Monday, July 29, 2013

He’s Got the Moves Like Jagger

For those who know me, they are aware of my near fanatical infatuation for The Dark Knight Trilogy. A friend of mine loaned me the original Batman starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson because, in his irreverent distaste for anything popular, he said it was superior.

I watched it since I had never seen it. I was, more often than not, confused. Confused by the spaghetti Western gun play and sound; confused by Keaton’s Bruce Wayne; confused by Keaton’s Batman. Though Tim Burton appeared to do more with less, Christopher Nolan’s reboot did more with more. And that’s where we find ourselves after Saturday’s Jim Dandy Stakes and Sunday’s Haskell Invy.

At some point or another, you just have to sit back and marvel at the Fortune 500 company that is the Todd Pletcher barn. Palace Malice, the once-maligned son of Curlin, who won the Belmont Stakes and struck yet again with a stellar Jim Dandy win, is inching up the Champion Three Year Old stepladder.

Palace Malice’s win looked about as easy they come. Perfect break. Perfect ride by Mike Smith. Great patience and great acceleration. You could see he had more in the tank. This is a horse who could love 10 furlongs, having already proven he can out-stagger other three-year-olds going 12.

Then there was Verrazano’s visually stunning run at Monmouth.

Through Sunday’s races, Pletcher has 12 wins, two second and five thirds from 31 starts at the Spa. He’s in the money 61 percent of the time and has $1,273,507 in earnings. Chad Brown is the only one close with $520,719. Truly spectacular.

Guillermo del Toro did something spectacular as well with Pacific Rim, a movie’s whose attention to detail may only be rivaled by the shedrows occupied by Pletcher and Lukas. While I watched Pacific Rim, I half expected by left eye’s blood vessels to rupture and my nose to start bleeding (When I go see this in 3D, if I don’t get a nosebleed I will feel sorely disappointed and will ask for my money back. Or at least a bag of M&Ms.)

The sheer scope of the movie’s kaiju (the monsters) and the Jaeger’s (the machines men built to fight these monsters) drops the jaw. Layer that with a musical score that plays up the action like a Sports Center high light and, like my movie-going colleague, we were mopping up drool from the Regal floor. Del Toro delivered.

Pletcher is doing something similar. He’s taking horses with royal bloodlines that are supposed to run well and actually coaxing that ability out of them. It’s easy to win when you’re not supposed to. The difficulty becomes once the expectations are high. It’s lonely at the top, but it helps to have more ammo than the guys and gals looking to pull you off the summit.

And even Verrazano win gave us a spectacle we haven’t seen since Rachel Alexandra in 2009. What we’re witnessing is nothing short of genius.
Michael Bay, a director who does less with more, might take note from del Toro and Nolan, and, for that matter, the biggest horse trainer in the world, a man whose game is every bit 1999-2000 Tiger Woods and present-day LeBron James.

What we’re seeing is a big budget director taking the vast resources and confidence of a big studio. He’s delivering on story, quality, and, in the end, we’re left looking up.

Written by Brendan O'Meara

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