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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sticking (Stuck?) With Hard Spun

- Hard Spun still seems to have a lot of support; after all, he's been in the money for both the Derby and Preakness despite having pace issues in each race. James Scully of Brisnet sums up the prevailing reasoning of why he should not be dismissed in the Belmont.

The pace will be slower, with Hard Spun the probable lone speed, and he's got the pedigree to run all day as a son of Danzig out of a 1 1/2-mile stakes-winning dam. Bold Forbes regressed off a front-running performance in the Derby, finishing third by four lengths at Pimlico after dueling through a wicked pace battle (like Hard Spun), but he returned three weeks later with a wire-to-wire victory in the 1976 "Test of Champions." Commendable, Touch Gold, Thunder Gulch, Tabasco Cat, Hansel, Bet Twice, Danzig Connection, Swale, Conquistador Cielo, Affirmed and Seattle Slew have all utilized their speed en route to capturing the Belmont since then. [Brisnet]
Of course, Bold Forbes had Angel Cordero to somehow nurse his speed and just barely get him home; and he was trained by Laz Barrero, who would win the Triple Crown with Affirmed two years later. Here's a somewhat grainy video of Bold Forbes' Belmont win, with Dave Johnson at the mike.

Tiago worked three furlongs at Hollywood, a shorter distance than he usually drills for John Sherriffs, who said that it "was a work preparing him for his next work." [DRF] If he does indeed continue on to the Belmont, his gallop-out after the Derby will be become one of the most discussed and analyzed in recent history. I think he's an interesting entry who has an outside shot with the right pace; the win by Jazil last year may cause some of us to re-evaluate the common wisdom that dead closers don't win the Belmont (and look how far back Great Contractor and McKenzie Bridge were in '76). But I don't think he'll present much value on Belmont day.

If there really was a commissioner of racing, he or she would certainly be working on getting Street Sense and Rags to Riches to come, and we might end up with a Belmont that serves as a true grand finale to the series instead of the reflexive anti-climax that it seems to have become when the Derby winner doesn't win the Preakness.

- I understand that some people are having problems leaving comments, and I'm really at a loss. I don't see anything listed in the "known issues" on the Blogger Help section. I have the comments settings on the least restrictive settings - no moderation, and anyone can comment. I do have the word verification on, because otherwise I get deluged with spam. If you're having a problem, please let me know and/or send the comment privately and I'll post it myself.


Anonymous said...

Well I dunno about Hard Spun. Seems his jockey is not too good at chilling out. Threatened by CPWest? Hmm. I find the Belmont the most difficult to handicap. Not just THE Belmont, but the other day there was another 1.5 mile race at Belmont on the dirt. I was at a loss.

Superfecta said...

I'm all for a commissioner of racing and completely agree that they'd be working on getting Street Sense and Rags to Riches into the Belmont.

Wait a minute, this sounds like my ideal job now that I think about it. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

Alan, when you mentioned your spam filter the light went on- have had this problem with my AOL e-mail getting through other spam filters so that may be the reason why I went incommunicado as Green Mtn Punter. In any event, I agree - NYRA management should be seriously courting the top 3 Derby/Preakness finishers for a showdown in the Belmont. This would be the next best thing to a triple crown try- it's the competition, stupid! Just like Sox vs Yankees, Bruins vs. Montreal, it's the heated competition between old rivals that keeps the fans coming in big league sports and big league racing. That's why the handicap division needs to be emphasized much more than in the recent past, that is where you can develop competition that lasts for 2, 3, 4 or more seasons, that is one obvious way to re-build the fan base and on track attendance.

Superfecta said...

OK, I was inspired to break down exactly what I'd do as commissioner of racing. I'd love to see other 'platforms' from the rest of the TBA (and regular readers, of course).

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Touch Gold was cited as one of the examples suggesting a strong Belmont for Hard Spun. I was just thinking the other day that it's actually Curlin, with his come-again ability, who reminds me of Touch Gold, only Curlin was able to overcome his Preakness starting gate stumble, whereas Touch Gold had to wait for the Belmont for his triumph. Like Touch Gold, I think Curlin will be real tough to beat in two weeks.

Anonymous said...

If Hard Spun goes it may be with a new boy.

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