Archive for November, 2009

Holiday weekend behind, winter begins

November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone.  There are no more Grade I races this year east of the Mississippi and only one graded stakes race in NY.  What does that mean?  Very little in the grand scheme of things as one of the biggest money-making seasons in New York racing is set to begin.  Racing begins on Wednesday on Aqueduct’s inner track and it’s configuration makes it prone to producing numerous trips that create great bet-backs and great bet-againsts. 

If anything, Ramon Dominguez’s skills are even fuller display on the inner track.  Handicappers will have to begin to decipher if 15k beaten claimers to 10k N2L are a drop in class and if a speed horse with the far outside post can clear and avoid a five-wide trip around the clubhouse turn.  There are only five days left (weather permitting) of turf racing and once those days are past, old man winter will officially be in residence.  However, fret not as this is a time when racing’s die-hards can prosper.

Let’s take a look at some of the major races from the weekend:

FALLS CITY

The scratch of Swift Temper left Unbridled Belle a huge favorite in what was to be her final career start.  The accomplished daughter of Broken Vow made a bold move on the far turn but was beaten to the punch by Serenading, who was coming off a strong win at 10 furlongs at her home track, Woodbine.  Beware of her trainer, Josie Carroll, who has now scored in stakes races in this country with Careless Jewel, Springside, and Good and Lucky.

Watch the Falls City.

TOP FLIGHT

The first powerful Godolphin Stable runner of the weekend surfaced here as Sara Louise, the winner of the Pocahontas last year and the Victory Ride this year, rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint with a determined victory.  She wore down the leaders and held Justwhistledixie safe as that gal was making her first start since a 2nd place finish in the Acorn back in June.  Both of these fillies are slated to return in 2010 and should both be worth watching.

Watch the Top Flight.

CLARK

I’ll shamelessly admit that I became a fan of Blame in September when I had a long talk with his jockey, Jamie Theriot, prior to and after the Super Derby.  He guaranteed me that this son of Arch had a tremendous amount of talent and was going to be a force as he further developed.  Since then he’s 2-o and has beaten older horses in consecutive starts.  First it was the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland then he beat a bulky field in the Clark (G2) which is the signature event of the Churchill fall meet.  He made the lead in mid-stretch after going five wide around the turn and he turned back a couple of solid animals in Einstein and Misremembered for a solid score.  Here’s to hoping for a huge 2010 for Blame.

Watch Blame win the Clark.

CITATION

Trainer Humberto Ascanio, the long-time assistant to the late Bobby Frankel on the west coast, saddled two horses in this affair and it was Fluke, the NY invader, who proved best at 9-1.  Given a perfect ride by Joe Talamo, this son of Wild Event exploded between horses at the eighth pole and kicked clear strongly to earn his first stakes win in America.  True to the form of his boss, Ascanio didn’t hesitate to run a recent allowance winner in a Grade I and his faith was rewarded. 

Watch the Citation.

DEMOISELLE

What looked like an uninspiring race on paper proved to be just that on the track as Tizahit, who had been pounded in the Tempted, scored in a rather pokey 1:53.09 for the nine furlongs.  She held off the slight favorite Protesting, who was coming into this event off of a maiden win on the Polytrack at Keeneland.  Pardon me if I don’t think the Kentucky Oaks winner was in this field. Heck, I’ll be surprised if the Busanda winner was in this bunch.

Watch the Demoiselle.

REMSEN

It looked pretty clear that the power in the two races for 2YOs on the Aqueduct card was definitely in this event as Champagne (G1) winner Homeboykris was set to square off with Nashua (G2) winner Buddy’s Saint.  Unfortunately, only one showed up and a lot like their female counterparts in the aforementioned Demoiselle, these horses took their time finishing the nine furlongs.  Besting the fillies by only .14 seconds, eventual winner Buddy’s Saint earned a Beyer figure of 80, a 22 point drop from his Nashua score.  He is certainly one for the conversation for next year but color me doubtful at this point in time.

Watch the Remsen.

