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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Challenge Day Live Blog (Past Post Edition)

- It's approaching midnight on Saturday, and I haven't seen nor learned the results of the four stakes at Saratoga earlier today. After an early BBQ dinner at my brother's, we went to the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center for a free concert. It was a tribute show to Johnny Cash, and we got to see The Persuasions, Marshall Crenshaw, Laura Cantrell, David Bromberg, Jay Farrar from Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt (his rendition of I Still Miss Someone was my favorite song of the night), and John Doe from X. These two women sitting next to us, seeing John Doe's name in the program, thought it was a pseudonym for somebody really famous. I think they thought they were going to see Billy Joel. Must have been a big letdown when they heard, "Hi. My name is John Doe."

Anyway, I'm going to watch the ABC telecast now and do a running commentary. I was hoping to be alive in some Pick Three's, but I just watched Tiz It get beaten in the 6th by 34-1 Joppa's Falls. I'm not the only one who'd lost money on that one at far lower odds in one or more of his 20 losses. So I have nothing going here, damn.

ABC leads off with Jeanine Edwards talking about how Pletcher is having a slow year. Can't they put some heavy makeup on her to hide those bulging veins in her neck? Privman touts Criminologist in the Diana, Kenny Mayne likes him too, and he's overbet at 5-1; I don't like her at all. Hank likes Dynaforce, who I don't like either.

I could easily see Todd Schrmmppff in the Joe Tessitore role. Bailey now has all the mannerisms of a professional broadcaster. They said he was gone over the summer, I didn't notice, what was he up to? Randy Moss hypes the quality of this card, and he's not exaggarating at all in this particular case.

"Something a little bit different," Tessitore says about Female Friday; an understatement to say the least. It's by far the most drastic restructuring of racing's biggest day since the series started in 1984. To just ignore the controversy it generated is to not portray the story as it happened.

Well, I would have still been alive in the Pick Three with Forever Together. I used front-running Bayou's Lassie, plus the three horses recommended by readers here; and the 8-1 winner was amongst those.

Good camera work by ABC at first, picking up the field from the infield camera on the backstretch. However, I thought they kept with it for too long, and when they then switched to a side angle on the turn, I found it extremely disorienting as to exactly where they were on the track. However, an excellent overhead shot on the replay allowed Bailey to take us through the enormous winning move from far, far back. That view makes closing surges such as hers look far more dramatic than the standard pan shot; even the Head Chef took notice.

Story on Big Brown here; this better be good or else I'll be fast forwarding through it. Desormeaux, in an exclusive interview for the telecast, once again emphasized that he didn't do anything wrong, but Iavarone criticizes him for pulling the horse up. "I would have rather have seen him just wrangle him in and let him gallop out." This is getting good. The horse apologized to him for losing. Aw, that's sweet, Iavarone giving Big Brown a hug. It looked kinda like this.

I guess this is a bombshell that Iavarone is telling Jeanine Edwards that he told Dutrow he was taking the horses away - "Rick, I have to come and take the horses." He said it was a "done deal" until a big investor talked him out of it.

Bailey piles on Desormeaux, who's mired in an 0 for 46 slump at 4,999. Nice, Jerry.

I had Abraaj singled in those Pick Threes. If I'd been home, no doubt I would have been alive in some Rolling Doubles, but what can you do? I don't really like Thor's Echo here. Goldberg likes Abraaj and wonders if they wanted to take Benny the Bull away from Dutrow too. 4:27 to post, a bit more detail than we really need. Yup, time for a commercial.

First Defence taking money at 3-1; they're talking about his second to Hard Spun in the King's Bishop last year. A brutal loss for me; had the exacta the other way enough times to get me out for the meeting.

Bailey likes EZ Warrior to show speed, says that "his blood is going to be on fire in the starting gate." Huh? He has a tough time catching his breath when he slows down, is that what he said? There's EZ Warrior with that firey blood. Dead last after a quarter. Weird camera angles again. Abraaj seems finished on the turn.

Or not. Here, the overhead shot is not as dramatic. As noted by Randy Moss, this was more of a case of the horses in front of him stopping. The difference between this finish and the acceleration of Forever Together on the grass was distinctly visible; she came home in 11.72, Abraaj in 12.61 according to Formulator.

Again with Big Brown? Oh man, Dutrow? Big Brown is getting more coverage than any of the horses actually running here today.

