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Sunday, June 08, 2008


- As some commenters were quick to point out after the race, I summarily and rather rudely dismissed the chances of Da'Tara in the Belmont. Another unqualified entry for the team of Nick Zito and Robert LaPenta, nice going guys, I wrote. D'oh! I see that some readers and even another blogger have taken some obvious delight in turning those words against me. I feel as if I'm expected to offer a humble mea culpa, as Homer always does in the end.

But all I'm going to offer is - "so?" I had a strong opinion about a particular horse, and I was wrong, what's the problem? I don't really understand what that has to do with my "credibility." I don't advertise this as a tout site. I sometimes express opinions about races; sometimes I'm right, most of the time, I'm wrong - though this is the first time in 3 1/2 years that I recall regretting such a snarky toss as this. I think that's a decent record.

In any event, if I looked at this race 100 times, I'd come to the same conclusion. This is a horse with a 425 Tomlinson mud number whose only win came in the slop, and who'd never gained ground in the stretch in any of his six fast track races. I thought that made him unqualified, and I have no problem standing by that. Perhaps that was too strong of a word, probably prompted by my annoyance with Zito who, as one commenter so correctly put it, has been "throwing darts" in Grade 1's over the last few years. But I'm far more inclined to chuckle about it than to lose any sleep.

I could certainly make a case to dismiss Da'Tara's win as a fluke given the bizarre circumstances of the race; and I suspect that his Beyer will ultimately support that contention when it comes out - especially given the fast times during the day. These tracks just can't seem to resist the notion of souping up their surfaces on big race days. But he set fairly steady fractions - as far as these things go - of 23.82, 24.48, 24.60, 25.06, 25.25, and 26.44. So he did enough during the race to win legitimately, though I think it's certainly fair to say that Denis of Cork and the others fizzled out late. In retrospect, one could look at his form and see a colt with improving form. But there was certainly no guarantee that he'd get a mile and a half just because he's by Tiznow (gimme a break), and it's not the first time that Zito has asserted that he has a horse bred for the mile and a half distance (see Hemingway's Key and Pinpoint for starters).

I've also read some talk about how much class Zito showed after the race; and indeed, he was, as usual, humble, gracious, and deferential to his competitors and to the game at large. However, I myself would like to know what Zito would have said if any of the reporters in the crowd had asked him if Da'Tara was running on steroids. I know the racing press treats him with kid gloves (as they do for most), but, given all the angst and derision over Big Brown's Winstrol, shouldn't that have been one of the first questions? Wouldn't it have been in a comparable situation in any other sport? And ten times more so in this case given the fact that Zito declined to comment when asked that question by Bill Finley last week?

Since the regulars didn't ask, I think that one William C. Rhoden should have been the one to do so. He was very quick after all to speculate in the Times today that Big Brown's missed steroids shot of May 15 is the explanation for his non-performance yesterday. So don't you think it was his journalistic responsibility to get Zito to clarify his earlier non-remarks?


Anonymous said...

You were correct about Zito and his entries.
More likely than not. he is just wasting the public's time and Lapenta's money. But as Lapenta does not care, as lightning can always strike in a horse race, like yesterday, it is usually a plus for the bettors to have another Zito entry you can "throwout."
Zito is lucky to have the amount of horses he trains as most either never make the races or break down early.
The press and public have no idea.
You were correct in your assessment.

Anonymous said...

Alan it takes a big man to stand behind your statements and for that I give you respect. Anyone can pop on after the fact and say 'ha ha' like Nelson on The Simpsons.

I have always like Zito and disagreed with the dismissed remark of his entries. But everyone has the room to respectfully disagree. That said I didn't put any money on either of his horses. So wasn't expecting either to finish in the money.

I did say that Guadalcanal wouldn't finish last (as he too was dimissed by other on this blog) and he didn't either ;>

Question with the final classification of "DNF" vs. 9th in the race. Was that something Kent was thinking of when he was completely eased instead of continuing at the non-competitive pace? I cannot think on BB's record that it will matter as everyone will know he bombed in the Belmont regardless of what the equibase chart reads or his lifetime PP's will show.

Anonymous said...

The main question to ask in the wake of another embarrassing Belmont result: How do the so-called experts continue to be fooled by these "false prophets" in the Belmont Stakes year after year?

No matter how many times they are burned they still hop on the bandwagon every time and can't wait to call Big Brown, or Smarty Jones, or any one of the numerous failures of the past 30 years the next Secretariat if not Man O' War. Then proceed to ignore the rest of the field.

Nick Zito could cite a number of reasons why his horse was a contender on Saturday but I don't think anyone bothered to ask- before the race. The greatness, brilliance if you will, of the Belmont Stakes is, in my opinion, due to it's mile and a half distance and the resulting nuances involved, including pedigree, training, and race riding strategy, nuances which apparently very few people understand. It is the "Thinking Man's" TC race, TC on the line or not.

