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Sunday, October 26, 2008

BC Non-Classic Notes

- Before I get to Curlin and what I see as the implications of his defeat in the Classic, here's some notes and observations about the other races from Saturday.

If the Dirt Mile was a graded race, Albertus Maximus, who I picked here, would be the 4th graded stakes winner for Albert the Great, standing in Pennsylvania for $4,000 (and, according to Karen Johnson on, listed for $2500 for 2009). The sire's son Nobiz Like Showbiz was retired to stud earlier this year. I don't know what the demand is for the stud services of a synthetic track specialist offspring of a $2,500 regional sire. But I'd guess that any such opportunity would have to be weighed against the prospect of his winning this race again next year on the same surface (unless it gets washed out by rains over the winter).

- That was an electrifying burst by Goldikova in the Mile; she got the last furlong in 11.03 seconds. If all goes well, here's one BC winner that we can expect to see again next year. When asked if Goldikova would race next season, Alain Wertheimer said: "Absolutely." [Press Association] The triple returned $95.20 on a $2 bet for the first three favorites in order. Kip Deville was clearly second best in an excellent effort for Dutrow. The trainer, who is now on record as being sexist in addition to everything else he's on record for, had said he was more confident going in than last year, and the horse would have repeated in most years.

- The Juvenile was a relatively dull affair, with the top three finishers running in that order from the half mile mark on. Baffert said of the winner: “I don’t know if Sheikh Mohammed will want to take him to Dubai....I hope he doesn’t.” Seems to me that the go-to-Dubai strategy hasn't worked very well for the Sheikh as far as the Derby goes. They seem to just disappear. His Royal Sheikhness seems like a smart guy, so you'd think he'd eventually realize that.

Midshipman has run only in California, and I believe I'm correct in saying that he and Stardom Bound will become the sport's first synthetic champions. As such, they'll be some resistance I imagine to Midshipman's Derby prospects. By Unbridled's Song, he's a half to the G2 Cotillion winner Fast Cookie, and out of G2 La Canada winner Fleet Lady. So there's dirt success in his blood. There's grass influence too - his second dam is a half to the French champion Salse, which could very well explain his liking Pro-Ride.

Munnings was prominent to the stretch and tired to 10th in his first try on synthetic.

- The two juvenile turf races were probably the most exciting stretch drives of the Breeders' Cup. And one of ESPN's best moments came after the win by Donativum in the Juvie Turf. Great camerawork here with the overhead shot (the close one, not the one from Sputnik), and Jerry Bailey highlighted the positioning duel between Frankie Dettori and John Murtagh in the stretch. They both wanted the same hole, and Dettori, though not quite able to deny his rival, did make him wait just long enough until he had his own path outside, and was able to run him down. Donativum is a half-brother to Worldly, who won the grassy G2 La Jolla via DQ last year. Coronet of a Baron transferred his Polyform to grass and hung on well for third.

- Sprint winner Midnight Lute is the only "dirt horse" to win one of the Pro-Ride BC races. Not that he's never won on synthetic - he took the Perryville at Keeneland last year. However, his best moments had undoubtedly been on dirt, and he had run his slowest races of the last two years in his three synthetic starts. On the other hand, I think we could surmise that Fabulous Strike did not care for the Pro-Ride in his first synthetic start. He always gets the lead on dirt, but could get no closer than third here. Kinda dead on the board at 6.80 to 1 too.

I'd picked Street Boss, who was moving on the turn with the winner for a bit. But Midnight Lute, a path outside that one, had left him in the dust by the time they turned for home. Another top effort on synthetic for runner-up Fatal Bullet. Midnight Lute is by Real Quiet, another Pennsylvania sire, so quite a good day for that state's breeding if they really need the help these days.

- Trevor Denman is the best in the business at picking up early on a winning move; but he was a bit late with Conduit in the Turf. If I have one criticism of Denman in general, it's that he sometimes becomes too fixated on a single horse. In this case, he was all about Eagle Mountain, who sat a perfect trip behind the leaders and loomed boldly on the turn for home. But Conduit, who I picked here, was winding up on the turn while wider and further back, and Denman didn't find him until midstretch, when he was already on his way to victory. If I have one criticism of Denman as the voice of the Breeder's Cup, it's that his voice lacks the depth of someone like Durkin, who can turn it up a notch for the big races. When a horse at Santa Anita just jumps in at the quarter pole, you might not know if it's a Grade 1 championship or a 15K claimer. Having said that, Denman had a pretty solid two days other than his misstep at the end of the F&M Turf.

Soldier of Fortune was way overbet at 8-5 and weakened to 4th. "He ran well but on reflection I think he needed a bit more time than the three weeks between this race and the Arc," said Dettori Aidan O'Brien.

