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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Be Nice

- It’s a large field for the Hollywood Gold Cup on Saturday as the absence of anyone nearly as scary as Alberto Gonzales seems to be to both sides of the Supreme Court nomination "battle" attracts connections seeking a Grade 1 win and a piece of the $750,000 purse. The weight assignments attest to the wide-open nature of the field, and perhaps some would say something like “less than stellar” nature of the field rather than wide-open.

Californian winner Lava Man was assigned top weight of 118 pounds and Limehouse 117 for the Gold Cup.

"Lava Man apparently likes the track," said the meet's leading trainer, Doug O'Neill. "He's run well on turf and run well sprinting, but after his last race, I'd have to be crazy if I did anything other than run him back long on the dirt."

Also expected to start in the Gold Cup are the Craig Dollase-trained tandem of Anziyan Royalty (115 pounds) and Pt's Grey Eagle (113), Musique Toujours (114), Congrats (117), Borrego (115), Keep On Punching (113), Al Arz (113) and $3 million earner Perfect Drift (117).

Also considering the race are Choctaw Nation (115), Preachinatthebar (115) and Deputy Lad (112). [Orange County Register]
Should be a good betting race if not ultimately a race with championship implications. At Calder, only five brave souls will challenge Lost in the Fog, and there are no Egg Heads amongst them (or perhaps they’re all eggheads in this case). His connections continue to manage him carefully, and he could have just two more appearances this year after Saturday. Trainer Greg Gilchrist: "If things go well Saturday, we'll stick with the plan for him to run in the (grade I, Aug. 27) King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga and maybe only once more this year, maybe the (grade I, TVG) Breeders' Cup (Sprint), but not necessarily. We'll get through these next two and then decide." [Bloodhorse]

- This has been a tragic week for jockeys. Two spills occurred in Texas: Casey Lambert is in critical condition with a broken jaw, fractured ribs and a punctured lung suffered in a three horse spill at Lone Star on Monday. According to Gary West of the Star-Telegram, It was like a scene out of Ben-Hur.
Lambert and Eunever advanced from fifth to third in the turn. Eunever appeared to be running smoothly, and Lambert hadn't yet called for the horse's best effort.

They seemed poised to challenge the leaders, but disaster was one step away, and Eunever took that step as he turned into the Lone Star stretch.

Appearing to snap a leg, Eunever suddenly crumbled like a tall building brought down by demolition, and he tossed Lambert hard to the ground in a heap. The two horses immediately behind them couldn't avoid crashing into the fallen jockey.
The other two riders and all three horses escaped serious injury. At Gillespie County Fairgrounds, jockey Akili Grey suffered critical head injuries after a spill. His wife said that she knew something was wrong when Gray didn't get up and do a back flip, which he is known for.
"I'm like, 'He's going to get up and do a back flip,'" she said. "And everybody is going to cheer, like they always do, once he gets up and does his back flip. He didn't get up.” []
In England, Frankie Dettori is recovering from surgery to repair a broken collarbone after he fell from his mount on Saturday.
He said he heard his mount Celtic Mill rolling along the course behind him.

"That's a 1,000lb animal. If it had rolled on me it would have killed me."
"I love racing. Racing is my life. This is just part and parcel of the job. I'll be back after a month," said the 34-year-old. [Cambridge News UK]
A month!? Dettori said he felt lucky to be alive. The next day, 20-year old British jockey Tom Halliday wasn’t nearly as lucky, and paid the ultimate price, falling from his mount in a steeplechase race.
Halliday's mount veered left approaching the third-last hurdle in the race and did so again soon afterwards, throwing Halliday from the saddle. Rush'n'run then appeared to lose his balance and fell on top of his jockey.

Halliday was the first jump jockey to die while racing under Rules in Britain since Richard Davis, who was killed in a fall at Southwell in July 1996. [Guardian UK]
More from the British Times Online:
YOU never think, as the jockeys pass from weighing room to paddock, that one of them might not make the return journey. Yet, on average, every two years one does not. On Sunday, that man was 20-year-old Tom Halliday.

For all that statistics purport to rationalise this fact, it is no less tragic. And perhaps it is shocking because it is not more shocking. Race-riding is dangerous. It is ten times more hazardous than motor-racing, itself an activity in which injury or worse means that three drivers do not complete each season.

For amateur riders in the point-to-pointing sphere [British term for amateur steeplechase riding], the risk is 35 times greater than motor-racing. Amateurs fall more often than a fully fledged professional jump jockey — one in eight rides compared with one in 18 respectively. A Flat jockey tends to experience a fall only once in every 270 rides.

However, as Saturday’s tumble suffered by Frankie Dettori exemplified, such incidents happen at greater speed on the Flat. Here, a jockey has less time to prepare himself for hitting the ground and is less accustomed with how best to do so, if that is ever possible. There is also more racing on the level, so jockeys build their statistics a lot faster.

From about 100,000 rides per year (85,000 under Rules, 15,000 point-to-pointing) in Britain, 2,000 end in a fall. For every 4,000 to 5,000 falls, one fatality occurs.
As I’ve said before, be nice to these guys, please.