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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Morning Notes - Aug 24

- The Travers crowd of just over 40,000 on a perfect day was around 1,000 more than last year, when the heat and humidity was stifling. The hottest day I've ever spent at a track. Considering everything, I'd say that's a pretty good crowd. Last year's race featured the Derby winner, but a field which was thought to have no competition for him. Looking back to the archives, I see I'd written that the race had created little buzz.

This year's race didn't generate much more, but it was at least competitive and ponderous on paper, and it turned out that way on the track as well. Fun betting race, and fun race to watch. But the final time of 2:03.20 (final quarter in nearly 26 seconds), the slowest time since Coronado's Quest in 1998, indicates that the race will have little impact on the eventual championships.

Big Brown was once again noticeable by his absence, as was Curlin last year. Jeannine Edwards, looking absolutely resplendent on ESPN, reported on the match race that I first made up here. I think I should be like Paulick and demand a little credit here, don't you? Like a game of telephone, the story changed a little, with the big showdown now scheduled for early December at Churchill or Gulfstream (the latter would be quite a feat considering that it doesn't open until January). However, she also reported that Jess Jackson was dismissive of the concept; that he wants to meet Big Brown in a normal race setting.

Well, what's up with that, Jess? Y'know, it seems to me that, on net, it's Curlin that is doing the most ducking around here. The only scenarios that Jackson has proposed are ones that would have favored his champ by rushing Big Brown into a race he obviously, given his light workout schedule since the Haskell, wouldn't be ready for. But on the other hand, he won't face Big Brown in the Breeders' Cup, his opportunity to face him in a "normal" race setting (other than the fact that the running surface could be like the La Brea Tar Pits for all the heck we know about it), and now has quickly put the kibosh on an event which could give this sport the biggest boost it's seen in a long time. I was glad that Jerry Bailey commented that the owners would both agree to it if they really wanted to help the game.

Ms. Edwards put the question directly to Steve Asmussen - you go girl! - who artfully ducked it. Asmussen also did not seem too hepped up about the chances of Pyro. No, his races have not been as good as those early in the year, and yes, he needs to improve, and no, the post position is bad. This prompted the Head Chef to inquire as to why everyone was betting on Pyro if the trainer thought he was no good? Probably a serious point in there somewhere. The Head Chef also said that she thinks that Edwards is "hilarious," but couldn't explain exactly why.

I don't think we'll see Robby Albarado celebrate after a race again until he knows the result. Tom Durkin wasn't fooled; he declined to make a call, noting a little skeptically that the jockey was pumping his fists. Randy Moss picked Mambo in Seattle literally seconds before they went into the gate, noting that they hadn't talked much about the third choice in the race. And no, they hadn't...

OK damn, I gotta go just when I was getting warmed up, be back with more later......


Anonymous said...

What's up with TV coverage of photo finishes? You'd think they'd be ready to show a slow-motion shot of the finish from a reasonable (if not perfect) camera angle. My impression from watching Asian racing on TVG is that they're way ahead of the US in that area.


SaratogaSpa said...

Love Durkin-but did you catch his minor flub in the stretch drive when he called macho again, "macho uno". I noticed he will every so often mix up the horse with his sire.

Unknown said...




Anonymous said...

A better question is what's up with all the photo finishes at Spa :) Friday and Saturday produced at least 4 calls that had to go to the photo and I still would dispute the photo as being clear cut and not a DH. Good stuff!

What I find highly amusing is this future released magazine covering horse racing from the glamour side. They claim (I suppose if you count the spinners at their utter worst!) an on-site audience of 68,000 people (in their media kit) for the Travers Day. Ha!

Fact and fiction right there!

Anonymous said...

I guesstimated 40,000 to the group I was with after having attended some 35 Travers over the past 43 years. It wasn't to the point where you had to move single file to get anywhere on the grounds- that is when you know you may be hitting the 50,000 mark- the 60,000 for Point Given's win in 2001 musta been really somethin'!

Anyway, the mood was light and a good time was had by all on a perfect mid-summer day. Slambino woke up my fellow backyard dilettantes in the 7th with the win at 88-1. Never heard about the super winners? How many? I managed to have the super in the Travers- the 4 faves in the field of 12 went off at high enough odds to bring in a dime super for $89.25.

I'm with Jess Jackson- the BC on kitty litter is a diminution of the BC Classic. Curlin is the champ so IEAH, the challenger, should stop trying to "invent" the perfect race- stop whining and enter the same race as Curlin! They are so afraid they'll lose-
just ridiculous. All of the greats lost a race- sometimes more than once- and still were voted into the top 10 all time. Guess that doesn't translate into overinflated stud values.

In re the Travers photo, isn't that another reason why you ride a Garrett Gomez instead of the others? Maybe it was luck but then again when you look at the record didn't the top stakes riders a la Arcaro, Hartack, Shoemaker, Baeza, Pincay, Day, Stevens, et al win more than their share of photos? /S/Green Mtn Punter

El Angelo said...

I'm still not sure why Curlin's connections are seen as ducking when they're running in the JCGC. Curlin ran in that last year before drilling every decent handicap horse in the BC Classic, and that was his first start after the Haskell. There's no reason Big Brown can't follow the same path, unless (1) IEAH is afraid to run against Curlin, or (2) they really fear running Big Brown on a dirt track again, which I think pretty much all breeders can see through.

I mean, let's be honest. If Big Brown ran in the JCGC and beat Curlin, he could retire then and be HOTY.

Alan Mann said...

>>I'm still not sure why Curlin's connections are seen as ducking when they're running in the JCGC.

El Ang.... I think that any proposal has to be one that is reasonable for both sides. After the Belmont debacle, I don't consider it realistic to suggest that Big Brown race over that track again. Just my opinion of course!

Anonymous said...

The Jockey Gold Cup is the perfect race for BB not Curlin. I think they put Curlin in there to lure BB, did not work. I geuss putting a horse that is "way better than Curlin" is better off in a do nothing turf race anyway.

It is all talk, I am a race lover and even I am tired of it. Jackson does not want a repeat race but Curlin is in JGC again, and the BB team is a constant reminder of what we all want OUT of horse racing. So be it. Retire BB and put Curlin on grass next year.

Anonymous said...

Curlin's doing the ducking?

At least we know where Curlin will be this weekend for his next start. How's Monmouth doing kissing IEAH's collective asses for "The Monmouth Stakes"? We know what Curlin will be doing and where. Big Brown's folks keep playing both ends against the middle just to fill a vanity grass race somewhere in the Northeast.