in his last two, at half-mile tracks, he ran pretty well if not that fast, but more importantly, he stayed flat. Now he was back on the big track at a level he looked competitive in. I was getting pumped about him.

After a futile bet at Charles Town, it was up to the 4th at the Meadowlands, and I had some time because the flats tracks all had maiden claiming races, which I don’t like to bet. The 3 horse in the 4th, Unspoken, is a 3 yo filly who ran in stakes company last year and earned $71K, more than the rest of the field combined. Her last race on 4/20 was her first this year; she started from the bad 8 post, went off 61-1, just ran around the track on the rail evenly at the back of the pack, and the comment line was “needed race." I’ve seen that comment at that track before in situations just like this, and what it really means is “wasn’t trying.” The chart-caller didn’t need the trainer to disclose to him what was going on. Sure enough, now Unspoken had the 3 post, was 8-1 morning line, but was 3-1 on the board. As post time approached, she drifted up to 4-1, but she was getting bet squarely on the nose. I bet her as the first half of an intended parlay with Prime Number. About halfway through the race, I noticed she got slammed to 5-2 on the last flash, and she survived some traffic problems in the stretch to win handily. EZ Game.

When the trotters came on for the 5th, I was curious to see if Prime Number would still look so good. They came out , and sure enough, there he was, leaving the post parade behind, full of run. The tote board read 19-1 with about 6 minutes left; this one was dead on the board. Then I hear the guy doing the race analysis at the track going “Take a look at the 2; he’s 19-1, and he raced against much better here last month, then had some breaks, but in his last two at half-mile tracks he raced OK in slow times, but more important, he stayed flat and now he's back at this level......” Gee, thanks! With my brilliant reasoning now broadcast to the track, the odds descended steadily, reached 9-1, but then drifted up to 12-1.

He got off well, sitting second behind a 41-1 shot, took over the lead around half way through - the half was fast, at 56.4. He led the field around the last turn, and the favorite, Shaggy, pulled to launch a bid. But he broke stride, and I pumped my fist in a rare show of emotion. Suddenly, I’m turning for home with a 3 length lead; the third quarter having been slowed down to :29.2! He’s still up by 2 and looking good passing midstretch!

Man, that stretch is long. I saw someone coming up on the rail and then you could see that Prime Number would come up as the null set, and he broke stride while tiring in the final 50 yards. This is just so typical for me - I’m just not that lucky at the track; my near miss stories far outnumber the happy endings. Fortunately, I can laugh about them - most of them, anyway.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Notes - April 27

- Afleet Alex’s jockey Jeremy Rose says that his mount is “the fastest and the coolest.” [Bloodhorse] The coolest? I can’t imagine Laffit Pincay, Jr describing his mounts that way. Rose just turned 26 on April 1, and he will spot a whole lot of experience to his rivals, but Alex’s owners are sticking with him. It’s not like he hasn’t enjoyed success – he won the riding title at the just concluded Oaklawn meet, and Alex only accounted for 2 of those. He’s been riding since 2000, won the Eclipse Award in 2001 for top apprentice, and has been in the top ten at Delaware Park the last four years. For the Philly guys who own him, I suppose they’re just going along for the ride by sticking with him, but I hope nothing happens during the race to make them regret it, we’ll see.

As the Derby approaches, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of quotes like this from the Afleet Alex crew: "We all grew up in Philly," Joe Lerro said. "We feel like we are the guys in the infield, drinking beers and shots, while George [Steinbrenner] is up there drinking champagne." [] Link via Albany Law School Racing and Wagering Page.

Meanwhile, George has gone back to the well…specifically to the April Ocala sale where he purchased the Derby favorite for $87,000. Kinsman paid $115,000 for a colt by sophomore sire Sweetsouthernsaint. Bellamy Road’s full brother sells there tomorrow.

- Bob Baffert said that he’s "really leaning towards running" Sort It Out in the Derby. [Courier-Journal] And I’m still reading that name Spanish Chestnut being bandied about as a possible starter. When Michael Tabor reads this blog and realizes that there isn't as much early speed to challenge Bellamy Road as he thought, that may increase the chances of seeing him as a rabbit for Bandini.

- Bill Finley has an interview with Stephen Bernard, the lawyer representing the guy suing over his lousy bet on Sweet Catomine.

"The betting public is a consumer," Bernard said. "It should have the same rights and opportunities to have proper information conveyed to it as any consumer would on the products they purchase.” []
Wrong. The betting public is a gambler. I don’t think they should be lied to, and I’ve been critical of Wygod from the beginning. But as someone who bets on horses, I accept the fact that I’m not privy to every bit of information. To compensate, I look at things like intervals between workouts, equipment and medication changes, the tote board, for big races I try and read between the lines of trainers’ comments in the Form, and sometimes, I inspect the horse before the race, though I sometimes have problems distinguishing cheap claimers from stakes horses. I also don’t make horrible bets on 4-5 shots that have done nothing in their recent form to warrant that, no matter how much their brash connections are touting them. It’s a tough game; there's much to consider. I understand that to novices, this incident is horrible PR, and that’s why I think the Hollywood stewards had to issue at least some kind of reprimand. But for an experienced bettor like this guy who’s suing, it’s just too freaking bad.

As Hank Wesch of the San Diego Tribune points out, full disclosure, even if it were practical, could work both ways.
A rumor on the Churchill Downs backstretch during Kentucky Derby week of 1997 was that Silver Charm had bled in a workout. The lid that trainer Bob Baffert put on it came off only in the book Baffert wrote a couple of years later – in the chapter chronicling Silver Charm's victory.

Two days before the 1990 Preakness, Kentucky Derby runner-up Summer Squall was observed bleeding from the nostrils while being grazed in the grassy area adjacent to the Pimlico stakes barn. Come race day, the little colt performed superbly and turned the tables on Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled.

In such instances, disclosure would have meant many bettors going to other horses and coming away with the feeling they'd fallen prey to a disinformation campaign designed to boost the odds on the winner they failed to have.