I don't think ABC/ESPN coverage in the past few years has done it justice. Doesn't NYRA have any say over program content? Aren't they feeding the producers the "talking points"? /S/Green Mtn Punter

rather rapid said...

Alan this post is like a dectective on to something. If you rerun the Barbaro Stakes you'll see a pretty good horse running in D'Tara. I'm a little surprised the handicappers failed to glomp on to him in this weakly trained field.

BUT, as you note, the question, here's a horse wiring the Belmont off of one :49.3 breeze 8 days out since May 17 looking in the photo like Godzilla in terms of musculature. Where'd it come from? To me it was a weak performance in a pitifully trained field (after BB dropped out), which partially explains Zito who wins slow Belmonts against floundering trainers on his home turf. Be nice if somebody'd fill in the blanks.

Anonymous said...

The great Belmont was composed of a field of 3 yr. olds without much quality- when a non winner of 1 other than goes wire to wire, what else is there to say.

SaratogaSpa said...

You gave your opinion and stood behind your comments. I can annoyed when people "handicap" a race after it is won. Sure Da' Tara looks like the pick now, but you know what I did not pick him and in fact told people to "throw him out" on my blog entry prior to the Belmont. This is horse racing, kudos to those who make the picks and stand behind them

Anonymous said...

it wasn't about your comments about Da'Tara that was the controversy you caused. It was about your sarcastic remark and pointing your finger at the trainer and owner for know reason other than being rude.

Re: Another unqualified entry for the team of Nick Zito and Robert LaPenta. NICE GOING GUYS.

what was that nice going sarcastic remark all about. I felt it was un-called for. Who are you to judge Zito running his entry in the belmont. You said they were unqualified. Another blow it out yo a-hole remark.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Da' Tara, in my opinion the one thing that stuck out about him going into the Belmont was his final time of 1:42 on the Preakness undercard. Big Brown ran one furlong farther in the Preakness, and it took him 12 4/5 to get that extra furlong (though he was admittedly geared down). So Da' Tara's race on Preakness Day actually stacks up pretty well vs. Big Brown. Kinda makes you wonder why how Beyer group gave Big Brown a 100, while Da' Tara received only a 92. The phrase "name recognition" comes to mind. The only real problem i have with that comparison is that Big Brown won by 5 lengths, while Da' Tara actually lost by a nose (plus it was only three lengths back to the third place horse). So it's harder to argue that two horses basically matched Big Brown that day, rather than only one. The comparison sure looks legitimate in retrospect, however.

FWIW, i dismissed the chances of Da' Tara as well. My strongest position on the race was ona head-to-head matchup, Icabad Crane -145 over Da' Tara. My opinion was that Da' Tara would be on the lead, then would get discouraged and start backing up once Big Brown passed him. So i really don't think Alan deserves any criticism for his thoughts on Da' Tara. I myself DO operate a pay site, and i'm completely comfortable in admitting i was wrong there. Hell, i'm wrong about 70% of the time. I fail to see why Alan (or anyone else) should be held to a higher standard than that.

Anonymous said...

Rock on with your picks, Alan. The complainers keep coming back for more so they must like your blog.

Maybe in the future, you should place your picks in a special pay section!

ballyfager said...

Okay DC I made the same point on an earlier thread. And the point about the Beyer numbers needs to be amplified until people get it through their thick heads that Beyer numbers are opinion and not fact. I think they're plugged into the way real estate appraisals do with their values. They know what number they want on the bottom and they work backward from there.

One more obvious point that needs to be emphasized is - what good do Beyer numbers do Beyer. Over the last several years his picks in Triple Crown races have been abysmal.

The fact that Beyer numbers are for sale cheap is a tacit admission that he can't make money betting them. Same goes for Brown and Ragozin. If you want to be any good at this game you have to figure it out for yourself. Using other people's numbers simply won't cut it in the long run.

steve in nc said...

Alan, if it makes you feel any better, my wife thought Da'Tara looked amazing in the post parade, and my response was almost a Cheney-like "so?!"

But, if BB had been scatched before the race instead of during the race, I would have evaluated the field as a terrible one worthy only of the all button, yes, including the maiden.

D'Tara would never have been one of my contenders in a more limited ticket, but even looking back, I see no reason for any strong opinions for or against any of them, especially at the untried distance, if one could get past BB. In a field where most don't belong, almost anyone belongs.

To the anon who asked Alan: "Who are you to judge Zito running his entry in the belmont." [sic] Well, isn't that what handicapping is all about?

But I'm not about to question your views on rudeness -- your rectal remark demonstrates your superior credentials in this area. You're absolutely right - no self-respecting horseplayer or blogger would ever be sarcastic. Ever. It is unheard of. Or it was, sadly, until now. Shame, Alan.