Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Big Red!

 No one will ever dispute that one of the best horses to ever look through a bridle was the great Secretariat.
 By Bold Ruler out of Somethingroyal, by Princequillo, the Virginia-bred was born 41 years ago today.

There will never be another.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stayin' Alive

Handicapping can sometimes be exhausting. Especially “team play”. When it’s your turn to make choices for yourself and your teammates, there’s always a little more pressure. But if you have a good day, it’s even more rewarding.

We are holding our own and stayin’ alive in the Pace Advantage Interboard Handicapping League Contest. And while trying to pick winners for that, I managed a decent showing in the Equibase contest (128 out of 1592).

Larry Jones is loaded for the Oaks, isn’t he? His Summer Soiree romped yesterday in the Bourbonette, her first time on synthetics. Another by War Front (The Factor, Soldat, Data Link), will she join her stablemate Joyous Victory (Tapit) in the gate on Oaks Day?

Did not even consider Pants on Fire yesterday in the Louisiana Derby, even with the “Rosie” Factor. Loved Animal Kingdom at Turfway, but what does his win on synthetic mean for the Derby?

Richard Migliore is doing a good job at HRTV. He’s has always been a class act. He is very articulate, as he‘s learning the ropes of commentating and he’s bringing some good insight to handicappers and race fans.

Sorry to see Mr. B and Chris Kotulak go, over at TVG. Enjoyed both, but especially Mr. B for all his experience in the game. And while racing does need to appeal to a younger crowd, it’s Mr. B’s generation who have the colorful stories of great horses and characters that have really made racing what it is today. Those that have been participating for 20-30 years? That’s nothing in this game.

So good luck to both gentlemen, I am sure there’s something bigger and better for them around the next turn.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Watching Dubai Racing And Other Things

Even money favorite, JJ the Jet Plane, from South Africa, just won the Group 2 , 1 million dollar Al Quoz Sprint at Meydon this morning, cutting through the haze and the crowded field to just get up, in time.

Caton Bredar, atop a frisky pony, is interviewing the winning jock on the handsome bay, coming back after the race. As always, she is very professional and asks all the right questions, but she may have her hands full with this particular pony.

Ramon Dominguez is being interviewed at the moment, singing the praises of Gio Ponti. As he says, he is a push- button horse to ride, and a win here would be a dream come true for any jockey.

I don’t pretend to know much about the horses running today in Dubai, except for our American contingent. I wish all of them good trips. And I will be watching and rooting for the home team.

On the local front, there’s more than enough action here to keep my attention today. My Pace Advantage selections need to get in, but I have yet to get beyond my rough draft. I hope to fit in the Equibase contest, as well.

My fingers are crossed for Empire Maker, to make a complete recovery from colic surgery. As simple and as good as the  preliminary reports are, colic surgeries are anything but simple.

Lots being written this week on the problems at the TRF. Let’s not forget all the good they have done, and all the help they need. There are plenty of people, much smarter than me, who should be able to figure out just where the money should come from.

Read an interesting comment by Rick Violette on the Railbird Blog. I am inclined to believe the facts as written by Mr. Violette. I have no problems with money coming from takeout to be diverted to TB retirement. The horses deserve it and it’s the right thing to do.

An article on breakage, by Steven Crist caught my attention

"The argument against providing true payouts like $2.06 or $2.39 has always centered on the flimsy issue of forcing mutuel clerks to deal with pennies. The real issue is that all those confiscated pennies add up to several million dollars a year in each of the largest racing jurisdictions, a sort of slush fund that is usually split between the track and the state and that neither is eager to give up."

OK, how about starting here? Let’s put all those pennies to good use for TB retirement.

I Want Revenge and Conveyance looked good in the Godolphin Mile, till the last 16th of a mile, then they got swallowed up .Godolphin’s Skysurfers battled gamely to the wire and won by a head, over Mufarrh. Now waiting for the famous dismount…and there it is!

Caton’s pony is still making faces at all the winners.

Another victory for the “house”. This time it’s Godolphin’s filly Khawlah ( the first filly ) to win the UAE Derby in a thrilling photo by a nose.

Late scratch of Kinsale King in the Golden Shaheen due to hives that popped up this morning.Now that's disappointing.

Ok, need to get down to business.. got to get to work and scope out some winners.

Hope everyone has a winning day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reality Check

Another 3 and ½ million or so people got to see a glimpse of The Factor’s Rebel stretch run last night on the O’Reilly Factor, when host Bill O’Reilly included him in a segment. A very animated Bill, wished the horse and his owners a hearty congratulations and continued good luck on the road to the Derby.

Intermixed with stories on the air strikes in Libya; is Gaddafi a target, or not? Should he stay or should he go? ( what’s the hesitation? I vote Go… bye, bye) the nuclear disaster in Japan, and other glum world news, watching The Factor cruise at Oaklawn was a welcomed sight. It surely got some attention, and maybe brought in a few new fans.

Shown in the segment called “Reality Check”, I’m not sure if there’s anything to read into that. As in the further he goes, will there be a “reality check?.” But for now, highlighting what’s exciting and good about Horse Racing on the #1 cable news show, is free promotion and a valued endorsement and that's always good for our sport.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Stakes Action at Oaklawn

Is The Factor, The Fastest? So often, speed wins races. This is one of those rare moments when I will just accept the fact. The Factor is, the speed of the speed, and whether or not he needs oxygen at the wire won’t matter, because there is simply nothing in this race that can stay with him. He knows only one way of running and he will be on the front end. He can run away and hide from this field, and though a few will come running in the end, I think The Factor could be long gone. I do not see him as a Derby horse. But I think the Rebel is within his reach. I can hear Bob Baffert telling Marin Garcia “Ride ‘em like you stole ‘em.”

