Suffice to say that the weekend really didn’t go as anyone had planned. It kicked off with I’ll Have Another scratching from the Belmont Stakes and that led to an odd chain of events that affected me personally.
I ended up, through a series of events and phone calls, on the local newsradio station here in the Twin Cities, WCCO, giving them a local “expert” opinion on the I’ll Have Another scratch. That was followed by an appearance on Race Horse Radio with Paul Allen on KFAN later that evening. We talked mainly about the Mystic Lake/Canterbury Agreement but I also threw in my ultimately misguided two cents on the new look of the Belmont Stakes. Not enough Ted exposure for you? Well in that case if you caught KARE 11 at 10 on Sunday night, yours truly was on camera for a few moments discussing the future of MN racing. All totaled, welcome to my 15 minutes. Thank you Mr. Warhol!
My maiden attempt on WCCO was okay. I was a bit too fast early, but settled into a decent rhythm. The KFAN bit was better. I actually felt a bit more comfortable in front of the camera to be honest, but I have to say, I truly loved the experiences and want to thank Chad Hartman from WCCO (and Kay King for referring them to me), Paul Allen from KFAN and also Jeff Maday for lining me up with Craig Norkus from KARE 11. You can see the KARE 11 piece, featuring our trainer, Bernell Rhone, here.
As I mentioned, my take on the Belmont for KFAN was indeed misguided. I really thought that Dullahan was the second best horse in that race behind I’ll Have Another and I was, obviously, mistaken. Thankfully I wasn’t alone in that regard and, while misery loves company, the Belmont wasn’t a washout. It was, in fact, a verycompelling race and day where, for the third Classic in a row, Mike Smith was aboard a front runner that couldn’t hold on until the wire. I know some have criticized Smith for allowing Union Rags through on the rail, but tired horses drift and I can do nothing but commend Smith – for all three of his rides.
On Sunday, Tabby Lane stepped up in class and simply didn’t respond. She may have been a bit too far off of slow fractions for the seven furlong race (:24; :48) but jockey Dean Butler, though a bit penned in through the turn, asked her when she had some room and she simply didn’t respond. She was seventh, beaten only 3, but no one likes to finish seventh. The truth could very well be that she was outclassed in that group.
We’ll regroup and see what’s next with the new condition book. If she’s feeling good, there is a $10,000 claiming event going a mile and sixteenth over the turf later in the month, but it’s too early to tell at this point. What is clear is that her wheelhouse is right around that distance, surface and class level. A six year old mare is going to be what she’s going to be at this point, so we’ll keep her around there and see what it brings us.
MYSTIC LAKE/CANTERBURY PARK
Tomorrow is the special meeting of the Minnesota Racing Commission to approve (or not) the agreement between Mystic Lake and Canterbury Park. It appears that the folks at Running Aces Harness Park are going to try and get the deal squashed. I’m not sure why, to be honest. I’ve already stated my reasons why this is a good deal for Minnesota Thoroughbred racing in a previous post, so I won’t restate here, but some of the commentary I heard on the local PBS show Almanac from a Running Aces spokesperson, probably illustrates why they can’t get out of their own way.
I feel for the harness horsemen, I really do. They threw in with the casino lot to get a permanent racing facility built that probably would not have happened otherwise. If they only knew how quickly ownership was ready to sell them down the river for racino, they would (or at least should) be appalled. Well, “sell down the river” may be too strong a term, but they certainly wanted the majority of any racino funds to go to track ownership and NOT horsemen – diametrically opposed to Canterbury’s stance (which eventually won out in the never voted on racino bill). Ultimately they are free to cut their own deal with the Band that would affect them most, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe but if I were the horsemen, I wouldn’t hold my breath. None of the Canterbury funds are going to track management so I can’t imagine that the Mille Lacs Band would be inclined to do so with Running Aces. Besides, apparently the feeling there is that a deal like that may be illegal because if you make a deal like that with an Indian Nation you become a subsidiary of that Nation (according to the Running Aces spokesman). That kind of sour grapes, selfish thinking and twisted logic is what is going to doom the harness horsemen in the state. They deserve better.
It could prove to be an interesting meeting Wednesday at 1:30 PM at the Shakopee Fire Station. It could be standing room only so get there early and strap in…then again, there might not be any fireworks at all.