GAZELLE

The comeback of 2008 Eclipse Award winner Stardom Bound was foiled by Richard Migliore and the boys in blue as Godolphin’s Flashing made the lead, kicked clear at the 5/16ths pole and roared home a convincing winner.  She is now a two-time Grade I winner having taken the Darley Test at Saratoga back in early August and there is at least a chance that we will see her again in 2010.  Trainer Saeed bin Suroor had this to say after her victory: “We’re going to talk it over and maybe she will race next year.”  As if we needed any more convincing, Flashing’s handy victory, which followed two straight defeats on synthetic surfaces, further proved that dirt and the fake stuff are still incredibly different.

Watch the Gazelle.

CIGAR MILE

While the field for this, the final Grade I of 2009 in New York, lacked the fire power it once looked like it would contain, a solid group went postward with the Godolphin Stable entry of Vineyard Haven and Pyro favored.  Met Mile winner Bribon looked to pull off a rare double by winning both Grade I dirt miles in NY but he came up just shy as Kodiak Kowboy, the Carter and Vosburgh winne, picked up his third Grade I of the year with a strong stretch drive.  He further stakes his claim to the Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter, even if this race is not a sprint.

Watch the Cigar Mile.

GOLDEN ROD

In a race that featured Sara Louise and Rachel Alexandra in 2008, the Dale Romans-trained Sassy Image earned her second graded stakes win of the Churchill Fall Meet with a strong late run.  She has come to hand nicely for Romans since a couple of so-so efforts at Saratoga which were followed by a dull eighth-place finish in the Alcibiades over Keeneland’s Polytrack.  She is definitely one to watch in 2010.

Watch the Golden Rod.

KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB

The headliner on closing day under the Twin Spires was the Kentucky Jockey Club where Super Saver, who was most recently a tiring fourth in the Champagne, was among the favorites with Thisskyhasnolimit, who was coming off a sharp win in the Iroquois on opening day of the fall meet.  It was the former who rose to the occasion as co-leading rider Calvin Borel put this son of Maria’s Mon on the lead and he never looked back.  After allowing his rivals to move along his side at the quarter pole, Borel set his colt down and he showed an impressive turn of foot to draw off late.  This effort was clearly the best of the weekend as far as 2YOs go and this guy would naturally seem to be a Derby player provided he can progress a bit as a sophomore.

MATRIARCH

During his magical career Bobby Frankel dominated a few races in California and the Matriarch was certainly one of them.  He earned his eighth Matriarch in 2007 when Precious Kitten beat defending Eclipse Award winner Wait a While and he immediately pointed Ventura to this spot after she came up just short in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.  Unfortunately, Frankel died twelve days before the Matriarch but he was certainly watching as one of his favorite mares strutted her stuff in fine fashion to score with tremendous ease.  She was making her final start in this event but memories of her and her unique and revolutionary trainer won’t soon be forgotten.

HOLLYWOOD DERBY

The Usual Q.T., a Cal-bred son of super sire Unusual Heat, defeated a field that included six other graded stakes winners as he himself was coming off a game win in the Oak Tree Derby on Breeders’ Cup Day at Santa Anita.  Given an absolutely perfect ride by jockey Victor Espinoza, this bay gelding took over off the top of the turn and never looked back, defeating Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby winner Battle of Hastings by a length and a half.  He stamped himself as a serious player for the stakes races at Santa Anita early in 2010.

Watch the Hollywood Derby.

Well that about does it for the weekend stakes races.  This Friday Delta Downs will be the focal point of the racing world as the $750,000 Delta Jackpot (G3) headlines a card that features six stakes races.  Tune into At the Races with Steve Byk on Friday afternoon at 6:30 PM EST as I’ll be on to discuss the Jackpot plus a few of the bigger races on Saturday.  Until then, good luck and get cracking on the Pick 6 carryovers Wednesday at Hollywood and Aqueduct!

