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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bad and Good On Display

- Gary Stevens told us all to keep our chins up after the ultimately fatal injury to Horatio Nelson this morning on TVG, assuring us that there would still be great racing to come. They seemed like hollow words at the time. Barbaro’s injury didn’t scream ‘fatal’ to me in its immediate aftermath. I suppose the book is still considered to be ‘out’ as to whether I was right. But this one left no doubt and it was truly devastating. Frank Lyons warned that we might want to turn away as they showed the replay, and I wish I’d heeded his advice; you could practically hear the snap just from seeing the violence of the breakdown. And of course, there was the sense that the whole thing could have been avoided.

But as the day went on, Stevens was right - there was some tremendous racing to come. Life, and racing, go on, and unfortunately, there’s a price to be paid for the endless hours of joy that we all derive from the mysteries and triumphs that the game provides us. I’m interested to see if the reaction differs over there – already I’ve noticed a distinct lack of trying to blame someone for allowing the horse to run. The account in the UK’s TimesOnline merely notes that he was observed and “passed fit.” Trying to find fault seemed to be the first reaction over here after the Preakness, and I for one am interested to see whether that’s the case over there.

In fact, I wonder if there’s going to be much reaction at all. If you go to the Racing Post home page, the big story is undoubtedly Sir Percy, and Horatio Nelson is a secondary story. Over here, we didn't start to hear about Bernardini until Tuesday or so.

But getting back to the great racing, let’s start with the Opening Verse at Churchill, where it was Rush Bay (Cozzene) making it two in a row after his disappointing four-year old debut. I was all over him that time, and touted him here. I just missed his subsequent race; I guess I wasn’t enthused enough about his 4th place finish to bother putting him on my watch list. In this race, I went instead for 9-2 Free Thinking, who got the lead and set a slow pace. But Rush Bay, closer to the pace once again, was right behind, and after putting my choice away, had to contend with the even money favorite, Purim. It looked like Purim was going to pass him around the sixteenth pole, but Rush Bay resisted and prevailed in a dramatic stretch duel.

[Aaccording to the race chart, Purim “appeared to be struck in the face by the whip of RUSH BAY’s rider nearing the sixteenth pole." As far as I know, that’s supposed to be an automatic DQ. No mention of that in the Form or Bloodhorse stories, and watching the replay was inconclusive from the pan shot.]

It’s the first stakes winner of the year for Cozzene, who is a career 8% stakes winners-from-foals sire.

Another fantastic finish in the G2 Milady at Hollywood. Patrick Valenzuela rode Proposed on the lead as if he had the measure of 9-1 Somethingaboulaura even as he was tugged to a 45.75-second first half, and started to edge away from that rival going into the turn. But Valenzuela seemed to be taken by surprise when Victor Espinoza drove Somethingaboutlaura past him. "I beat that other filly sprinting and I thought she'd [fade] quicker than she did." [Daily Racing Form] From there, they were neck and neck down the stretch, and when Proposed was finally able to open a late lead, she then had to hold off the late charge of the even money favorite Star Parade, doing so by a lunging head. A little consolation for her sire, Benchmark, given Brother Derek’s unsuccessful Triple Crown campaign.

And then there was Lost in the Fog. The skeptics were ready to pounce, and even some of the believers may have wavered had he failed to respond here. But it was a performance far more typical of the ones that earned him the Eclipse. He was able to sit behind Exciting Metro for a quarter mile, buried that one with a second quarter burst, then laid down the gauntlet with an impressive eighth of 11.29 seconds when Kelly’s Landing loomed at the top of the stretch, and got home a length and a quarter in front in a final time of 1:08.52 (final eighth of 12.16). Russell Baze said "I didn't move him or anything, just let him run his race." [Thoroughbred Times]

Lost in the Fog is a horse with a little panache, and one that seems to get people talking, and that’s a good thing. He beat a nice horse in Kelly’s Landing – he won this race last year with a 112 Beyer – but I don’t think he did anything that will convince his skeptics, and the debates are sure to continue. However, he's definitely back; the Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder could be his next race.

1 Comment:

Walter said...

...i see that Christening is entered Tuesday @ Delaware...best of luck...