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Sunday, August 29, 2010

White Hot Finish

Over 45,000 on hand at Saratoga for the Travers, and they saw...... oh wait.

That's the wrong crowd.

There, that's better. Sorry, I got my photos of all-white crowds mixed up.

Anyway, the crowd - 45,746 to be exact - witnessed a thrilling finish, as embellished dramatically in articles like this one by Joe Drape, this one by Andy Beyer, this one by Jennie Rees.

Now, I honestly don't enjoy being a Negative Nelly all of the time, but part of a blogger's mission I believe is to point out things that, for whatever reason, the mainstream press does not. So, unlike the three abovementioned writers, surely amongst the most respected and knowledgeable in their profession, I feel compelled to note that the final time of 2:03.28 was the slowest Travers since Coronado's Quest in 1998; and one of six to clock in over 2:03 in the last 35 years....and, even worse, that the final quarter was run in harness horse time of 26 3/5. Afleet Express ($16) finished in 26.44, while runner-up Fly Down (a perverse $114.50 exacta for those who had boxed them as the two favorites in the Jim Dandy), finished in 26.37 after sweeping around the field on the turn in 24.17 (these fractions courtesy of Formulator).

Both Trappe Shot, the race favorite, and the Derby winner Super Saver, took over 30 seconds for those last two furlongs, meaning that they were virtually eased. So while there's no denying the intensity of those final yards, there were some ugly aspects to the result, and these horses did not comport themselves well in the historical context of the storied race. Funny, Drape is so quick to emphasize the negative aspects of the sport; but apparently not when he's in his tug-at-the-heartstring dramatic mode. Though he mentions the "honest mile of 1 minute 36.65 seconds," he doesn't say a word about the slow finish. That would have ruined the effect.

A lot is being made of Castellano's ground-saving ride on the winner as opposed to the wide move by Fly Down. However, Afleet Express was carried a good four wide on the first turn as Lezcano immediately took his colt over to the rail. So I don't know that, if there was Trakus at Saratoga, the ground loss figures would have been that different. Of course, even the slightest difference in Afleet Express' favor would have made the difference in the result. Man, tough beat for those of you who had Fly Down, who had really, for all intents and purposes except the most important one, passed his rival at that point.

Though I was wrong as it turned out in my strong stance against the runner-up, when a race falls apart that badly, I don't feel as if I was really wrong. Friend or Foe looked awful I thought in the post parade; it this was a 15K claiming race, I would have thought he was lame, as stiff as his back legs looked. Not that I really know anything about physical inspection....but the Head Chef, who picked out (but did not wager on) the winner along with third-place finisher First Dude in the warm-up, noticed it as well.

And hey, there's some diversity - Governor Paterson was his official capacity I assume. Still, I wonder if he paid for his seat.


Anonymous said...

I had a tough day......I went down, went up, went down, down, and it all came down to the KNOW; oh yeah, you KNOW what happened.

Had I boxed off the four favorites in the Pick 3 and Pick 4....$2 for $24, I'd have had the exacta.

Tough day. I'm still proftibale on the meet though

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I got my photos of all-white crowds mixed up.

What a Racist.

Anonymous said...

I had a great day. I posted weeks ago that Afleet Express would win the Travers. I tried to share it but, in the typical mentality portrayed in "Let It Ride" about thinking that they knew better, most people did not accept what I was describing. Now, you know. I posted this morning, too, in a last attempt to share.

I hope your mother had a nice birthday, Alan.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I agree with you on the 2:03 milk wagon-horse time in the Travers. On a fast track, Grade I 3 YO's should be doing the mile and a quarter in 01 and change, or better. It's all any of them could do to the make the last quarter.

But a glorious day at The Spa nonetheless, the kind of perfect summer day that we all dream of and seldom receive. The crowd was into it with a more enthusiastic than usual roar as the field broke from the starting gate. A great tradition.

Anonymous said...

Didn't see any photos of Governor Paterson and any of the NYRA brass? Maybe they were just trying to avoid any controversey?

El Angelo said...

Did the Washington Post fire all their editors? The article calls Miner's Reserve "Miner's Express" twice and calls Afleet Express "Afleet Alex" once.

BitPlayer said...

If you watch the head-on, you'll see that, while Afleet Express was indeed 4-wide going into the first turn, Castellano dropped him over to the rail (or as close to the rail as anyone wanted to be) early in the turn

Anonymous said...

Retire Rachel. she looked like a former champion down the lane with Borel beating the crap out of her! She was beaten by an average allowance horse at best, although the winner belongs to Dinny Phipps, Mr. NYRA?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, glad I didn't play the race as I would have tried to beat Rachel but not with the daughter of Smoke Glacken with a career top Beyer of 85.

I'd like to see them point Rachel to either the BC Mile or the Sprint. It's clear by now she won't go to the Classic. I suppose the Distaff is most probable.

Either way, not a bad performance yesterday. It's what we've seen all year long -- a consistent effort but no longer a great filly. Just a good one. -jp

Figless said...

Might be interesting to try her on the grass, might be a nice turf miler.