Conduit was supplemented to the race, and it sounds like he's a possibility to return next year to race at age four. Again, the fact that the 2009 Breeders' Cup will again be run at Santa Anita could encourage some winning connections to keep a horse in training, and go for some big money on the track instead of on the breeding farm; for a year, anyway. Conduit is by the Irish champion Dalakhani out of a Sadlers Wells mare who's a half sister to the US graded winner Stream of Gold, and the 2000 Guineas winner Spectrum.

- Rangers off to an 8-2-1 start with two wins over the weekend. On Nikolai Zherdev's tying goal with eight seconds left on Saturday, besides the wicked shot, check out the beautiful pass by Markus Naslund (91) to set it up; lifting the puck over an opposing stick blade with a deft backhand flip, floating it directly onto Zherdev's stick. Great goal!


Hold All Tickets said...

An observation on BC '08, Kip Deville got beat by a girl, babe.

Anonymous said...

Notwithstanding your comment about "one of ESPN's best moments," I found their coverage to be unwatchable. Additionally, Joe Tessitore is so over the top that he thinks his dramatic commentary adds something to the broadcast. It didn't. All it did was distract, but the real travesty was the network's choice of camera shots. Jumping from ground level at the break to blimp shots, then back to rail views of the first three horses and back to pan shots on the far turn was so frustrating to watch. You could not follow any particular horse throughout any of the races. And to top it off, ESPN barred any other telecast save that of the track to track simulcast. I know they spend big bucks for the rights but that doesn't mean I have to watch their broadcast ever again. Next year I'll be at Belmont where at least I will get a watchable view of the horses I bet on.

El Angelo said...

ESPN's work and analysis post-race is actually not bad; Bailey's good at breaking down rides and using the myriad camera angles to his advantage. But the prior commenter is 100% right, during the race, they're a disaster.

Erin said...

I can't stand Tessitore. I was embarrassed by the attention given by him and the camera in anticipation of Dettori's first flying dismount, as ESPN appeared to wrangle with whether to potentially miss it or show the post-race trainer interview with Gosden. Does our sport find so much more value to the viewer in a gimmick rather than a trainer's post-race comments? And does ESPN not consider that, particularly with a 10 cent superfecta on offer, people are pretty interested in seeing the full order of finish in a timely manner? I learned quickly to supplement tv coverage with my laptop tuned on the live feed from

Colins Ghost said...

I watched Friday at home and Saturday at Delaware Park and agree 100% that the ESPN feed during the race is bad. I had a much easier time watching the track feed on Saturday. I will say watching the races in HD is nice but no HD picture will give you the detail needed to follow a horse with the way they cut the race.

Alan Mann said...

Agree basically with all the comments here. By citing Bailey's post-race work after the Mile and, as El Angelo pointed out, in general, I certainly was not endorsing the rest of the broadcast. I mean, I really did have the sound off for a good portion of Saturday's telecast.

The camera angles were absolutely awful. Seems to me that the standard pan shot more or less shows us all we need to see. Don't mind useful enhancements, such as the Railview - when it's done right, and NOT when it's only focused on the first group of runners! - but ESPN's choice of angles was awful. The live overhead shot could be useful when synched up with Denman's call...but that wasn't always the case. And it was too far away.

Like Erin, I also cringed over the way Tessitore was carrying on about Dettori's dismount. How embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Not to pile it on, but likewise I cannot think the BC officials can be happy with the ESPN coverage. They really should demand a lot more for their money. Expect more, demand more.

I'm not in the breeding business yet do they ever give any of that information verbally (sire, dam, breeders, where foaled, where acutions, homebred, etc) or on a proper graphic consistently? Isn't this the Breeders' Cup?

ESPN if they won't imporve their filming of the races should then employ the Trackus system on screen like Woodbine and Keeneland. That way then the only show a fraction of the field you can still root for the horse you want. Just because racing "has always been shown like this" since Dr. Fager doesn't mean its best.

They dropped the ball on using Jessica properly on camera with wagering. She is a pretty face and smart gal - that helps. ESPN needs to drop Hank entirely. Joe needs to be 3rd chair behind Randy and Jerry.

By the way what was up with the cringe worthy USC cheerleaders segment?

As an aside, credit where credit is due Ray Paulick did pick on his site Friday Raven's Pass to win the BCC. Not bad at all.

Nick said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who couldn't stand Tessitore. They could have had wagering on what ridiculous string of adjectives he was going to spout next.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you remembered the Rangers were playing Saturday night, Alan. I was thinking they would have to replace the choppy garden ice with some synthetic surface for you to take notice!

Brett said...

Why would Dettori comment on Solider of Fortune's race? Did he not ride Red Rocks? Just wondering.

Alan Mann said...

>>Why would Dettori comment on Solider of Fortune's race?

It's Aidan O'Brien, my error.

ljk said...

My pet peeve with Denman is that he never gives a fractional time (something Durkin always does). Instead of saying "they couldn't be going any faster" or "they're going an easy pace", just tell me the freakin split time! It annoys me to have to drop the binocs and lose sight of the race to find out myself that the fractions in the sprint were insane.