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Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Last Word

- Let’s wrap up the Breeders’ Cup with the Turf, in which it was a long way back from the four European invaders that took the top four spots to Shakespeare, who burned a lot of money at 7-2, ugh. It was a lot to ask of this horse, and he wasn’t up to the task, especially on the soft turf. Bailey said: "He didn't handle the ground at all." Favored Azamour (also 7-2) ran a fine race to finish third in his final start, and trainer John Oxx reported that "Mick (Kinane) reported he lost his place three and a half furlongs out and if not for that, he would have won.” [Sporting Life] I also saw him alter course in upper stretch before rallying strongly for third.

The winner Shirocco is all German and European on his stallion side; his sire is Monsun, a multiple Grade 1 winner in Germany; but his dam, So Sedulous is by The Minstrel (Northern Dancer). Her other foals are named Satchmo, September Storm, Shoah, So Squally, Storm Trooper, Subiaco, and Swish; so they got that ‘S’ thing going on. Shirocco was 20-1 morning line, but with all the talk of how he was the invader that would benefit most from soft going, I wasn’t at all surprised to see him go off at 8-1 (to the disappointment of our friend Walter from Las Vegas). The four year-old is slated to return next year, so perhaps we’ll see him at Churchill Downs for Breeders’ Cup 2006.

- The crowd of 54,289 was a pleasant surprise, and the largest BC crowd in New York; this despite no local promotion or advertising at all. Steven Crist wrote the other day that NYRA had a whisper over/under number of 45,000. There seemed to be many foreign visitors there, and it gave the event the international feel that it deserves. After initial indications that the TV ratings would be down, the final numbers showed a slight increase, with the best numbers in St. Louis (located in a non-parimutuel state) and Seattle (was that you Monica?). NBC gave the telecast the amount of promotion you’d expect given its lame duck status – none. ESPN has big plans for the event next year, and Jerry Bailey said that “in 10 years when we look back, we'll say, 'My God, ESPN was the force of all sports. Why didn't we move it sooner?' " [Louisville Courier-Journal] It’s an eight year deal, and it’s 1-9 that Bailey will be a commentator on the telecast before too long.

- Unfortunately, the Classic was not one of Tom Durkin’s finest moments. The first time through the field, he referred to the “pent-up power of Borrego” and then, moments later, the “latent power of Choctaw Nation,” which not only was repetitive, but a bit of a stretch in the latter's case. He later called “Flower King” before correcting himself to “Flower Alley.”

- I have no idea where Fauquier is, but a columnist from that city’s Times-Democrat newspaper had some humorous observations of how the pressure effected some of the celebrity horsemen there:

For the most part, they were displaying big-race nerves. TV chef Bobby Flay, for example, part owner of Wonder Again, one of the favorites in the Filly and Mare Turf, looked as nervous as a cat near a Korean restaurant.

New York Yankee manager Joe Torre looked like The Boss George Steinbrenner had just traded Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter to the Red Sox for a $10,000 claimer. A couple of the sheikhs looked as though the price of oil had dropped to $1.50 a barrel.

Nothing like a big race to bring out the heebie-jeebies.
- And so, it’s on to the Road to the Triple Crown I suppose. Trainer Doug O’Neill envisions Stevie Wonderboy having "two or three" starts before the Kentucky Derby on May 6. [DRF] Huh? Besides the fact that we all know that by virtue of winning the Juvenile he has no shot in the Derby to start with, doesn’t he know that no horse has won the race with only two prep races since…..

Here we go again.


Anonymous said...

...regarding Stevie Wonderboy, i'm not sure he's the soundest horse around, so perhaps that's why they're mapping out a light campaighn next spring...i have no proof to base this on, of course, other than the fact he was MIA between Del Mar and the Breeders certainly worked out, but i can't think it was by design...i know, originally he was being pointed at the Champagne, until O'Neill decided to send Bro Lo (unquestionably the fastest 2yo in the country, and a legitimate threat for next year's Sprint, i think) instead...his reasoning was that Bro Lo would appreciate the one-turn mile, plus if Bro Lo were to be entered in the BC, then he would have to be they wanted to get a surface/distance try in him to help in the evaluation process...after Bro Lo was announced as his Champagne horse, O'Neill (who originally said Stevie Wonderboy would point for the Champagne), now stated that Stevie Wonderboy would stay home and run in the Norfolk...well, when the Norfolk came around, Stevie Wonderboy was not among the entrants (despite the fact he would've been an overwhelming favorite)...i heard nothing about an injury, but you had to assume something was not quite right...also of interest, Stevie Wonderboy STILL hasn't around two turns...of further interest, the late What a Song had already beaten SW twice, and in very impressive style...too bad we'll never get to see how good that one might've been...bottom line, as strong as Stevie Wonderboy looks right now, there are a couple of issues regarding his soundness, and his ability to reproduce that strong late kick around two turns, and over a distance of ground...i don't doubt that he's the goods, but right now i make his chance of winning the Derby no better than 50/1...i haven't seen any updated Derby sheets yet, but i'm sure he's not listed above 10/1 or so...great value, huh?...

Anonymous said...

As usual, your saving grace is your sense of humor- got a big laugh out of your Joe Torre big day facial expression looking as if The Boss had just traded A-Rod and Jeter to the Red Sox for a $10,000 claimer! The one about the sheikhs was pretty good, too! I thought the columnist in the Ft Worth Star-Telgram's comparison of St Liam/Dutrow to Barry Bonds was quite apt- by extension that makes Afleet Alex and his connections the Cal Ripken of horse racing!Also saw a piece in the Louisville paper(link on Ben Liebman's stupendous Albany Law School website) which was also very down on Dutrow- unfortunate for St Liam who can't choose his connections!Illegal drugs continue to haunt racing just as they do other big time sports.

Anonymous said...

Further thoughts on St Liam and Rick Dutrow: Dutrow took the "hit" and paid for his sin with a 60 day suspension this past summer. He now deserves the benefit of the doubt- as does anyone who has paid the price- and St Liam, the innocent party, deserves HOTY.