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Weekend Stake Tip: The Weekend Where I Ripped Out All of My Hair

I kid, it’s all still here, but figuratively speaking it’s all on the damn floor.

It’s too bad I’m not in a writing class this semester, because then I would aspire to write an ode about how much I hated this weekend for racing, with Parx in particular. It seemed like nobody showed up to run, unless I didn’t bet on them (looking at you Dust and Diamonds and Well Spelled!). This was the first weekend in a long, long time that absolutely no one I picked hit the board, and to complete the irony, a seemingly easy “toss-out” won the PA Derby with the can’t-close-under-a-sluggish-pace Macho Macho sitting further up to get second. Golden Ticket looked like he could have done better; he looked too blocked to compete in the stretch. Then, you know, you’ve got Casual Trick pretending to be Silky Sullivan out there…

When I handicap the weekly race, I always come up with at least one reason why and why not each horse could win the race. For Handsome Mike, the winning reason was that he’s a Scat Daddy colt, and that sire’s first offspring have been doing splendid all year. I won’t list the “not” reasons because now they don’t matter and there’s simply too many of them. I will admit though I did not give Handsome Mike enough of a chance where he did have one; the PA Derby was what I call a vulnerable race, one without a super solid favorite and a generally wide open group of competitors with upsets bound to happen. I just picked the wrong horse to upset (Casual Trick).

The most annoying race of the weekend was also the most exciting: the Cotillion (I), at no other than Parx. *sends large object flying through a closed window*

I spent the larger part of the week talking back and forth with Reinier about this race, trying in many ways to convince myself that Questing was just as close to a lock as there could be despite the ridiculous 7 pounds separating this grandiose filly from undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly winner My Miss Aurelia. She was just simply too fast to catch, and even with that extra weight, MMA would have to be flying to catch her at the end. As I said in my Pennsylvania Derby handicapping post when talking about Csaba, I rarely go with the likely speed demon in the race, so thus I shouldn’t consider myself overly wise on the subject of good speed. Even though Questing possessed it better than most.

So was it jockey error, then? Irad Ortiz Jr. sent Questing to the lead as predicted, but only held her about a length or two in front of My Miss Aurelia to set dragging fractions of :25 and :50. Easily, the guy was setting a slow pace so as to skip away with the lead at the end, a clever yet common way for a speed horse to win. However, the drawback of that plan surfaced on the turn when the still-energetic and determined Aurelia began to make her move and Questing tried to get away; it was the Delaware Handicap all over again with one filly rallying on even terms and the other trying to get away under the pressure of a weight handicap. But Questing had more work than Havre de Grace did— about 5 pounds’ more work!— and while she fought heroically, the deal was done. A heartbreaking loss for one, a triumph of talent and gusto for the other. With both headed to the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, will Questing change her tune, or will she fall victim to Aurelia and the older mares?

So what did I learn about racing this week, Princess Celestia? Hmm. Well I will probably banish Parx from now on, between its 30% takeout on trifectas and ridic personal past it will be hard for me to play in the future. Also, don’t quit on your heart bets all the time… I left Excaper out of the bottom half of my exacta box for the Kent (III)— a very weird turf race where no one showed up to run. I have also confirmed what I already knew about Alpha: he’s not very good at all. I plan on sticking to my strengths come Super Saturday…

What are your favorite races to rewatch? I've only been watching horse races since 2008, but my favorites are Mine that Bird's Derby, Secretariat's Belmont, Zenyatta's Breeder's Cup Classic, Birdstone's Belmont, and Winning Color's Derby. Just curious.

Asked by rinaway

DAMN THIS IS A GOOD ASK. I have a few videos of races I love to watch again and again:

  • BOTH Zenyatta Breeders’ Cup Classic races as well as her Lady’s Secret win over Switch and the Vanity Handicap over St. Trinians. Whenever I see something scary good— like a movie, photo, or what have you— it sends a chill up my legs to my head. Brr! Zenyatta so scary good!
  • Secretariat's Belmont win, though sometimes I secretly avoid watching it while PMSing because it's the one and ONLY thing that moves me to tears almost every time I watch it.
  • Funny Cide's Kentucky Derby win - Such a cool gelding, and the way he split between both of Frankel's horses down the home lane was so inspiring to me.
  • Rags to Riches' Belmont win - The craziest Belmont I ever watched live. What a magnificent duel she and Curlin had.
  • Some of Silky Sullivan's efforts— probably the greatest closer I’ve ever seen.
  • Tiznow's 2001 Classic win - Knowing the story behind the scenes made watching this race even more fulfilling. Chris McCarron gave him one last whack to try and catch Sakhee and the horse really gave it a whole new gear then. All heart.
  • Rachel Alexandra's Kentucky Oaks win - Just overwhelmingly awesome. To have seen this race was to witness something divine, and I'm glad to have been born in the R.A. generation.
  • Any of Frankel's races
I have several other awesome races I like rewatching, but I won’t list them here since many of them are part of separate posts I have in drafts. Also notice I left out the exciting 2011 races ;)

Few horses have been able to pull a “Silky Sullivan” finish like Silky Sullivan (Sullivan x Lady N Silk, by Ambrose Light) himself. The opening section of this mini-doc displays the California Comet’s 1958 Santa Anita Park win, where he lagged as much as 40 lengths off the pace before igniting an incredibly explosive closing run. Truly amazing!

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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