Saturday, March 13, 2010
Weekend Wrap: Tabby Wins & More!
Tabby Lane (Even the Score - Keeley Chay - Rodeo) scored her first time out for the 1st 2010 Claiming Group yesterday at Tampa Bay Downs. She was the co-second choice in the betting and ran like a champ. She broke well and jockey Dean Butler kept her off a steady pace until entering the top of the lane when she angled outward, had a clear run at the leaders and just went on. As you can see above, Dean had put the whip away before the wire. Track announcer Richard Grunder called her "much the best" as she cruised to the 3 1/4 length victory in the Allowance/$16,000 Optional Claiming race.
The e-mails among the group were flying not long after the official sign went up. As exciting as it was to win, it was almost more exciting to see the excitement of the first time owners in our group. I wish I could say that it's always this easy - claim a horse, push her up in class, nail a win, next! But as any of us that watch or are involved in this game know, it's not that easy and we need to enjoy the moment and try to move forward with an objective eye. She'll move up next as we try and find her ceiling. It should be an interesting ride!
The win was a thrill, as all wins are, but it was made a bit more special because of it occurring with a full field of competitive horses including several that had been very competitive at higher levels. It really starts the dream process flowing. That said, I know how important it is to stay in check as any and every plan can change in a moment. For the next few days, though, I'm going to enjoy the win and not think of her future, only her now.
Zenyatta Wins; Rachel Loses
In the surprise of the day, Rachel Alexandra lost in her debut seemingly running out of gas in the stretch while battling the John Sherriffs trained Zardana in Louisiana. This certainly isn't the death knell for Rachel's career and one race does not a season make, but while you can point to Zardana being three for three on the dirt in Brazil, Rachel really should have whipped this field. I guess if you take her average Beyer and only give her 80% of it (that's about how close to 100% Steve Asmussen said she was, I believe), she's right in with the others - if she was truly at 80%. Certainly Borel didn't have her all out to try and win the race. He had her wrapped up pretty tight for most of the race and who knows how much energy that took out of her, but still...
Zenyatta made no bones about how great a mare she is by weaving her way through the stretch to capture the Santa Margarita at Santa Anita. A Tweet I saw last night, and I couldn't find it again this morning to attribute, basically wondered aloud if Mike Smith is gong to get her beat someday. I laughed a bit because I was thinking the same thing. But since she runs - and wins - every race is the same way, if she finally losses can you blame it on the jockey? I always think that I'd prefer to see her mid-pack to give herself less opportunity to get blocked, but she always manages to find the wire. If you recall, that was one of my strikes against picking her in the Classic last Fall. She always overcomes and always perseveres, if she doesn't once, does that then become Mike Smith's fault?
Derby Picture Any Clearer?
Not in my mind. I thought that by the time we got to this point on the Kentucky Derby trail we'd have a standout or two that really looked like they'd be the favorite at post time. The wins of Sidney's Candy, Odysseus and Lookin At Lucky didn't do much to cement them in favoritism for the Derby. The performances by Odysseus and Lookin At Lucky, especially, were thrilling to watch, but they didn't dominate their competition. You certainly can say that there cannot be any questions about Lookin At Lucky's dirt ability and it's hard not to love Odysseus's stunning performance in the Tampa Bay, but I don't think either taps them as the clear cut Derby favorite.
That begs the question: Are this year's contenders evenly matched or just not that impressive?