And from an owner/trainer standpoint, there is a nightmare scenario: A horse with a disclosed minor problem is cleared by vets to race only to suffer a tragic breakdown. The fact that the two things were provably unrelated wouldn't dim the resultant outcry. [SignonSanDiego]

- According to Haskin in his daily report for today, The morning action will pick up again on Thursday with Sun King, Andromeda's Hero, Greater Good, and Greeley's Galaxy all scheduled to work. He also says, of Bandini, that I hope to watch him graze this afternoon. Is that part of full disclosure?

- Please feel free to with comments, links, or questions. You can use the comments feature too, it works.

Throw Out the Blue Grass

- It’s official; according to Wayne Lukas, we can just throw the Blue Grass completely out.

"I don't think the Blue Grass ever equates to anything…You see horses all the time who do well in the Blue Grass, or even in the third or fourth race on the card, come over here and you can't find them. And then you see some horses run bad (at Keeneland) and come over here and win. I don't put any stock in the Blue Grass. It's a great race, a nice purse, and a fun day, but let's leave it at that." [Bloodhorse]
I’m a bit confused – does this apply only to Blue Grass day? Or to any race over the Keeneland surface? If the latter, then I guess we can also throw out last fall's Breeders Futurity, in which Consolidator won and beat Bellamy Road (if you haven't already). Oh, and yeah, you can also, according to D Wayne, discard the time of Consolidator’s workout this morning, the only Churchill Derby work of the day. He went 5f in 1:01 2/5, with fractions of :12 2/5, :24 2/5, :36 2/5, and :48 4/5 while galloping out six furlongs in 1:15 4/5, but because the track was "a little bit like peanut butter," trainer D. Wayne Lukas said the time of the work was not that important. Remember, this is a guy who has also discarded Going Wild's last two disastrous efforts. Perhaps we can get him to have the last two presidential elections thrown out as well.

- Word has it that Churchill has now begun soliciting and receiving developers' offers for Hollywood Park, though one of the options is building a smaller racetrack elsewhere on the site. [Bloodhorse]

- Big Cap winner Rock Hard Ten is hurting a bit, and though trainer Richard Mandella says that " he went sound in four days,” he added, “But what this means towards the Met Mile [May 30] or [Hollywood] Gold Cup [July 9], I don't know today." [Daily Racing Form]

- Nice piece in the Form by Lauren Stitch on last weekend’s Bed O’Roses winner Pleasant Home (Seeking the Gold), the continued success of the Phipps breeding juggernaut, and the way in which they’ve been able to make timely purchases that have had profound implications for generations to follow:
In the early 1970's, Ogden Phipps bought a South American champion, Dorine, and her first foal for Phipps was the stakes-winning sprinter Our Hero (Bold Ruler). Bred to Hoist the Flag, Dorine produced her most important foal, Grecian Banner, the dam of undefeated champion Personal Ensign (Private Account) and her full brother, stakes winner Personal Flag.
The dam of Pleasant Home was also a Phipps purchase:
Our Country Place (Pleasant Colony) was cataloged for the 1993 Saratoga yearling sale, but was bought privately by Ogden Phipps shortly before the sale. While Phipps rarely bred to Pleasant Colony, it was clearly Our Country Place's tail-female family he was after. Our Country Place was not only a half-sister to champion Sky Beauty (Blushing Groom), she was out of an Alabama Stakes and Monmouth Oaks winner, Maplejinsky, one of the best fillies of a special crop, which included Winning Colors and Goodbye Halo. Maplejinsky was also a half-sister to a European champion, Dayjur, as both were out of Gold Beauty, the 1982 champion sprinter. [Daily Racing Form]
Our Country Place has also produced Pleasant Home's full sister Our Country Hideaway, also a winner of the Bed O'Roses. This is also the family from which another of the 2 year-olds in my pinhooking partnership descends from; our Real Quiet filly has Gold Beauty as her third dam, as does Pleasant Home. We received word today that she has progressed to the point that she has now been accepted for the Timonium sale in June; previously they were trying to sell her privately.

Meanwhile, the Ocala sale plods on to its third day, with the average sale price up from last year. The reserve has been set on our Tactical Cat colt, who is scheduled to sell tomorrow. I guess I shouldn’t print exactly what it is here, but it’s a modest figure that seems predicated on us breaking about even on him. We still have a cushion from the profit on the Deputy Minister colt sold privately, and have the Real Quiet and Vicar fillies to sell in June. Vicar is having a good year thus far in his second crop year, which hopefully should help her prospects.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Tuesday Night Odds and Ends

- I haven’t been to the track in, like, 11 days now, and I'm getting a little antsy, so I replenished my OTB account and tuned in to TVG and HRTV the last couple of nights. But it seems to have rained all over the country, and the thoroughbred tracks have all been wet the last two nights, and I just don’t like betting off tracks. When is the last time Mountaineer has had a fast track? So for the second night in a row, it’s harness racing from Woodbine. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve saved a lot of money lately blogging instead of betting and I feel flush with cash, so what the hell. I just lost the 10th, but one amazing thing is to watch the money pour into the pools in the final minutes. With around 3 minutes to go, there was around $2500 in the exacta pool; at the end, it was over $24,000. Also, they have horses as 7-1 in the morning line there; I don't think I've ever seen that before.

- I got the new issue of the New Yorker, and it’s dated May 2, which made me realize just how close we are to the big race. Inside, there’s a great illustration of David Johansen as he’s projected to look like when he performs with the New York Dolls here next week. Some, if not most of anyone who’s reading this blog, of course remember him chiefly for his landmark performance as Looney in the motion picture Let it Ride.

- One guy who’s getting on my nerves is Roger Stein, the trainer of General John B. He told the Racing Form:

"This year there's one standout - Bellamy Road - and all the geniuses say he's not going to run back. If he does, he buries the field. If he really cannot run back to that race, it's good for us. Then we have a chance, that's all. [Daily Racing Form]
He doesn’t explain though how he’s going to make up the 24 lengths he was beaten by High Fly and Bandini in the Fountain of Youth. 1-800-NO-DERBY.

