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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Big Country

Days like today make it tough to stick with this thing about concentrating on the inner track as opposed to Gulfstream. No less than four maiden claiming events at the Big A; one of them was a state-bred $15,000 affair, quite possibly the cheapest race I've ever seen in New York. Meanwhile, it was fast and firm at Gulfstream, with full fields and some nice wide-open races.

Contessa had three winners up here; Precisely That ($9.80) and Chief Operator ($7.20) were dropping in claiming tag; while Not Now ($9) was moving up off the claim from Jacobson. So the trainer did a good job placing his stock where they could win on this day (two seconds and two thirds as well).

We're still not quite sure whether or not Seventh Street is merely a mud lark. The track didn't look bad at all, but was labeled muddy, so all three of her wins have come over off tracks, and her Tomlinson is 412. It was her first try around two turns, and she galloped around more or less at a steady 24 second clip (24.84 for the final quarter as she was cruising home with no competition around). But the field was one of dubious quality, so questions remain in my mind. What they are, I'm not exactly sure, but I'd bet against her in a more competitive race.

Judge Margaret ($6.70) was the third winner in a row for trainer John Parisella; each one was dropping in class.

At Gulfstream, Graham Motion had two winners and is off to a 6-3-1-1 start. Ken McPeek now has four winners from ten starters after taking both divisions of the three-year old allowance races. Free Country (well-supported at 2.40-to-1) is by Big Country, a son of AP Indy who, according to Pedigree Query, won two races and $74,000 in 13 starts, and is, or was, "retired & standing at Bona Terra Farms, LLC in Georgetown, KY." However, once again, a search at the Stallion Register yielded no result, and I fear for his well-being.

Big Country was also a band from Scotland, whose 1983 debut, The Crossing, was a big alternative hit. It was also the high point of their career, though I thought that their followup, Steeltown, was underrated (while acknowledging the consensus criticism that it offered nothing new). In concert though, these guys kicked ass; my second favorite live band of the 80's. I saw two them play triumphant shows; at Roseland in 1983, and a few years later outdoors on a west side pier facing the UPS building, I forget the name. The band's founder and singer, Stuart Adamson, died in 2001, the fate I fear his band's equine namesake has met. Anyway, without further adieu.... [UPDATE: Thanks to reader apajax6, we've thankfully tracked down Big Country, living the easy life, we hope, in Trinidad and Tobago.


Anonymous said...

queer looking guys with Mullets-you must be so proud of your musical tastes

Alysse said...

Big Country was exported to Trinidad & Tabago after Brunacini died in that plane crash from Lexington a couple years or so ago.

Anonymous said...

Big Country is also the name of a terrific albeit quirky Talking Heads song.

If his son takes the next step daddy may become an increasingly rare USA import.

Superfecta said...

I do like a little Big Country, although my favorite current Scottish band is ballboy.

Anonymous said...

From Sunny Jim in New Jersey

Hi Alan - Happy New Year

Calendar night at the Meadowlands tonight, with about 25 bucks' worth of admission and betting coupons for the year with a dollar paid admission, if anybody is so inclined and in the neighborhood.

Regarding 'Anonymous' 11:35 - Could this be the same guy that visits every time you post your hunch bets? I thought you booted his ass off this site for good? What, there's more than one of him? Jeebus, where do they come from??

Isn't there comment moderation now? I know there's a type of low-class, low-intelligence poster that routinely appears on sports blogs everywhere. They are quite often grammar-challenged, spelling-challenged, and show underlying problems with women, foreigners, gays, generally anything too out of the ordinary from their small little worlds, i.e. their mother's basement.

I would like to think that most of them are geeky 14-year-olds who are undergoing too much high school abuse. This is their way of getting back. Or else 20-year-olds with acne that just won't go away. But this is a horse-racing forum, so why would someone who is not of betting age hang around here?

Then again, scary to think that this is someone older, an adult. Alan, you might have the next Son of Sam on your hands! Or maybe it IS Son of Sam - do they allow keyboards in the federal slammer??

Alan Mann said...

Hey Sunny Jim, thanks, and Happy New Year to you too! Yeah, there's moderation, and I guess I shouldn't have posted that homophobic comment, so sorry about that! Sometimes though I'm doing the poster a favor by rejecting him or her!

Can't make it to the Big M tonite, but thanks for the heads up, good luck!

Peg645 said...

Silver Wing Stables owner Free Country owned Holding Pattern - who won the Travers...

Anonymous said...

Stallions in Trinidad & TObago

(31 were standing there at lost count)

From Sunny Jim: "Or maybe it IS Son of Sam - do they allow keyboards in the federal slammer?"

Answer: no. At the Sullivan Correctional Facility he has no access to a computer. A sigh of relief for NYS taxpayers.

Oddly enough the Son of Sam was at Woodstock so maybe he had a mullet at one time.

steve in nc said...


Check out #7 in race 2. I planned to key this horse despite the low % trainer -- big sheet # in the PHA sprint (Beyer not so big). Excellent route breeding. It was the second biggest price on the board in R1/R2 DDs.

IT JUST JUMPED FROM 10-1 TO 4-1 IN MAYBE 2 MINUTES OF BETTING. Place & show betting much less. Sheet players wouldn't hurt their own price that way. Someone else made a big ol' bet on this son of Tiznow.

Anonymous said...

I actually gave out Free Country on my site yesterday. He had run a huge race @ Churchill back in November, launching a big late rally to run past Soul Warrior in deep stretch. Making his performance even more impressive is the fact that runner-up Soul Warrior finished over 6 lengths clear of the rest of the 12-horse field, and subsequently returned to score a sharp win at Fair Grounds last week when stretched out to two turns. While Free Country's final time that day looked slow at 1:12 1/5, it was actually very good when you consider that the fine Pletcher stakes-type Game Face had run 7 furlongs in a snail-like 1:25 3/5 over the same surface just an hour earlier.

For yesterday's race at Gulfstream, Free Country was stretching WAY out from 6 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, while having not raced since November. Not an easy task, particularly when stepping up to face a horse who had just run second to Old Fashioned in the Remsen. He also appeared to be missing a workout in late December, though he was coming into the race off a heads-up drill with barnmate Danger to Society, a sharp Churchill maiden winner who ended up winning yesterday's 8th race. Also of note was that jockey Kent Desormeaux was getting off the Bill Mott-trained entrant Stormalory (whom he had ridden 3 straight times, most recently in a graded stakes) in order to stay with Free Country. In the race itself, Free Country was stuck down inside while stalking the pace from much closer-up than he had been in his debut, when he came from 10 lengths behind. That may have been due to the slower route fractiuons, or it may signal a change in tactics. Anyway, he was stuck behind horses along the rail while clearly full of run, and was lucky enough to have the leader drift off the rail when turning for home, at which point he promptly shot through and took command. The only bad thing i can say is that he failed to open up once he took the lead, but again, this is a horse who was stretching way out in distance while coming off a layoff, and he did maintain his advantage over that Remsen runner-up once he took the lead. Never looked in any real jeapordy of losing. McPeek had also mentioned before the race that Free Country (and his other trainees in the two allowance races yesterday) were "not overdone" for the race. So taking all this into account, i'd have to expect further improvement from this colt, who is already 2-for-2 at two different racetracks. It also doesn't hurt that he's a winner at 1 1/8 miles, something not very many 3yo's can say right now. Definitely one to follow.