Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Phelps dives in
By Brendan O'Meara/@BrendanOMeara
Saratoga’s glass is nearly half empty and it’s a two-horse race atop the trainer standings. They finished 1-2 last year and it looks like they will finish 1-2 this year. One guy named Todd and the other named Chad.
They are 1-2 in starts, Pletcher with 63 starts and 15 wins and Brown with 39 starts and 13 wins. Pletcher horses run in the money 56 percent of the time and win just under 25 percent. Brown horses are in the money 69 percent of the time and he’s winning at a 33-percent clip. While Pletcher’s stats are disgusting, Brown’s make my nose bleed. I don’t have ROI numbers or the average price on a Brown horse, but he’s got to have a stable of happy owners. Could there be anyone better at reading a condition book than Chad Brown at Saratoga?
The other Super Stables below Batman and Robin are Steve Asmussen, George Weaver and Bill Mott with 6, 6 and 5 wins, though Weaver is a tier below “super”, in this instance.
It’s not even close. Kind of like watching Frankel run. Racing Post’s Sam Walker says what the Euro Boy Wonder is doing is somehow minimizing his own legacy. He’s like a mega-band who’s become a cover band for himself.
“Frankel had better get used to the dignified applause that greeted him on the Goodwood Downs last week.
"His odds will be so prohibitive in his remaining starts he will never be met with the fist-pumping roar of a public gamble,” writes Walker.
Horse racing is different across the pond, but I didn’t realize how different until Walker said, “In their sporting heroes people don't actually want a perfect champion. They want some vulnerability. There is simply not enough drama in this story of equine perfection. Racing is, after all, in the entertainment industry and it would be natural to assume that the greatest horse would be the most entertaining. But not, apparently, when he's consistently that good.”
We had a horse over here. You remember that big, bay mare Zenyatta? There’s nothing Americans love more than perfection: the perfect burger, the perfect margarita, the perfect body. The only people who hate perfection, or at least other people’s perfection, are the 1972 Dolphins.
As disappointed as I was when the New England Patriots had the worst 18-1 season in the history of sports, my disappointment won’t be anything compared to what Michael Phelps will experience, though his enthusiasm is deserved of a 23rd medal.
The most decorated Olympian this side of Zeus tweeted out to Bob Baffert that, “Now me you and @coach_bowman should find our horse and make him the next Secretariat!!”
And with the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale taking place (I’m thankfully far, far away from that scene), everyone hopes to find the next “Secretariat”. Problem is nobody has seen one in 39 years.
So with the sale going on and Phelps eagerly waiting to take the plunge into the biggest money sinkhole this side of the last rung on a Ponzi scheme, Paulick Report asked, “Will the participation of the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time be a good thing for sport of Thoroughbred racing? How could the answer be anything but a resounding yes?”
How could the participation of any new owner, independent of celebrity, be anything but a resounding yes? It’s good to see and nearly perfect.