- As you know if you’ve been reading, I came away from the Wood absolutely astounded by the scope and, especially, the ease of Bellamy Road’s performance and have, only partly in jest, already conceded the Kentucky Derby to him. Having personally witnessed the Wood, and with his New York connections of the likeable, Brooklyn-born Nick Zito and, yes, even the evil George Steinbrenner, who seems to blubber as much as bluster in recent years - just wait and see him bawl his eyes out if his horse wins the Derby - I must admit that there’s nothing more I’d like to be doing on June 11 than to be at Belmont Park to see him return to New York with the first two legs under his belt. It might even get the city into it, like they've already done just south of here, where I'm told that Philadelphia is once again agog over a Derby contender with local connections, this time Afleet Alex.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not looking for someone to bet at a square price. It’s the Derby; horses get in traffic, they can’t get the distance, and there’s always a live horse or two, some kind of angle at a price to take a shot with. I mean, it’s only a horse race, right? With Bandini and Afleet Alex clearly the second the third choices, I’m looking elsewhere, and this is who I’m looking at right now: Noble Causeway and Andromeda’s Hero, maybe Consolidator or High Limit. More on that later.

Nice Work for Alex

- Nice workout by Afleet Alex today, getting 5f in :59, easily the best of 29 works at that distance today – the second fastest was 1:01 1/5.

"Everything went very well," said trainer Tim Ritchey. "We started out a little slow with his work and he actually picked it up as he went along. He pulled up fine, came back to the barn, and really wasn’t breathing hard.
He’ll just have an easy breeze next week. I think we have him right where we want him," [Thoroughbred Times]
Actually, some people caught him in :58 3/5, including Steve Haskin.
The clockers got him in splits of :12 2/5, :24, :35 2/5, and :46 3/5. For whatever it's worth, I caught him closer to :47, with a final eighth in :11 3/5…..What was to be taken from this work was the way Alex cut the corner turning for home. Horses running that fast often naturally drift three or four paths off the fence, but Alex hugged the rail and switched leads right on cue. You don't often see that kind [of] agility, and when you do, you certainly take note of it. [Bloodhorse]
I do pick on Haskin sometimes; don’t get me wrong, I think he does a great job, though he does seem to try and be on around 20 sides of the fence. I just really try not to get caught up in his, and others' enthusiasm over nearly every horse during these last 2 weeks, and we'll be seeing daily reports from him from now on. Today, Flower Alley was a picture coming down the stretch with fluid strides and his ears straight up. High Limit: Some who have been observing him say he has had made great progress since the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.

It just seems to me that you have just 20 3 yo’s still standing here, and even those I think don’t belong are still better than around 99.9% of the rest of their crop; so with very few exceptions, I figure they’re all going to look great, they’re all progressing physically at this point in their lives, and their workouts are going to be mostly great. So I just try to not get too caught up by these reports, though a particularly stellar work like Alex’s apparently was is hard to ignore and certainly worth noting. But if it was the 5th at Aqueduct on a Thursday afternoon, you wouldn’t know nor care that Bandini...walked the shed this morning between 5:30 and 6. And it don’t mean much to me here either.

Nor does Haskin’s attempt today to make a case for Coin Silver. He points out that Prove Out makes a rare appearance in his pedigree, adding class and stamina, but in doing so just furthers the case that he liked the Keeneland slop, since Prove Out is by Graustark, one of the great mud influences. That, combined with his broodmare sire Conquistador Cielo, says to me: he liked the slop. If he’s in the money on a fast track, I’ll be ripping up a lot of tickets. (That’s really just a figure of speech these many of you will actually have tickets to rip up?)

- Some people, including yours truly, think that the foot bruise that kept Bandini out of the 5-week-before-the-Derby Florida Derby was a blessing in disguise, but Todd Pletcher says he was confident in that plan [Thoroughbred Times]

Notes - April 26

- Churchill officials are expecting an unusually small field for the $500,000 Oaks. [Daily Racing Form] If you were told a few months ago that Sweet Catomine would be retired before the end of April, you probably would have thought there would be a big field for the Oaks, but the emergence of Sis City seems to have made others wary.

- When the 3 yo filly Lemon Maid took the Star Shoot Handicap at Woodbine Sunday, it was just the second stakes winner from the first crop of her sire Lemon Drop Kid. His yearlings from that crop made a splash at the sales, with a top sale of $1.8 million (Lemon Maid brought $390K), but he only had 8 winners last year, and before Lemon Maid, his only stakes winner was Winning Season, who took an ungraded $50,000 winter stakes at the Big A (she also finished third in the G2 Demoiselle there, beaten less than 4 lengths by Sis City). Lemon Drop Kid has 7 winners so far this year, but ranked only 28th in 2005 earnings for second year sires before the weekend – he’ll move up a few slots now. Lemon Drop Kid himself was pretty successful at 2, with a 2-2-1 record in 6 starts and a win in the G1 Futurity, and a 2nd in the G1 Champagne. The 1999 Belmont and Travers winner (he was 9th in the Derby and skipped the Preakness) blossomed into a champion at 4, so we’ll see if his fortunes as a sire improve down the road.

This was just Lemon Maid's second start, having broken her maiden in February at the Fair Grounds with a 91 Beyer. She’s inbred top and bottom (sire and broodmare sire lines) 3x3 to Mr. Prospector. She comes from a pretty nice female family; her dam, Meter Maid was a multiple stakes winner including the G3 Gardenia; and her third dam, Dowery, was a stakes winner as well, and the dam of Demoiselle winner Minister Wife. This is also the family of Dynever.

- The CHRB is taking heat for rushing its case against Martin Wygod and presenting a sloppy case that led to dismissal of all charges. Jay Hovdey in the Form notes that regarding the issue of his pre-race comments about Sweet Catomine, counsel for the racing board barely raised the highly subjective issue. Now, the CHRB will investigate itself. It was admirable that they wanted to address the matter in a timely manner, but in their zeal, they ended up with an unsatisfactory result.

- The Courier-Journal of Louisville has the Derby field projected at 19. Now I’m confused. Does that include Don’t Get Mad? Is that with or without Greeley's Galaxy? Bobby Frankel finds hope for High Limit in the Ragozin Sheets.

