Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fountain of Youth Day at Gulfstream Park

At the time of this posting, it is cloudy, and a little windy in Hallandale, Florida, and they have just sealed the racetrack during the renovation break. So rain is in the forecast.

I am looking forward to the return of Union Rags, who I declared my “Derby Horse” after his excellent second in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile last November. While it is way too early for such proclamations, he was, and still is, the horse that has impressed me the most thus far.
But I need to see a huge effort from him today, to keep him atop my list. He doesn’t have to win, but he needs to run “big”.

I will probably play a pick 4 today starting with the 9th race. My pick in here is Point of Entry. This well-bred son of Dynaformer, out of a top notch female family, has been a little slow in putting it all together. But that is sometimes the case with the Dynaformers. He is one –for-one over the Gulfstream turf, and seems to be more focused with blinkers. Has had a bit of a freshening and I look for him to run a big one. Not an easy group however, and if you like to go deep in your first leg, I would certainly add the both Utley and Slow Pace, both drop-down Euros , and the improving Freshman Dorm for Mc Laughlin.

The 10th is the Grade3 Mac Diarmida and another tough turf event. The race is named after the son of Minnesota Mac, out of Flying Tammie, who became the 1978 Eclipse Award winning Male Turf Horse. Trained by Scotty Schulhofer, one of his wins was the prestigious Washington DC International.
I have always liked Newsdad and he is my top choice in here. Will be happy if the Clancy crew’s Eagles Poise runs back to his back to back Canadian victories from last year, but that was on poly. Simard and Center Divider could be in the mix too. Pay attention to track condition by this time in the day.

Good thing I just checked Twitter. Algorithms is scratched from the Fountain of Youth due to popping a splint. How quickly things can change. This could take him off the Derby Trail. Pletcher’s other horse, Discreet Dancer is very fast and will be stretching out for the first time. Unions Rags will not be bothered by a wet track, if there is one, but the only question will be, does he need to be fully cranked, to win this? My longshot play in here is News Pending. I think he is good enough to get a piece.

In the last leg I will look at three horses. Pikestar is dropping from MSW after showing speed in his second start, and picks up JV. Le Grande Artiste, woke up when dropped and has had several good works since that effort. And Malibu Wave showed some interest his initial turf outing, and was steadied in that one. Another who has worked well since then.

Good Luck if you are wagering today!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Luck - Revisited

I was not, and perhaps still not, a huge fan of HBO’s LUCK. But maybe it’s my hope springs eternal nature, or just plain curiosity that has kept me coming back.

As a horse person, I have been annoyed at the total portrayal of desperation of every speaking character in the show. The complexities are so totally dark and deranged. Every last person is tortured in some way. But last night’s episode showed a little light at the end of the tunnel.

Several things caught my attention. First, the deftness with which the vet retracted the scope, post-race (Now I KNOW she didn’t insert it) but she looked very professional. Adding to that, the look into the scope gave the viewers something that only people on the back side get to see. So it was actually educational.

Next, and perhaps the best scene of the night was when the 3 of the 4 pick six winners were in the shedrow, excited to feed carrots to their newly acquired horse. It was the first time there was true innocence and humility on anyone’s face since I’ve been watching the show. The reactions revealed that maybe the bustouts actually have a heart and a soul. Naturally, the horse brought it out.

As I said from the first episode, the casting is perfect. Gary Steven’s acting ability is superb. True, he’s playing a jock, so he has a lot to pull from. But he is genuine. And John Ortiz (Escalante), though diabolical, and the last trainer in the Universe that you would give a horse to, has channeled his character perfectly. Nick Nolte plays the tortured trainer (Walter) with angst and pure emotion. The gamblers are a group of misfits. They are so different from each other, my guess is, and Milch figured every gambler on the planet could relate in part, to some aspect of their degeneracy.

People should know that this is a snapshot of racetrack life according to Milch. He has captured the tortured and desperate human failings of “everyman” with the backdrop of our great game that is horseracing. He is obviously very good at what he does. But I have my doubts that it will create any new wagering dollars, new horse owners or any new fans. But I also know that that was surely not anyone’s objective when this concept was created.

The characters in” Luck” started out about as low as they could go, maybe there’s no place to go but up?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Luck", Lasix and 42 & Change...

OK, don’t be looking for the fastest half mile of the day, the 42 and change is what Wewoka Switch paid in breaking his maiden yesterday in the 8th at Gulfstream. A blog favorite, the son of Harlan’s Holiday, dropped and popped with the addition of blinkers in a much improved effort. The race was originally scheduled for the turf, and I hope the connections continue down that path. Congrats to Nick Zito and Dream Walkin’ Farms. It was a Red Solo Cup performance.

I was late to the “Luck Party” but watched 2 hours back- to- back Thursday night. Great casting, pretty good acting, with a script chock full of backstretch and grandstand vernacular. However, it does highlight the dark side of racing, with its various broken-down bust-out characters. Who would want to visit a racetrack if they thought they would run into any of these losers? Here’s a suggestion. If the writers of “Luck” are only going to focus on the down and out, could they please inject a little humor, at least?

Maybe it’s too early to tell, but “Luck” won’t do much for racing except tarnish our rich and beautiful sport.

TVG ‘s Round Table last night was a chat about Medications in Racing, which quickly turned into taking sides on Lasix. Most of the participants were knowledgeable and respective members of the Racing Community. (I said most)
There are definitely two distinct views on the issue. I know where I stand. You have to do what’s in the best interest of the horse’s health and welfare. Period. If the public perception is skewed, then it is the industry’s job to educate the public. Like for instance, it is a huge misconception that medication (like Bute and Lasix) is not used in Europe and other countries. But in fact, it is used frequently in training, up to a race.

Nice racing around the country today, including Tampa Bay. I like Game Drive in the third, on the lawn in the Opt claiming $75,000, NW x1. And Keertana is returning in the Grade 3 Endeavor S.

Setsuko, in the 10th at Santa Anita, has been a horse that I have always liked, but who has been a big disappointment. He has now been gelded. I look for a turnaround here.