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Saturday, December 10, 2005

All About The Action!

This is my final picture of Afleet Alex, ain’t it a beaut? It was his last appearance before an audience on a racetrack in New York, if not anywhere, and while I missed his head, I got a decent portion of Angel Cordero’s. Still no announcement of a stud deal for him. The last I read of it was Chuck Zacney telling the Times "We pretty much turned everybody down because we planned to race him next year. Now we have to start from ground zero." I wonder if his not-that-fashionable pedigree is keeping the price down?

As much as I admired Afleet Alex, I never really grew that attached to him personally, despite the best efforts of my friend Jerry from Philly and the colt’s amazing efforts in the Preakness and Belmont. I was thinking about why not; after all, what was there not to love? He was fast and tough, and he was getting better and better. He was firing bullets in his morning workouts in the fall even with whatever it is that’s bothering him. But when I thought back to horses I’ve grown emotionally attached to in the past such as Temperance Hill, Alysheba, Cavaet, Genuine Risk, Dance Spell, Waya, Foolish Pleasure, Smarty Jones, and Saratoga Stan to name a few, I realized that I scored big bets on all of those, in most cases more than once! I never managed to cash on Alex. So there it is, despite all my lofty words, I’m just another degenerate gambler at heart.

So let’s gamble. The Queens County Handicap is the feature at the Big A today. I don’t like the morning line favorite Evening Attire. I know, he’s a sentimental favorite type, a tough old 7 year old gelding who will be making his 46th start, 12 of those wins. And despite the perfect trip he enjoyed in the Stuyvesant, one that I will hold against him here, you had to admire his game rally in that race to get up for his first win since August, 2004. But since, as I now realize, it’s all about the gambling, fuck that stuff. His figs have dropped off precipitously since the end of 2004, he’s unlikely to get such a dream trip from the five hole, and besides, Trapped Again seems to simply be faster than anyone in the field. In fact, I expect that he will be the favorite come post time. If you throw out his race at Keeneland, he shows two wins and a necked-out second, all in stakes, and all with triple digit figs (including a 109).

But I don’t think they’ll be much value there, so check out the feature at Hollywood, the Grade 3 Native Diver at a mile and a sixteenth. Bob Baffert, 9 for 30 at the meet, sends out the morning line favorite Preachinatthebar. He hasn’t won a stakes since he took the San Felipe in March, 2004, but he’s been getting closer and he always runs well. Trotamondo was a fast closing second to Preachinatthebar in his U.S. debut, and could improve here. The versatile McCann’s Mojave bounced back with a win in the Cal Cup, his second two turn win in two tries for his career. He’d been facing some tough company in sprints prior to his last, and perhaps he’s more suited for distance.

But let’s try a longshot, Courtly Jazz, 15-1 in the morning line. Four of his last five have been on the turf, including a tough 4th at a mile and a half in his last, the G3 CF Burke. Prior to that was a gritty win on the dirt at this distance at Fairplex, and he’s actually two for two at this nine furlong distance, and three for five lifetime on dirt. He’s shown slow but steady improvement throughout his career for trainer Gary Mandella, has worked steadily for this, and could be primed for an upset.

And take a look at the comments section here; our friend Walter discusses Disturbing, 12-1 in the first division of the My Charmer stakes at Turfway. I watched the replay of the race at Churchill he refers to, and it’s every bit as impressive as he says. Nice to see that Davidowitz is still picking horses and not just playing poker.