Racing fans give thanks with graded stakes

November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving is not only a time for families to gather together and celebrate everything they have to be appreciative for but to reflect on the best parts of their lives.  For racing fans Thanksgiving is that plus the unofficial end to the racing season.  There are only two Grade I stakes races in 2009 scheduled after this upcoming weekend but five will be run between Friday and Sunday, giving us all a chance to enjoy some stuffing for our wallets.  Let’s take a look at some of what’s coming up in just the next two days.

THURSDAY

FALL HIGHWEIGHT HANDICAP

It’s not one of the bigger races on the NY circuit but the Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) is certainly one of the more interesting.  A solid field of 10 has been assembled with the Repole Stable entry of #1 THE ROUNDHOUSE and #1A GO GO SHOOT expected to go off a strong favorite.  They are quite the tag team in that the former is a one-run closer who does his running in the stretch while the latter has blazing early speed.  Both will have to deal with carrying significantly more weight than they ever have before. 

Joining them will be #3 SEAN AVERY, a recent allowance winner who has shown potential for trainer Mike Hushion, who’s having a terrific Aqueduct fall meet.  Another entrant of note is #5 RILEY TUCKER, who was last seen in NY tiring in the final furlong of the Forego at Saratoga.  He’s run two lackluster races since that effort but now cuts back in distance for trainer Steve Asmussen and should appreciate the six panels they’ll go in here.

FALLS CITY

One of five graded stakes to be run at Churchill Downs on their final 3 days of racing, this Thanksgiving staple has drawn a compact yet accomplished field of six older ladies.  #4 SWIFT TEMPER and #5 UNBRIDLED BELLE are both millionaires looking to add another graded stakes race to their accomplishments.  The former has run two dreadful races in a row since she won the Ruffian (G1) at Belmont in early September but this will be her first start at two turns on conventional dirt since a 2nd place finish to Icon Project in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga.  Among the mares who were vanquished that afternoon was Unbridled Belle, who came back to finish 2nd in the Beldame (G1) and most recently toyed with a subpar group in the Turnback the Alarm (G3) at Aqueduct.

FRIDAY

CITATION

Hollywood Park kicks off their turf festival with the $300,000 Citation (G1) on Friday afternoon and a solid field has been assembled, headlined by 2008 Kilroe Mile winner #5 EVER A FRIEND and Oak Tree Mile victor #6 COWBOY CAL.  The former has made only one start in the last eighteen months, a win going down the hill at Santa Anita while the latter is looking to rebound off of a poor effort in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.  The most likely horse to give those two trouble is probably #4 BLUE CHAGALL, a Julio Canani-trained son of the Australian sire Testa Rossa, who scored a decisive victory in the Lure at Oak Tree in his last start.  It took him a while to find his way after shipping into this country but his last two efforts have both been strong and any horseplayer is wont to omit a Canani trainee in a Grade I grass race at a mile.

CLARK

Wow, the Clark drew a phenomenal field of 14 with #14 EINSTEIN a tepid 7-2 morning line favorite.  This field really includes all types of horses, outsiders looking to shock the world with improved efforts, younger, lightly raced horses looking to prove they belong, and older, more accomplished horses looking to cap off their year in a big way. 

I want no part of Einstein with the outside post coming off a terrible effort at Santa Anita.  I’ve always been skeptical of his ability on conventional dirt and there are just too many alternatives in here that will offer significantly more value at the windows.  #5 BLAME is a horse I’ve taken a liking to since he ran 2nd in the Super Derby behind Regal Ransom.  He was completely pace compromised that day but still ran on well to finish second and he came out of that event and handily beat older horses at Keeneland in the Fayette.  He seems equally adept on synthetics and dirt and should be moving in the right direction late under Jamie Theriot.

#8 ETCHED is coming off a terrific effort in the Meadowlands Cup where he battled early and held gamely late despite contesting strong fractions.  He seems to have a great deal of potential and may only be realizing it now with experience.

TOP FLIGHT

The Top Flight at Aqueduct will be drawn later today and is expected to include Bonnie Miss winner Justwhistledixie, who hasn’t been seen since a 2nd place finish in the Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day.  Godolphin will be represented by Victory Ride winner Sara Louise, who most recently finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. 