Uh oh, dark clouds on the way....too bad I didn't record the Weather Channel as well. It looks pretty ominous behind the ESPN booth. I like Bailey's blue hankie in his jacket pocket. Big Brown worked six in 1:10! I'm going to the Haskell next Sunday and looks like ESPN has picked up the race for its Classic network.

Bo Derek gets a ten in his book, oh man..

Any two turn race for four year olds and up is a possibility for Curlin, according to Asmussen via Jeanine Edwards. But she says that the Woodward and Pacific Classic are possibilities.

The Pacific Classic? At Del Mar? That would be a strange development given the doubt many have that they would even run Curlin in the Classic because of the synthetic surface there, whatever it really is.

There's Pyro. I'm not touching that race. I've been as consistently wrong about this horse as I could possibly be, and I don't want to be either for or against him in the Jim Dandy.

Ginger Punch is 1-9 with 17 MTP. I'm getting tired and could see myself fast forwarding to the Whitney at this point. I'm not a huge Ginger Punch fan.

"Jerry Bailey, why is Ginger Punch such a big favorite?" "Because she finishes in front of everyone else."

Limited commercial interruptions for the balance of the telecast, thanks to Emirates Airlines. Thanks Sheikh.

Uh-oh, heavy rain. Second time we're told that the "skies have opened up."

Bailey thought he was talking to Albarado, as did the director since that's who they were showing. "Er, this is Kent, Jerry." Bailey improvises and comes up with a question for Kent D. Oh man.

Big Brown again?? I don't know if I'm in the mood for Dutrow now, really.

Pretty nice ride there by Bailey on Arcangues.

Same deal with the camera angles here. I like that initial shot from the infield camera, but they just linger too long with it instead of switching back to the pan shot to give us some perspective as to where they are. A lot of drama but an easy win for the favorite in the end. Let's get to the Whitney already.

Oh, Dutrow, I forgot. Not enough rain for Tasteyville, says Bailey as the sun comes out. Killing time here; enough about Ginger Punch. Jeanine Edwards reporting that Bejarado said that the other jockeys rode "dirty." "They were riding their race to beat me" he said, and specifically mentioned Albarado on Over Under. Bailey is leading the laughter at the accusation. "That's the game," he says.

I can't believe they're milking the Dutrow interview like this; that's the third teaser thus far. Maybe there's something really big. Again, talking about how crappy Pletcher is doing this year. What's the problem, he didn't want to be on a Sports Center commercial? Maybe that rainbow is intended for the Toddster?

Still no Dutrow; a story on Commentator instead. They might not get to Dutrow until the ABC Evening News, which I did not record. A shot of the pins in Commentator's ankle. You gotta love this horse; he's always out there winging, and has held on well this year. Personally, I find that more endearing than a horse who breaks bad and passes tired horses for second or third. But I don't want to attack any horse here.

OK, here's Dutrow, it's a live interview with Jeanine Edwards. What? She actually asked him about Rising Moon? That's what they've been hyping for the last hour? Oh, here we go. Asking him again about what happened in the Belmont? Hasn't that been covered to death?

OK, now she's asking him to react to the Iavarone comments. "I didn't know it [our relationship] has been strained." He denies that Iavarone ever told him that he was going to take the horses away from him. That's a direct contradiction to what Iavarone said earlier. If he's lying, then he really may have them taken away! Dutrow basically denied that he knew of any problem with the owner. "The gift that keeps on giving for sports journalists," Moss says - best line of the broadcast. OK, that was worth the wait.

Did you see those eyebrows on Neil Howard? Bailey is saying that Grasshopper does not run well on the turns, and that it's important for Albarado to have him well positioned going into and out of the turns.

Nice camera presence by Sam the Bugler; could be angling for a Geico commercial.

Goldberg goes with Solar Flare, and he likes Grasshopper. Tessitore points out that Magna Graduate was the favorite at 4-1 in the race last year, and that the race is simlarly wide open this year. Scrmppff could have come up with that, don't y'think? I don't like Rising Moon at all, and would likely bet on Notional (6-1) had the race not been run seven hours ago.

Moss plugs the Win And You're In angle; don't recall it being mentioned since early in the broadcast. I wonder if the fact that there are so many of these Challenge races this year is sapping these commentators of some of their urgency and enthusiasm.

Jeanine Edwards with Larry Jones. Thankfully, just a brief mention of Eight Belles before getting on to Solar Flare. I like him too. 6-1 on Notional. Privman says that his win in the Salvatore Mile earned him a permanent reprieve from the synthetics out west.