"You know I'm a sheets guy….The three favorites all ran their best races the other day. If they can back up a little bit and some other horses move forward a little bit, it could be a tight race. If you just read the sheets, it's going to be a closer race than everybody thinks." [Courier-Journal]
I’d read elsewhere that he said that High Limit had “paired up 4s” in his last two, which he said means he’s sitting on a big race. I don’t know enough about that to comment further, except that he had indicated after the Blue Grass that the horse came out of the race pretty tired.

- A couple of his fellow trainers on Jeff Mullins:
"He's a good horseman," Baffert says. "He's had some bad press lately, mainly because he doesn't have a lot of media savvy."

Adds [General John B. trainer] Roger Stein, "They can say what they want about him, but Jeff's an exceptional trainer. I've told him he's a much better trainer than he is a speaker." [USA Today]

Monday, April 25, 2005

Rave Reviews

- Jay Privman in the Form counts 23 that want in for the Derby. He says that Spanish Chestnut is still under consideration, though his lot in life appears to have become a designated pacemaker for Bandini. Let’s see what they decide before I say what I would think about that; in fact, another article in the same publication says he’s possible for the Derby Trial. Maybe he’ll go in both. And the Preakness, Dwyer, and Belmont too. Other horses mentioned as possible are Storm Surge, Sort it Out, and even Don’t Get Mad, depending on how he does in the Derby Trial, which is a one turn race that should suit him perfectly.

Trainers seemed fairly happy with Monday’s workouts:

John Sheriffs (Giacomo, 1:23.80): "If I could have scripted it, it could not have gone better,"

Craig Dollase (Wilko, 1:26.80): "We're delighted. He put smiles on everyone's faces.”

Jeff Mullins (Buzzards Bay, 1:12): "I couldn't have asked for it to be any better."

Kiaran McLaughlin (Closing Argument, :49.20: "He worked fabulous.” [Daily Racing Form]
It’s like a full-page ad of an extremely well-reviewed film, except that the quotes are all from the film’s director. It’s rare that I hear trainers speak anything less than glowingly about workouts before big races. I hope they're all being totally honest.

- Coin Silver earned a 99 Beyer for his win in the Lexington.

Bellamy Road as Lone Derby Speed?

- Steve Haskin of the Bloodhorse has arrived at Louisville, and if the past is any indication, for the next two weeks, we’ll be hearing from him and other correspondents about how virtually every entrant looks great, has filled out, is dappled out, worked great, pulled up strongly, etc., At least that’s my experience – when I read these pre-Derby reports, it often makes me want to bet every horse in the race. Just today Haskin comments that Bellamy Road is just an intimidating presence, Bandini is an amazing-looking horse, and that High Limit looked so good, that he will have to take a closer look at him and not hold his historical obstacles against him as much as I have been. I’ve learned to more or less ignore these reports, unless one says that a particular horse has lost a leg and came out of a workout huffing and puffing like Dick Cheney after cursing someone out on the Senate floor.

We’ve been reading a lot about all the supposed speed in the Derby, and how Bellamy Road will be so severely tested on the front end that it will be a closer that picks up the pieces as he and the others falter. First of all, we really don’t even know if he needs to be on the lead; he won his debut from off the pace. Haskin notes here that he has good sense and knows how to use that energy, which makes him all the more dangerous. I don’t know how he knows the horse has good sense; hopefully he had enough to avoid attending that little hatefest in Louisville Sunday evening. But I look at the list of the prospective entrants, and Railbird has a very helpful list of them today, and I think I’ll have some fun and throw out the theory that he could be lone speed.

In the Blue Grass, we already debunked the theory that Consolidator and Sun King would be challengers on the lead; it’s really just not either of their styles, and both are coming off poor efforts anyway. High Fly? He has fine tactical speed, but doesn’t run on the lead either. Ditto Bandini. Coin Silver is an allowance horse who caught an off track. Going Wild? Ha, we’ve seen how well he fared against Bellamy Road. Who else? General John B, whose owner was quoted as saying he'd be happy to split the field? High Limit is the most obvious candidate, but let’s take a closer look. He has two 2 turn races this year; in the La Derby, he went :47 1/5 to the half, setting a pace on a speed favoring track that everyone said was slow. Then, after hearing how he was going to relax behind the pace in the Blue Grass, he did just that when confronted with with the speed of Spanish Chestnut. Having done so with reasonable, though obviously not overwhelming success, does Frankel really want to see High Limit involved in a suicidal dual with the race favorite if the latter wants that lead?

In fact, does anyone want to see their horse do that, unless we see a genuine rabbit entered (and Spanish Chestnut, the last I’ve heard, is out)? Especially since, other than High Limit, maybe, where exactly is the committed speed? So, I would like to propose the scenario that Bellamy Road goes to the lead and has it to himself. I’m not saying he’s going to canter around the track ahead by 5 lengths going a :49 half; he’s going to be tracked closely as he was in the Wood, and by better horses than Going Wild. He may very well have to deal with mid-race challenges and with others gearing up on the final turn, so I think there’s a good chance we’ll see what he does when challenged. Will he laugh and skip away, or succumb as he did to Consolidator at Keeneland last fall, when he supposedly was injured (and aren’t we allowed to throw out any race at Keeneland that we don’t like anyway)? We’ll find out, but I personally just don’t see where he’s going to be facing some kind of all-out battle for the early lead, (and that’s if he even needs to be on the lead!).

- Survivalist is out. Works: 7 furlong works for Giacomo and Wilko in 1:23 4/5 and 1:26 4/5 respecitvely; Buzzards Bay went 6 in 1:12 at Santa Anita.

Notes - April 25

- The Gulfsream meet is finally over, and we look forward to the new building next year. Despite what one may think of the wisdom of even holding the meet there this year, there’s no arguing with track management over one thing – except for Afleet Alex, the top candidates for the Derby all came through Gulfstream Park – Bellamy Road, High Fly, Noble Causeway, and Bandini. We’ll withhold judgment, however, on the wisdom of moving the Florida Derby to five weeks before the big one. It did, in my opinion, dissuade more serious candidates from participating, and we’ll see how the two horses coming out of the race fare.

