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Friday, July 15, 2005

Trotting Break

- Tonight is the Stanley Dancer Trot at the Meadowlands, the last major prep for the Hambletonian, the elimination heats for which are scheduled for July 30. Classic Photo is the 9-5 morning line favorite, and deservingly so. With 2 yo champ Ken Warkentin having missed the elims with a cough (he’ll run in the 10th race tonight), Classic Photo can establish himself as the Hambo favorite with a win tonight. This colt has developed after a lackluster 2 yo season in which he won only once. But now he’s won 3 in a row, including 2 sub-1:54 miles, and he cruised to an easy win in his elimination heat last week.

I’m going to take a shot with Diesel Don. He came on late last year, powering to 4 easy wins in a row to end the season, culminating in a rich stakes win over Classic Photo here at the Meadowlands. This year he had two impressive qualifiers leading up to his 3 yo pari-mutuel debut on June 30. In that race, he lagged further behind than usual, but finished extremely strong into a fast closing half, missing by 2 1/4 to an already sharp Classic Photo (coming off a stakes win at Woodbine in 1:53 1/5). In his elimination last week, he was bet down to 9-5, and sat 4th behind a dawdling pace; in fact Ken Warkentin (the track announcer) called that leader New York Yank “waltzed” to the half in an extremely slow :59 1/5.

If you watch HRTV tonight as they cover the race, when they show the stretch of the eliminations, check out Diesel Don’s driver John Campbell. With no realistic chance of closing against those fractions, and knowing that he needed only to finish 3rd to make the final, Campbell made absolutely no effort to ask his colt. He merely cruised through the stretch, and even as Ro Lo, the eventual winner via DQ, passed him in deep stretch, you can see that Campbell, assured at that point of making the final, made absolutely no attempt whatsoever to repel him. He was kinda like a guy in a car casually waving at an acquaintance going by in the next lane. Tonight he has the 8 post and will likely need some pace up front to have a shot, but there seems to be enough speed in the race for that to happen, and this time he’ll be all out with a $350,000 purse on the line in his 3rd start of the year. I’ll use him underneath Classic Photo in exactas as well.

- Classic Photo’s driver Ron Pierce, who has won more than 5,400 races and topped $9 million in purses and was inducted into the Hall of Fame just a couple of weeks ago, is dabbling in the thoroughbred game as well as an owner. His Blackout O Three, a NJ-bred son of Louis Quartorze whom he purchased for $20,000, made his debut at Monmouth yesterday, He ran last in a field of 12 at odds of 71-1. Guess he should keep his day night job for now. [Newark Star Ledger]

- Big shakeup at NYRA as racing secretary Mike Lakow and chief examining veterinarian Dr. Celeste Kunz were among four people fired or “advised to” reture.

The firing of Dr. Kunz, among the nation's most prominent racing veterinarians, was a shock. She was promoted to the position in early 2003, the first woman to head NYRA's veterinary team…

Kunz said her dismissal came without warning. "I thought I was going in for a raise after what we've accomplished in the last six months," she said. [Newsday]
- Belmont fact: At the meet favorites are now 186 for 476, 39% after starting out an ugly 8 for 45, 17%. [NY Daily News]