Let’s put it this way, the others have to catch him, to win. The 4 horses that should come running in here and could pick up the pieces would be the 1-2-3 horses from the Southwest. All three of these horses seem to have some talent and are going in the right direction. The other horse in here that is intriguing is Alternation. He is improving, and coming in with a few zippy works. Is he good enough to take the next step forward?

The Azeri is, by far, the clash of the divas. Is Blind Luck tailing off and in need of a rest? I’m not going to second guess a sharp trainer, but has this great, little mare been given a break since she started her 2 year old career? Amazing that she just keeps on going.

Havre de Grace has been freshened and has had a trainer switch from Tony Dutrow to Larry Jones. In my mind, Mr. Jones is becoming one of those trainers who excels with any kind of horse, but especially with fillies. This is the first start of the year for Havre de Grace, but she has run well fresh before. She beat Blind Luck last year, by a neck, in receipt of 10 pounds; today they are running at equal weights (115).

I love both these fillies and would be happy to see either one of them win. They lay over the rest of the field. But I think that Havre de Grace has the advantage. She is fresh; she has a home court advantage, and does not have to ship. Larry Jones gets them ready to win. His horses are not in need of a race or two. The jock switch to Ramon Dominguez won’t hurt either.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Other March Madness

What’s going on here? I just read about the Scat Daddy colt that brought $400,000 yesterday at OBS. I hope it’s just the bad angle of the picture and that colt is NOT as back at the knees as the picture suggests. Bought by the Japanese, let’s just say, I’m glad I’m not sending a horse to Japan at the moment.

And In the same article, (read at the Blood Horse) famous -trainer told famous -owner to buy a Street Sense colt, AFTER he chipped an ankle in his :10 workout.

Did I read that right?

Sweet Ducky has been sold to the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is also friend of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. Though the first report I saw said “anonymous” buyer, that kind of news doesn’t stay secret very long.

Really? Is this really true? C’mon, there must be some mistake….

In all seriousness, I heard from a friend in Tokyo who bought several stallion prospects from my dad back in the day, and he assured us that his immediate family is safe. But as great as that was to hear, the rest of his e-mail was chilling. His wife’s sister and her family lived in the area where the tsunami hit, and their village was washed away. They are unaccounted for. Though I don’t know these people, it just makes this catastrophe much more real to me. He went on to say that because of the “nuclear disaster” (his words), many foreigners are leaving. There are quakes every 10 to 15 minutes, and they are faced with power and water shortages, no gas, no bread, no milk, no bottled water and serious transportation problems.

Not quite the March Madness that we are used to.

Over at the Paulick Report, they have a fundraiser with contributions going to the American Red Cross for Japan Relief. You can also sign up for the PR Helping Japan NCAA Bracket Challenge, but you have to do it before tomorrow at noon.

 And will it be the Morehead Eagles or the Louisville Cardinals in the first round?

Monday, March 14, 2011

More From Mo

The Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream did nothing to further along Uncle Mo’s march to the Derby. It was a glorified workout, going a one turn mile, with a nice gallop out. And? Nothing new was learned, except for some reason, he seems to be going along the path of least resistance.

The son of Indian Charlie, who may or may not have distance limitations, looks sound and happy. Is this enough to translate into a win at Churchill in a twenty horse field, with lots of bumping and traffic troubles? Will there be enough conditioning in him, mentally and physically, to go the grueling mile and a quarter that most young 3 year olds want no part of? Will the Arch-Kris S-Roberto blood on his dam‘s side, kick in, make the difference?

Whether he stays in Florida for the Florida Derby or goes to New York for the Wood, I think Uncle Mo needs to get some dirt in his face, and he needs to overcome some adversity before we crown him the King of the Three Year old colts. I want to see what he does in a fight.

I want to see more from Mo.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend Rewind

I have watched the replay of the Big’ Cap several times and two things comes to mind. The first, and most important thing is, Thank God! everyone stayed on their feet. But the other thing is how unfortunate, and maybe unfair, it was for Setsuko and his connections. This horse was running the race of his career, one that many of us thought he had in him. He was minding his own business, playing nice, and got parlayed not once, but twice. Momentarily getting the wind knocked out of him, and getting banged up, (hopefully, not seriously) he gutted it out to lose by inches. Had none of the interference happened (that is, Twirling Candy knocking Game On Dude sideways while Chantal was hitting left-handed) Setsuko would have not been interfered with and would, without question, had a clear shot at victory.
So IMO, everything that happened was between TC and GOD, and Setsuko was the one that suffered the most, in that it probably cost him a Grade I win. And so, where was the fairness there? An in addition, if Steward Scott Chaney could say it was a 50-50- argument, then why does it fall one way and not the other?

Is Uncle Mo teaching Stay Thirsty in the mornings, or is it the other way around?? Nice win by the “workmate” and I have always thought highly of him. Perhaps what he beat was questionable, but he galloped out strong and, all in all, I think he got what he needed at this stage of the game. And that’s the pedigree that wants the classic distance.

Speaking of Stay Thirsty’s sire Bernadini, could he be any hotter?

Not only did he have a maiden breaker in the Phipps homebred, Break up the Game, out of the Mr. Prospector mare Pennant Champion at Gulfstream on Saturday, but he had a first time starter at Santa Anita that had a very flashy debut. Wilburn, out of Moonlight Sonata, by Carson City, won impressively and should certainly go on to bigger and better.

And big THANK YOU to Dixie’s Sandals, Deanaallen’skitten, Rockette Escapade and Waquoit’s Dance for all doing their jobs nicely and giving me the super in the last race at Gulfstream on Saturday. Love those dime supers!