- Bobby Frankel has yet another potential star in his unbeaten (3 for 3, 2 stakes) 3 yo turf filly Melhor Ainda (Pulpit), who took the Appalachian on the turf at Keeneland yesterday. He says she wasn’t even that fit for this race, her first since last fall.

"The first time she ran, she finished the last eighth in :10 4/5 and you just don't see that with 2-year-old fillies….She wasn't totally fit for this race, but I thought she was so good, she would probably win it anyway." [Herald-Leader].
Though she’s out of a line of Argentine mares, she’s not the first member of her distaff family to win a U.S. stakes this year, as G1 San Juan Capistrano winner T.H. Approval (With Approval) descends from her second dam.

For Pulpit (A.P. Indy), who stands for $60,000 at Claiborne Farm, it’s his first stakes winner of the year. Pulpit was the morning line favorite in the 1997 Kentucky Derby, but went off as the 5-1 4th choice, perhaps because he had never raced as a 2 year-old, one of the cardinal sins for Derby candidates (no such horse has won since 1882), and something that we won’t be contending with this year amongst the main contenders, at least. He came into the Derby off of a win in the Blue Grass, which as we’ve noted, has not been a reliable prep as of late. He finished 4th behind winner Silver Charm, runner-up Captain Bodgit, the post-time favorite, and show horse Free House, and he was hurt during the race. Concerto, the sire of this year’s favorite Bellamy Road, finished 9th in a miniscule field of 13. Nick Zito had two runners, Jack Flash and Shammy Davis.

Another stallion son of A.P. Indy, Malibu Moon, was represented this weekend in his home state at Pimlico by Frederic Tesio winner Malibu Moonshine, who will now likely prepare for the Preakness. Malibu Moon, who stands for $30,000, never even made it to the track at 3, retiring after just 2 starts as a juvenile. His other stakes winner this year is Declan’s Moon, who we will hopefully be hearing from before too long. It was almost a Pimlico stakes double for the sire on Saturday, as his daughter Grant’s Moon finished second in a Maryland-bred stakes.

Acting Stupid

So, here are the details on the disappointing breeze by our Tactical Cat colt in the under tack show at Ocala:

Not good. He was throwing his head around and acting stupid at the start, so was slow getting into gear, and that cost him. Niall and we expected him to run at least 21.4. Since so few people actually saw how he ran, and the video doesn't show the (very good) gallop-out, the work probably cost us at least $50,000.

He's been getting lots of buyer interest, and we keep reminding people that Bellamy Road ran in 23.3 at this same sale last year and is now the Kentucky Derby favorite, but it'll be a struggle.

We probably won't decide what to do until Thursday morning [his sale day], based on buyer interest and how the sale's going generally. We could either scratch here and try again at Timonium in June, or set a reserve that reflects what we think his real value as a race horse is and then try to get him to the races, either to keep or to sell off a (we hope) impressive maiden win.
I imagine there are lots of people whose horses didn't breeze as well as they'd liked who are using that Bellamy Road line! He still brought $87,000 off of his relatively lethargic work. With over 1300 horses entered for this 4 day sale, a good gallop-out after a mediocre workout isn't going to mean anything except to someone who is specifically interested, and was watching closely. The good news is that there is buyer interest and has been before - he was nearly sold privately months ago. Plus, the reports we've gotten on him have all been quite good. It seems somewhat unfair that all the months and dollars put in to preparing a sale horse like this can be so affected by a single second in a workout, but that's the game. Who knows, perhaps it will all work out for the best; we've all read of successful racehorses who were withdrawn or didn't meet their sales reserve.

Speaking of Bellamy Road, he has a full brother who is scheduled to sell on Thursday at this sale; he breezed 2f in 22.3. If you look at the catalog page, you'll see BELLAMY ROAD in black type, but only that he's won 2 out of 3 starts including the Miller Genuine Draft Cradle S. (G3) I imagine most buyers won't need the update on that. But it does remind one of just how inexperienced this year's Kentucky Derby favorite is.

- Rockport Harbor returns to Philadelphia after his most troubled winter away from home. He's out of the Triple Crown series.
Later this week the colt will be sent back to Philadelphia Park, where Servis said "we'll back off him a little bit, let him go nice and easy, let him tell me when he's ready to start cranking it up again."
"His next spot will be a race where they least expect to see him," Servis said. Summer races like the Haskell, Travers and Pennsylvania Derby could be on Rockport's dance card at some point. [Philadelphia Daily News]

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sunday Morning Notes - April 24

- The sloppy track at Keeneland likely proved to be the final cruel twist of bad fortune to befall John Servis and Rockport Harbor, and it’s hard to imagine they would possibly consider the Derby now. "I told Mr. Porter I don't recommend it," [Servis] said he told owner Rick Porter about continuing on to Louisville. "And he agreed." [Herald-Leader] Stewart Elliot confirmed that Rocky didn’t handle the going.

"He warmed up good, he was acting good, he broke good. Around the first turn, I ....I said, 'He's struggling already.' He just never took to the track."

According to Servis, Elliott told him: "He was just spinning his wheels, switching leads back and forth. He couldn't get comfortable."

... afterward, the jockey also said: "He was so exhausted that he almost collapsed after the race." [Philadelphia Inquirer]
One might say, well, luck evens out, and Servis had everything go well with Smarty Jones last year; but some other trainers have enjoyed long strings of talented horses that hold together and make it to the big race.

In Bob Baffert’s case, it took nearly a decade for his luck to run out when he missed the Derby last year. Now, partly because of Rocky’s misfortune, he may make it back to the starting gate - he needs just one defection for Sort It Out to slide into the number 20 spot on the graded earnings list. I think the colt, who has been racing straight through since August, and who would be making his 7th start of 2005 in the Derby, would prefer a trip to a nice farm somewhere instead.

