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Monday, May 21, 2007

A Post Preakness Post

- It's post-Preakness, and as with the pre-Preakness, I find that there's not all that much to say. I think that the race pretty much speaks for itself. It was a lively affair, with the big move by Hard Spun, the surprise challenge by C P West, Street Sense's burst and Curlin's comeback. But what's missed on the replay - both NBC's and the track's - is the journey of Street Sense, and how he seemingly went from Durkin calling him 12 lengths back to the lead in a mere instant. So you might want to check out the head-on angle at Cal Racing; it provides a better view.

He remained in the two path down the backstretch, with just one horse behind him. When he started his move, he burst inside of three horses around the turn and started up his familiar rail path. However, Xchanger was quitting badly in front of him and, like in the Derby, Borel had to make a split second move to get out and around. You could say that he again was lucky to be able to make that move so seamlessly with no interference from horses outside. But again I think that you have to attribute that in large part to just how quick he is. Man, he was flying!

I have to say that as much as I admire the courage of Curlin to come back (and it helped too that he finally changed leads), I come away from the Preakness with more admiration for the loser. Part of that could be due to connections that are hard to root for (and apparently Steve Asmussen doesn't come off very well on HBO's Real Sports). But I also have an affinity for horses who can close from way back; and this one seems able to pass all of them well before the eighth pole.

I think that move would serve him well in the Belmont; I could see him running in similar fashion to Afleet Alex's Belmont. It seems as if Nafzger is a bit more amenable to the idea, at least according to Jay Privman in the Form. Big 3 showdown in Belmont? reads the headline; which to me, is saying there's a Big 3 showdown between Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Dennis Kucinich. Why is Hard Spun running in this race? Sure, he hasn't been beaten at all badly - and I didn't have him anywhere on my trifecta tickets - but he hasn't come close to winning either. Does it seem like a mile and a half could possibly help him turn the table? I know about the breeding; I touted him myself earlier in the year in part due to his relation to Little Current, one of my first favorite horses. I knew Little Current, and Hard Spun is no Little Current.

The Belmont is definitely next for Curlin, according to Asmussen.

Sightseeing got a 97 Beyer in the Peter Pan; he got a 96 in the Wood, and has improved his fig each time out this year. This Phipps-bred son of Pulpit has some solid distance influence on his distaff side. He's out of Resort, a mare by Pleasant Colony who was second to Jostle in the 2000 Coaching Club American Oaks when the race was still a mile and a half. This is also the family of the 1988 Oaks winner Goodbye Halo, the two-time Turf Classic winner Val's Prince, and Serious Spender, who won the 1 5/8 mile Gallant Fox Handicap at the Big A. Still, I don't know that Shug will run him in the Belmont. He looked like he was hanging in the stretch of the Peter Pan to me, and just got up because the leaders tired.

Tiago and Imawildandcrazyguy are expected to run, and both should pick up some mutuel support off their late closes in the Derby. Privman also mentions Great Hunter and Nobiz Like Shobiz as possibilities. Nobiz Like Shobiz! Remember him?

- The Head Chef had her jar of Nashville blackberry preserves taken away at the airport last night. Seems it qualifies as a gel. They told her that it would be donated to a womens' shelter. So let me get this straight - the preserves were taken away because they could possibly be some kind of explosive. But it's OK to then give it to some homeless women? Just thought I'd ask.


Anonymous said...

I thought it was a monster performance by both colts. The track was not running particularly fast earlier on the card; i know because i was eye-balling a prop on the running time all day. It did seem to speed up a little bit after the rain started, as Flashy Bull/Hesanoldsalt ran a 1:47 4/5 in the race preceeding the Preakness. Not sure if they brought the dozers out at any point and sealed the track, though it seems to make some sense. But going back a few races from the Preakness, the highly-regarded Chelokee had clocked a 1:43 2/5. If you add 12 seconds to Chelokee's time for the additional furlong (and that's being extremely generous), it puts Chelokee at 1:55 2/5 for the Preakness distance. Curlin/Street Sense ran a 1:53 2/5, which is TWO FULL SECONDS faster. That's a difference of roughly 10-12 lengths. Also note that it was several lengths back to Hard Spun in third, who has proven himself to be a very good horse (note: Just like in the Derby, Hard Spun finished light-years ahead of the other pace combatants). Let's also compare the Preakness to the time of the older stakes horses in the previous race. Add 6 seconds to Flashy Bull's time (again, very generous), and you get a 1:53 4/5. So Curlin/Street Sense not only bombed Chelokee, they also beat the older horses by no less than 2 lengths. It also happened to tie the Preakness record, so throw that in there too. Last i checked, they've been running that race a very long time, and lots of good horses have gone through there. I really thought the Beyer would come back huge, like maybe 120 or something close. I guess the Beyer Boys were less impressed than i was, because Curlin was given a 111. I assume Street Sense was given a 111 also, though he may have recived a 110 (matching the figure from the Derby win). Speaking for myself, i believe Street Sense ran better in the Preakness than he did in the Derby. He just happened to lose. Incidentally, Chelokee got a 95 and Flashy Bull got a 107.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it possible the rain that took place between the Shaeffer and the Preakness effected the speed of the track? Not to take away anything from the top two.

Anonymous said...

I made the dirt track about one second fast early in the card, alw horses were beating their lifetime best.

Mid- card the horses were mostly consistant with their best times so the track seemed fair.

Could the rain have sped it up, or could they have scraped the rail in the 75 minutes before the Preakness? Very possible.

All in all the fig seems fine as is, Flashy Bull and Hesanold salt ran similar numbers in their prior starts. SS and Curlin likely moved forward off the Derby, but not to 120 range.

jim said...

Anyone think Hard Spun made his move too early?
He started to fly well before the 2nd turn, then just gassed out with 1.5f left. If he were to break later, any difference in the result?

Anonymous said...

James, no doubt he moved too soon. Pino said something about being worried about getting boxed in by CP West, but looking at the replay, I think that's bull. My opinion however is that the horse isn't has good as the top two, and that while it may have been closer, it wouldn't have changed the outcome.

Anonymous said...

I think Pino made a huge error, but I agree that even if he waited, he would not have finished better than 3rd. Of all the rides, I was most impressed with Prado's ride of C P West. In fact, they spoiled my superfecta, so my eye was pretty much glued to that #9 the whole race. Edgar Prado is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Pino had no control over HARD SPUN. I believe this regardless of what the man might say in interviews after the race. HARD SPUN likes to cruise at too high a speed when he has a target to run at. As the front two began to tire on the backstretch HARD SPUN moved to them on his own. He's a talented pent up dummy, IMO.