Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thoughts on the Last 2 Weeks

As promised yesterday, this post is about my thoughts about the events that took place during the time i could not post. I will be starting from the day of the Travers through the Hopeful at Saratoga, then switch to the west coast for thoughts on the events from the Pacific Classic to the Del Mar Futurity.

- The stakes on the Travers undercard were underwhelming. All 3 were won by gate-to-wire winners over a speed favoring track. I'm not sure what to make of the winners of the Victory Ride and the Ballerina, but Discreetly Mine winning the King's Bishop was a bit of a disappointment. Not only did my pick D'funnybone did nothing, but DM's win inspired nothing. I question whether he will have an impact come the first Saturday in November at Churchill in either the Sprint or the Dirt Mile.

- The Travers itself was a great race to watch as Afleet Express just held off Fly Down at the wire by the slimmest of noses. Both the winner and the runner-up showed they were very game. Super Saver further cemented himself as another in the string of Derby winning one-hit wonders. Not sure how this group of three year-olds will fair against older, as most of the races have been very middling.

- As this blog thought, Rachel Alexandra did not win the Personal Ensign. However, much to the blog's dismay, Life At Ten was not the one to defeat her. Rather, it was longshot outsider Persistently. Wearing the same colors as the horse who's name graces the stake, she ground her way to victory. It appears that Rachel just cannot run a mile and quarter effectively, especially with what she has showed this year. She should be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, where she would be the favorite and have a much better chance of winning. But she will still have to deal with Life at Ten, who's run was very disappointing. Maybe there is some truth to the theory that Malibu Moon's at Saratoga struggle at a mile and a quarter. Let us see what Pletcher has in store for her. This blog still has faith in Life at Ten that she will prevail on November 5th.

- It was a bad time for the Asmussen barn, as not only did Rachel lose the Personal Ensign, but he lost both Kantharos and Majesticperfection to injury. Kantharos, a promising two-year-old who facilely won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in last race, suffered a career-ending injury in training for the Grade 1 Hopeful. Majesticperfection suffered a career-ending injury on Sunday while continuing preparations for the Grade 1 Vosburgh S. at Belmont. Both leave gaping holes in their respectful divisions, and will be sorely missed. This blog thought Majesticperfection was a very strong contender for the BC Sprint. His absence leaves this blog scrambling for a selection in that race. Maybe Atta Boy Roy, the winner of the CD Sprint on Derby Day.

- With Kantharos out, heavy favorite Boys of Toscanova disposed of three overclassed rivals with ease in the Hopeful. While he won with ease, one has to question how far he will go, being a son of Officer, who failed in numerous attempts at two-turns. We shall see, but as of now, he is the de facto leader of the division.

Now off to the West Coast!

- The Pacific Classic anchored a three stake day at Del Mar. In the Del Mar Mile, Lava Man's 1/2 bro Enriched finally broke through in a stake with his gutty win. In the Pat O'Brien, Baffert's recent acquistion El Brujo made his Del Mar debut a winning one by blitzing his rivals. This charge will hopefully be pointed to the BC Dirt Mile, as he appears to like an elongated one-turn race. In the Pacific Classic, Richard's Kid defended his title under a patented Mike Smith ride from the back of the pack. He became only the third horse to defend his title, along with Tinner's Way and Skimming. His win continues the pass-the-buck nature of the older male division, where the group beats up on one another. Furthermore, while Richard's Kid has excelled over the synthetic, one wonders what the switch to dirt will bring. This blog thinks that it will not be good.

- Tell A Kelly capitalize on a hot pace set by favorite Wickedly Perfect in the Grade 1 Darley Del Mar Debutante to score the victory. Wickedly Perfect gamely held on for second. Both look to have a bright future going forward, and may have a rematch in Grade 1 Oak Leaf at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park. Both should have no problem with the added distance. Maybe this will be the beginning of another rivalry, a la Blind Luck and Evening Jewel. In the Del Mar Futurity, J P’s Gusto continue his reign over the the Southern California two year-olds with a sparkling victory. He blew apart the field after setting a solid pace, drawing off to win by 4 3/4 lengths. Jaycito closed out of the clouds to get the place spot. This blog feels that Jaycito is the one to watch going forward, as J P may have hit his limit when it comes to distance. J P’s pedigree does not really lend himself to go more than a mile.