I’ll see you back here on Friday to look at Saturday’s stakes races, which include the Cigar Mile, Gazelle, Remsen, and Demoiselle from Aqueduct, along with the Golden Rod and Ky Jockey Club from Churchill, and the Matriarch from Hollywood.  Until then I’ll leave you with the 2008 version of the Clark Handicap:

Saturday Stakes Round-Up

November 21, 2009

There are only four graded stakes races across America and none of them boast a particularly star-studded or deep field, but each is competitive in its own way.  Let’s take a look at each of the four.

DISCOVERY (AQU) – Race 8, Post Time: 3:44 EST

#2 BAD ACTION has been on a nice little tear over the past few months and seems to run a good race every time he goes to the post.  His late kick should be pretty sharp based on the expected pace scenario and he ran a nice race going this route two back over this track.  His Pegasus effort was another strong one in that he raced wide around the far turn on a track that often has a golden rail.  Look for him to move from the back today, especially if the pace gets solid.  #5 GONE ASTRAY is a winner of two graded stakes races in a row and has now earned three 100+ Beyer figures in a row.  He is another who will benefit from the expected pace scenario in here as he does his best running from the back of the pack.  #3 BIRDRUN ran an extremely fast race last time out at Belmont as he tied the track record for a mile and a sixteenth on Big Sandy.  He has a great deal of early speed and should come out swinging.  His lack of experience is a bit troubling and the fact that he’ll have some company on the front end makes him tough to back for the top spot.

KENNEDY ROAD (WO) – Race 8, Post Time: 4:23 EST

#1 JUNGLE WAVE is proven over the synthetic main track at Woodbine and exits a solid 3rd place finish in the Nearctic on the turf.  He made the first move into a pace that really fell apart in that event and his eventual 3rd place finish was quite strong given the race flow.  He’s now drawn the rail, which could prove a bit tricky, but he has done well when going turf to synthetic in the past and his early speed is a definite asset.  #7 BOGUE CHITTO outfinished the top pick last time out in the Nearctic and he made a strong move in mid-stretch after diving to the rail that afternoon.  He is another who has run well on the Polytrack, as his most recent effort was a second place finish behind the freakishly fast sprinter Hollywood Hit.  He looms one of the best of the horses who’ll get in the mix later in the race.  #6 GRAZETTES LANDING is a winner of two in a row and now jumps up in class after clearing the first two allowance conditions.  He has a good running style given the way this race should play out, so look for jockey Corey Fraser to employ stalk and pounce tactics.

CARDINAL (CD), Race 9, Post Time: 4:37 EST

The first question one has to ask themself about this affair is what they’re going to do with #3 ACOMA.  She is a two-time graded stakes winner over this course and prior to her last outing she was 3 for 3 on the weeds.  She ran horribly in the First Lady and one of the most troubling elements of that effort was that it followed another lackluster effort in the Delaware Handicap.  She might have disliked the soft turf at Keeneland and was at a pace disadvantage in the Del Cap, so there are legitimate excuses.  I’m going to look for a bit of a price with #2 TIZFIZ, who won two turf stakes prior to being thrown to the wolves at Keeneland.  She has enough speed to be within striking distance from the start and the Churchill turf has played kindly to speed throughout the fall meet.  #5 LONG APPROACH is returning off a long layoff for trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who is notoriously one of the best in the game with fresh horses, specifically on the turf.  She just missed in this event a year ago and her running style makes her dangerous in here given that she doesn’t have to be far off the pace to be successful.

