Saturday, May 17, 2008

Warts and All

That was the promise when I started this blog - I'd talk about the good with the bad. Yesterday was definitely a little warty. We had two go - Somerset Sam (managed by Star of the North and we own 10% of) and Fizzy Pop (we manage and own 100% of). It was Sam's second time out and first around two turns while Fizzy was making his Minnesota debut and would run in front of some of our partners for the first time.

I missed this auspicious date with destiny (a little overly dramatic?) because I was out West visiting my kids for the weekend. It was already planned and there are three Little League games involved, so off I went. One of those games fell last night during the 4th - 8th races at Canterbury. Sammy was in the 5th and Fiz in the 7th. My wife, ever the trooper, dragged her out of town visitors down to the track and called me during each race.

Theri said that Sammy looked off in the paddock. She couldn't really say exactly what it was, but that he just didn't seem himself. To digress a bit, Sammy is her favorite. He really has taken a liking to her as well and whenever we visit him in the barn he always needs to come over and nuzzle her. She doesn't give him treats or anything, they just share a bond. That being said, she said he just looked off.

He came out of the gate well, set up a nice position sitting fifth or so, but after about a half he faded right out of it. We'll know more later this weekend after the managing partner gets a chance to touch base with the trainer. Sammy is a big strapping boy and only making his second ever start. I thought he had a chance to build on his last performance, but maybe the added distance fooled him? Theri says not to worry, so I won't.

Fizzy just never fired. He broke well, but never threatened the pace. The track was playing quickly and Fiz isn't a "break on top and hold 'em off" kind of runner, so to close against the bias was going to be tough. Awesome Attitude, the 4-5 favorite - and I'd been watching this horse run at Tampa, against this group he should be 4-5 -could do nothing with the 10-1 eventual winner Secret Fever. Secret Fever was 2 1/2 up by the half mile pole and cruised to victory by 4 over Awesome Attitude and Fiz trailed in 6th the entire way around. My wife knew not to try and console me. She just let me know that she loved me and let me get back to the ballgame.

I'd like to think the bias stopped Fizzy. He's a closer and prefers a route of ground, so perhaps, in hindsight, this wasn't the best spot for him. He was training so quickly and he's been sharp, so we didn't want to string him out waiting for the perfect race, either. Besides, you learn there's never a perfect race, only the best spot you can find. I'll speak to Bernell after training hours this morning and find out how Fizzy came back. We'll see how he's acting early in the week and we'll plan the next step from there. Canterbury starts carding on the turf next weekend, so next out I would expect him going a mile or so on the grass.

When I got back to the hotel after my youngest's game (they won, by the way) I watched the replay a few times. I have to admit, I felt a little embarrased. After all, Fizzy is my responsibility and I manage him for a group of folks that put their trust - not to mention their money - in me. I was embarrassed that the effort wasn't there. The last two at Tampa, Fizzy showed heart to really battle back. Tonight that fire seemed to be missing. Hopefully a trip around the new oval in the heat of a race is what he needed. Since we opened, the main track has been speed biased so that didn't help either. So before I went to bed I fired off a quick note to the partners letting them know my thoughts. I offered up no excuses. I'll talk to the trainer today and we'll move forward from there. As long as he came back well, there's always another race to be run.


PEM said...

Wouldn't be too concerned--#1 not the right distance-#2 he tends to run just awful off the bench-trust me I KNOW this fact (I unloaded a pile on him first back in Tampa off the layoff and he ran so poorly I was sure he was a cripple ). I wouldn't be real concerned about a 2nd back effort being mediocre as well--in fact--if he showed just a bit more and finished mid pack I'd say next time out open up your wallet (and get a big price!).

You're correct stating they don't run races in the morning - and it's too bad because I'd have a couple of Eclipse awards by now-but just consider this race a "tightener" and move along.

Ted G said...

PEM - Not overly concerned. I hate to see a flat effort, but for the reasons you outlined I'm not that concerned. Another dull effort and we'll have to take a closer look. He came back well, ate well and doesn't look the worse for wear, so those are all good signs.

heidicwalton said...

I love Fizzy Pop! I am so happy to be able to follow his performance on your blog. I worked with him as a vet tech in Tampa with one of his old trainers. He is a gentle giant. If he is ever ready to retire let me know

Ted G said...

Heidi - I love visiting with him. He absolutely loves one of our partners, Laura. He snuggles with her when she visits. The barn crew loves working with him, too. They say he lets you do anything you need to when you work with him. As to your second point, all of us that own racehorses, especially those of us that play the claiming game, have an obligation to our charges when they can no longer race for us. Frank Vespe, another TBA blogger, makes some great points in one of his posts, Another friend of mine, Karin Wagner, runs a rescue aide organization in California,

Ted G said...

Heidi - if you drop me a line, I'll save you in my address book and let you know if we're fortunate enough to be Fizzy's owners when he's ready to retire.