Friday, November 01, 2013
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, November 1, 2013--
7:47 p.m. And so, the race didn't match up with the hyperbole. But, then, how could it?
Princess Of Sylmar, with her owner Ed Stanco, in an uncommom display of sportsmanship, rolled the dice, lost his money, and possibly a championship that was hers for the asking right after she won the Beldame. But yesterday, she bobbled at the break and wilted beneath the California sun. The heat got to a lot of horses yesterday. She probably was one of them.
Some voter will shortly make the point that the Princess beat up on a champion who gave signs that she might be going the other way, the wrong way. Sadly, that became all to clear at sweltering Santa Anita, the heat baking the track dry and fast. And unless the rail is heavy and deep, it's still the best way home.
Royal Delta has been a great defending champion but she probably has run her last. Thanks for the memories.
This Year of the Jockey started with Mike Smith rolling a natural double to add to his record winning Breeders' Cup resume and ended with a 55-year-old Hall of Famer underscoring a widely held opinion that he possibly is riding in the best form of his career. Certainly for the last month, anyway.
Then there's California legend Richard Mandella, who won his eighth hometown-based Breeders' Cup event, his fourth with a filly. She had been doing amazing things in the mornings leading up to Breeders' Cup Distaff 30. Mile and an eighth? No problem.
And in winning this country's most anticipated race for fillies and mares in 2013, Beholder didn't beat her competition, she crushed it, perhaps all the way to a championship of her own. But that's a story for another day..
Bill Mott has won three Distaffs in his Hall of Fame career, two with three-year-olds. He came closer than anyone not named Mandella to doing it again. Runner-up Close Hatches ran a great race. And the glib surface did her no favors.
The Breeders' Cup Distaff was a pluperfect example of why they run races which, try as all of us do, are not contested on a printed page. It's done with flying hooves and flashing leather as excited fans scream for their favorites athletes in contests run between a set of fences.
It's horse racing, and even when an event like the Distaff doesn't step up to meet the hype, it remains the greatest game played outdoors.
Post time for tomorrow's Juvenile Fillies, the first of nine Breeders' Cup events, is 3:05 p.m., EDT.
Spiritually and intellectually, I'm there.
7:03 In the most anticipated race of the day, Breeders' Cup Distaff 30, the opening odds virtually matched early line odds. The Queen opened at 8-5, the Princess is 2-1 and Beholder 5-2. Even the outsiders held their early quotes, with Authenticity at 9-1, Close Hatches at 8-1, and Street Girl, 30-1.
To be honest, those are very fair odds on whichever filly you fancy. We're rooting for the Queen. If a plausible price play is your idea of fun, Bill Mott's 3-year-old, Close Hatches, is, on performance figures, the equal of her contemporaries. But if the champion comes with her 'A' race, in will be three-peat time--and royalties for Pat Riley.
Meanwhile, the track is carrying speed but Goldencents was very, very good. Had a right to regress and didn't.
Chriselliam for Horse of the Year! Well, Horse of Formerly Filly Friday. That was a tremendous display of acceleration; price wasn't too shabby, either. The fillies and mares are nearing their approach to the ring; Beholder, thus far, has been acting like her high-strong self. We'll see..
6:41 Leaving the paddock and no surprise that a European, Vorda, remains a 3-1 favorite. The surprise, however, is that the other highly regarded Euro, Chriselliam is 8-1. We're on record stating that this is the toughest of all 14 Cup events. As such, a filly such as Street Sailing, should not be ignored at 40-1. We know she's up in class but her performance figures give her a puncher's chance in this. And Testa Rossi, 12 post notwithstanding, is fair value at 10-1...
5:33: Two races, and Mike Smith has now won 19 Breeders' Cup races. Probably getting tired reading all those props for Gary Stevens. He timed it perfectly with Outstrip, making the last run with giant strides.
The strategy with Bobby's Kitten looked like the correct one, but :22 2/5 on the turf? Stuff happens.