HOLLYWOOD PREVUE (HOL), Race 8, Post Time: 7:05 EST

All eyes are on #4 AMERICAN LION, who wsa one of the more impressive two year-0lds to run at the Keeneland fall meet.  He moved forward significantly from his debut and showed a powerful turn of foot down the lane.  He should be close to the early pace in here and beyond the two Bob Baffert-trained participants, it’s tough to tell how much talent there is in this field.  #5 MACIAS had a terrible trip in his debut and wound up finishing a game third despite all of the issues.  He rebounded to take his second start with a nifty off the pace move and then he was put in to the race a little early last time out in the Goodman.  He still held on but showed what could be construed as distance limitations.  It would seem that his best chance will come with him racing off the pace, so look for jockey Rafael Bejarano to change tactics a bit this afternoon.  #3 INDIAN FIREWATER is another fleet-footed Baffert trainee, and like his stablemate, he needed two strts to break his maiden.  His first try against winners came in a N1X at Oak Tree and he was outfinished by a rival who enjoyed a good trip from off the pace.  He should give a better account of himself but rates below his stablemate.

I’ll be back with thoughts throughout the day, specifically pertaining to the Twinspires.com Biggest Vegas Qualifier Ever, as 25 spots to the two biggest horse racing tournaments in the country are available.  Good luck!

Racing loses a living legend

November 16, 2009

Any fan of racing has certainly come across the name Bobby Frankel, a titan in our great game for nearly forty years.  Racing lost this tremendous individual on Monday as a 2nd bout with lymphoma took Frankel at the age of 68.  What did Bobby Frankel mean to racing?  A great deal and certainly more than can ever be explained in a simple blog post.

Frankel was the Eclipse Award winner for Most Outstanding Trainer on five occasions (1995 and 2000-2003) and trainer 11 Eclipse Award winners.  He won at least one Grade I stakes race every year from 1988 through 2009.  In an effort to remember just a few of Frankel’s many superstars, I’ll pick five of them, which will certainly lead to some glaring omissions.

5. SIGHTSEEK

Major Stakes wins: Humana Distaff, Ogden Phipps, Beldame

Known to be one of Frankel’s favorite horses, this Juddmonte-owned mare won Grade I races on seven occasions.  She engaged in a stirring rivalry with Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year who spent 2004 on the East Coast.  Sightseek got the best of her in the Ogden Phipps that year and wound up closing out her career with another routinely majestic win in the Beldame at her favorite racetrack, Belmont Park.

4. Ventura

Ventura was one of Frankel’s final Grade I winners and his last Breeders’ Cup winner as she scored in the 2008 Filly & Mare Sprint.  She was a three-time Grade I winner and was a daughter of another brilliant Frankel trainee and Grade I winner, Chester House.  Her white blaze face will never be forgotten as her turn of foot was absolutely electrifying.  Here’s a look at Ventura’s greatest triumph:

3. Intercontinental

An enigmatic daughter of super-sire Danehill, this filly loomed a serious player in the female turf division in 2004 but ended the year quietly after being defeated at a short price in the Diana.  She came back in 2005 in search of vindication and ended her season with a sensational victory in the Filly and Mare Turf at Belmont Park:

2. Empire Maker

Frankel had two serious contenders on the Derby Trail in 2003 and this son of 1991 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled seemed destined for greatness.  After a scintillating win at Gulfstream he was thrust into the role of Derby favorite and he seemed poised to bring Frankel his first Derby after a Wood Memorial score.   A tough luck third in the Derby gave way to a Belmont Stakes bid for Empire Maker and he earned a victory that was historic, even for a trainer with Frankel’s accomplishments:

1. Ghostzapper

Much was expected of this brilliantly fast son of Awesome Again at the beginning of 2004.  Four starts later racing had seen one of its most memorable champions as Ghostzapper won the Tom Fool, Iselin, Woodward, and Breeders’ Cup Classic in just about five months’ time.  He came back to win the 2005 Met Mile before being retired because of a hairline fracture in an ankle.  We didn’t see much of Ghostzapper but what we did made it quite clear that he was an all-time great.

Classic

RIP Bobby Frankel, one of racing’s all-time greats.

Saturday Stakes Round-Up

November 14, 2009

First things first, there was exciting news from trainer Christophe Clement regarding likely Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti.  He’ll be back in 2010 and his early season target will be the Dubai World Cup, slated to be run over a synthetic surface for the first time.

