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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL– Two colleagues texted their takeaways in the aftermath of Gulfstream Park’s 14th race on Saturday.

“Dennis had his moment,” said the first, short and not so sweet. The second was spot on: “Sometimes a jockey can flat out win a race on his own, right?”

The latter reference was to Florent Geroux, a.k.a.”Flo the Jock,” as he is called in some circles. And after what he executed on Saturday, the latter seems more appropriate.

But you’ve got to have the right partner on the dance floor. And so Geroux, and trainer Patrick Biancone, and a Summer Front colt named after a season known as “Indian Summer,” Ete Indien, all did their thing. Viva La France.

More on the most significant Kentucky Derby prep run so far this year a bit later as there were important preludes along the way to the two virtual win-and-in Derby and Kentucky Oaks qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Dennis’ Moment, who has lost as an odds-on to end his freshman year and as a 6-5 favorite for his sophomore debut, will need to go back to the drawing board. Again because, once again, he had an excuse.

“The jock said he grabbed himself,” explained Dale Romans immediately after the race. Known as “grabbing a quarter,” it’s not a serious issue but it can be painful. Sometimes a horse will protect himself with help from his rider.

So that wasn’t the real Dennis’ Moment that finished last of 10. Oh, but it was. “I just hope he’s all right,” said Romans. “That wasn’t what I was expecting. When he didn’t get to the lead early, I was concerned.”

Said rider Flavien Prat: “He bobbled out of the gate… he regrouped and I thought I was in a good spot. When I hit the five-eighths pole he just dropped the bit. After that I was done. There was no reason to beat him up. He didn’t want to go.”

Great Race Riding on Display All Afternoon

As prelude to the Fountain of Youth, riders who made the right tactical decisions and executed them perfectly took down major prizes all day.

When no one wanted the lead in the Grade 3 The Very One Stakes, Paco Lopez seized the moment and took a last-out, coming-from-last-of-10 maiden breaker, Elizabeth Way, put her on the lead in soft fractions over Saturday’s speed-kind course.

A half mile in 48.69 and 1:13.45 for a Frankel filly from a Giant’s Causeway mare trained by legendary Roger Attfield, enabled a solid final clocking of 1:54.26 for a mile and three-sixteenths.

Later on, Kentucky-based Corey Lanerie shipped in and went 2-for-2 for Ken McPeek, and was clearly the difference aboard Harvey Wallbanger, who hadn’t won a race since taking the 2019 Holy Bull Stakes here; he sure loves the inside portion of the Hallandale oval.

Coming from lonesome last, the four year old away seven rivals by getting through on the fence at the far turn in insulting fashion. By the stretch call he was 3-1/2 in front and proceeded to widen from there. Remarkable.

Then Emisael Jaramillo put the G3 Herecomesthebride 11-filly field to sleep from the jump, and Cheemeister did the rest by getting her final sixteenth in a worthy 06.20.

Tonalist’s Shape led throughout from her outside slip going a flat mile beneath a heady Tyler Gaffalione at the direct expense of dozen-length maiden breaker, $1.2 million purchase and Davona Dale favorite Spice Is Nice. Tonalist’s Shape is now 5-for-5 in life and a viable Oaks contender.

Was trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. surprised?

“I told Tyler, ‘Break her out of there and use her to get position.” I thought she’d be fourth or fifth. I didn’t expect her to be on the lead,” said Joseph in the winners’ circle, the victory taking some sting after feeling compelled to scratch Chance It from the Fountain of Youth.

Tonalist’s Shape likely will return for the Gulfstream Park Oaks on the Florida Derby undercard.

Saffie was “shocked” that 12 were entered in the G2 Florida Derby prep and that his colt had drawn #12. Fortunately for Joseph, Tampa Bay Downs, and Chance It’s Derby viability, the Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday is at the same 1-1/16 miles.

Chance It will face, among others, Sam F. Davis winner Sole Volante, also trained by Biancone, Kiaran McLaughlin’s recent Gulfstream winner Spa City, and a Todd Pletcher runner to be named later. (McLaughlin will run Sam F. Davis third Ajaaweed in the Louisiana Derby).

Ete Indien was the perfect partner for Geroux. Breaking from post 10, the last minute substitute for sidelined regular partner Luca Panici, Flo the Jock, catching a bit of a flyer, quarter-horsed away from the barrier but, unbelievably, was rating on a kind, 1-1/2-length midway of the first turn.

Furthermore, he continued to rate kindly, a reserved and relaxed leader down the backside in realistic splits of 46.72 and 1:11.30, completing the first-finish-line distance in 1:43.02, getting his final half-furlong in 06.58.

