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Woes of racetrack panning: when third place grabs your autofocus away from the top two finishers! Wicked Strong in the foreground, Cairo Prince and Honor Code in the background of the Remsen Stakes finish.

Woes of racetrack panning: when third place grabs your autofocus away from the top two finishers! Wicked Strong in the foreground, Cairo Prince and Honor Code in the background of the Remsen Stakes finish.

The story of my latest Tapit obsession: Juba.

"WHO IS THAT #6? HE IS SO CUTE!" I was standing with a gal named Sally looking over the form for a maiden special weight and from above, I spotted this adorable gray fella. "Juba? And oh he’s by Tapit. Maybe he’ll do something today… ARE YOU GONNA WIN, BUDDY?"

Indeed, Juba looked up at me cooing to him and gave me an eyeball passing me by on the way to the gate. He made a solid run in the stretch to send me into a tizzy, and managed to hang on for 3rd in his first race at 15-1 odds. GO JUBA!

Poison Apple, Rajiv Maragh up. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

Poison Apple, Rajiv Maragh up. (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

I had planned on attending the Whitney Invitational since June, largely thanks to the many greats of the past who won it and the splendid showing of last year’s winner Tizway in the race. He became my Breeders’ Cup Classic pick that day, but sadly, he never made it to the gate because of injury. Who would have thought I’d see this year’s Classic winner win the same race? Makes me miss Tizway a bit more, which is saying a lot since I typically get grumpy at horses who beat my heart favorites (Tackleberry in the Met Mile).

I had planned on attending the Whitney Invitational since June, largely thanks to the many greats of the past who won it and the splendid showing of last year’s winner Tizway in the race. He became my Breeders’ Cup Classic pick that day, but sadly, he never made it to the gate because of injury. Who would have thought I’d see this year’s Classic winner win the same race? Makes me miss Tizway a bit more, which is saying a lot since I typically get grumpy at horses who beat my heart favorites (Tackleberry in the Met Mile).

Racing Beat: July 15

The unexpected retirement of Caleb’s Posse has me looking for a new best sprinter. Just hearing that Shackleford, who just barely bested Caleb in the Met Mile (I), was legitimately tired for the first time following the race which featured a duel between the two, makes me proud to see such tenacity between two excellent dirt milers. We’ll miss ya, Caleb.

The Travers logo has been revealed!

I didn’t know horses liked to go canoeing…

Can I’ll Have Another replicate a similar horse’s success in Japan (Sunday Silence)? Winner of two legs over a more popular rival, flawed conformation, cheap auction purchase, generally unwanted in North American breeding?

If you haven’t heard the one about the Asmussen mares turning up at a kill auction recently, you need to Google that one.

Taking bets now for how many Bernardinis will make the Breeders’ Cup races this year. Also, taking bets for a side pool that win or lose, the stud fee for 2013 will not drop.

Guess I probably won’t get to see Shackleford before he retires… the blaze face’s heading for the Forego Stakes (II).

I looked up Rattlesnake Bridge this week… he had a 3-furlong breeze in :37 on June 18 at Belmont. Maybe a Saratoga return?

Seriously Santa Anita? Stop trying to reinvent yourself by renaming races. Now I have no idea which one is which! This is dumb!

How Malibu Moon (2012 fee: $70,000) horses sell for so much at auction, I’ll never know… why not consider “middle market” sires more often like Include ($12,500) and Proud Citizen ($10,000) who are doing a hell of a lot better at the races?

Will the feds finally step in after the steady stream of (mostly) bullshit articles from The New York Times? On that note, I wish horse racing was like playing games— cheaters banned for life.

I don’t think putting Hansen in the West Virginia Derby (II) as opposed to the richer Haskell (I) is a bad move at all. Let him mentally mature and test the waters post-Derby there before facing off against Bodemeister. I wonder if they’ve considered tossing Dominguez at this point.

Alex Brown Racing (a website that gained popularity as a source for all things Barbaro for his fans) now has its own podcast of sorts. Naturally, being an awkward person, I have veered away from participating and or creating podcasts. Plus mine would go something like this: “OH MA GAWD HOW CUTE IS COZZETTI? HOW ABOUT ATIGUN? RAAAAAAGSY!” Repeat for 60 minutes.

While I didn’t have her down to win (rooting for Izzy Rules), I’m glad Switch is Breeders’ Cup-bound after the A Gleam (II) yesterday. She gave one of the most memorable performances up against Zenyatta, after all.

Tweet o’ the Week:

I realize I probably sound like a d-bag, but while it was a good race I feel like Caleb’s Posse is the best miler in the country. To Honor and Serve didn’t stand much of a chance being stuck on the rail and having to check around Shackleford to get clear running room. But alas, Shack’s a beast. I still can’t get over how huge a horse he is every time I see photos of him!

