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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Horrible Truth About Belmont (and Rap Tale)

Didn't go to Belmont this past weekend. I'm sure it was absolutely gorgeous in the backyard there, at least on Friday and on Sunday, with the sky a brilliant blue and the temperature and humidity mild. But judging from the results charts, I don't think I missed out on any life-changing experiences, neither financially nor intellectually. July at Belmont is typically uneventful as everyone looks ahead to Saratoga.

Gio Ponti however was quite the impressive winner of the Man O'War. He was caught a good four wide on the first turn, but from there, Ramon Dominguez displayed his ample skills. Straightening out on the backstretch, he sat patiently and eased back towards the rear as front-running Musketier - who did extremely well hanging on for second at 26-1 - zipped through a hot third quarter pace of 23.51. Around the turn for home, Gio Ponti was again caught wide; but Dominguez was just cruising, following the cover of Marsh Side before swinging five wide turning for home. From there they just powered past the field, with what for this jockey was just three little love taps on the way; final three-eighths in 35.03, last eighth in 11.54. This son of Tale of the Cat was good at three last year, but is just dynamite now since switching back to turf from synth.

Gio Ponti got at Beyer of 105, which, of course, does not account for all of the lost ground, while the runner-up got a career best 102 and proved that his stakes win in Woodbine was no fluke.

Trainer George Weaver, who I mentioned the other day as a guy who caught fire after a slow start right at this time last year, ran four horses on Sunday. He had a winner, albeit with even money favorite Boots Ahead. He also had a second, albeit with 2-1 favorite Frivolous Buck. And his Liscarroll ran 6th at 7-2. But New Member ran third at 28-1, just a half length behind a Belmont Stakes winner. And besides, one out of four ain't bad in this business. He has four more entered on Thursday.

- As you may have noticed, I have not be writing about the horses that I have a (small) ownership interest in. Besides the fact that I haven't really felt like it, it became clear that there's a conflict of interest between writing a blog and being involved, if just tangentially, in a game in which there is often information that needs to be kept close to the vest, especially in the claiming ranks where the Kasey K Racing Stable plies its trade. That's right, insider info. Don't have to pretend to this audience that it doesn't exist. Just seemed to me that it would be better to not write about it at all rather than to do so (and not do so) selectively.

Whatsmore, I was getting sick of all the abuse I was getting, particularly over Rap Tale. "Oh, you're mishandling her, Oh, she should be running at Penn National, Oh, she's too slow."

Well, the fact is that she is pretty damn slow. But regardless, in case you missed it, on June 5, she was entered in the Candy Eclair stakes at Monmouth. It rained, the race came off the grass, and all but five scratched. With Channing Hill aboard, Rap Tale sat in 5th, but then picked up the pieces in the stretch to get second and the elusive black type. She earned a Beyer of 67.

And then, as was the case last year, she was sent to Colonial Downs for VA-bred stakes. Rap Tale took the lead from the rail in the grassy Brookmeade Stakes on July 4, and fought on to prevail by a head. She earned a Beyer of 68 for the effort.

So say what you will about her speed, or lack thereof. But trainer Bruce Brown and managing partner Bob have done an absolutely brilliant job of managing this filly, placing her in spots where she's had a chance to earn purse money (yes, even for running 4th) and enhance her value. Claimed for $25,000 last May (in a five-way shake), this daughter of the aforementioned Tale of the Cat has earned over $150,000 for the stable, is stakes placed on dirt, a stakes winner on grass, and has now attracted interest from some well-known Kentucky breeders. All without ever running faster than a 78 Beyer. I had a couple of words to say to all those naysayers who were so quick to come around here when things didn't work out; but Bob thought I should take the high road, so I'll just think them instead.

- Sunday was a fittingly climactic end to what was just an amazing week of free live music here in the city; and that's where I was rather than at the races that day. It took place in a picture-postcard setting on the East River, in Williamsburg, and featured the legendary Boston post-punk band Mission of Burma, whose third album of their glorious reformation after nearly 20 years apart will be out on Matador this fall.

One might figure that the guitar/bass/drums trio thing can only take so many forms; yet even as influential as Mission of Burma are considered to be, there's no group I know of that does it quite the same. Here they ripped through new songs and classics, including Einstein's Day, a personal favorite from their 1982 release Vs (re-released last year, along with The Horrible Truth About Burma and Signals, Calls, and Marches, by Matador).

Among the many bands that cite them as an influence is Toronto's Fucked Up, who preceded them with a raging set of their own. And here is where I was planning to embed what is a mind-blowing video of a portion of their performance that was filmed by Abbey Braden. But, alas, it's been removed from You Tube. Can't say that I would blame was far too good to be given away. So I'll have to settle for this one, which comes via Brooklyn Vegan. It at least aptly captures the picturesque least those behind singer Pink Eyes (and including a chick bassist).

Fucked Up's latest album, The Chemistry of Common Life, is also available on Matador.


onecalicocat said...

Ah, Rap Tale's revenge.
I saw the Candy Eclair but didn't know about the Virginia stake.
We still are avid followers of Highland Cat, who got a nice win on turf on a DQ at Philly a couple of weeks ago.
Not that anyone who posts here would care much, but Smarty Jones has a real nice 2-year-old in Backtalk, recent winner of a Gr 3 at CD. Smarty will not be the dud at stud that many have predicted, He had MSW winners at Belmont and Hollywood Park on Sunday. Just give him a little time.

Anonymous said...

I'll say it again here, and just as I said to you in person, Rap Tale was a great claim and anyone with any criticisms is nothing but jealous.

It's a brutally tough game, and nobody is perfect, but Rap Tale was one of the better claims of the last couple of years.

David M. Miller said...


Congrats on the successful claim and the clever management brought to bear in the campaign of Rap Tale.

In all honesty, I managed 1:43 of the video of the band and decided you should have spent the weekend at Belmont.

jamesp said...

Congrats with your success with Rap Tale and for maintaining such a great blog for racing fans.

I said a long time ago that you should have had zero tolerance for abusive commenters, and never let them on in the first place - just zapped them into cyberspace thirty seconds after they tried to post. Sociopaths deserve only as much.

I'd still love to see you disallow anonymous commenting here too. You have a very knowledgeable and diverse audience and it'd be great to differentiate Who is saying What. Unless it's someone like Fat Tony Ciullo, who was in witness protection for spilling all he knew about race fixing in the 70's and '80's, there's really no reason somebody can't give a screen name when posting.


Anonymous said...

Fat slob singing Incoherently.

I stopped listening to that crap in high school.

What's going on with you man!

Frank D

ballyfager said...

O/T DRF says Rachel to the Haskell. What a great catch for Mth.

As an old time trainer once said, Saratoga is for people who don't know about Monmouth Park.

Anonymous said...

What a corrupt Breeders Cup management, headed by Peter Land. They awarded the Breeders Cup 2 years in a row to Santa Anita, when Churchill, Belmont, and efery other racetrack in the country would have been available. Now the scam continues with the Win And You're In. Eight races were chosen from Del Mar, and not one from Saratoga. Peter Land should be hung by his testicles, and the entire Breeders Cup Board should have been fired. How much did they get in kickbacks?

Steve Zorn said...

Well, actually several of the BC Board members were fired, or, rather, not re-elected. Their 400 page strategic plan, though, involves a lot of deckchair rearrangement. By itself, it's not a savior for the (dying) industry.