It was a perfect world, as he extended a length and a half lead at the first call, to 4-1/2 by headstretch, en route to an 8-1/2 length romp while drifting a bit at the end. Still, Biancone gave a measured response post race.

“I think he’s an exceptional horse,” said Biancone. “…I want to see how he comes back, how he works the next time. He’ll need to improve a little bit to win the Florida Derby,” before adding he would need to run well there or he could pass on Louisville.

If both Ete Indien and Mr. Monomoy make the Derby, Geroux will have to make a decision. He was high on his praise of Mr. Monomoy but is also impressed with the Biancone runner.

“When he got into a rhythm, he just felt very good,” Geroux explained. “He’s very professional and I didn’t think he was that quick to be honest. I didn’t think he had this kind of speed, which gives us way more options in the future.

“I was a little concerned with the post today. It’s not the best post when you have this kind of disadvantage. But when the horse broke really sharp from the gate, the race was pretty much over.”



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14 Responses

  1. Add “Grabbed a quarter” to:
    “Didn’t like the track”
    “Raced against the bias”
    “Might have come back too quickly”
    “Probably needed the race”
    “The pace was too fast”
    “The pace was too slow”
    “Might have flipped his palate”
    “Might have bled”

    How about: “Vastly over-rated.”

    Dennis’ Moment has now finished first twice and last three times. As Bill Parcells likes to say, “You are what your record is.”

    Absence further evidence, he might be a horse who is a killer when things go his own way and not much when they don’t.

    He has put himself into a position where anything less than first in his final Derby prep (if there is one) might not be good enough.

    1. It is curious that Prat did not mention it in the post race comments I saw…

      I rated him very highly after the big maiden and Iroquois wins, then the Juvenile happened.

      Another possible ‘excuse’–and this one might be legit–that he didn’t transition at all from 2 to 3.

      If he doesn’t rebound and win a 100-point prep by five, he’s off everyone’s Derby radar. Like Dale, I just hope the colt’s OK.

    2. This is getting to be serious. We’ve seen this movie before where the opening is terrific and then it starts to fade. But you’ve got to think that the Fountain of Youth was another outlier for this colt. C’mon, ran last. It doesn’t add up. I’m thinking didn’t like the track from your smorgasbord of “reasons” is the most likely explanation. Maybe. Dennis’ “moment” may have come and gone but I hope that is not so. Ete Indian won as easily as Sitting Bull at Battle of Little Big Horn. Metaphor City for this confusing horse.

  2. For Dale’s sake, I hope the horse is OK, too. If anyone deserves a Derby, he does.

    I like your comment on not transitioning. I remember seeing comments on how big he was as a juvenile, a man among boys. Maybe now, the boys have grown up, too.

  3. Since there`s no thread about the Saudi Cup,i ,arrogantly, want to say what a stiff program it was.from the Opulent,clean synthetic grass,or so it looked to its starchy presentation,production and direction.. The only thing worthwhile was Ms Yu while the rest of the ‘cast’ and its participants seemed to be mercenarie$,the ones that Saudi Arabia always finds and hires whether it`s for its ‘P.A.L.M.’ which was built on the ocean with thousands of modern slaves from the Philippines and other poor nations` citizens willing to sacrifice just like slaves of any past century while residing in square,cold buildings similar to Concubines of any era,or culture of the past,,or present. Hey,even several USA presidents have,and continue to lick the Saudis backsides even by having soldiers of all types defend the ‘oil’ magnates,Monarchy. “AX” presidents Bush[es] ,Obama and even the present Trump.As long as the oil spills out,mercenaries,ruffians[ the original meaning],lobbyists,pols will be available to supply whatever the men in table cloths will want..except have oil price$ at below $80 a barrel,that way the Saudis will have to reach into their interminable fund$. The $ 20 million race had no passion ,fervor and too little info regarding all the competing animals,,and yes the band Had to wait for the King to start their anthem while the horses were nervously walking around x too many Extra minutes. I guess that that`s why they called it ‘The Sport Of Kings’ as the King`s Magic Carpet Ride[ sorry ,Steppenwolf ! ] was late. Nice race by the mare Midnite Bisou who coulda won it even if she came from far behind as did most of the winners of the races shown,beating the leading horse at the stretch.And then after the race,withou showing any prices,,just went off. I guess that the King`s carpet ride was on the clock,maybe driven by a Saudi Uber driver.It was not an professional program.We`ve seen more interesting set ups with medium claimers in NY,Kentucky,California or Florida ,,with a minuscule of purse$ `value.That`s not entertaining,not even to those of us still hoping for a modicum of passion,dirt,excitement and yes,dirt,feces.Late $ on #8 Mackenzie was wasted as the winner`s odds kept on going up.Smart $ ? Still don`t know what it is,, an Alien,plastic,cold,disinterested joint like this saudi Monarch track.It reminded me of when i visited the Vatican church; full of rich,opulent,expensive marbles,furniture, paintings,sculptures,,,, not a reflection of the average patron,that is,poor people who ‘pray’ for simple things like health,bread ,forgiveness and miracles instead they will worry if the will stain the shiny waxed floors and if they`ll put enough $ in the envelopes even if they can`t afford it but they do put it in,,otherwise their guilt will make them go to ‘Inferno’. Most expensive does NOT mean interesting but don`t ask those mercenaries who participated on it,,it was not their $ and it still pay$ to lick the Table cloths- wearing hands.Ask any politician ,premier, president,leader in the world.,,or any laborer who has spent time in that biased,racist ,sexist country or region.Everything has a price,even $ 20 million to just show themselves how rich they are for a couple of hours. The races? Oh yeah,that is only a side dish, an afterthought to publicize future investments,after all who else can afford to build an Inside,Interior,Covered Snow Resort on that climate ? Wonder when they`ll build a large indoor lake[ who says that they haven`t yet ? ] Saudi Carpet Ride.PS; would have had the exacta since i had 7-[8-10-12-14] boxed but did not feel like playing.Had lost any interest as the NYRA kept on pushing its ads.Was not ‘Running Happy’ or watching it happily.This is not not horse racing show but a marked publicity stunt at any price,,a la Stayer,Bloomberg which does not work well for and with the international patronage.It is too alien ,distant.Sorry x the loong rant.i had to let it out.

