Thursday, March 07, 2013

Longevity to the Top

Kudos to Joseph the Catfish. This guy seems to have the right idea. He’s as irreverent as they come. In his first start at Turfway Park, he ditched his jockey, jumped a fence, and bolted toward I-75. I’ve been to Turfway. I’m with the horse. Maybe he didn’t care for Polytrack.

Poor fella was caught. I guess the only place harder to escape than Alcatraz is a horse track. Some horses embrace it and the sooner they do they better they’ll perform. Naturally these grizzled vets make a bit of news when they return to the track. Comma to the Top was the ferocious, tenacious, ostentatious winner of the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at lovely Aqueduct.

He was passed once, nearly passed another time, yet refused to ultimately be passed by a field of willing foes. This is horse is a gamer. He’s an alpha. You can just tell. He “can make you feel high, full of the single greatest commodity known to man. Promise. Promise of a greater day. Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a new tomorrow. This particular aura, can be found in the gait of a fast race horse, in its smile, in its soul, and how it can make every little rotten thing about life seem like it’s going to be OK. The fast race horses, Will, that’s all they are. Bottled promise, scenes from a brand new day, hope dancing in quarter-inch bends.”

Go on, check the freezer for human heads.
“A fast race horse is all powerful and that’s as good as love. That’s as good as love.”

Last I remember Comma to the Top he finished last of them all in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, fulfilling a long line of three-year-old sprinters thrust into a race 30 percent too long for them. When you’re a gelding you don’t have as many options in life. It’s either run, or, I don’t know, do card shows in maybe the most depressing Golden Year Gig ever. I mean ever. (Put him in the Hall, already. You guys are gamblers. Surely you sympathize).

What C Triple T did this past weekend was nothing short of a throwback performance. He set blistering fractions and refused to be passed. But the funny thing is, he just finished third a week before in the Grade 2 San Carlos … in Cali … Then his trainer, Peter Miller, put C Triple T on a plane dead set for NYC. No sense in training him. Train him in a race and maybe make some bank.

“The horse performed pretty well last time [in the Grade 2 San Carlos a week ago at Santa Anita], so we took a shot, considering the horse came out of it very good,” said Martin Contreras, Miller’s assistant trainer. “This guy is a tough fighter, and when in he’s in his right moment he fights pretty tough. We got lots of luck [on the photo finish]. Thank God on that one!”

Horses, whether gelded or not, deserve extra cred. The N Y R A works in incentives for juveniles and for turf races of a certain field size. How about a longevity incentive? I’ve written before that to keep horses in training longer, the risk (read: penalty) of loss on future breeding value needs to be levied. If it’s an across-the-board appeal to de-penalize these horses then what’s the problem? Breeders will have better insight into this, but a more attractive racing product can only help them, I’d think.

HRI’s most famous troll doesn’t give a rat’s you-know-what about “big names” and simply wants his shot at the “nags” under the leaky roof. Great. That’s 1 % of the people who pledge allegiance to horse racing.

The cynic will say that keeping a horse around merely for bonuses may hurt the horse. You keep him/her around longer than it should, connections run the risk of running unsound, old horses into the ground for a few extra grand. For every innovation there’s a cynic there to swing his axe.

Jess Jackson had the right idea when holding out for more dough. Many thought he was greedy; many thought he held tracks hostage. But think about it from his angle. He brings a BIG HORSE to the Woodward and instead of 18,000 people betting and buying food, there are 30,000 people buying food, paying admission, etc.

Professional tennis players get all kinds of bonuses for playing abroad (a big reason you don’t see any great players State side except for the U.S. Open). It’s time that marquee horses and connections stick around so we can see what C Triple T’s of the circuit can do.

He paid $6.30, by the way, not bad when you think about it.

Written by Brendan O'Meara

Comments (2)

BallHype: hype it up!

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