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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Welcome to DRF Readers

- If you're visiting for the first time via Steven Crist's new blog-ified version of his Saratoga Journal, welcome and thanks for stopping by. By all means, please visit the other passionate, talented and talkative bloggers of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance; either via our central website, or by using the individual links in the sidebar. Which I hope is updated (I'll be promptly hearing from Patrick if it's not.) There's something for everyone I think, so if you don't like it here, I'm sure you can find a site that strikes your fancy.

- With my departure for Del Mar less than 72 hours away, I suppose I should be all 'surf and turf' all the time. But it's hard to ignore the opening day proceedings up at the Spa. And, I'm undefeated at the meeting! Though I needed my top pick Bold Trust on top in order to make some big money (relatively), I'll settle for the conso exacta which returned a solid $28. My pick was sent off as the favorite with Immortal Eyes scratched, but was no match at all for first-timer Sargent Seattle (Vindication) from the Stanley Hough stable. His winning time of 1:03 2/5 was a fifth off the track record. Hough has a reputation as a big first-time two-year old guy but didn't have a winner in that category last year at Saratoga; I'd guess, without my Formulator in front of me, that his last at the Spa was probably Discreet Cat.

- Back to Del Mar, the second week starts today, and Hank Wesch, writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune, sums up the first week of the Polytrack era, noting that the times, though still slow by CA standards, got faster as the week goes on. But the most important stat is this: There were five fatal breakdowns on the dirt in the first six days last year and none on Polytrack last week.

“Horses are winning from everywhere and the track has held up great,” [GM Jim] Pendergest said Monday. “The comments we are getting from trainers and riders have been, by and large, very positive.” [SignOnSanDiego]
And for the record, Wesch writes that the newspaper report, linked to from this site, that said that there were expensive adjustments made to the surface before the meet, was incorrect; instead, the work was part of the overall $9 million cost.

Woodbine is in the midst of adding the cable jelly to its surface. Jen Morrison, who writes her Thoroughblog and covers the track for the Form, told me that's while there seems to be some improvement, some jockeys have been hit in the eye with the kickback and have taken to wearing masks. She added that the horses, who don't have masks, are swallowing the stuff, ugh. If cable jelly was deemed to be unsafe for the Pacific Ocean at Del Mar, I can't imagine it could be too great serving as equine feed. The issue of jockeys and horses breathing in the dust is one that we don't hear much serious discussion about. I think that everyone is just closing their eyes and hoping it's not a problem. Let's check back on that in about three years and hope there are no long-term health consequences.

Taking a peek at Jen's blog, I saw that there was a spill in the first race at Saratoga involving favored Massoud. Crist wrote that everyone seemed to be OK except the people who backed the underlaid favorite; but we'll listen up for updates.

- And, Sunday is Angel Cordero bobblehead day. No word on whether the giveaway will include a second doll bearing a machete.


Anonymous said...

The fact that there were no breakdowns on polytrack during the first week of the Del Mar Meet this year tells me that the 5 or 6 breakdowns last year have just been delayed this year,their non-occurrence to date is nothing more than a temporary respite from the inevitable Darwinian outcome. Instead of lowering the bar any further why not go back to the original, noble goal of thoroughbred racing and breeding, i.e., "improvement of the breed"?
/S/Green Mtn Punter

Alan Mann said...

Wow, Mr. Green Mtn Punter, you really feel passionately about this. I share your desire to see an upgrade in the breed in terms of longevity and soundness. But I don't agree that it's necessarily a temporary respite. My impression is that the tracks at which the surface has worked, the injury rate has remained low. The ones at which there have been problems are another matter. I agree with you that it's not for every track. But I'd like to see it work. How about improving the breed and developing a safer surface.

Jim L said...

Here's a link to some images from Opening Day...........yes, I'm no Barbra Livingston.......

Jim L said...

Anonymous said...

Polytrack may prove to be worthwhile for some tracks but I hope that it is not installed on the main tracks at Belmont and Saratoga. It may make more sense at Aqueduct since that meet lasts for 6 months through the worst weather. I am not a Luddite when it comes to change but let's let the case for polytrack be conclusively made elsewhere before jumping on that bandwagon. And there is much yet to be proven over a number of years of experience before we can identify all of the unintended consequences of synthetic racing surfaces. So,on that note, off to the Spa for a great week-end of racing and relaxation at America's greatest racetrack! /S/ Green Mtn Punter