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Friday, September 08, 2006

Belmont Notes - Sept 8

- Belmont reopened on a beautiful late summer day, and only 3,776 people showed up. We can expect a press release from Empire any moment now. A twilight card at Belmont last Friday instead of Saratoga certainly wouldn't have drawn the 18,000 or so that the latter did, but it would at least have gotten the fall meet off to a festive start instead of what I imagine must have been a pretty depressing one. Still, we do have the three Grade 1's on Saturday. For the comparable program last year, which included a 4th Grade 1, the Woodward, with Saint Liam, the crowd was just 8,365, with gas prices well over $3. I imagine they'll be hard pressed to get that on Saturday.

Latent Heat won today, beating older horses handily at 1-2. I didn't realize that he had earned a 107 Beyer for his allowance win at Saratoga. Today, he got a mile in 1:35.34; final quarter in 24.52 seconds. Next stop, who knows, but it will be in stakes company I'm sure. Of course, there's the Jerome on Oct 1, if Frankel wants to take on Discreet Cat.

I I posted about the Phipps/Shug McGaughey first-timer Foolish Bid who ran in the baby turf race. Noting his morning line of 8-1, I said he could go off anywhere from 4-1 to 14-1, but I was wrong. Try 26-1! He finished well back of Pletcher's Cowtown Cat, who I specifically said I didn't like.

Here's some interesting stats on Phipps' trainer Shug McGaughey. If you look at his record with two-year old first timers over the last five years, he has a winning percentage of 16%. But if you look at just the last 12 months, he's 0 for 17. And you have to go back 23 starts, to Aug 15 of last year, to find his last winner with one of these. Another reason why it pays to be cognizant of recent trends when you're looking back at trainers' percentages.

Shug and Phipps had a long priced winner in the 7th, a maiden claiming race on the turf, with Chantal Sutherland aboard. Humdinger (Broad Brush) was 12-1 in his first try for a tag, and first attempt on the turf. He's a classic Phipps-bred, out of a half sister to Finder's Fee; second dam Fantastic Find, third dam Blitey, etc, etc..., yet, there he was for a 45K tag. He looked like a winner every step of the way, handily stalking a slow pace, and skipping away in a final eighth of 12.04 seconds; so maybe Shug pulled one over on everyone, including the bettors.

- Trainer Keith O'Brien hadn't had a winner all year prior to Saratoga, but had four winners from 25 starters there. And he won the opener of the Belmont meet with 14-1 Sacre Via. Johnny V was aboard, as he was for two of the winners upstate. 8-1 shots completed the $3401 triple, and the meet is off and running.