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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Monday Morning Notes - July 7

- I don't know that I'd say that Indian Blessing "learned to rate," as I saw her win in the Prioress described (even by Bob Baffert). She was certainly outrun early turning back to six furlongs. But according to Formulator, she reeled off a second quarter of 22.12, followed by a furlong in 11.88 to take her to the quarter pole. She was also solidly three-four wide for the entirety of the sweeping turn. Horses don't often win that way at Belmont, but this Eclipse winner just overwhelmingly outclassed a promising, but unaccomplished Prioress field to get her third Grade 1 win. Baffert mentioned The Test as a possible next start, and she'll have to last an extra eighth.

Tale of the West, 7-2 second choice in the morning line, was dead on the board at 6-1 and finished dead last for Pletcher. Baffert added a second in Grade 1 company when Tough Tiz's Sis chased the mighty Zenyatta (Street Cry) in the Vanity at Hollywood. It was a pretty slow final furlong - 13.54 seconds - but Mike Smith said she "was just loafing.” First sign of a chink in the armor? John Sherriffs would not quite commit to a race at Del Mar. “It depends upon the track at Del Mar and what they've done with their track."

Pure Clan won the American Oaks Invitational, and that's two Grade 1 winners in as many weeks for IEAH; unreal. Trainer Bob Holthus, who trained this filly's half-brother Greater Good, got a phone call in the winner's circle from Del Mar's racing secretary; there's some aggressive lobbying for you! The Del Mar Oaks is on Aug 16; but given this filly's past success on dirt, I wouldn't be shocked to see her turn up in the Alabama. This is the latest horse we've seen switch seamlessly between dirt and grass, a phenomenon I don't recall seeing as often as we do since Barbaro came along.

How good is Street Boss right now? This four-year old son of Street Cry, the sire getting his second G1 winner of the day, out of a mare by Ogygian, moved methodically up the allowance ranks, to a Grade 3 and straight to Grade 1 glory with his easy last to first win in the Triple Bend. Elite Squadron hung tough, but the winner conceded five paths to that one on the turn, and didn't change leads!

Nice day of racing at Hollywood on Saturday, and one might have had to have been reminded that the dirt races all took place on the synthetic Cushion Track. I think I know now how my more conservative-minded friends feel when they complain that only the bad news is reported from Iraq. Not that I necessarily agree with that notion; just saying I know how they feel. Seems that the only news we ever read about synthetic tracks is when the breakdowns go up, or the times are "too slow" (whatever that really means), or the bias too pervasive. Haven't heard a peep of any of that coming out of Hollywood, or Arlington, or Presque Isle Downs. So I guess things must be going pretty well at all of those tracks, yes?


Anonymous said...

You can add Turfway to the 'good' synthetic installations. These tracks seem to perform in line with, though not exactly like, a dirt track. It is frustrating to see the horses who run well at at the tracks you mention roll into Keeneland or Del Mar and act like they've never seen a synthetic surface before. But, I'd just say there is something quirky about the latter tracks, which means I'll play them less (excepting turf).

Anonymous said...

From Sunny Jim in New Jersey-

Hi Alan. Maybe you or some of your very sharp readers could chime in on this:

On another forum over here in Jersey we were trying to figure out why Monmouth Park has such putridly small fields just about every racing day. No one can say for certain why this is. It is not uncommon to have just one or two races on the whole card with 8 or more entries. The rest of the fields are 7 or 6 horses, less after scratches.

On rainy, off-the-turf days it's even worse, 4 and even 3 horses in a race sometimes. Needless to say, for a lot of us it makes for an unattractive card for betting. Not surprisingly, their on-track handle is off double digits (but their simulcast handle is not that badly off). A couple of us have contacted track management and they always say pretty much the same thing as Dennis Dowd recently e-mailed to me: "Thanks. We are aware of the problem."

There's nothing wrong with the purse structure. The Atlantic City casinos renewed their deal with the state to kick in some pretty big supplement $$$ in return for keeping the NJ tracks from turning into racinos.

Are there too many competing tracks in nearby states? Is it because Monmouth and New Jersey have stricter drug testing, and all the druggie trainers just stay away? (They recently singled out all of Bruce Levine's horses for testing, because of his high 50% win percentage from about 70 starts at Monmouth so far this summer. No violations were found.)

Or is this just part of a general malaise hanging over horse racing these days?

Cheers, and thanks for the blog.

Anonymous said...

I play the Monmouth pk-3 and pk-4 a lot.

There fields are smaller(I hope that changes)but the takeout is 15%
Compared to N.Y. 25%

Anonymous said...

How good is Street Boss? He's the best.

Btw, regarding Zenyatta's closing fractions (and she did look well below her best), also note the very slow final furlong for Street Boss on the same card. Might've had something top do with the surface down the lane; seems a bit too coincidental.

Alan Mann said...

The riders of Zenyatta and Street Boss both specifically commented that their horses were goofing around once they got in front. So you might be right about the track, but perhaps they could both use a little competition.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you haven't mentioned the 12-length debut win by Discreet Cat's 3yo half-brother (Discreet Treasure) on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Sunny Jim...I live 30 minutes from Monmouth Park but I'll attend more race days in Saratoga this year than my home track. I was there on Saturday for the United Nations and by post time for their only Grade 1 turf race of the season, the place looked like the Meadowlands on a Thursday night in November. I don't have any answers, but it's hard to believe they held the BC there last year.

Alan Mann said...

There's a lot of action in the Northeast right now - Belmont, Philly, Penn Nat, Presque Isle, Delaware, Suffolk, Monmouth. Not enough horses to go around it seems.

Meadowlands on a Thursday night? That's depressing.