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Monday, September 25, 2006

News and Notes - Sept 25

- Better Talk Now's win in the Sky Classic at Woodbine was achieved despite a slow pace, and trainer Graham Motion says that the seven-year old is "every bit as good as he was when he won the Breeders' Cup [Turf in 2004]." [Bloodhorse] But Motion said that there's a "very good chance" that he will opt for the Canadian International on Oct 22 rather than this year's Turf.

- How impressive was George Washington in winning the QEII Stakes on Saturday? According to the UK's Sunday Herald: Michael Kinane would probably have been done by the stewards for not making sufficient effort but for the fact that George Washington won by the easiest one-and-a-quarter lengths seen this season.

Instead, the stewards, at the behest of Frankie Dettori, the rider of Godolphin's Librettist (who was reported to be lame the following morning), suspended rider Seamus Heffernan for 14 days for improper "team tactics." Hefferman was on board Ivan Desinovich, who was part of the Coolmore team entered to ensure an honest pace for George Washington; and Dettori accused him of purposely carrying Librettist wide as he was tiring. The stewards agreed.

"As we saw it, as he started to come up the hill, he was about one off the rail," [steward William] Nunneley said. "By the time he got to the bend, he was anything up to six horses wide, and then he dropped back in again after that.

"We decided that this was improper riding, in that he had done it on purpose. I don't know why he did what he did, but for us, it's a bit like being a referee in football. We don't really work on motive, and unless someone came in with a smoking gun and said that that's what they told the jockeys to do, we wouldn't really go down that road.

"Once we had come to that conclusion, we followed the guidelines on pacemakers and team tactics, and that led us to the suspension that was imposed." [Guardian Unlimited]
Hefferman was slightly peeved, telling Coolmore trainer Aiden O'Brien: “Bullshit, it’s f***ing out of order.” [Sunday Herald]

The Independent's Chris McGrath, who observed that the feeble bump administered by Ivan Denisovich on the home turn did not remotely prejudice Librettist's chance , picked up on the incident in the larger light of the feud between Coolmore and Godolphin.
The fact that those behind him included Godolphin's other runner, Proclamation, may have contributed to Dettori's exasperation. Dettori has not ridden a Group One winner in Britain for Godolphin for two years, and it is typical of their season that both Librettist and Proclamation were lame yesterday morning. The entire stable was stricken by sickness in the spring, and earlier this month its standard-bearer, Electrocutionist, dropped dead. Of course many suspect that Godolphin has more endemic problems, and their rivals at Coolmore doubtless watched Sheikh Mohammed's frenzied recent spending at Keeneland with wry smiles.

The Maktoums hardly help themselves, moreover, in their petulant refusal to invest in yearlings by Coolmore stallions. The stud may have lost its bedrocks - Sadler's Wells is ageing, and Danehill dead - but it remains home to two of the world's most promising stallions in Montjeu and Galileo, while George Washington himself may yet prove Danehill's most precious legacy.

Coolmore continues to outperform the Maktoums' own breeding operation, and relations between the two empires were soured further on Saturday. Strong words were exchanged in the weighing room between O'Brien and Dettori. A man of congenital calm, O'Brien was plainly insulted. Whatever the truth of the matter, Dettori seemed guilty of precisely the sort of sulkiness that once threatened the fulfilment of George Washington himself. In the spring, he seemed nearly ungovernable, but O'Brien quietly insisted that all the colt had to do was grow up.
The Guardian reported that George Washington is rated at 2-1 to win the Mile. Good grief!

John has the tape of the race (with his favorite French racecaller) posted over at Not To The Swift.