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Friday, May 27, 2005

Now That's Greatness!

- Doesn’t seem to be much good news in the sport since the Preakness. reports on the absolutely depressing betting and attendance figures in California thus far this year.

In a brief report given to the California Horse Racing Board May 26 at Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, staff program analyst Dick Gonzalez told commissioners that the figures showed decline in all areas. But the categories that were most affected were Southern California Thoroughbreds, which were off by $39 million in handle for the period Dec. 26 through May 6 (-3.82%), and in harness racing, which dipped by $18 million (-22.18%).

"Overall these numbers are dismal," said commissioner Richard Shapiro. "We've had 315,000 less fans."
- No VLT’s for Texas until 2007, unless there’s a special session, as the effort died late last night in the state Senate.

- Giacomo is reportedly doing great, and John Sherrifs scoffs at the notion that he should save him for the stakes later in the season.
"These are opportunities that come once in a horse's career," Shirreffs said of the Triple Crown races. "I've learned if you pass a race, you might not make the next race. Horses have more problems in the mornings than they do in the afternoons, as far as injuries go. To put off the Belmont to run in the Travers or the Swaps, that doesn't make any sense. We started off on this journey to the Triple Crown. We should complete it."[LA Daily News]
- Gary West in the Dallas-Ft Worth Star Telegram has a right-on piece on the “campaign” that Bobby Frankel has mapped out for Ghostzapper’s Horse of the Year title defense, saying that "if all goes well, if he wins most of the five races planned for him this season and repeats as Horse of the Year, he'll be remembered as one of the greatest racehorses of all time. But only by people with short memories.
After all, he has raced only 10 times and won a grand total of six stakes races. So far, his career has been more appropriate for the king of cherry-picking than for one of the all-time greatest racehorses. He never has carried more than 126 pounds; he has raced beyond a mile only three times; he has raced around two turns only twice; and he has raced outside New York only three times. In winning the Woodward, Iselin and Tom Fool Stakes last year, he defeated a total of 12 rivals.

Yes, he set a track record for 1 1/4 miles while winning the Breeders' Cup Classic, but that distance turns up at Lone Star Park about as often as snowflakes. And although his Classic win brought the throng to its collective feet and had Willie Nelson hitting the high notes -- let's face it -- Ghostzapper had everything his own way in the Classic.

So before accepting this modern paradigm, this retooled example of greatness, and the modern definition Ghostzapper represents, consider some horses that defined their greatness indisputably in larger terms.

Kelso, who raced from 1959 to 1966, won 39 races in his career, and in 12 of those he carried 130 or more pounds. He won from six furlongs to two miles, he raced at 14 tracks from New York to Florida to California, and he won on dirt and turf. He won the Jockey Club Gold Cup five consecutive years and five times he was Horse of the Year.

Dr. Fager finished first in 19 of his 22 races (he was disqualified once), setting track records and world records. Only three horses ever finished in front of him, and all three were champions. He beat the best turf horses in the world in the United Nations Handicap -- and he didn't even like the turf. Eight times he carried 130 or more pounds, including 139 when he won the Vosburgh by six lengths..

Spectacular Bid won 26 of 30 races, finishing his career with 10 consecutive victories. Traveling from coast to coast and racing over 16 tracks, he earned championship honors three consecutive years. And, like Dr. Fager, he set world and track records.

Now, that's greatness, clearly defined even without the assistance of a Triple Crown. Ghostzapper's accomplishments don't compare. [Star-Telegram]
Steve Crist writes of a similar topic, that of the rarity these days of a horse like Afleet Alex being able to compete in top-level stakes at both 2 and 3, and Jessica discusses it over at Railbird. She must have stayed up all night to dig up this from a column Bill Finley wrote last August after Alex won the Hopeful, great job:
Come the first Saturday in May, 2005, you can rest assured that Afleet Alex will not duplicate Smarty Jones' Kentucky Derby victory. That's not necessarily a knock on the horse. It's just that he'll be attempting to do something that horses just can't seem to do anymore. You can't be at your best in mid-August and still at your best in early May. [ESPN]
Well, technically, he was right, but you get the idea.

- Well, it’s a gorgeous Friday afternoon, so I’ll indeed be off to the holiday twilight card at Belmont. If you’re going away this weekend, watch out for all those Ramon Dominguez types on the road - BE CAREFUL!! I’ll be around through tomorrow morning for some light posting and will return Sunday evening (in time for the Met Mile card). Going to a friends’ house upstate – we missed their surprise 25th anniversary party last weekend because their daughter, who planned it, mistakenly contacted another guy with my name in Forest Hills via email and, instead of pointing out her mistake, he sent a detailed response saying they had other plans and couldn’t make it. I don’t know if he goes to the track, but may he suffer an endless string of disqualifications if he does. Have a fantastic weekend.

1 Comment:

SantaBarbarian said...

Ghostzapper, Who?

I saw Spectacular Bid on several occassions here in SoCal...and are NO Bid!

I'm afraid, the further away we get from interacting with animals, horses, the lower the declines in attendence are going to be. To most outsiders the races are "fixed" or why else couldn't racing have a Triple Crown Winner.

It also takes time to study the Form and bet properly in hopes of a payout...most folks these days want that quick fix. Drop a quarter in..pull the handle and maybe get something back.