- As for Coin Silver, Pletcher spoke about initially being disappointed after he finished third in an allowance in his last at Gulfstream on Florida Derby day: "But later on we looked at the race and the fractions, and the final time stacked up very favorably with the Florida Derby. We thought maybe it's not as bad a race as we first thought." [Courier-Journal]

For Pletcher, it was another day of ridiculous success; the Lexington was just one of three graded stakes he won in about a half an hour. At Hawthorne, his Chilean mare Isola Piui Bella (Rich Man’s Gold) rebounded from her loss to D’Wildcat Speed in the Rampart to take the G3 Sixty Sails.

Also at Hawthorne, in the G3 National Jockey Club, Pletcher and jockey John Velasquez again teamed up for the win, taking advantage of a perfect trip for Pollard’s Vision (Carson City), who sat behind favored Badge of Silver as the latter was engaged by Lord of the Game into some quick early fractions, including a 22.83 second quarter.

- Marty Wygod was cleared of any wrongdoing as the stewards at Hollywood Park dismissed the CHRB's complaint against him yesterday. (Why would Hollywood Park stewards be deciding this?) There was no evidence that he had falsified the papers allowing Sweet Catomine to be transferred off the grounds, so it’s obvious that the van driver will take the fall.
Wygod's attorney blasted the press for rushing to judgment and the CHRB for being less than thorough in their investigation; in fact, their investigator never even questioned Wygod.

As far as absolving him of any wrongdoing regarding his sunny comments in the week leading up to the race, it seems to me that some kind of a reprimand was in order, perhaps nothing more, but certainly nothing less. What is this ruling saying, that it’s OK for any owner to tout their horse no matter what? Of course, that may actually be preferable to owners saying that their horse is less than 100% in order to create an overlay in the odds. It’s a tough call, and the stewards here took the easy way out for sure. Bettors should probably be more discerning when evaluating statements by egotistical owners when handicapping races. If betting Sweet Catomine at 4-5 in the race wasn’t such an awful bet, I may have more sympathy now for the guy who sued them over his lost wager.

This also allows Wygod to cast himself as a victim.
"My name was dragged through the mud in 20 to 30 newspapers.....Charges were brought against me that were unfounded. It's had an impact on my wife and my kids. I have to make some hard decision on whether I want to continue." [Daily Racing Form]
Personally, I’m not going to be spending much time crying for this extremely successful, wealthy and lucky guy. Reading this quote, you’d think he’d been accused of being a child molester. He really brought it all on by himself.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Three for Pletcher

- It looks like Todd Pletcher and Nick Zito will account for 8 out of 20 Derby starters, or 40%, and that’s if the field does fill. Wayne Lukas, on ESPN, said before the race that he didn’t think there would be 20 and thus, you’ll be happy to know, he reaffirmed his previous statement that Going Wild would go to the Derby no matter where he finished. So despite his 5th in the Lexington, I imagine he'll be pointed to the Derby anyway, if he can get in.. Lukas said the race didn’t really matter because of the way some horses don’t like the Keeneland track. When you listen to that, and several trainers have made similar remarks, it seems like they’re almost saying that you can virtually throw out any race you’d like to when handicapping a horse that’s run there! Maybe that’s why after the race, John Servis would not commit to not running 6th place finisher Rockport Harbor in Kentucky, though I imagine he just didn’t want to talk without consulting with owner Rick Porter.

The winner Coin Silver (Anees) joins Bandini and Flower Alley for Pletcher in the Derby. He looks on paper like perhaps a nice allowance horse (he finished third in his first race against winners) who likely benefited from the sloppy track (Pletcher pointed out after the race that his broodmare sire is Conquistador Cielo). Sort It Out gets his graded earnings and we’ll likely see him too, yippee. It may be wishful thinking on Lukas’ part that the field won’t fill; and it would be a real shame for Greeley’s Galaxy to not get in because Going Wild did. But I guess they should have nominated him earlier, why didn't they?

Saturday Morning Notes

- There’s a big split between the two legislative houses in Florida on taxes and regulations for slots in Broward County. While the Senate has come up with an industry-friendly tax rate scale of 30-35%,

In the House, where individual members work more under the discipline of Gov. Jeb Bush and the Republican leadership, a bill moved forward that would tax slots revenue at 55 percent -- a rate gambling operators said could thwart their plans or lead to the construction of shabby "slots barns" rather than glittery entertainment complexes. [Sun-Sentinal]
Whatsmore, Bush and the House are still pushing for the so-called bingo-style Class II machines. Even in the Senate, supporters had to defeat a proposal by a conservative Christian Senator, Daniel Webster, to force the pari-mutuels to choose between slots and racing! With just 2 weeks to go in the session, it’s questionable whether any agreement between the two houses can be resolved.

- Once again comes a story about night racing at beautiful Monmouth Park; though it’s too late for this year, it’s apparently not off the table for 2006, and that would be a real shame. It seems too that the track and NJ Governor Richard Codey, are being silent (evasive?) on the issue, and a councilman from the track’s borough is concerned.
"I'm somewhat suspicious.....No one is saying anything. I don't know why they wouldn't have come to tell us what their studies show or what their plans are."

Borough officials became concerned in November when Codey said he wanted night racing at the track. Codey made the statement before he was sworn in and without informing local officials.

Shortly after he said that, the Legislature's Joint Budget Oversight Committee earmarked $1 million to install the lights needed for night racing. [Asbury Park Press, via Albany Law School]

- John Servis is confident about Rockport Harbor in the Lexington today. " I think he’s going to run a big race, "Servis said." He’ll be much fitter than he was for the Rebel. I don’t know if he’ll be on the lead on not. I’ll leave that up to Stew." Robert Yates of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette sums up Rocky’ missed training:
Rockport Harbor missed two days of training (Feb. 20-21) with a shoeing problem involving his left front foot, three days of training (March 12-14) with an infected right hind foot, another day of training (March 25) to repair a small crack in his right hind hoof and four days of training (April 2-5) with a blood clot in the right side of his neck. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]

- The preliminary report we've received on the breeze by our Tactical Cat colt at Ocala is not that encouraging - 2 furlongs in 22 4/5. It’s faster than Zito’s Willie Mays fractions for High Fly and Noble Causeway yesterday, but that kind of number, in itself, is merely average at best, and won’t attract the big bucks at the sale. It's a disappointment to be sure, though you never know what's going to happen until he hits the sales ring, and it doesn't necessarily preclude success. Nonetheless, with rain falling in New York and elsewhere around the country, and tracks surely turning sloppy, I think I'll find some alternate activities to occupy me today...

