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Racing Beat: September 1

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I’m sad to report that this blog will be affected by the Tumblr epidemic known as backtoschoolitis as of September 5. I promise I’ll get vaccinated for next year.

Yeah, sure, the Jockey Club Gold Cup will be a great prep for Cross Traffic… do it… I’ll get fantastic odds on the real winner!

I don’t normally talk about follower counts, but I’ve been gaining between 1 and 5 *every* day since my Saratoga trip. I blame the original photos. Hi everyone and thank you! I’m always pining for new pony paparazzi adventures! Currently on the calendar: Belmont’s Super Saturday on September 28, the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in November, and a visit to Sequel Stallions— home of Freud, Bluegrass Cat, and many others— in January!

What happened to War Academy?

Expedia has been bribing me all month with flight deals… every single roundtrip flight from Hartford, CT to Ft. Lauderdale, FL has been under $200 heading into November, which is a peak travel time for snowbirds. Let’s hope it stays that way for Florida Derby time! INEVITABLE SKY TRIP!

Female jockey power: newcomer Janelle Campbell rode Makeitorbreakit to a 70-1 upset at Suffolk Downs this week.

That card at Saratoga yesterday was the worst excuse for a Saturday lineup I’ve seen in quite a while with the most backwards [at least in long-term legitimacy] results. That’s okay though, it’ll skew the odds in later races in my favor. We all remember Stay Thirsty in the mud and we all know how he ultimately did elsewhere.

Rest in peace, Indygo Shiner.

People have suggested in the past that I was ridiculous to try to always include weather information in my breakdowns. *looks at Saratoga’s card yesterday* OH YEAH, TERRIBLE, SILLY DUMB ME FOR WANTING TO KNOW IF IT WOULD RAIN AT ALL THE DAY OF OR THE DAY BEFORE.

I was watching “The Cup” on Friday and all of a sudden, MAD-EYE MOODY! Dah!

How does one acquire a “buzzer” and what is it?

Tweet o’ the Week: He looked ready… wretched rain…

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Racing Beat: June 30

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Just WEEKS remain until the opening of the Saratoga meet… squee!

A horse named Whomping Willow just ran 2nd at Churchill Downs. Fandom bet for Harry Potter nerds! I’ll wait for one that is named Goblet of Fire…

Happy retirement and well wishes to the mighty old man marathoner Calidoscopio [ARG], a horse I will never forget as a one in a million type. I hope he has a very successful stud career.

Word had trickled out that Kauai Katie might be washed up, and she scratched from Saturday’s Victory Ride (III) to instead concentrate on the upcoming Prioress (I) in a month. Eh? I smell another possible upset for that race this year, and unfortunately it won’t be held on Whitney Day. -___-

Planning a January trip to Vinery New York to visit one of my fave sires Bluegrass Cat during their annual stallion parade.

Typical power struggle occurring amongst South Florida tracks (again) makes me wish there was still only Hialeah down there and operating. I haven’t gone there… YET!… but the architecture is beautiful.

I was playing with the idea of entering into a handicapping contest for fun at Saratoga, then I found out it’s $1,000 to enter. Hahahaha… nope. I guess that’s the unfortunate part about it… when there’s money at stake, all the fun gets suckered out of having handicapping competitions.

It took a track record to beat Dayatthespa in her return to the races against a horse who is 2-for-2 at Monmouth. Not too bad!

I don’t bother picking out special two-year-olds until around August/September. For now, just pick the hot juvie sires: Exchange Rate, Indian Charlie, Scat Daddy, Spring At Last, Discreet Cat, Sky Mesa, Tiz Wonderful, More Than Ready, etc.

Sad she didn’t win, but still happy with So Many Ways who ran 3rd in the Iowa Oaks.

Tweet o’ the Week:

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Normandy Invasion Can Win the Wood

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Conformation buffs, unite! Normandy Invasion was a big “downhill” yearling.

Sure Todd Pletcher has an excellent shot at winning the Derby this year. He always seems to have the best two and three-year-olds leading up to the first Saturday in May, and Verrazano looks to be the best horse in his barn. The hunk of muscle by More Than Ready is following the same path as past Pletchers Super Saver and Bluegrass Cat running in—and winning— the Tampa Bay Derby (II) in style.

But, where there is a favorite there is often a price. Past readers of my blathering know that while I acknowledge Verrazano’s brilliance, I do not like him as a Derby horse. I do however like Normandy Invasion a great deal.

Naysayers (neighsayers?) and doubters have showed up already to shake their heads at Normandy’s three-year-old debut in the wonky Risen Star (II), which was won by Ive Struck a Nerve at 135-1. The race was very weird, with many top horses suffering bad trips or off performances, and the winner certainly took advantage of a fast pace to lock up the win.

Examining the race again, Normandy stumbled out of the gate and was off to an awkward start. The first turn, like many of this year’s preps, was crowded and hectic, forcing him 5-wide to an even greater disadvantage. He was 6 or 7 paths wide by the time he hit his stride in the stretch, and by then it was too late. A snap shot of his loss margin:

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Really, it wasn’t a bad loss, but a bad trip. Racing wisdom also dictates that the gallop out is pivotal, especially for horses who look to stretch out in the future. Let’s look at the Risen Star gallop out:

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Looks like he was rolling pretty well late! Both Normandy and the #10 horse Oxbow ran better than the winner in the gallop-out, and Oxbow ran a winning race next out in the Rebel. I consider Code West and Oxbow to be pretty good horses at minimum, so with this and a few other things, I think Chad Brown can bring home a great contender at Aqueduct in the coming weeks. Watch the full Risen Star race

Key points:

  • Sire Tapit won the Wood Memorial.
  • Off a long layoff, Normandy Invasion lost the Risen Star, which was won with a BRIS speed figure of 99. His close Remsen runner-up was a 104, and his maiden win before that was a 92. He could very well power off that loss.
  • The Risen Star is beginning to look even wonkier and dismissable after Oxbow’s head loss in the Rebel Stakes (II) this past weekend. Oxbow was the pacesetter for the Risen Star and went wide like many others did into the first turn. Both Normandy and Oxbow broke from disadvantaged outer posts.
  • Jockey switch from Jose Lezcano to Javier Castellano, a very wise move indeed.

