Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recap - and Disappointment

Well, the Breeder's Cup is over and this year I am publicly humiliated. Yesterday was one thing, but today was completely another. I couldn't hit the floor falling off the couch today. I can't pinpoint it on anything except exceptionally poor handicapping on my part. I hit the board on every race yesterday with three winners so it certainly wasn't the synthetics. On to the recap:

Marathon

Long shot Booyah took the field through slow fractions and Zappa picked up the lead halfway but it was Muhannak that held off Church Service and Big Booster in the stretch to win. Delightful Kiss didn't hit the board.

Turf Sprint

Desert Code avenges his loss to California Flag by passing Diabolical in the final strides. Cal finished off the board.

Dirt Mile

Albertus Maximus closed to win. Well Armed never had it from the start. If the first two races weren't an indication that this wasn't my day, this did it.

Mile

Fabulous filly Goldikova just blew the doors off this field through the stretch. Possibly the best performance of the day. Very, very impressive. Kip Deville finished second. Hey, I finally hit the board!

Juvenile

This race was all Midshipman. He rated right off the lead and held off the closers in the stretch. The way the main course was playing the last two days, this performance was probably more impressive than it looked. Last year the talk was all about War Pass heading into the Derby preps. I don't think the talk will be all about Midshipman, but it may be that a better crop of threes are coming around than we saw this year - or at least a closely matched crop. My first (and only as it turns out) win of the day.

Sprint

I took the closer with all the experience over synthetic over the closer that had an injured hoof and whose last two synthetic races were nothing to talk about AND had no real prep race. OF COURSE Midnight Lute beats my choice Street Boss. What a mess of a day...

Turf

My humiliation is complete. Grand Courturier finished dead last. On the other end of the race, Conduit ran a big one and continued the Euro dominance of the day.

Classic

Zenyatta is Horse of the Year. Maybe with a second place performance I would say Curlin, but not with a fourth. Curlin made a huge move entering into the stretch and I thought it was all over. The two Euros that I didn't think could get the distance, did, and the one I thought that could, couldn't. Congrad's to Raven's Pass and Henrythenavigator. They got the extra distance proving the adage that Euro racers can get the extra distance on the flat courses in America.

I'm not sure how I feel about this day. I really wanted Curlin to win, if for no other reason that Jess Jackson did the right thing for the sport and ran him as a four year old AND took a risk running him on this surface. I almost feel like I'm punishing him for that. I guess if Zenyatta wasn't 9-9 and didn't win with such a dominating performance yesterday, I would still look his way. But she did.

In closing, I just got a little irritated with Randy Moss closing the ESPN coverage by basically implying that George Washington's breakdown last year was due to the dirt and that the synthetic surface keeps horses safer. Has this really been proven yet? I don't think so. Off the cuff, didn't Del Mar experience no real difference in average breakdowns between the seasons on synthetic and on dirt? Aren't there real concerns from horsemen about the effects of long term training over this surface? Isn't the jury out on possible respiratory issues on equine and human athletes from inhaling the surface? It was enough to have two great days of racing and certainly wonderful that there were no incidents on the track, but, in my opinion, it was irresponsible to make that implication and jump to those conclusions in front of a national audiance. What happens when there is a breakdown on national TV on synthetic? How will casual fans respond to that when an 'expert' told them how much safer the surface is the last time they watched?

6 comments:

dana said...

I don't know, I think picking 4 winners, 2 to place and 2 show isn't bad... I had also had 4 winners (you and I had all the same winners!) and 2 to show.

We did better than most if not all of the "experts" at the NTRA! In fact, Mike Watchmaker was the only one to pick 4 winners, FIVE of us picked 4 winners!

Ted G said...

Thanks, Dana. I hadn't looked at it that way. We DID do pretty well by comparison! My wife said to chalk it up to being just better with the Ladies!

dana said...

Ha, cheers to your wife!

Anonymous said...

Maybe it’s me. If so, I will just shut up! Does anybody else feel cheated about the decision to have the Breeders Cup on a synthetic surface?? Last time I checked, there are only a handful of tracks in the world running on this garbage. What is a synthetic racing surface? Glad you asked! Its a racing surface that includes polypropylene fibers, recycled rubber and sand covered in a wax coating. Anybody care to explain how they came up with great idea! Lets create a very expensive surface made of landfill waste and have some horses run on it and see what happens! This is what happens:

Ravens Pass wins the Classic. A horse who has never raced on anything other then Turf and his best win to date was a $493K stakes race. While Curlin the best horse in the World finishes 4th.

Starting today and the rest of my hopefully long life. I will not wager, watch, or even acknowledge horse races on this surface. Whats next, Football on Ice or Baseball on Mars!

Ted G said...

Anon - thanks for reading. I don't know if I'll boycott wagering on synthetic completely, but I tend to agree with Steve Assmussen's comment after the Classic as reported by ESPN - "It was a turf race."

Brooklyn Backstretch said...

California tracks had notoriously high fatal breakdown rates when they raced on dirt--nearly double the national average. So any declines need to be considered in light of that.

There were more breakdowns this summer at Del Mar than at Saratoga; five fatal breakdowns in a month over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita, and according to a report in an LA newspaper last month, there were dozens of career-ending injuries in the first weeks of training on it.

To say that the jury is out is an understatement