I realize I probably sound like a d-bag, but while it was a good race I feel like Caleb’s Posse is the best miler in the country. To Honor and Serve didn’t stand much of a chance being stuck on the rail and having to check around Shackleford to get clear running room. But alas, Shack’s a beast. I still can’t get over how huge a horse he is every time I see photos of him!

Horse Racing Facts #36

The word Alpha is derived from ‘aleph’, which means “live longshot” in Phoenician.

WORKOUT WATCH: Kentucky Derby entry Alpha worked at Belmont Park this morning with Rajiv Maragh up, blowing through 5 furlongs in :59 and change in company with Steele Road. It was his first breeze since his runner-up performance in the Wood Memorial (I), with one week remaining until the first Saturday in May.

Weekend Stake Tip: Im-posse-ible is Nothing

For once, I did not spend my weekend recovering from the rigors of daily life while propped up in bed, ailing, all while watching the weekend races. A few I did watch, and while it was overall a very ho-hum affair, there were a couple stand-out performances. I took a vacation from my usual wagering amount, but did win a little bit off a $5 faith-driven win bet on handsome ol’ Hansen in the Gotham (III).

On the east coast, Aqueduct drummed up the return of the excellent Eclipse nominee Caleb’s Posse in the Tom Fool Handicap (III). Perched an arm’s length from the rest of the field in last, Rajiv Maragh guided the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (I) winner calmly up the backside as Emcee and Royal Currier hashed out wicked fractions of :22 1/2 and :44 4/5 along Aqueduct’s tricky inner track. At first, it looked like the champ wasn’t going to fire at all, but as he did in the Breeders’ Cup, the son of Posse lit a fuse at around the sixteenth pole, flying at Calibrachoa who just scarcely held him off at the wire. It was a bit of a heartbreaker to see such a phenomenal turn-of-foot not pay off with a win, but despite the loss, Caleb’s Posse is very much back and got that first race of the season out of the way. To his credit, Calibrachoa has been nothing but a beast on Aqueduct’s inner track, and stayed undefeated while defending his Tom Fool title. A rematch between the two is expected to happen in the Carter Handicap (I) in a month’s time. Watch replay below

Last weekend, Bob Baffert was on an extremely hot winning streak with his stakes horses, and while his iron grip on graded purses has loosened some, he still showed he’s a formidable player when paired with jockey Martin Garcia. In one of the west’s biggest preps for the Kentucky Oaks (I), his maiden winner Eden’s Moon jumped right up front in Saturday’s Las Virgenes (I) and never let go. Co-favorite Reneesgotzip went very wide around the first turn trying to keep a close watch on the Malibu Moon filly, and while there was a little movement in the stretch, no one presented a serious challenge. It was all Reneesgotzip and Eden’s Moon boiling down the stretch, the latter eventually kicking away clear to win a big G1 in her first graded stakes attempt. She’ll be the speed in the Oaks, I think, but I don’t think she can keep expecting to wire fields later on. Talented sure, but probably a far cry from past Las Virgenes winners… Watch replay here

Rajiv Maragh Suspended for Vosburgh Ride

Talk about deja vu.

If you were part of the millions viewing the Belmont Stakes this year, you’re probably familiar with the early crash out of the gates between Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man, and Isn’t He Perfect, who was ridden by Rajiv Maragh. The incident nearly knocked Johnny Velazquez out of the saddle and was blamed for Animal Kingdom’s season-ending slab fracture, and it all boiled down to Maragh’s inept ride which may or may not have been motivated by the fact he was ousted from riding MMM.

A similar crash occurred over the weekend in the Vosburgh Invitational (I) at Belmont Park, and it was eerily similar to the Belmont Stakes ride except this time, it was Maragh bumping Euroears with the Repole entry Calibrachoa, who in turn collided with Apriority, nearly knocking Alex Solis into the dirt. Euroears finished last while Calibrachoa finished fifth and Apriority seventh. While no rulings were made then, a review of the race had the stewards concluding that a week-long ban was necessary for Maragh.

Bob Baffert, who trained the western hotfoot Euroears, showed his rage publicly via Twitter:

Maragh subsequently repealed the ban for “careless riding,” so he is still allowed to ride until the stewards conduct a hearing.

I’m always one to speculate, and this guy is clearly out of line for being so careless about the safety of himself and others, for what reasons I’m not sure of. We all know Isn’t He Perfect basically never had a chance in the Preakness and the Belmont while Calibrachoa was given enough kudos to hope he could finish third or so. After all the jockey reads I pick up, I’m wondering if this is another sad case of private abuse. Whatever it is, it should stay off the track.

The best Thoroughbred horse racing blog on Tumblr! Updated daily with handicapping analysis, photos, editorials, and things gathered 'round the web.

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


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