Derby Watch: A Violent Solution

Bluegrass Cat, who ran second to Barbaro in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, was the winner of the 2005 Nashua Stakes in 1:38.02. This year’s champion Violence broke the stakes record, running the mile race in 1:35.32 (a difference of some 14 lengths).

I think post-Breeders’ Cup opinions on two-year-olds are no longer considered “early bird,” so it’s that time again to kickstart the Derby Watch series once again. Last year at this time I recall liking the looks of Street Sense's first crop, Union Rags was my unparalleled Derby favorite from the get-go, and Hansen was humming with early speed. I also liked Alpha fresh off his maiden score and a few horses photographed at the Breeders’ Cup (Sabercat, Majestic City, Optimizer but only as a turf horse!), and that’s about it from there. Who do I like this year so far?

I only discussed a handful of horses in “Early Bird Watch,” and admit I forgot about a couple of them (Sign, Evolutionary) that I know I would have otherwise included. However to start things off, I have to highlight one of the weekend’s best juvie efforts from colt Violence, who I did cover in my Early Bird Watch after a bumpy, but winning debut effort in August.

Stalking pacesetter and favorite big-bucks stablemate Darwin, the Medaglia d’Oro colt trained by Todd Pletcher swerved and wavered in the Aqueduct stretch but managed to snatch the win away from Vegas No Show by 2 lengths while setting a new stakes record. The colt showed remarkable ability early by sitting off the fast pace and coming in wide before showing his inexperience by cutting into his competitor. While he’s got a while to go before he is as good as his Breeders’ Cup winning stablemate Shanghai Bobby, he has long-term potential should he avoid future stewards’ inquiries.

I think Hard Spun colt Vegas No Show could have some ability next year as his older siblings have shown me, starting off somewhat slowly then bursting with talent after the spring. The Nashua (II), despite being a mere mile in distance, has a way of showcasing some good early Derby talent.

I’m saying yes to a third win in a row for Teeth of the Dog in the Jim Dandy (II).

I’m saying yes to a third win in a row for Teeth of the Dog in the Jim Dandy (II).

Sons of the legendary Storm CatDiscreet Cat, Tabasco Cat, Bluegrass Cat, Giant’s Causeway, and Cat Thief.

Racing Beat: February 20

Psst… Derby Handicap Contest people… Fair Grounds has posted the Risen Star field for Friday early if you want to get a head start ;)

I realized yesterday that I have failed to pick the winner of every single three-year-old Derby prep so far, despite being on fire for the two-year-old preps. I AM WALLOWING IN MISERY! Union Rags, please don’t be the next glorious prospect to fail… I may die… To be fair though, a number of those races were run disastrously! Picks today for the Southwest Stakes: Cyber Secret and Castaway. (Edit: Oh wait, I did pick Alpha to win the Withers… maybe there’s hope!)

Haters gonna hate: the NYRA shot down the short-lived idea of anyone coloring Hansen's mane or tail like an M&M in time for the Gotham Stakes, stating it fell under a potentially “unfair advantage” equipment change ruling. Judging by the outcry, you'd think Dr. Hansen suggested that he wear a bonnet in the race. There’s always Photoshop.

Havre de Grace has a new little sister by Tiznow, likely to be sold just like the two-year-old colt Brabbham by Bernardini. Easter Bunnette, the dam of all, is scheduled to go to Medaglia d’Oro next… WAIT… someone NOT going to Bernardini?! What is this witchcraft??

I see a lot of stallion ads boasting auction figures, and I would just like to ask the world WHY, OH WHY is someone paying out the nose for an Unbridled’s Song? Or a Harlan’s Holiday? I see their progeny win from time to time, but by the millions spent on them you’d think they were the next A.P. Indy or something!

I loved Sabercat from the get-go after seeing images of him at the Breeders’ Cup, but now I have another Bluegrass Cat contender to add to the list: Michael Matz trainee Teeth of the Dog.

Any future historical films that may shoot at Santa Anita Park will have a hard time explaining the Zenyatta statue set to be erected this fall.

Speaking of Santa Anita filming, I’m in a bit of a slump watching HBO’s Luck. It’s a little slowly paced, and then— except for a few moments— it covers the mostly negative aspects of horse racing, which is not what I find entertaining. I expected them to do this, sadly.

If Havre de Grace, Awesome Feather, and Royal Delta all make it to the gate of the March 31 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream, the purse is going to be $1 million. It will also result in self-abuse, as I kick myself for the umpteenth time for having to leave Florida.

I was honestly waiting for this news to break: sprinter Rodman is retired from racing. He was fast all right, but the way they were moving a now seven-year-old horse from one distance to another without much success whispers things in your ears. New York breeders will probably keep him.

Winner of the 2006 Haskell Invitational: Bluegrass Cat with John Velazquez in the irons. Bluegrass Cat also holds the winning margin record in the race, which he won by 7 lengths.

Winner of the 2006 Haskell Invitational: Bluegrass Cat with John Velazquez in the irons. Bluegrass Cat also holds the winning margin record in the race, which he won by 7 lengths.

Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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