Friday, April 22, 2005

Under Tack Show

- Saturday is a big day, as the Tactical Cat colt in my pinhooking partnership will breeze at Ocala for the April Ocala 2 yo in training sale next week. I don't know how far he's going; I've seen 3 furlong breezes in the first three days, which I haven't noticed before this sale. There have been the usual lightning fast times. He's Hip No. 1180. Go baby go...

Rainy Days

- I haven’t looked much at tomorrow’s races at Aqueduct because it’s supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow, so I don’t know if the track will be sloppy or not. Tom Ainslie once wrote that if the weather is rainy, find something else to do. Though he made an exception for extremely rainy days that turn the track speed favoring, I tend to stay away if it’s wet, with the exception of Belmont day or the like. I just don’t like betting on wet tracks, period. Harvey Pack, who people in New York remember, as well, perhaps as those of you who recall when he hosted the NYRA telecasts, used to, at Saratoga when it rained, launch into this whole spiel, the same thing every time, about how the day was basically going to suck, and I couldn’t agree more. Of course, nowadays, because of simulcasting, rain doesn’t necessarily keep me away from the track. Tomorrow though, checking the National Weather Service website while I still can, it looks like the Big A won’t be the only track affected by the weather. Keeneland looks more like light rain, so hopefully the Lexington will be run on a fast, if not completely dry track.

Byron King of the Racing Form must have some time on his hands because he did some detailed research on the recent history of the race. In making a case for Going Wild, he points out that Scrimshaw went from a Beyer Speed Figure of 75 to a 101 in the 2003 Lexington, Proud Citizen jumped from an Beyer Figure of 81 to a 95, and Charismatic went from a 94 to a 105. [Daily Racing Form] Going Wild had a 51 in the Wood, so he will presumably have to double that to win here; whatsmore, he faces a daunting pace scenario. As does Rockport Harbor for that matter, with the quick Actxecutive and Coin Silver breaking from the inside posts. It will be interesting to see what he and Stewart Elliot do in the early stages.

- There are two graded stakes at the Big A. Bank Audit seems to have his opponents at his mercy in the G3 Bed O’Roses at a mile; at least if the track isn’t sloppy, otherwise who knows? If the G3 Fort Marcy stays on the turf, BC Turf winner Better Talk Now could be vulnerable at 1 1/16 miles. Remind has come off the shelf well for Bill Mott with two nice tries in Florida; he missed by just a head in a G3 at Monmouth last spring and could be tough here. If it’s on the turf.

Go Baby Go

- The NTRA is having a problem, as a couple of major horseman groups are reassessing their membership in the organization, expressing their concern at a forum today. The head of one of the groups, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, criticized marketing efforts by racetracks and said there is too much emphasis on the importance of television in bringing people to the track. [Bloodhorse] As I’ve written before, I think TV is not being used to its fullest potential, and that there should be initiatives connected to the telecasts to give people a rooting interest and incentive to watch, and to yell “Go Baby Go!”

And what ever happened to Go Baby Go? I know a lot of racing people absolutely hated it, and feel free to attack me if you’re one of them because I thought it was awesome; but one thing I can tell you is that it was something that I would routinely hear repeated from my non-racing friends and acquaintances. It seemed to bring a smile to their faces and they thought it was really catchy and cool, and weren’t those the people it was aimed at?

- Rain, forecast through the weekend in Kentucky, is disrupting Derby workout schedules, but Nick Zito was able to get works in for his two five-week-layoff horses. Churchill clockers caught High Fly in 1:06 3/5 and Noble Causeway in 1:04 3/5. Zito, however, said High Fly breezed six furlongs in about 1:18, while Noble Causeway went the same distance in about 1:17. Afterwards, Zito sounded extremely defensive about the sluggish times.

"I know it's going to look bad on paper, but I don't really care. I remember Strike the Gold had the slowest work in history, and it was the same thing with Go For Gin.....If you want to remember anything about these works, just ask yourself, how much is 12 and 12? That's what High Fly did the last quarter in. For sure, in stone, that's what he went. And Noble Causeway did the same thing. I don't know what the clockers got. I respect them; they're good clockers. I know both my horses did a Willie Mays. That was his number, 24. Just remember Willie Mays' number and you'll know how my horses worked." [Bloodhorse]
Also, Greeley’s Galaxy went 6f in 1:16 4/5, with the final 1/8th in 12 3/5.

- Steve Crist in the Form (sub only), never a big fan of the bounce theory, is naturally skeptical of those who think Bellamy Road will bounce in the Derby.
Had he won the Wood by six or seven lengths with a figure in the low 100's, some people would like him a lot more. He would be improving gradually, blooming in springtime, with perhaps another forward move under his girth. Somewhat strangely, because he ran so much better than that, now everyone's worried he'll go backward. [Daily Racing Form]
The fact is, we really have no idea what he’s going to do, nobody does; as Dave Liftin asks in his column, ‘How do you predict what a 3-year-old colt will do four weeks after running a 120 Beyer Speed Figure in early April?’ There’s no precedent for it! He may face much more early speed in the Derby…but I think perhaps he may not. But I’m not going to get into that until we know what Rockport Harbor is going to do, because he’s one horse that we know will want the lead if he’s in. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nick Zito is dialing 1-800-NO-DERBY to vote him out right now.

The Slots Debate and the Preakness, Hialeah, and Gay Rights

- Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich raised the spectre of Pimlico losing the Preakness because of the failure to pass slots legislation, something he’ll likely be repeating as the race approaches next month. But the state apparently has a couple of poison pill-type defenses already in place.

If the race is moved from Maryland, the state would be entitled to increase its share of parimutuel wagering revenues from 0.5 percent to 4.07 percent. And if Magna was to attempt to sell title to the Preakness, the state has the right to step in and match the price.