In other news regarding Breeders’ Cup participants (or those who wouldn’t make it in the gate in this case) Quality Road arrived safely at Churchill this morning and will van to Belmont Park on Monday morning.  He’s slated to begin his stay in NY with a lengthy gate session with former NYRA starter Bob Duncan.  Here’s to hoping he bounces back quickly and we can see him in the Cigar Mile, a race I firmly believe plays to his strengths.

As far as stakes racing nationwide today, there’s no stake race in NY, a rarity nowadays, but the Stuyvesant failed to draw sufficient entries and was cancelled.  The biggest race on the national landscape is the Mrs. Revere and a terrific 14 horse field has been drawn for the 8.5 furlong turf event.

MRS. REVERE

It seems reasonable to bet against #7 HOT CHA CHA despite her consecutive wins in graded stakes races on the turf.  She enjoyed an absolutely perfect trip in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland last time out and while she should get another great setup pace-wise, these are the types of horses you should steer clear from at what’s likely to be an underlaid price.  #1 C.S. SILK has been a disappointment this year but seems to have found a niche on the turf with two wins in three starts.  She probably wasn’t prepared for graded stakes company on the grass when she ran in the Pucker Up back in September at Arlington Park.  She rebounded out of that event in fine fashion taking a N3X on the weeds at Keeneland four weeks ago.  She should get a good trip in here stalking the pace as there are confirmed speedsters to her outside.

I’m not particularly keen on Valley View, Division 1 winner Bluegrass Princess but some of the also-rans in both of those events deserve prime consideration here.  #10 MISS KELLER has run on two boggy courses since coming to America and she ran a significantly improved race last time out when narrowly missing in the aforementioned Valley View.  She ran the best race of her career on a good-firm course at Down Royal in June and thus should move forward on a dry course.  Like many of the late runners in here she seems poised to enjoy a great setup pace-wise as there are no fewer than 3 definite speedsters in this bulky field.  I’ll use 1,3,10,11 and back-up with 4,5,7,14.

BONNIE HEATH TURF CUP

In this race a year ago, #8 SOLDIER’S DANCER was expected to cruise as he was sent off at 1-1.  He lost his rider at the start and so went his bid for a third consecutive stakes win.  He’s battled some injury problems this year but has been very good when at his best and is certainly facing a field that is vastly inferior to him talent-wise.  The most likely upsetter might be #6 MEAN SAX, who ran a much better race in his last turf outing than it might appear on paper.  He made the first move into a collapsing pace that afternoon and ended up tiring in the final yards.  He should enjoy a good stalking trip in this spot given the little amount of speed and his proven early ability.

CARL G. ROSE CLASSIC

Trainer Marty Wolfson is unleashing an onslaught on the Florida Million program and he has the heavy favorite, #3 IT’S A BIRD in this spot.  He has run two dreadful races in a row in the Woodward at Saratoga and the Meadowlands Cup at the Swamp in Jersey but he should move forward facing softer company this afternoon and really seems to tower over the other entrants in here.

Good luck with all of the Saturday races, including the large number that we didn’t highlight here!  Remember that TVG has a free qualifier for the DRF/NTRA Handicapping Championship available at www.ntra.com.  There’s no entry fee and the top three finishers win entries into the NHC.

26 musings from Breeders’ Cup 26

November 9, 2009

1.) There is no better location for a Breeders’ Cup than Santa Anita in terms of weather.  Not a chance for an iota of rain, sunny skies, and temperatures in the 70s provide a perfect setting for racing.  We won’t even get into the aesthetics of Santa Anita itself.

2.) Jonathan Sheppard is a really, really good trainer.  He took over the training of Cloudy’s Knight and all he’s done in three starts is win two graded stakes on the turf at 12 furlongs and miss by a whisker in the Marathon at 14 furlongs.

3.) Giant’s Causeway progeny like synthetics.  We didn’t really need Man of Iron to tell us that but he’s proving to be one of the more useful sires for the fake stuff. 

