The day didn’t start much better than yesterday and, for some, ended in extreme heartbreak. Let’s recap.
Six Races (one choice was a late scratch)
That's it! Go big or go home. I like to think of myself as picking winners at a 33% rate rather than failing miserably!! Thankfully I did have the exacta in the Classic keying Zenyatta under my choice (Haynesfield) and Blame. Helped save the day.
Apparently we couldn’t start the day without SOME kind of drama. In the 1st Cup race of the day, Rosie Napravnik’s mount, the aptly named Rough Sailing, slid heading into the first turn dumping Rosie and taking him out of the race. Horse and rider bounced right up, but Rough Sailing was vanned off. Reportedly he had some swelling in the right front and was taken back to the barn for a radiograph where it was discovered he fractured his shoulder in the fall. He was later euthanized. A terrible start to Breeder’s Cup Day Two.
As far as the racing goes, underdog Pluck, in a rerun of the Summer Stakes, tracked the pace and, again, “swept by furlong out” in what looked like a really easy win. Soldat and Willcox Inn rounded out the tri. I ignored the home team at my own peril with my choice, European Master of Hounds, well placed heading into the stretch had no real run through the lane finishing 6th.
No drama with Big Drama. As I mentioned in the show and in the preview, Big Drama could have been four for four in 2010 with better starts in his last two. A clean start and a rough one from the other speed in the race, Pashito the Che, all added up to a wire to wire win in the Sprint. Long shot Hamazing Destiny, who prepped for this race in a $65,000 Optional Claiming race, was up for place while Synthetic specialist Smiling Tiger finished third.
Once again the equine ambulance was out as Atta Boy Roy pulled up after the finish line. Calvin Borel bolted off the horse and got the ambulance over in a hurry where he was vanned off for radiographs. Early indications were a suspensory ligament issue but turned out to be just a superficial cut. Thank goodness, we could not handle two breakdowns in a row on national television.
Big Drama (Choice)
Thankfully there were no incidents in the running of the Turf Sprint. There was also no win for me, either. Favored Silver Timber (my choice) was well placed but had no oomph at all in the lane finishing out of the money. Chamberlain Bridge was much the best as he was placed well and made a very strong move in the stretch to take all the marbles. My second choice, Center City, was second best while the filly, Unzip Me, finished third.
After this race we were to be switched to ESPN. However the Breeder’s Cup coverage was in limbo for a while waiting for the fabulous OT battle between crappy has-been Michigan and never-was Illinois to be decided. Great day for racing. Thankfully we all got to see Michigan rise to 2-3 in the Big 10.
Let the Derby hype begin! An absolute ass-kicking by Uncle Mo. I had said it was his to lose and it was all Uncle Mo at Churchill today. Johnny Velasquez confidently rode him the entire way looking very much like he knew he had it from the break. It wasn’t s huge exacta, but I’ll take it as Boys at Tuscanova finished second with pacesetter Rogue Romance holding on for 3rd. The question, as asked by the ESPN staff, is can the Indian Charlie colt get a mile and a quarter. Until then, wow, what a performance.
Uncle Mo (Choice)
Boys at Tuscanova
The Goldikova Breeder’s Cup Mile. Fabulous race by a fabulous mare. She was sitting sixth heading into the stretch and then Goldikova exploded through the stretch to draw off to an easy win. My choice, Sidney’s Candy, led most of the way around but faded in deep stretch to finish out of the money. He just couldn’t ration his speed throughout the race and had nothing left in the tank. Goldikova's jockey Olivier Plesier was asked if he was concerned at any point in the race and matter-of-factly said no, which was obvious by the confident way he rode her. Hats off to a wonderful champion. Gotta feel for Gio Ponti, meeting once in a lifetime mares two years in a row. Helluva job all the way around.
The Usual Q.T.
The closest finish of the weekend and 36-1 shot Dakota Phone prevails over Morning Line with old warrior Gayego picking up the third. Favorite and my choice Here Comes Ben was well positioned throughout and just had nothing in the tank in the stretch. I never saw this one coming, but then judging by the payouts, no one else did either!
Sad footnote: Mine That Bird finishes 10th and will be thankfully retired. Reaching around to pat myself on the back, here is a quote from my day after the Derby blog:
“It's my opinion that other than going back to Sunland and winning some local stakes races, Mine That Bird will not take the racing world by storm.”
Obviously I was wrong – he didn’t even do that!
Dakota Phone (36-1!!)
I hardly know how to break this one down. I’d like to think that I didn’t care much about this one because Workforce (my choice) scratched and it was the race before the Classic. The pace was boring, the stretch run was less than stirring, all the talking heads were all over Behkabad and he was a major disappointment. He could not have asked for a better trip and he was less than impressive. Let’s just leave it at that and move on.
She didn’t do it. Maybe with a better break. Maybe if Mike Smith had hustled her a bit more. Maybe if Blame weakened just a bit in the stretch. A lot of maybes in this one, but of one thing there is no maybe: Blame is one tough racehorse. He took the lead and never relinquished it, even when the big mare was eating into his lead. When Zenyatta came up to his sights, he dug down for more and would not let he pass. As an aside, my choice, Haynesfield, ran with the lead pack and folded. Thankfully I had a boxed exacta including Blame and Zenyatta to save me a couple of shekels.
More on the Horse of the Year debate later.