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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Morning BC Notes

- Friday's BC races were inconclusive in my mind as to how the horses who were making the dirt-to-synth transition for the first time fared. I think that's the big question that needs to be answered in terms of how valid this, and next year's Breeders' Cup will prove to be in terms of their legitimacy to determine championships. However, three races is not enough of a sample, and Zenyatta and Stardom Bound are true monsters who nobody honestly expected to get beat, even if some of us may have taken a little shot against. (And that 8-5 on Stardom Bound looks pretty generous in retrospect.)

The win by Ventura was, to be honest, not a great start in this respect. She's a turf horse by trade, and one who is now three-for-three on synthetics as well. It's posible that Indian Blessing, by virtue of her three dominant sprint wins prior, has done enough to earn the filly sprint honors and avoid a synthetic controversy here. But this will present the voters with a classic example of what the sport wanted to avoid - should Ventura get the honors without ever having run on a conventional track?

Indian Blessing, who'd raced once before on synthetic, ran her usual fine race in defeat, and Zaftig, making her first synth start, ran on well for third.

In the Juvie Fillies, it was a synthetic exacta with Dream Express getting second to Stardom Bound; but Sky Diva was third in her first synthetic start (and her first around two turns). Two fillies who'd run only on dirt - Persistently and Doremifasollatido - were not considered prime contenders. And in the, er, feature, Cocoa Beach and Music Note, both first-time synth, each ran great behind Zenyatta in that order. So a mixed bag on the day I'd say. Ultimately, Curlin will be the barometer as to whether the dirt form held up.

- The New York Times' coverage of this so-called "championship day" consisted of a single box summary of no more than 350 words I'd approximate. A far cry from the days of their The Rail blog leading up to the Triple Crown.

- In the F&M Turf, Forever Together flew home the last quarter in 22.90 according to Formulator. Halfway to Heaven was a disappointing 7th as the 5-2 favorite (!), and Aidan O'Brien spoke about the mile and the quarter distance and added: "It's been a long season, too." Look for a similar quote from O'Brien after his two Classic entries get beat by Curlin today.

The incredible Zenyatta ran her last three furlongs in 34.48 seconds. Certainly don't disagree with the notion that she deserves the strongest consideration for Horse of the Year honors should Curlin get beat today.

- Juvie Fillies Turf winner Maram is by the sire Sahm, and I wrote more about her interesting pedigree in this post, down near the bottom. One might think I could have followed that up with a small wager at 11-1...

- I'm sure that ESPN will go racing off to its college football scoreboard show at 7 PM this evening. But check out TVG for the 10th at Santa Anita, in which multiple graded stakes winner Georgie Boy makes his first start since going off the Derby Trail after taking the San Felipe in March. Also scheduled to start in that race is Gayego, making his first start since getting thrashed in the Derby and Preakness.

- Not enthralled with the US entries in the Turf, and I like Conduit instead. This three-year old son of Dalakhani has seen his speed figures improve with every race, and that has to mean he's improving whether they're Beyers, Racing Post numbers, Obama's poll numbers or anything. Unlike some of his others, Soldier of Fortune has been campaigned lightly thus far this year by Aidan O'Brien. However, I just don't care for these horses running here less than three weeks after the Arc. Conduit last raced Sept 12, and has won at this distance and beyond. And as a three-year old, I could see him just exploding here. Eagle Mountain and Winchester are also sharp Euros, but are a combined 0 for 5 at the distance.

And I might have taken a shot with the improving Whatsthescript in the Mile had he not drawn so poorly in the outside 11 gate. Goldikova is an imposing favorite here, and the Euros' most likely winner in my view.


Anonymous said...

From watching numerous replays I've settled on Henry in the classic. Ravens Pass and Henry have tested each other and both are game and it could come down to who gets the best trip. Anyone know how Velazquez got the mount on Henry. Murtagh have a choice?
The horses that Curlin ran against aren't even in the race.

Alan Mann said...

RG - My recollection is that Murtagh had first choice and Johnny V was to pick up the pieces so to speak.

steve in nc said...

I'm with you on Conduit (sorry -- you'll now be wise to bet him to place only), and Goldikova.

The most interesting longshot to me today is Terrain in the Juvenile. It seems a race primed for a longshot with Munnings & Bushranger question marks on poly, and Square Eddie looking like a bouncer. I'm worried about Midshipman.

I could make a case for or again almost anyone in the Classic. I may end up on Colonel John, as the fastest of those that have raced on Poly and at the distance.

Good luck, all.

Anonymous said...

The Classic was down 20% in handle from last year, which was down 20+% from the year before.

And wait until next year, when no horse based east of the MS ships west to the World Championships.

This concept has fallen like a rock since the brilliant move to ESPN, those in charge should be fired.

I Vote For Change.

Anonymous said...

PS- NYRA should be arranging a Dirt Championship Day, the week before the Breeders Cup, right now.

Move their main dirt preview races to a one day card, back to the old Fall Championship meet.

Create an alternate big day on real dirt and they will come.

steve in nc said...

I wasn't expecting to like Pro-Ride, but I confess, as a gambler, I was happy. There were so many horses who were total question marks on the surface but got way overbet. And then in the Classic, they ignored the two fastest Euros probably because of the lack of Pro-Ride PPs. Making for nice value.

Big fields and a combination of data and missing pieces makes for great gambling. Here's hoping there are always these surface questions. For those who want it all laid out in advance, there is still harness racing, with weekly rematches at the same distance and surface.