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Monday, January 21, 2008

Random Picks

- A few horses that I like today:

- 7th at Aqueduct: The speedy Tough Shipmate makes his first start since April, for trainer Richard Schosberg. But he's won off layoffs of similar length twice before, most recently over this track last March. In that race, he prevailed after battling head and head for the lead much of the way. He may have to shake off Daddy Joe breaking from the outside post here, but not much other apparent speed in here, so he looks like he should be around at the finish line in his first try for a tag. Soulshine moves confidently back up the claiming ladder for the hot Jacobson barn, but has a habit of settling for minor awards.

- 5th at Gulfstream - Lookalike returns to the maiden ranks after a try in an open stakes race. She finished 10th in the Selima, but was beaten by less than eight lengths in a fine field - winner Bsharpsonata returned to win the Trop Park Oaks, and two others have subsequently placed in stakes. 5th place finisher The Cat's Affair won a maiden race here at the Gulf. The Selima was this Matz-trainee's first grass try, but her prior effort on the Keeneland Poly - a race which itself produced two winners, a stakes-placed second, and two thirds - indicates she'll like the grass. Lookalike is a daughter of Dyanaformer, out of a half-sister to Behrens and to the dam of the grassy-stakes winning Cowboy Cal.

- 8th at Gulfstream - Mambo Meister has the ten post at a mile and an eighth. I've noticed that they've barely even written any races for this distance at Gulfstream, perhaps because of the inequity of the route given the close proximity of the starting gate to the first turn. It must be an embarrassment I imagine. Mambo Meister would seem to be a throwout based on his bad luck at the post draw. However, this gelded son of King Cugat appears to have the speed to overcome that handicap, with not much early foot drawn inside. He faded to sixth in his Gulf debut, but note that the race was at the one-turn mile; he's been far more successful around two turns, and his prior such race produced the high Beyer in this field. With a couple of maiden graduates from Zito and the Toddster sure to get bet (either one, if it wins, is sure to be featured in Haskin's next Derby column), this one could present some value at his 6-1 morning line.

- 10th at Fair Grounds - Revenge Is Sweet has improved markedly since stretching out to two turns and adding blinkers. His last was a second to an Asmussen even money favorite. Not thrilled with the rider change, but looks best nonetheless. Asmussen starts King's Silver Son, the morning line favorite. This one has been 5-2 or less in each of his five starts, with four seconds and a 4th to show for all the cash invested. A lot of excuses too, so maybe with a clean trip he gets it done. But I'll use him to complete a cold exacta.

Good luck and have a great MLK Day!


Anonymous said...

Ignore The Village Vicar in Big A
R7, fresh and first off the claim for D Dutrow, at your own risk;o)

Anonymous said...

Hi Alan -

Last week I was reading a brief account somewhere about Hesanoldsalt, a five-year-old trainee of Nick Zito's, who got out of his barn, ran down a dirt road, and ran smack into a tree. He had to be put down after breaking a couple of bones - a shoulder bone, I think and something else. Maybe when you get a chance you (or someone who spends a lot of time around horses) could find out more about this, or give some sort of further explanation.

In general, are horses that stupid, to run smack into a tree? Was it that something must have spooked the horse, for it to do something like that? Do they lose all their good senses when they get scared like that?

I have never spent much time around horses, and the paddock at Monmouth Park is about the closest I ever got to a horse. I know that 'green' horses, two-year-old maidens and the like, can get scared, rear up, or lose their balance. But to run straight into a tree?? You never hear of a dog or cat or a deer running into such a large object at full speed, right? I thought horses were up there on the scale of smarter animals?


Sunny Jim

the chalk said...

Alan figured I would jump in here with some insight. The DRF had a blurb on this story.

Hesandoldsalt broke free from his groom sprinted away then ran into a tree after "ducking" to avoid a handler trying to stop him, ducking being an abrupt veer to the left or right. When a horse ducks like this they are not looking both ways to cross traffic. Nor are they slowing down, I would speculate the horse was doing at least 25mphs given the average speed is 38-40. He most likely was on gravel during this. Thus you have a reckless event in the making with no time to react by the horse.

Now I can only speculate given I wasn’t there but the person attempting to stop him used proper protocol. I would imagine they bravely stood there with their arms spread out waving. Basically it’s a divergence tactic used to bring a horse to a halt. (Note this happens more often than not on the backstretch in the mornings)

If you remember prominent NY stallion Gold Token died in a similar (tree) accident 2 years ago. Unfortunately the speed and force of the thoroughbred is not forgiving. Paddock and backstretch accidents are more common than you would suspect as well. All that holds this animal and its groom together is a 6 to 8ft leather shank. After that they are gone.

Anonymous said...

Great explanation, "Chalk." Thank you. Horses are "flight" animals, and when the flee on asphalt or gravel, they aren't able to consider that the lack of traction will have on their "moves." Personally, I think that impact is a huge factor in making them look "stupid." Kind of like if we were running on ice and didn't realize it until we tried to turn.

Of course, there are horses that manage to run right through a fence when they are bolting in a green pasture, too...but for the Hesanoldsalt example, traction probably had a lot to do with it. (wasn't there...just speculating on typical backstretch conditions)

Anonymous said...

Whoa...definitely gonna spend some time at "The Chalk's" blog. First couple of posts look very promising!

Anonymous said...

Chalk and steve d - thanks for the responses and links.

I have a greater appreciation of the outriders at a live race meet - many times I have seen them collect a loose horse on a track and make it look easy.

Maybe I was given a false impression after watching many horses that have thrown their rider at the start of a race. The horses all seem to instinctively know what to do, and proceed to keep running at or near the rest of the pack with no one on their back.

Probably because the outriders make it look easy, I didn't fully realize the dangers involved. The loose horses almost always appeared to just tire out and slow down, allowing the outriders to catch up and grab the reins, and that was that.

To just stand on foot and put your body in front of any loose and frightened horse like that groom did with Hesanoldsalt is a VERY brave act.

Sunny Jim

the chalk said...

Thanks Steve.

Something interesting for everyone. A few months back I was at few Aqueduct barns and saw the use of Goji juice. Found it interesting.

It appears more than horses are getting their use of the juice, take note of the Randy Romero story.

Anonymous said...

As for stepping in front of a charging horse I wouldn't call that brave - the consesqunces of man v. horse can be horrible. Just ask Jeff Lukas who was hit by the runaway Tabasco Cat.

As we'll recall Tabasco Cat had gotten loose one morning at 2-yrs old and Lukas tried to stop him. Jeff planted himself in the path of the runaway colt, who slammed into him. Lukas suffered a fractured skull and brain damage.

TV viewers almost got to see the impact of horse vs man in 1999 when that idiot fan at Pimlico during the Maryland Breeders' Cup tried to punch Artax in the final stretch. Luckily he missed any contact.

Anonymous said...

Track and backstretch are not equal. The track is a fairly controlled environment, and for the most part, it's the same thing every where, every time. Most horses, when they get there, know what the hell they're doing and what is expected of them.

The backstretch, on the other hand, is constantly changing. With cars, barriers, different people and different horses all the time. Additionally, it is fairly open...there are opportunities to get into hazardous situations at every turn.

A loose horse on the track is a bad, but manageable situation. A loose horse on the backstretch is pretty scary, and can end in a wide variety of ways. It's morbidly fascinating.

Lastly, chalk, I was googling Goji juice just the other day. Miracle claims are suspect, but if Randy Romero is feeling good (after having seen him on the HBO special and what he's gone through), I'm a believer. Heading to whole foods to pick up a bottle in the next few days.