4.) Rose Catherine and Tapitsfly both might have bright futures.  The former proved she can hardly stand up on dirt but she sure has blossomed quickly once moved to the turf.  The latter is now a two-time stakes winner going long on the weeds.

5.) Biofuel was going to finish at least second in the Juvenile Fillies had Rajiv Maragh been able to control Negligee.  She had a great deal of momentum widest of all and the final quarter was so slow it proved ripe for a closer.

6.) Midday looked the part, was bet down and won despite a premature move from her jockey on the backstretch of the Filly and Mare Turf.  Here’s to a happy retirement for Forever Together (provided she’s retired) as she’s certainly earned it. 

7.) Pure Clan has officially erased the memory of her dull effort in the ’08 running of the Filly and Mare Turf as she ran yet another solid race this year.  Her consistency is remarkable and I imagine there’s going to be some interest on the part of her owners to keep her in training given the 2010 Breeders’ Cup is in their backyard.

8.) Jonathan Sheppard is a really, really good trainer Part II.  Informed Decision held her form incredibly well through the year and capped off a season that included Grade I wins in the Madison, Humana Distaff, a Grade II win in the TCA, and Grade III wins in the Presque Isle Masters and Chicago Handicap.  She’s now 7 for 7 on synthetic surfaces and her only blemish at 7 furlongs is the Ballerina, which was run over a quagmire on Travers Day.

9.) Life is Sweet’s tremendous Ladies’ Classic victory, which was undoubtedly aided by the white-hot pace set by the white filly Careless Jewel, showed in a way how special her stablemate Zenyatta is.  The reason why is that Life is Sweet had been done in during the summer and fall by slow-paced races.  She finally got the setup and capitalized on it.  The correlation to Zenyatta is that she was never adversely affected by those same negative pace setups.

10.) I banked on a Bridgetown wire-to-wire win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.  The ingredients were supposed to be an easy lead, a soft opening half-mile, and overrated European competition.  The first two worked out perfectly but Pounced proved slightly better in a race that’ll never be confused for a memorably event. 

11.) It would seem that the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Marathon are the most likely victims of a potential reduction in Breeders’ Cup races.  Here’s to hoping both of the juvenile turf events stay as they might be even more interesting races next year with the juvenile dirt events actually being run on dirt.

12.) California Flag definitely took advantage of the rock solid turf course favoring speed but he was virtually uncontested on the pace and he simply kept on trucking down the hill.  He certainly rebounded from a disappointing effort in this race a year ago.

13.) If you asked the good folks from Godolphin which one of these horses they expected a Breeders’ Cup victory from, who would it be: Mastery, Sara Louise, Seventh Street, Music Note, Cocoa Beach, Vale of York, Girolamo, and Regal Ransom.  I doubt they’d have said Vale of York, but alas, it was him who scored in the Juvenile with a nifty late move.  Ironically, the Associated Press article about the Juvenile read, “Vale of York, a 2 year-old colt, stormed home for a frantic finish, edging betting favorite Lookin at Lucky by a head…stamping himself as an early favorite for the Kentucky Derby.”  I’m available to book anyone out there’s action on Vale of York for the Derby. 

14.) Speaking of the Derby, he might not be the fastest horse around or have the most electrifying stride but I think Lookin at Lucky will absolutely love dirt.  Why?  Not only is his dirt pedigree terrific but he moves like a dirt horse with a steady, grinding style.

15.) Zensational was over-hyped.  I know hindsight is 20/20 but I was on record in multiple places saying so much.  He had feasted on horrible competition with cupcake trips and was exposed on the biggest day at a short price.

16.) Joel Rosario picked up his first Breeders’ Cup win ever and his ride on Dancing in Silks showed the world two of his best qualities.  He can read a pace scenario very well and is a tremendous finisher.

17.) My future bet on Courageous Cat aside, the late run of Goldikova that propelled her to another Mile victory was very impressive.  She is truly a one of a kind filly who won yesterday despite not really enjoying her preferred trip.  Would it be possible for her to show up at CD in 12 months for an unprecedented third consecutive Mile?

