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Monday, August 27, 2012

Dead Heat

Alpha ($4.10) was clearly past Golden Ticket ($26.80) as the two approached the wire in the Travers, and it was just sheer chance....a fortuitous moment in time and a bob of the head....that the latter was able to get a share of Travers glory.  Had the wire been a foot before or after where it was, Alpha would have had the winner's share all to himself.  But just at that instant when they hit the wire, the nose of Golden Ticket somehow managed to get back even, for just a split second, with that of Alpha.  And voila!  A dead heat.  The last time there was a dead heat in the Travers, in 1874, the two horses returned for a second heat to fight it out and determine a sole winner.  I rather like that solution.  But I guess that wouldn't fly nowadays.  For one thing, they'd have to re-issue fresh vet reports (and I know you were all waiting with baited breath for those) to make sure there was no last-minute cheating between heats.

Alpha's running lines would be a thing of beauty if you threw out those two races at Churchill Downs.  He's worked his way methodically to the top of the 3yo large part, simply by staying healthy and being one of the last ones standing at this point.  Flashy, he is not.  Nor is he particularly fast.  Alpha earned a Beyer of 100 for his Travers win, a point less even than last year's nondescript winner - quick, can you name him?  Don't have a list, but I'd guess that has to be pretty far on the low end of figs for Travers winners.  But it's also his career high number, and less than one would expect from a division leader at this time of the year.  However, he's worked his way methodically to this point, and one might expect better things to come.  And he surely showed his mettle, overcoming a wide journey on both turns, and digging down to catch a horse who benefited from a glorious ground-saving pocket trip.

So great job by jockey David Cohen on Golden Ticket, who was eligible for an entry-level allowance coming into the race.  And nice work too by trainer Ken McPeek; this horse had not started since finishing second in an allowance race on Derby day.  He'd worked brilliantly over the track, but surely hard to make a case for him, even in retrospect, when you can do so most of the time.  One thing that you could have inferred from his past performances though is that he would appreciate the extra ground.  And if you go back and look under his third dam, you'll see the Manhattan winner Academy Award, and the two-time mile-and-a-half Sword Dancer winner Telling.

The win by Willy Beamin $24.80) in the King's Bishop which preceded the Travers may have been an even more stunning result.  Richard Dutrow kind of repeated a winning pattern from June, when he won a seven furlong state-bred stakes four days after winning at a mile.  This time, it was only three days rest, and he was cutting back from a full two-turn mile and an eighth race.  I'd imagine that the win did not elicit smiles at the New York Times or the Racing and Wagering Board, which has suspended the trainer for ten years, still pending various appeals.  However, for a guy who is supposed to manifest the evil side of the sport, he sure seemed to have a lot of supporters afterwards on Twitter.  A lot of people seemed to think it was a riot, including our buddy jk here in the comments section.  I suppose that the ignorance and incompetence of regulators, with their silly show of extra security and vet reports for the Travers (quite low on the list of races that bettors would be suspicious of), can make even this habitual cheater a hero, and I wonder if he'll be similarly cheered should he ultimately beat the suspension. 


Steve Zorn said...

Re Dutrow:

I'm not privy to the thinking (if that's what it is) of NYRA's crack legal team (the folks who brought us the 1% takeout fiasco), but I STILL don't understand why NYRA doesn't just say no entries and no stalls for Dutrow. That's a track operator's decision, recently employed by Penn National with respect to Michael Gill, and shouldn't depend on the endless legal appeal process in NY.

Anonymous said...

Talk about ignorance and incompetence. I thought you liked the sport being degenerate. At least that's what your last rant said.

Alan Mann said...

There's a difference between degeneracy and incompetence. Us horseplayers can be degenerate. The regulators have to have at least a measure of competence! Or at least common sense!! Stepping up security for the third biggest race of the year rather than the claiming races that are at the heart of the suspicions over the Big A breakdowns is qualifies as neither competence nor common sense! It was done strictly for show, and was a waste of time and money.

Anonymous said...

But if it hadn't been done, I guarantee that 3/4 of the Travers entrants would have received illegal raceday medication. Guarantee. Pick your stupid poison, but it hasn't and probably won't end.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the medication records being published online, I learned alot perusing those! Prior to the NYSRWB ban that went into effect March 25, the most vulnerable Big A entrants could squeak by a state vet raceday exam with a bute shot at 24 and sometimes also 48 hours.
Now the records show that the best in the class are getting 2-3x that amount of antiinflammatories as a matter of course! (and in the case of poor Street Life, a big dollop of Triamcinolone to boot!)
I know all this petty detail is of no concern to a handicapper... So I'll shut up now.

Alan Mann said...

Well, you are more cynical than I. But that's certainly not to say that you are not right.

oldtimer said...

Thought Golden Ticket won it and Alpha got the gift of a deadheat. Opposite opinions are what makes horse racing. Love your blog.

steve in nc said...

Dutrow is almost enacting your dead heat solution. I think it was really two days rest both times, with the races 4 days apart (raced Wed., "rested" Th & Fr, raced again Saturday).

Two days rest, two hours rest, we could have the thoroughbred Hambletonian. Or a truly dead heat.

There was some question as to how to paint the canoe. They should just paper it with vet reports and make some giant syringes to serve as paddles. Or paint it bright yellow with the USPS Team logo, to be unveiled on Lance Armstrong Day at the Spa (free supplements to the first 5,000 through the turnstiles).

Maybe next summer, Melky could come to the Spa instead of Mariano Rivera.