Wow. I never would have had Commentator in this race, but you gotta love that. Amazing - that was his first two turn race since his 123 Beyer win in the Whitney three years ago. I guess Zito should have kept him running long.

I think I've had enough. They're not going to ask Zito if the horse was on steroids anyway.


Wind Gatherer said...

That shot of McCain/Bush...Classic!

What is the deal with Howard's eyebrows?

Anonymous said...

BORING BORING BORING and more BORING as your post goes on.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the post. I have to wonder what Iavarone is thinking, airing the dirty laundry in public. Any press is good press as long as they spell your name right? If he makes Dutrow look like a bad guy, he'll look better by comparison?


Anonymous said...

Pretty humourous to watch the Iavarone/Dutrow/Desormeaux thing, as boastful as they all were heading into the Belmont.

Jim O said...

Perhaps live-blogging is not your forte.

Anonymous said...

Myself, i really enjoyed Alan's post. Perhaps that's because i watched very little of the broadcast. I did however see the part wherre Hank Goldberg recommended wheeling the 1/9 favorite (Ginger Punch) on top of "all" in the exacta. Brilliant strategy there; i can see why ABC/ESPN is so enthralled with him.

Anonymous said...

Alan your column is like white bread .

Anonymous said...

The rhetoric from the Dutrow and Iavarone camp is standard double-speak for "Please don't ask me if our horses are on steroids. We want to fill our coffers as quickly as we can, because next year it's going to be different." It's not really all that remarkable, as you have correctly noted. The drug users are leading the meet. And, of course Zito uses steroids. There isn't a better trainer, who can break a horse down better and faster than him, is there? Speaking of which, Saint Liam didn't last too much longer, after "Drug" Dutrow finished injecting him with all those steroids. Uh oh, Saturday's ABC telecast pointed out that steroids will be prohibited in this year's Breeder's Cup races. The crooks need to make their money while they can. I can't wait to see the trainer standings next year, about this this. Imagine, some trainers will have to try to resort to making a more honest living or, find a new drug which hasn't been typed yet. In the meantime 2 "suspended" trainers are leading the crew. Can Biancone be far behind?

Brett said...

119 BSF for Commentator. One of the best NY breds in the last 20 years. Yes, better then Funny Cide in my opinion. It helps that I had the P4 two times, which was a vastly overlaid $220 on a $1 ticket.

I hope to see Commentator keep on winning. And it's nice to see Zito happy.

Anonymous said...

Zito was happy as a fly in s*** on the Friday Night fights on ESPN. Knew that his horse was going to do it. Louisville-Courier " Commentator is the horse to beat."


Anonymous said...

"I could easily see Todd Schrmmppff in the Joe Tessitore role."

I'm no Tessitore fan, but that sounds like an insult. Tessi will get better at this; Todd's shtick is so dead Shirley MacLaine wouldn't have touched it in a former life.

Anonymous said...

Now wait a minute. I'm not going to knock the live blog like others in here - it read fine to me - but you're taking a shot at Jeanine Edwards for veins in her neck? Excuse me, but this is an absolutely knockout gorgeous woman you're talking about here. Take a look in the mirror and get back to us.

El Angelo said...

Alan, I'm sorry I mentioned Lady Digby---she ran even worse than her odds. Ugh. I actually liked Forever Together a lot as well and used her, but thought she'd be the wise-guy horse and would be closer to 6-1.

BTW, the Live Blog worked well, but either bulletpoints or time stamps (which don't really work if you're doing it after the fact, I know) would have made it an easier read. Just a thought for next time.

Anonymous said...

Whitney Day was still great in spite of the paltry 27,000 on hand. The three Grade I's and a Grade II provided more than enough top flight racing. NY bred Commentator winning the Whitney at age 7 is a notable achievement and hopefully will inspire more owners to aim for the handicap division. If I heard Kelso's name mentioned once on Saturday I heard it a dozen times, the point being that Kelso was the oldest horse (at age 8) to win the Whitney. Commentator was certainly the sentimental choice of many in the crowd including the panel at the Daily Racing Form seminar due to his NY bred, old warrior status. By the way, Alan, Joe Bruno dropped by on Thursday, Day 2! /S/Green Mtn Punter

ChrisMooreMusic said...

On a side note, I can't believe I've never been to see Billy Joel live, even when both he and Elton John came around a few years ago. I love Billy Joel songs and I love how he tends to stick to his own material and not play as many cover songs. One of these days...