18.) It was fitting for a claimer turned BC winner to come from the barn of trainer Mike Maker, who has emerged as one of the best trainers in America.  His main man Julien Leparoux was aboard and Furthest Land gave him his 3rd Breeders’ Cup win this year and 4th overall. 

19.) Congratulations to the Ramseys, who have put plenty into this sport but had no Breeders’ Cup wins to show for it.  They were poised to earn their first in 2004 with Kitten’s Joy but instead earned it with Furthest Land.

20.) Mastercrafstman’s placement in the Dirt Mile will forever remain one of the more mystifying decision made by Ballydoyle to me.  Sure, he ran well enough, but they had no representation in the Turf and this horse would have at least provided them a reasonable chance.

21.) Presious Passion, I salute you.  If you don’t think this guy is one of the coolest horses around you probably aren’t much fun as his breakneck, rating be damned style is just so much fun.  He did his thing in the Turf and basically stretched a two-time Turf winning champion right to the wire.  He probably won’t be back for the 2010 Turf, unless Kentucky goes through a six-month drought and there’ s a freak heat wave during the first week of November.

22.) Conduit did something that shouldn’t be construed as easy, even if this year’s version of the Turf left something to be desired.  He is a very nice horse who will now forever reside in Breeders’ Cup lore and should enjoy a lovely retirement in Japan.

23.) Zenyatta is really, really good.  In fact, she has to be on the short list of greatest female horses ever.  She went 14-14 and beceme the first female to win the Classic, a truly amazing accomplishment. 

24.) Gio Ponti is a deserving winner of the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Male as he showed up with his best on multiple occasions and was the only one who gave Zenyatta a scare in the Classic.  He could very well be back in 2010 and another strong campaign should be expected.

25.) Let’s hope Quality Road is OK and can re-surface in the Cigar Mile, a race that seems tailor made for his talents.  That could be a springboard into a nice 2010 season.

26.) So long Santa Anita, it was a two-year run that certainly created much consternation among the wagering public, owners and so many others.  Only 361 days to Breeders’ Cup 27.

Breeders’ Cup Friday Live

November 6, 2009

4:00 PM EST

Europeans 1, Americans 0.

This probably won’t be the first time that I play the wrong Euro either.  Man of Iron scored with a strong late rally but it wasn’t so much that he won, but that Cloudy’s Knight lost, in large part because of Rosemary Homeister’s early pull of the trigger.  Either way, hats off to this incredible 9YO gelding who has just gotten better with time.

As far as the next one up, it’s the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the wagering is sufficiently spread out.  The European victory in the first event has prompted the public to pound Lillie Langtry even more sufficiently as she’s currently 9/5. 

I’ll throw a couple of bucks Hatheer’s way as she’s currently a juicy 18-1.

3:00 PM EST

Well we’re now within 40 minutes of the first of fourteen Breeders’ Cup races, as the Marathon will kick things off.

Just a reminder, the Breeders’ Cup Head2Head wager in which you have to pick which jockey will win the most Breeders’ Cup races closes at post time of the Marathon.  At the moment, the Field is a 2-1 favorite.  Garrett Gomez, who won 4 Breeders’ Cup races in 2008 is currently the 9/2 second choice with Julien Leparoux the 3rd choice at 5-1.

Am I crazy to perhaps throw a couple of bucks Ryan Moore’s way?  He’s on three longshots today and on the early part of tomorrow but he’ll ride Zacinto and Conduit for Sir Michael Stoute, and I’m going to take both of those two on top, so here’s to Ryan Moore having a big weekend as the 99-1 longest shot in the Head2Head.

As far as the Marathon, I’ll start off by launching a Pick 3.  In the Marathon I’ll use (#5) Father Time and (#6) Mastery.  We’ll open it up a bit in the next two legs:

$1 Pick Three 5,6 with 1,3,7,9,12 with 3,8,10,11,12 TOTAL: $50

Good luck getting things going!