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Monday, January 07, 2008

Piling On Late

- I get an email alert anytime that I receive a comment, and on occasion I'm surprised to see one related to a post from long ago. It generally turns out to be either spam, or from someone who happened upon an item from the archives who is pointing out that I was wrong. It's pretty easy I suppose, with the benefit of hindsight, to go through all of the posts and pick out those circumstances, which, admittedly, are not at all lacking. There have been times that I was actually right (such as, for example, my longstanding insistence that racing in New York would go on as scheduled, and under NYRA, on Jan 1) (well? no one ever asked about Jan 23!), but I don't get many congratulations on those; guess that's just the way things go.

Here are a couple of recent examples. Before last year's Belmont, when owner Larry Roman was threatening to run Digger in protest of Street Sense's defection, he said that Hard Spun would “need to be going :44 if he’s going to go by us in the first four furlongs.” So I wrote that the horse "couldn't run a 45 second half even if they wanted him to." So the recent commenter inquired: Do you still believe that Digger cant run a 44 half?

Since the Belmont, Digger, now co-owned by IEAH Stable, has won three stakes races and set a pace of 44 2/5 in the Jerome. So, yeah, I guess he can. Though he didn't on Saturday when he couldn't keep up with a slow pace and was eased in the stretch. "It didn't feel like anything was wrong; he just did not try to compete," said [jockey] Horacio Karamanos. [Wash Post]

And then there's the comment I received regarding my criticism, in a post from May, 2006, of West Point's entry of Flashy Bull in that year's Derby. I wrote that the horse didn't belong in the race, and was being used merely as a promotional tool for the syndicate. The commenter wrote:

if you owned flashy bull and you had the chance to run in the ky bet your ass you would be there. that horse had every right to be there. you dont earn a spot in the derby for shits and giggles. he is now a grade I winner. nobody thought he would win a grade I, yet he won the stephen foster. so, for the record terry finley knows how to pick good horses and knows where to run them. look at the stats for 2007 for west point you ignorant know nothing.
West Point certainly had a good year in 2007. I never questioned Terry Finley's ability to pick horses (though I have his ability to select a prospective NY racing franchise holder and his acting in an ethical manner as a member of the board of the NYTHA when it endorsed Empire). And yes, Flashy Bull won a Grade 1.

But I don't at all regret anything I wrote in that post. Taking a look at his past performance lines prior to the Derby (pdf), we see that, after graduating from the maiden ranks in his 5th start, Flashy Bull was plunged right into graded stakes company. He vindicated that decision with his OK second in the slowly-run Remsen, and respectable performances in the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth. He was then thrashed in the Florida Derby, after which trainer Kiaran McLaughlin came up with the 'thumps' excuse. So, he went into the Derby off a distant 7th place finish, eligible for entry level allowance races, and with a career best Beyer of 94. Doesn't add up to Derby to me, then or now; the fact that he subsequently improved and won a weak Grade 1 (defeating Magna Graduate, Diamond Stripes, Jonesboro, Wanderin Boy, Master Command, Wiggins, and Mr. Umphrey) notwithstanding. His "effort" in the Derby, when he merely galloped wide around the track, did little to dispel the thought that he was just there for the photo op.

Flashy Bull was thrashed when moved up to "real" Grade 1 company for the Whitney, and then came up with one of those convenient injuries that allowed him to be retired with his 'Grade 1 winner' status, and without any further damage to his reputation from racing against top tier competition. Too cynical a view? Probably. If so, and to borrow from the Mike Huckabee playbook, whilst I of course would never be so negative, others might suggest that perhaps the horse would have remained sound at four had he not previously been pushed to a level of competition for which he was not suited at the time in order to be used as a sales tool for West Point. Though I never said that.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the Jan. 1 NYRA call. Now tell us what will happen on 1/23!!

I think they will all figure out a way to finalize the deal. I will finally open my NYRA rewards account and life will be good.

Anonymous said...

Ah, digging back into the archives is always fun to do.

I'll cite this gem that Andy Beyer made regarding Flashy Bull and Mike Smith before the Kentucky Derby:

quote: "Andy Beyer: You've got to be kidding. I'm not sure Smith could win if he were on the reincarnation of Secretariat. He was riding so poorly at Gulfstream this winter that the strongest handicapping angle at the meeting was "Mike Smith off."

Didn't Flashy Bull even fail to win the namesake race for his father? Going back in time I think more people had a higher opinion of Sinister Minister who had just put in that jawdropping wow effort in the Bluegrass Stakes.

Again people get these amazing views of the past with that thing we call hintsight!

I was then and still am willing to give props to Roman for wanting to fill the Belmont void with a fatter field when Street Sense backed out. Pletcher only slid in Rags when the field was that thin and lucky for us all. IMHO anyone comparing a would-be effort in June of a 3-yr to their fall efforts is an idiot.

Was Digger months and months earlier still as developed to put in that speed? I'd leave that discussion best over drinks along with other debate such as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin ;>