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Monday, May 26, 2008


- Ian McKinlay is Richard Dutrow's hoof guru, and arguably the most important man in racing right now as he seeks to make Big Brown's quarter crack go away in time for him to be ready for the Belmont.

McKinlay said he has dealt with far more serious foot troubles, and on the eve of major races. He treated Touch Gold for a badly torn hoof before he won the 1997 Belmont and aided River Keen before he took the 1999 Jockey Club Gold Cup. "River Keen was dead lame the day before the race and I fixed it up," he said. [Newsday]
He told the Form: "Unless I make some boneheaded move this will be a walk in the park." Sounds as if these two guys get along just fine, doesn't it? McKinlay has a website on which you can learn everything you need to know about quarter cracks, including a video (scroll down, bottom right) with a graphic demonstration of the treatment (on the harness horse Mr. Feelgood).

Dutrow tried to assure the press that he's not concerned; and in fact said that the horse would "kick butt" even if the race was today. But an observer at the press conference told me that he seemed most definitely concerned. We of course have no way to know how the horse feels, nor how that foot will be faring in that last quarter mile in which we've seen so many Triple Crown aspirations melt away. I think that keeping a close eye on Dutrow's demeanor may be as good a way as any to gauge the horse's true condition.

In the meantime, I'm thinking that it's time to start taking a look at the other contenders in search of any possible Birdstones in the field. For me, that does not include Casino Drive, who I wouldn't bet here under any circumstances, if only out of the principle that virtually unraced horses can't come here and beat the best three-year olds we have, as little as that might be saying in this particular year. I think it would make a mockery of the sport here, and personally, I'd rather see Richard Dutrow on the cover of Sports Illustrated as its Sportsman of the Year than to see that horse in the winners circle on June 7.


Anonymous said...

Don't despair, Alan, Casino Drive winning the Belmont will generate a different sort of excitement. Casino Drive is very exciting ONLY because he's a half brother to Jazil and 3/4 bro to Rags to Riches, or the other way around. Anyway, with dosage numbers (I know that's for the derby not the belmont) ignoring dam side numbers, it will be very interesting for bloodstock analysis for a mare's third foal (out of 3!) in a row to win the belmont. I do not think that is a mockery of anything except the tradition that deemphasizes dam side analysis PROBABLY for the sole reason that it is statistically very difficult to analyze a mare's offspring, there being so very few per mare. Stallions, on the other hand, have hundreds or thousands of data points to analyze. It should be interesting already, but you know, tradition is hard to budge.

See you at the track later.

SaratogaSpa said...

I agree that Casino Drive has only run twice, never as a 2 year old, and it would be mighty strange if he wins the Belmont, but it would be a big story, not as quite as big as Big Brown winning, but the Same Mare producing 3 Belmont Stakes winners in a row is a big story. Plus the whole Japanese owned/trained angle is interesting.

Superfecta said...

Come on over to the dark side - Tomcito's able to breathe again!

Anonymous said...

Isn't Casino Drive in the Belmont just the logical extension of what has been going on, i.e., few races so as not to tax the fragile, one dimensional runners in the hope that they can string the 3 Triple Crown races together before they go lame or break down? So out the window go all the traditional 2 and 3 YO stakes which used to be considered preps for the Triple Crown? That is the problem which Alan has already alluded to? If this is the new paradigm then it shortchanges the fans, as usual. Again, it helps the owners and breeders but harms the racing associations, the states, the other horsemen, and the fans.
/S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

I agree with green mountain punter. Not sure why Alan feels so strongly about his anti CASINO DRIVE sentiment. It strikes me as misguided nationalism or something. He probably should get used to the idea of the horse winning b/c at this point he's the most likely horse to win the race. He has a very nice prep over the surface, and has a huge timing advantage over big brown. Now Brownie has come up a bit gimpy and the breeding will tell in the final quarter mile.

Anonymous said...

To me, Casino Drive seems like the next logical progression.

Many years, a late developer comes along to be the cream of the crop after the Derby contenders/pretenders fade away.

Last year was the aberration, with Curlin, Hard Spun and Street Sense continuing postward.

Perusng Steve Crist's historical Belmont charts, it does seem to make sense to dig deep past Casino for an upsetter, since there have been just as many inscrutable bombs as second choices to win this race lately.

Anonymous said...

i think casino drive winning the belmont would be more of a reflection on japanese training methods than the state of the game in the u.s.

his preparation seems similar to the european training we've seen for years in which 2 yo's have a race or two (yes i know casino drive didn't start at 2) and then are brought back at three and go straight into a race like the 1,000 guineas or the epsom derby with one or even no preps.

would a horse like casino drive be looked at differently if o'brien, weld or fabre brought him from europe? i guess he probably wouldn't be 2 for 2 on dirt :)

cheers, chris