Magna also could be subject to sizeable administrative penalties from the racing commission, according to state regulations. [Washington Post]

Following the lead of Governor Bush, high tax rate numbers on Broward County slots of 55 and even 60% are being tossed around the Florida House and Senate. Some proponents argue that state revenues would actually decrease with such high rates.
"There's a bell curve. You reach an optimum. When you increase the rate, you can't generate the profits to build a first class facility, and then fewer people will come," said former state Education Commissioner Jim Horne, a leading spokesman for the slots issue. [Sun-Sentinal]
Also, there’s talk of a revival of Hialeah Park, on the theory that a reopening would help bring slots to Miami-Dade county, where voters rejected them.

- In Maine, slots opponents are so desperate to overturn legislation that is bringing slots to Bangor Raceway, that they’ve decided to get into bed with wingnut Michael Heath and his Christian Civic League of Maine, who is attempting to similarly overturn the state’s gay rights laws. Casinos No! will combine petition signing efforts with them, though they both say they won’t directly promote the other’s agenda. (Via Albany Law School Racing and Wagering Page)

We’re not even talking about gay marriage here folks, the issue that supposedly helped re-elect the president, whose approval ratings, just a few months after the election, are now significantly lower even than Going Wild’s Beyer in the Wood. We’re talking about basic human rights in things like employment, housing, and education, protections which were passed (again, see below) only last month, making Maine the last New England state to do so. Heath’s organization is trying to obtain enough signatures for a “peoples’ veto,” which he successfully accomplished after the law passed in 1998. About the law, he said, "Normalizing homosexuality will lead to a higher incidence of homosexual practices and the negative side effects which such practices bring in terms of physical, mental and social health." [] In 2004, Heath threatened to gather information on the sexual orientation of Maine’s legislators and post them on his website, prompting much of the State House to turn “gay for a day.” [information from the blog Pudentilla's Perspective]

I have no particular animosity in general for opponents of slots as long as they leave religion and morals out of their arguments. But this group, by associating with Heath, rightfully earns the wrath of anyone interested in equal rights for all, and they should be ashamed. I can’t imagine that a few hundred slots machines in just one city in Maine could possibly be worth institutionalized discrimination against an entire class of the state’s citizens.

If I seem particularly sensitive about the subject of religion in politics today, perhaps it’s because I just read, via Atrios, that the new pope has decided to weigh in on laws passed by the democratically elected representatives of the sovereign country of Spain, with the Vatican advising Roman Catholics to lose their jobs rather than follow their country's laws. And on Sunday, in Louisville, Kentucky, where in two weeks 150,000 people of all faiths, sexual orientations, and opinions on how to handicap horse races will come together to participate in one of this country’s greatest signature events, the Majority Leader of the Senate will tell a conservative Christian group and the country that Democrats are “against people of faith.” It's enough to distract even me from a Saturday edition of the Racing Form.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Coolmore Lexington

- Eight go in the Lexington at Keeneland, where one would think the results are meaningless if you listen to some of the things said and written after the Blue Grass about the "quirkiness" of the surface there. Of course, all eyes will be on Rockport Harbor. A big performance could propel him into the Derby though Servis sounds like he’s going to be very discerning when judging whether he thinks the horse is ready, and I believe him. Imagine if he does win impressively in a good time and gallops out the extra sixteenth to Servis' satisfaction; I think this Derby could use a little intrigue of that kind. The way the prep winners have been blowing out their opponents has made the field seem less deep than it once did.

Going Wild is 4-1 morning line. If he runs a big race, then Bellamy Road could look even better. Storm Surge will make his first appearance since his 3rd in the La Derby; believe it or not, he’s good to go at 17th on the graded earnings list. And if there ever was a candidate for 1-800-NO-DERBY, it’s Sort It Out; he hasn’t earned a graded cent and would need to take all the money to have a shot. I’m not going to touch this race. I predict that Rockport Harbor will win, but that he will not go to the Derby and instead wait for the Preakness, where Greeley’s Galaxy may be fresh and waiting too if we don't vote enough of these horses outta here!

Bellamy Road Post

- As if things aren’t tough enough for Bellamy Road’s opponents, his stamina has now increased with the word that his grandsire, Chief’s Crown, has been named a chef-de-race by dosagemeister Dr. Steven Roman (in consultation with Steve Miller of the United Kingdom [thus, he’s not Livin in the U.S.A.]), thus lowering his dosage index from 3.50 to 2.25.

"The descendants of Chief's Crown are characterized by versatility for surface, performing equally as well on dirt and grass, and generally over a distance of ground," Roman wrote. [Bloodhorse]
Well, I guess that’s it then. Though there is that one little chink in his armor though; the 7th place finish last Oct 9 in the G1 Breeders Futurity at Keeneland. We read that he suffered an injury in the race, but Google and DRF searches have turned up no details on that. As you know, he was transferred from Michael Dickinson to Nick Zito early this year. He came into the race as the favorite off of his win in the G3 Cradle at River Downs, in which he beat Diamond Isle and Scipion, who was coming off of his now semi-legendary debut win at Saratoga. His connections were confident.
"He would go on to the Breeders' Cup if he makes a good account of himself," Kinsman manager Edward Sexton [who recommended his purchase] said from Ocala, Fla. "We believe he'll take all the beating, but talk is cheap. We would love to see the horse show everyone what he can do.” [Daily Racing Form]
He took the lead and set moderate fractions of 23.19 and 47.14, but it was Consolidator who stalked him, took over the lead around the turn and went on to win as Bellamy Road faded to 7th by 12 lengths. It was the only time he's really been challenged on the lead, and he faded badly. One presumes it was the injury, but it is a little chink, and if you believe, as seems to be the common wisdom, that there's going to be tons of speed in the race, you can picture him being a mere mortal horse. I think there may be less speed than people think; more on that some other time. I want to play some races on TV.

More on Bellamy Road’s workout today:
"It was great. We’re halfway there. We’ll see what happens next time, we’ll probably work him next weekend and we’ll go from there," said Zito... "Everybody calls it a maintenance work, I’m just so dumb that way I call it some other thing. It’s an easy work and we’ll tune him up next time."[Thoroughbred Times]