Wednesday, June 20, 2012
News and Reviews
SARATOGA SPRINGS, June 20, 2012--
ITEM: Undefeated Frankel (provisionally) assigned highest Timeform Rating ever at 147
First of all, if you didn’t see Frankel’s electrifying performance in Tuesday’s Royal Ascot lidlifter, get thee to a replay center, pronto. If limited to a single word, the best description would be electrifying, such was the turn of foot he demonstrated.
Guess the provisional part has to do with some of the true greats that have not earned as lofty a Timeform rating. Falling in behind are the great Sea Bird II (145), Ribot (142) and Mill Reef at 141, just to name a few.
Not quite sure what the standard for the ratings are but currently Frankel is rated 11 points higher than the remarkable, undefeated Australian mare, Black Caviar at 136. Indeed, Frankel might be better, but that kind of disparity? Well, the Timeform folks left themselves an out with the provisional qualifier.
By way of comparison, the highest rating earned by an American this year was 131 assigned to Wise Dan, presumably for winning Keeneland’s Ben Ali and not for his narrow defeat in the Stephen Foster over the weekend. Given that the Wise Dan rating came on Polytrack, the 147 in the Queen Anne indeed might prove to be the best ever.
ITEM: Royal Delta wins the Fleur de Lis by more than a second faster than it took Ron The Greek to win the Foster
But no sooner had they hit the Foster wire on Saturday night when calls for running Royal Delta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic began to surface. For Bill Mott, this is a nice problem to have.
At this point, the stated goals for each is for Royal Delta to defend her Ladies Classic title and for Ron The Greek to point for the Classic at the same distance and over the same surface as his Santa Anita Handicap victory last winter.
Having a highly rated contender for one race and the horse to beat in another is a horse trainer’s dream. But running Royal Delta in the Dubai World Cup was very un-Mott like and seemed to be more the brainchild of owner Benjamin Leon who shelled out $8.5 million for the mare following the 2011 Breeders’ Cup.
The fact the mare had an impossible trip against a bulky field of the world’s best males while competing on the synthetic Tapeta is a contributing factor in the connections deciding to tackle males again. The other was her tour de force Fleur de Lis, which should require a second visit to a video replay center near you.
It is said that Mott rarely deviates from his game plan, including the one he has mapped out for To Honor And Serve. The second argument is that racing against males compromised and shortened Rachel Alexandra’s career and so Royal Delta should stick with her own kind. Three things:
The call to race in the Classic might not solely be Mott’s to make. Second, Rachel Alexandra met males in the spring of the year two weeks after a lifetime best performance in the Kentucky Oaks and again in late summer at Saratoga—as a 3-year-old vs. older males. Royal Delta is, of course, a 4-year-old.
Finally, if the Fleur de Lis is any indication of what Royal Delta has become, with Mott hinting that there might be even more to Royal Delta will be with added maturity, it might be a disservice to her equine legacy not to try to emulate the great Zenyatta by becoming the second female ever to win the Classic.
If money was ever an issue for Leon, he likely would not have spent as much as he did to acquire the filly last fall. Leon has made no secret of wanting to become a major player. Royal Delta is just the horse that can get him there.
ITEM: Median up 68.4% at Ocala Breeders’ Under Tack Sale on Day One
The sales topper raced an eighth of a mile in :10 flat. Second highest was a colt that ran a quarter of a mile in :21 1/5. In third, another colt that worked a furlong in :10. Fourth highest, a filly that worked a quarter-mile in :21 1/5. And fifth, a colt that worked an eighth in :10 2/5.
All we read from concerned critics and apologists alike is that everyone knows what racing’s problems are and what’s lacking is the will to implement meaningful change. Well, here’s something the industry can do something about:
Buyers can refuse to support breeze-up sales that put stress on young bones, ban them completely, or place strict limits on how fast horses are allowed to work under tack.
Don’t hold your breath that the first two suggestions would be implemented but there’s no reason why time restraints cannot be placed on sales’ time trials, which was the case when Frank Stronach’s group conducted under tack sales.
What can’t a good horseman tell about the stride and potential athleticism of babies that run, say, a 12-clip, as opposed to those that work in an absurdly fast 10 seconds? When Adena Springs held their under tack sales three years ago, consigners were "encouraged" to work their horses in the 12-to-14 second range per furlong.
Considering that Adena Springs has been the country's leading breeder for seven of the past eight years, it follows that the outfit knows something about top horsemanship.
What does an eight-mile in :10--faster than a horse will ever race on a conventional track in its life--prove that a well-trained eye cannot understand? Or is the idea simply to impress sales newcomers who can barely tell which side of a horse eats?
Historically, statistics relative to high breeze-up speeds and the ability of expensive purchases that actually make it to the races are very poor. Doing what’s best for the horse? That’s easier said than done when the mistakes of the past go unabated.
Everyone had better hope that William C. Rhoden doesn’t get wind of the latest Ocala Breeders Sales Company release.