Ryan Moore was right, choosing Giovanni Boldini, who looked the winner off the super hot pace until Outstrip came along with a furious run. Meanwhile, our preferred first-flash longshot, Shamshon, lost too much ground; no excuses, just fact. Problem is where and when can I bet the European back?
Verrazano opened at 5-2, fairly predictable. Goldencents, susceptible to a regression, is a very fair 9-2. Pants On Fire is 12-1 and Fed Biz (10-1) is way too much price at this juncture.
4:59: Bobby's Kitten severe underlay at this point--even money on the first flash. Opening odds on Shamshon way out of line; 40-1, win or lose, is just too much price. Five minutes to post the Kitten still only 7-5. Interestingly, the longer of the O'Brien pair, Wilshire Boulevard, offering good value at this point. We'll see if stable rider Ryan Moore made the right choice with 'Giovanni'...
4:52 p.m.: Euro guys hated this horse so what happens? London Bridge gives Mike Smith a record 18th winning Breeders' Cup ride. Imagine that, a New York-bred starts the festivities. Get with the program!
And, in the end, all the egos and smart cash came tumbling down. Interesting re: the kickback. David Flores kept Worldly very wide throughout, moved prematurely into a three-horse battle. He did very well to finish third.
Even with the perceived inside bias, Blueskiesandrainbows was super game, pressured all the way and right there at the end of 14 furlongs.
4:36 p.m. Not good to hear from NBCSN analysts saying that the jockeys are complaining that the dry, sandy kickback is stinging the trailers, the jockeys saying that "it hurts." Two extreme longshots won early on the card, front end all the way.
With 10 minutes to post, grass specialist Old Time Hockey was 5-1--on the dirt. He will run all day. The dilemma is that closers have a big edge in this race, but you don't know where the pace will come from. Gary Stevens, with a little help from his mount, will probably win. But we liked the way Tom Proctor's 'Hockey' looked on the track. Think Jose Lezcano a good fit.
Also liked Worldly, the fastest on performance figures, the only rub, perhaps his last was too fast. No knocks on Indian Jones. Tread very lightly.
Started Breeders' Cup Friday with a winner. Hope the karma lasts.
2:20 p.m.: Got home about an hour ago after spending three hours at my Subaru dealer. When I started the car this morning, it was buck-jumping like a two-year-old.
The feat was that I wouldn't make it one exit up the Northway but I did. Thought I might have gotten the feared watered-gas and sure enough, my car, in the language of the day, got into a good rhythm.
After three hours, "there will be no charge, Mr. Pricci," said service manager Tim, handing me the keys. He said something about a coil and a frayed wire that needed replacing. Both were warranty items. Yeah team.
The games are about to begin and I'm bleary eyed already. Past performances, pedigree work, video (races and workouts), Euro research, contacting insiders on site...am I leaving anything out?
Oh, yes. Sleep.
Breeders' Cup is always challenging, as everyone knows and accepts. But damn if this edition isn't the hardest in my bad recent memory. So many live horses in big fields. And Santa Anita is a big post-position track.
I was thinking, for instance, that Havana might be a Pick 4 Saturday night single. Then post 13. See ya'. Absolutely can win, of course, but...
Anyway, we're here throughout the day, trying to read and react to real time developments; odds, paddock, post parades, the usual. And you pray your favorite ADW has enough bandwidth to avoid a new malady known as Affordable Car Act Syndrome.
An aside: I voted for the President twice, but somebody has to pay for this. This was one of the worst roll-outs ever. And I've been involved in any number of start-ups.
I'm going to pull a Lukas now; that's Wayne Lukas, the man who made the 7-minute nap famous.
Upon regaining consciousness, I will pre-bet the day's Dime Supers.
Betting on horses is a fluid process--a little more difficult for public prognosticators that go one record in advance. I always feel guilty when I make a last minute change, although I never apologize for avoiding my top choice if it means taking a bad price.
And this coming from a guy who thinks it's possible to get, say maybe 8-5 on Royal Delta? But I won't have to make that decision until around 7:25 p.m.
Wind rustling up pretty good now, a good call by the weather handicappers. Please, no power outages today. Please?