- The last topic that shall receive comment is the situation that occurred in the Del Mar Derby. Twirling Candy won in a swift time, but not without controversy. Coming into the backstretch, he shied away from something in the infield and bolted outward several paths, carrying Summer Movie with him. Summer Movie eventually finished a well-beaten last. Yet no disqualification occurred. This blog went back-and-forth over whether Twirling Candy should have been disqualified. Both sides of the argument had merit. But this blog felt that a disqualification should have taken place. The interference inflicted upon Summer Movie not only cost him several lengths, but also how the horse would run. The jockey on Summer Movie had to ask his horse for significantly more energy to regain his previous position. The fact that the horse finished last should not obscure the fact the amount of ground lost due to the interference, plus the forced expenditure of energy to regain the position lost, is basis enough to warrant the disqualification.

Leaving the much-talked about decision aside, the field Twirling Candy beat was weak. The southern California 3 year-old turf division is one of the worst out here. It is the only division which has not had a representative hit the board in a stake outside of California. The weakness of the division means that while his win was nice, we did not learn much about him. With plans for him to head back to the main track for the Goodwood Stakes, then the dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, it is fair to question how well he will fair against older. Even with the parity-filled but suspect group of older horses in SoCal, Twirling Candy would appear to be up against it once he faces older.

Why do the connections chose to move TC to the main track and point to the Breeders’ Cup Classic with him instead of his stablemate Sidney’s Candy is something to ponder. Is it that they believe that TC is that good? Or is it an indictment on whether SC cannot get the mile and a quarter? This blog feels that is more the latter. Twirling Candy’s pedigree will not have a problem with the distance, unlike SC, who showed in the Derby that he may have an issue with it..The pedigree for TC also leans considerably more to grass. This blog feels that he will not move up on the switch to dirt, something he would need to do in order to compete with the likes of Blame, Zenyatta or Quality Road.

So there is my “ten cents” on the past two weeks. As always, please comment below if you agree or disagree with anything i have said. Now that review of the past is complete, what was learned that can be used in the future? We shall see.


  1. In hindsight, this post might have been better off split up into two (East Coast and West Coast). But i felt that each track gave a nice contrast to each other.

  2. Great recap!
    I really liked the Travers but was surprised big time by Afleet Express. One thing I want to know is where in the world did Jackson Bend go? I haven't heard a word on him in the last month.

    Majesticperfection and Kantharos were each my favorites in their divisions, what a disappointment. I heard that there is a possibility Majesticperfection could return if he heals well.

    Boys At Toscanova was really impressive I thought and I think he will get longer distances. The way her responded so willingly to win in a hand ride makes me think he's very ratable as well which is something you want to see if they plan to go longer.

    J P's Gusto looked great but I also have some questions about him going far. His connections are certainly confident about him getting a distance so that's a good sign.

    I thought Twirling Candy was amazing in the Del Mar Derby. It wasn't who he beat because like you said, he really didn't beat anyone classy, it was just the way he won. It looked really powerful.

    Wonderful job on this post!

  3. I still don't get how the perception of RA can't get 10 furlongs. She beat the horse everyone said had the biggest shot to beat her and some said would because she, not RA had already won at 10 furlongs. So, does LAT, staggaring to the finish line 10.5 lengths back suddenly mean she can't get the distance either.

    Saratoga is not a great track for speed horses going 9f and up at the grade one level. Since 06 only 3 horses have gone wire to wire at that distance and level. Fleet Indian, the only one to do it at 10f, Commentator and RA. The track is deep and tiring, meaning that the slow splits were very deceptive, and the horses were working harder than they sugest.

    On the others, the Travers was on heck of a race as was the Del Mar Derby. I'm loving TC more and more every time he runs

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