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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Notes - Nov 26

- It must have been a familiar feeling for Cornelio Velasquez on Sunday, sitting on a supremely talented colt trained by Barclay Tagg, and taking aim at the leader entering the stretch run. Like Nobiz Like Shobiz, Showing Up blitzed by and drew away for an easy win in yet another extremely impressive display of equine talent seen over the holiday weekend. The final quarter went in 23.56 en route to a final clocking of 1:59.35. And as correctly predicted right here, Obrigado was up to get second and complete an exacta of $24.60.

Watching the race, I was getting a little nervous about Showing Up; he was further back than usual, and didn't seem to be going anywhere. I could never be a jockey; I'd always be moving too soon. But Tagg seemed to be thinking the same way: "Well I was a little angry he was back in fifth place, and I was hoping he was in third place."

We rightly complain about three-year olds being retired, but we should feel pretty lucky going into 2007. Not only will we (hopefully) have the otherwordly Discreet Cat, but Showing Up is a horse that I think may be able to compete with the top grass horses in the world next year.

- When the horses came out onto the track for the third at the Big A on Saturday, I thought that the 5 horse, Bark Dust, looked a bit stiff. Handicapping based on visual observations is far from a strong point, but I do feel qualified to make at least some evaluations. As I started having those thoughts about the Todd Pletcher-trained three-year old, who was running for a $75000 tag, he and jockey Garrett Gomez, left their lead pony and galloped off. In the past, I would have thought that was good, that the horse was anxious to run. But last week on TVG, I heard someone, I believe it was Gary Stevens, comment in the negative on a similar situation, pointing out that it meant that the jockey felt that the horse was in need of being warmed up more aggressively.

Well, I don't know if my observation was just plain wrong or if he warmed up out of it, not only did Bark Dust win, but he did so stretching out to a distance that seemed to be beyond his best, and did so in a remarkably game performance in which he just would not the favored Mister Supremo get by.

Just a few minutes later, Pletcher's Sam P. won the 5th race at Churchill, his second winner of the day there - he got part of a dead heat with Our Sacred Honour in the third (and remember, we're going to watch for that one on the grass). Later, Pletcher just missed taking the Kentucky Jockey Club when a game Tiz Wonderful proved to be indeed wonderful enough and battled back to beat the trainer's Any Given Saturday. But he took the meet finale with Meritocracy.