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Friday, August 01, 2008

Something Seems Remiss

- I found these comments by Dutrow, made to Bill Finley in the NY Times, to be quite interesting:

Dutrow had a similar experience in 2005 with the Kentucky Oaks starter Sis City, who ran a dull fourth as the favorite in the Oaks and had no apparent excuses. After the Oaks, she continued to train and act like a horse who was on top of her game, yet she lost her remaining five starts. Sis City has been in the back of Dutrow’s mind while preparing Big Brown for the Haskell.

“When we had Sis City and ran a sub-par race in the Oaks, she never ran another step again, even though she trained great,” Dutrow said. “I pointed her toward big races and she never showed up in any of them again. When something like that happens where horses just doesn’t run their race, and you don’t know why, then you’re concerned that it might happen again.” [NY Times]
There are of course many examples of horses going off form and staying there, for reasons physical, mental, or both. I'm sure Dutrow has had his fair share, and I can't help but get the feeling that something about Big Brown seems uneasily familiar to him. This is certainly a far, far cry from the brash confidence he displayed during the Triple Crown.

The horse seems to be doing just fine. I like the way he's progressed steadily in his AM drills, and Dutrow called the last one "probably the best breeze that he’s had for us." Desormeaux has been instructed to just let the horse run from the start - hallelujah! - and, I would presume, to ride him out to the finish no matter what, under no circumstances stopping to chat with Handride in the picnic area.

Still, I just feel as if something has gone awry. The karma is bad, the tension amongst owner, trainer, and jockey is palpable. If the horse is sensing that, he might not want to leave the paddock. I don't know that this is going to be as easy as his 1-2 morning line odds would suggest. Not making any predictions at this time, but I would not be shocked if he loses.

Could be worth a wheel with the others in the Hambo-Haskell double. Doesn't seem to be much doubt about Deweycheatemnhowe, the first half of that wager, though I guess we thought that about Somebeachsomewhere a couple of weeks ago. Check out Donna Barton Brothers going for a trot on the Hambo favorite, while preparing for NBC's coverage which starts at 2PM Eastern.


El Angelo said...

For some reason, I feel like what happened with Sis City happens a lot more frequently in fillies than in colts--just going off form without explanation and never quite returning to the same level of performance. Other examples off the top of my head: Riboletta, Silverbulletday (who was always insanely overrated), and Beautiful Pleasure.

I have to think the people most nervous about the Haskell are the brass at Three Chimneys. Another flop against an execrable field is going to leave a horrible taste in everyone's mouth, especially given the somewhat ill-founded theory that the horse was only good because of winstrol.

Anonymous said...

Hey folks, let's not make Sis City out to be the second coming of Ruffian or anything. If I recall correctly, she got lose a couple of times against some pretty terrible fields at Gulfstream and pre-Poly Keeneland. I never thought she was all that good in the first place.

Really talented horses can sometimes make trainers mental. I mean, how many Dutrow-trained horses have we bet at fairly low odds after they threw in a clunker only to see them come back an win by 8 at Aqueduct? The guy turns horses around all the time! That's why we think he's a chemist!

These guys (trainer and jock) need to treat this horse likes he's a $50 claimer in Aqueduct in November. Send him to the front and watch him win.

Anonymous said...

Silverbulletday might have been slightly overrated, since she did beat up on a fairly weakish crop of 3 year old fillies, especially since she avoided Excellent Meeting and Three Ring died on Acorn day, but her record was remarkable leading up the Belmont Stakes. It's possible that she was never the same horse after the Belmont. That race can do funny things to horses, cough, couch Big Brown, cough.

El Angelo said...

Anon: My point exactly. It actually wasn't a horrid crop of 3yo fillies, it's just that because Excellent Meeting and Three Ring went to the Derby instead of the Oaks, she never ran against the other good ones. (Sorry, Dreams Gallore.) I don't disagree the Belmont may have taken some starch out of her, as it did with many others, though she did win the Alabama handily over...well, nobody again. Once she took on older fillies, she was pretty well exposed.

Anyway, I'm not saying she stunk, but she was a HOF finalist this year with Inside Information, Open Mind and Sky Beauty. In my mind, she's well behind all 3 of those horses.

Anonymous said...

imo silverbulletday was great horse at 1 1/16th, when she won the alabama it was a slow pace which allowed her to out sprint the sub par field. but she was a great filly at shorter route distances