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Sunday, November 05, 2006

BC Notes and Quotes

- Disappointing race by Lava Man, and I guess he's just a California horse. That doesn't disgrace him, he's still a great story, but he has serious limitations.

"Try to put any positive spin on it you can," said Doug O'Neill, Lava Man's trainer. "It just wasn't his day. He's got a few of these on his record and I'll hope he'll bounce back like he did after the Japan and New York debacles. (Jockey) Corey (Nakatani) said he was a little anxious in the starting gate and he had to give a little more than he wanted to in order to overcome his trouble at the starting gate." [Louisville Courier-Journal]
Aidan O'Brien talked up the effort of George Washington, who finished 6th at an overbet 9-1:
"It was his first time on the dirt and on this surface horses get a rough passage but you could see his class as he travelled so well....Basically he is pure speed, though, and I think he ran a great race on his first attempt at the distance." [Sporting Life UK]
Meanwhile, David Junior was as dead on the board as a horse could be, especially one considered to be one of the top horses in the world. He was 17-1 for much of the betting, and came down a bit to 14-1 at post time. Racing towards the golden rail, he was eased in the stretch. For a race that his owners were supposedly pointing for all year, it was a shockingly poor performance, and he was checked out by vets afterwards. His trainer Brian Meehan said that jockey Jamie Spencer told him the horse "seemed to go out on him" around the five-furlong mark.
"He said it wasn't an issue with the ground or the kickback or any of those situations," Meehan said. "We've got a vet going down to check him over and see that he's OK, but at this point in time, it's hard to say what has gone wrong." [LA Times]
Here's an interesting note about the rail bias from The Australian:
At daybreak there was a different kind of vandalism when someone decided to send out a tractor to scrape away excess dirt from along the running rail and spread it in the centre of the track. The result was a fast lane on the inside that dictated the pattern of racing for most of the day.

In the press box the actions of that tractor driver were the subject of intense discussion among the British racing media, who seem obsessed with the idea that Americans are somehow out to dud them.
Seems like a silly idea, but if so, they only "dud-ed" just about any horse starting from the two post or beyond!

- Todd Pletcher's 17 horses earned a total of $3,492,400 in purse money, for a trainer's share of $349,240.
“This is not a game of secondary awards and of course, I’m not happy with not winning a race....but the idea is to get your horses ready and to have them run well and for the most part, my horses did run well. [Boston Herald]
Fleet Indian was reported to be OK, at least in relative terms, after pulling up in the Distaff.

- Frank Calabrese, the owner of Dreaming of Anna, has the Kentucky Derby in mind. "She doesn't know the difference between girls and boys." [Baltimore Sun] That would be pretty funny if a horse from the Juvenile Fillies won the Derby before a horse from the Juvenile did. Just as she had to answer questions about handling stakes horses on the dirt after winning on the turf, she, and the other dirt winners other than Invasor, will be looked at with some doubt after riding the golden rail to victory.

- The Mile is the race that absolutely killed me. Even after holding a Pick Three ticket with Wait A While in the middle of Street Sense and Thor's Echo, and for some reason making the error of not including Ouija Board on that combination, I was alive to Gorella and Araafa in the Pick Three that started in the F&M Turf, and which included Thor's Echo. And, I had tickets that started with Thor's Echo, and concluded with Round Pond (and even included Aragorn, who I didn't really like). Ouch. I did like Miesque's Approval for minor awards, but never for the top spot. He actually came from further back than Gorella, so the latter had no excuse at all. Guess I was wrong about the effect that her prior race would have on her.


Anonymous said...

I didn't think David Junior was "dead on the board", at least not anymore than expected. He absolutely figured to be ignored by the American betting public. As for Gerorge Washington going off @ half the price of David Junior, that wasn't unexpected either. George Washington had received far more hype over here as the Mile-favorite-turned-Classic-entrant. Not to mention, Aiden O'Brien is gonna pull more money over here than Brian Meehan. As for the running of the race itself, David Junior was obviously a huge disappointment. I thought he was far-better equipped to handle the dirt/distance than was George Washington, and i backed him strongly in a matchup vs. that one. As for Bernardini, well, he was an even bigger disappointment. Sure, he ran well enough, but i think we were all expecting a good deal more. Castellano said afterward that he just didn't appear to handle the Churchill surface that well. I guess that's as possible as anything else. The horse still made his move and looked every bit a winner coming off the turn, but again, in retrospect it appeared that perhaps Castellano moved too soon. No way to tell if that cost him the race or not, and i'm sure that'll be a subject of debate for some time.

On a happier note, Ouija Board looked every bit the champion that she is. Great performance by her, as usual. Good as Wait a While is, i was surprised by the number of people who had her on equal footing with Ouija Board, considering that one's credentials. Part of that probably lies with what Green Mountain Punter pointed out, people just seem in a rush to crown new champions.

Big performance by Red Rocks, and i'm happy to say i called that one. Second year in a row i've had the longshot winner in the Turf, in fact. I guess following the Euro scene really does pay off. I'm sorry to report that i didn't bet him to win however, i just took him in a matchup. That was inexcusable, considering Red Rocks' post-time odds.

The Mile. Yep, Gorella was a gigantic disappointment. I'm not surprised she lost, as i thought the race was fairly wide-open, but i certainly wasn't expecting THAT. No idea what happened, she just didn't fire. Pretty much the same story with Araafa. No apparent excuse. How Miesque's Approval was able to beat horses like this, i'll never understand. But that's the Breeders Cup i guess, we see things like this every year.

Principle Secret? I was downright shocked that he went to the lead and engaged in a pace battle again. Un-freaking-believable. And talk about throwing in the towel, i've never seen a horse running backwards so fast. Great Hunter ran okay, i suppose, but i was expecting a lot more from him as well.

Anonymous said...

1. As a fallen away degenerate horseplayer yesterday's BC reminded me why I can no longer commit to this great game- I just can't keep watching good horses get killed. If it will take unfair headlines in the Times to get racing to take the safety of its stars seriously, then give me more headlines. I mean the fact that you have to send horses injured at Churchill all the way to Lexington for treatment is a disgrace.

2. All of the problems with ESPN's coverage were outweighed by Bailey's comentary. The guy has a real talent for communicating information that I have never heard before.

3. I loved the win by Miesque's Approval because it brought back memories of his incredible Grandmother. In 1987, a little 3 year old filly from France, Miesque, came over here and blew away the best male milers in the world at Hollywood Park. The track that day was like concrete. A year later, little Miesque, now a four year old, came to Churchill and faced a terrific field which included Belmont Stakes winner Bet Twice and the good Steinlen.
On a rainsoaked swampy turfcourse, Miesque repeated, blowing the field away by four lengths. What a mare. Talk about your poetry in motion. Glad to see she's passed her genius on to subsequent generations.

Alan, keep up the good writing.

Anonymous said...

Its time for the sport and its fans to come to grips with the fact that breakdowns are a rare, tragic possibility to which great lengths are taken to avoid.

It's also time for perpetually outraged fans like yourself to realize that euthanization is truly the kind and humane thing to do in this situation. You heard Bramlage say on the telecast that that "there's nothing to put back together there, which can get the needed blood supply to heal." Whether or not there was a clinic or Zeus himself on the grounds at Churchill, Pine Island's fate was sealed.

What sickens me is to see the racing press play to your kind when they lead a story with the "tragic death" or "marred running" of the Distaff. This is wrong! Pine Island's death should be noted at the end of the story as a sad and tragic unforseebale abberation.