26 musings from Breeders’ Cup 26

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.

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