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Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Night Notes

- A couple of readers brought up Bernardini in response to my being in favor of Stronach's decision to not run Harlem Rocker. Not only is that an excellent point, but their campaigns were rather similar to this point. Harlem Rocker took a seven furlong race at Gulfstream in his debut, then won a mile allowance there before taking the Withers. His Beyers were 81-97-106. Bernardini had a bad start and ran 4th in his debut, a six furlong race at Gulfstream. But, like Harlem Rocker, he won a one turn mile at Gulfstream in his second start and then, in Bernardini's case, went directly into the Withers from the maiden ranks. His Beyers were 68-90-104. So, true, Harlem Rocker is in a similar spot as was Bernardini; and in fact, he's been better.

Yes, BobF, Frank Stronach is Canadian, so it makes perfect sense that he would point this colt to the Queen's Plate. And since that race is not until June 22, he can run in a two-turn prep; perhaps even the Plate Trial on June 1. With all due respect, I still think Frank is doing the right thing here. Yes, Bernardini dared to face Barbaro, and he did get the win, albeit a tainted one. But I'm sure I was against him running in the Preakness too!

I guess I'm just conservative in these matters, and I'm expressing the way I'd manage a horse like this if I were the owner. Or, at least the way I'd like to think I would. Yes, it's the Preakness, but it's a long season, with a lot of opportunities to come. Who's thinking about the Preakness on Travers Day? Why not give the horse some time and foundation? Because, of course, I would be the sporting type and bring him back to race at four and five.

But wait a minute - foundation? experience? Who needs that if a horse can ship here from Japan and romp in a graded stakes in his second start?? I don't know how to respond to that. That, and Big Brown's Derby win, makes my argument seem outdated. So I'll at least concede that there would have been nothing wrong with running Harlem Rocker in the Preakness, and I take back what I said about the Toddster. However, I still think Frank is doing the right thing for the horse (even though he's probably doing it for himself).

- Do you think that Harlem Rocker will like long distances? He's by the second year sire Macho Uno, who himself won the Juvenile, Pennsylvania Derby, and Mass Cap. But he in turn is by Holy Bull, who is by Great Above, and I generally think more in terms of speed with that sire line. And his broodmare sire, Lit de Justice, was a spinter himself; and the BC Sprint and Eclipse winner in 1996.


Patrick J Patten said...

Being an OWNER of Harlem Rocker (Isay that tongue in cheek) I like the met mile option against older. Right now i think frank is pointing towards the Plate trial. no excitement there, but the Plate is a million dollar race in canadian, and by thte time they run that will be worth about 10 quadrillion US dollars

Anonymous said...

I like what the connections are doing with this horse. While his career path is similar thus far to BERNARDINI's, Bernie was a big stout diesel who obviously wanted to go long. Rocker seems a bit more light bodied and the breeding is far more suspect for the classic distances. He would have struggled in Pimlico (and would have been a great bet-against, but that's another story). Good luck with him in the Queen's Plate even though he's trained by the devil - hell most of these top trainers are devils anyhow...

El Angelo said...

Tom Albertrani trained a couple of my father's horses, and told him in 2006 that Bernardini was an absolute freak, arguably the best horse he'd ever seen. Running him in the Preakness was a no-brainer in his mind because he was that talented. While I don't think Harlem Rocker is bad, I haven't gotten the same vibes out of Pletcher on him at any point.

Anonymous said...

What we have here is a reversion to the pre 2006 Preakness, where all the main contenders skip the middles jewel and wait for the Belmont.

The key for Browny is that Kent has to contain his excitement and not let him win by too much. That will be the only interesting think about this race from my perspective, except of course trying to decipher who will fill out the exacta.

2007 was an aberration with all the major players returning.

In 2006 Bernardini WAS a freak, I bet him to beat Barbaro based on Albertrani's assertions.

Harlem Rocker is not a freak and connections are doing the right thing in passing.

2008's freak is Casino Drive, waiting in the wings to burst the bubble.

Anonymous said...

real freak what did he beyer a 99? while a firster on the same card by unbridled's song beyered a 101 dont crown him a freak beating on tomato cans.

Alan Mann said...

Casino Drive got a 101 Beyer. But I'm attempting to maintain some skepticism too. The way people are talking, you'd think he could be co-favored with BB depending on how the latter's Preakness goes.

El Angelo said...

Casino Drive's win ensured that Denis of Cork will be an overlay in the Belmont.

Anonymous said...

In the rare occasion I annoint a horse a "freak", I do so based on the way he looks, and the way he won, not the speed figure.

But if I must address figures, Casino Drive earned that 101 Beyer while professionally winning a graded stake in a hand ride 47 days after breaking his maiden in his debut, then enduring an illness and quarantine and travel half way around the world.

You dont think he has a right to move forward off that?

And that discussion ignores his impecable pedigree.

Bottom line, it is entirely possible that the best three year olds of this crop did not run in the Derby, and I include Proud Spell on that list.

Anonymous said...

i would say 2008's freak is big brown, winning from post twelve going a mile and an eighth on a mile and an eighth oval. winning the derby with a -1 rag number from the 20 hole in his fourth start and never being challenged in his career. even if he loses the preakness due to a bounce. could you imagine what big brown would have done in the withers? it would have been laughable against that third par group of a low quality crop. casino drive may be talented but the most highly touted horse he has beat is tomcito who had no prayer going one turn. freak is not a word i use for that. we can follow this up in threeish weeks and if he wins the belmont i will concede that you are right and he is a freak. till then he is no freak to me.

Anonymous said...

Casino Drive is legit. Denis of Cork is a glorified miler who got another perfect ride by Borail to win the best of the rest award. Keep in mind he ran 10 panels over a glib surface in like 2:03.5. Whoopie.

Big Brown's pedigree will catch up with him at the Big Sandy, if he even makes the race. The question is, will there be anyone to reel him in as he runs the final quarter mile like a standardbred. Let's get him to the quarter pole in 2:02 flat. Then from there he staggers home in 27 and 1/5ths seconds.

I think Casino Drive will reel him in, but of course we're getting way ahead of ourselves. And please, can we put the tomcito thing to rest. That horse sucks.

Anonymous said...

I will argue that Big Brown has not faced a real challenge either, so far these colts are a bad crop, at least those that have tried the triple crown trail.

BB has never even had dirt kicked in his face, nor had to overcome trouble. The 20 post actually helped him.

He is certainly a very good horse, but right now is best of a so far bad bunch, he does not even match up from the beloved Beyer or raw time perspective with most of the other recent winners.

His Derby Beyer was very generous over a surface that was lightning all day. He will bounce back into the even hundred range this weekend, even Dutrow is predicting that, but there simply may be no one to challenge him at that number.

But, like the recent trend, he will have nothing left on Belmont Day.