Breeders� Cup Week is now. Finally, the wait is over and the hard work begins in earnest. You think 11 Kentucky Derbies is easy? You try it.
The sights and sounds and notes and stories and lies and information, dis- or otherwise, coming flying in at an intense rate of speed.
Let�s do some �first thing that comes to your mind� as we await the first real important event of the week, tomorrow�s draw for post positions. The draw begins at 11:15 a.m. at Monmouth Park. Ends whenever. But first thing�s first.
Still A Warrior: There just had to be a reason Majestic Warrior ran so badly in the Champagne. It�s called a hoof wall separation. Bill Mott said it�s like a quarter crack, only in the toe instead of the heel. He�s in the Hall of Fame. He should know.
The good news is that he could run again this year, either in the 9-furlong Remsen at Aqueduct Thanksgiving weekend or the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. Either way, it will tell us a lot about his prospects for Kentucky Derby 2008.
First George Steinbrenner loses the Champagne and his Breeders� Cup Juvenile horse.
Then his baseball team lost the ALDS to the Indians.
Then Joe Torre (his call or otherwise).
Then Red Sox Nation did to the Indians in the ALCS what they did to the Yankees: Came back from the afterlife! That probably was the start of all this bad karma.
He's No Fool: Idiot Proof provided the fireworks on July 4th when he re-wrote the Monmouth Park track record: six furlongs in 1:07 2/5. He breezed Sunday in 1:00 4/5, galloped out the Sprint distance in 1:14 4/5.
Trainer Clifford Sise, who�s run one horse in the Sprint; Paying Dues, second at 31-1 11 years ago, said the Monmouth track seemed �a little deeper, a little slower than summer.�
Good tip Mr. Sise, thank you.
Throw Deep Young Man: Handicapping the Breeders� Cup, then BETTING on the Breeders� Cup, is not for the feint hearted. Average win mutual: $26. Average exacta: $230. Average Trifecta: $2,800.
On Any Given Sunday� Any Given Saturday can work in 1:01 1/5 then jog the following day. �He likely bruised his foot then,� said Todd Pletcher, referring to his 10-length defeat to Street Sense in the Derby. Two starts later, he killed Hard Spun and Curlin on next Saturday�s racetrack, while Street Sense went to Saratoga instead.
I know what�s been written about the �98 Classic featuring a Classic winner, Derby winner and two Belmont winners, etc., etc. but, on paper, this running is the most competitive ever.
Poly Wants A Winner: Curlin breezed an easy half-mile in :50 1/5 at Keeneland yesterday. Looked more like an open gallop!
No Slop Form, No Problem: Rick Dutrow knows something we don�t. After working a strong five furlongs in :59 1/5, Dutrow said he�s �leaning to running in the Classic,� instead of the Dirt Mile, with Diamond Stripes.
�I see rain in the forecast and I�m not going to duck Curlin and Lawyer Ron for $5 million,� Dutrow said.
Well, I�m looking at the past performances and I don�t see a slop race on the page.
�I�m seeing nothing but good, and I�m just following his lead.�
Two For The Money: In Saratoga, Larry Jones impressed us as a good old boy; great attitude and sense of humor, guileless, and isn�t impressed with himself. Easy to root for.
So he worked his two Breeders� Cup horses at Delaware yesterday. Juvenile filly Proud Spell had the dogs barkin� on the backstretch; a bullet five furlongs in :58 3/5. But it was hard-hitting, hard-campaigned Hard Spun, of which he said, after breezing five-eighths in 1:00 1/5: �He�s training better now than he ever has.�
Oh, Part II.
Just Happy To Be Here: Tiago and trainer John Sherriffs seem to like the Garden State. Tiago had veteran exercise rider Frankie Herrarte doing his best Lone Ranger act this morning. As the colt was about to gallop at Monmouth Park Monday morning, he reared up and made a half spin as Herrarte hung on. No harm, no foul.
�He just spooked a little,� explained Sherriffs, "it was all right, though.� Then, �this is a terrific field,� he said of the Classic, �and we're glad to be a part if it. It�s a real treat to be here and stabled with Carl [Nafzger]. I have the greatest respect for him.�
"Now Look Who's Talking" Don�t look now but an 8-year-old gelding is giving a pretty good impression of a 2-year-old. After Better Talk Now breezed six furlong in 1:13 at the Fair Hill training center, trainer Graham Motion was talking about his horse�s recent forced freshening.
�The layoff benefits him," Motion, not known for blowing smoke, said. �It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I�ve never seen him better than he is right now.� Saturday will be the gelding's fourth straight appearance in the Turf. He upset the field at Lone Star three years ago.
Hitting A Higher Note: Todd Pletcher warns that the three-year-old filly he trains, Octave, should not be overlooked in an extremely deep Distaff that could feature as many as 11 Grade 1 winners. �Her race in Philadelphia (Cotillion) is better than it looks on paper. The track was speed favoring and we let the other filly get away.�
He's No Michael Vick: Bobby Frankel will not be at Monmouth Park to saddle Ginger Punch in the Distaff. �I�m staying home with my dog Happy who I�ve had for eight years and is very ill. I have lots of good help at Belmont Park and elsewhere, and they�ll saddle her.� Frankel lives in Malibu. That won�t make him rest any easier, as forest fires continue to rage as this is written.
�This Is Ames, Mister�: Arc winner Dylan Thomas and the rest of the foreign contingent arrive Tuesday in Newark. Here�s how it works for the Euros. Bloods will be drawn and sent to a testing facility in Ames, Iowa, while the horses get shipped to Monmouth Park and are bedded down in the quarantine barn. When and if the tests come back clean, the horses clear quarantine and will get their first feel of the track/course Thursday morning.
(In case you guess what movies those two quotes are from, and what album the headline is from, no prizes will be awarded).