    1. Big finish, Mr. Romano. I completely agree w/sentiment about Steyer and Bloomberg. Not sure but ego may be a driver w/their candidacy. Also liked your “Run Happy” mention. This horse gets more publicity than Trump. I tried to calculate the penalty Money Mike Smith received on the other side of the world and his 10% jockey share of 20m purse. Maybe a push. He thought he was on Zenyatta with that late close but MAX was having none of it. Never in doubt. Sorry KY Derby was removed from his resume. I know, a judgement “call.” Your postings are a treat.

      1. Mister C; I`m surprised that you failed to mention the ‘Steppenwolf’ `s Carpet Ride hint. No,we`re not comparing the Mid.Biasou with Ruffian,Kenyatta,Personal Ensign or even with Minx but i root for them [ladies] esp. since she was coming from far back although the jock switched to the semi empty rail. Just found a couple of ridiculous things about that rich race like not showing prices at the end of it. That`s like having bad service at a ‘hoity toity’ joint whether it`s bar with $ 40 drinks or a French,white glove restaurant with greasy seats. Not even Saratoga,usually,offers that !! Even the Drf does not have the time of the race ? Or the Chart of the race ? It does Not matter ?..Keep on lowering my expectations… until i`ll def. give it up.

        1. Zenyatta had a perfect set-up in her last race and could not get to wire ahead of Blame says Andy Serling. I remember Money Mike Smith “blaming” himself for her lone defeat. Loved the way she would come out onto the track and paw the dirt with one of her front legs. Very large horse also. Owner named her after a song by The Police on A&M Records (the “M” stands for Moss, the “A” for company co-founder, Herb Alpert (Tijuana Brass, remember?). One thing that was pretty cool about the Saudi Cup replay is the camera angle on starting gate. Worth a look. If you give it up that will be one more of us who have “hung up our tack.” I enjoyed it more in 70’s with the likes of Forego and Slew and a few of the ones you mention. Riva Ridge was pretty cool, too.

          1. Am i the only one who thinks that Mr Serling talks too much ? I shut the volume off when he`s Blabbing .Do the races need so much ‘tawk’ before a start? It reminds of when i ,rarely,watch a baseball game[only if Mets,Yanks are playing] and gotta listen to empty chatter between at bats and swings. If the game is boring,, empty chatter boxes do not help it a bit ,right Phil Rizzuto ? Then ,after a race,ain`t it lovely to hear more empty excuses as to why their picks failed to win ,,if they mention it at all ? Hey,there is always that smart,cop out reason; the best horse won. Who will be the next generation of horse players since the present young generations are not attracted to this sport since OTB and similar betting parlors look more than ever like nursing homes ? Casinos are not that different,well ,maybe a bit but not much. To too many retirees,of both sexes,loneliness is expensive,but who `s gonna admit it as they approach ‘their’ cold- hearted one armed bandit machine ? ” Ssssh” ,as i listen to the 10 Years After album.

  4. Yes, silently protesting the event here but will have something on the Smith and Ortiz suspensions at some point later… BTW: Thought, like everyone else, that the mare ran great! (Need a little break after yesterday’s 14-race card).

  5. Geez, Mr. Jicha. I am impressed by your opening comment. Reads much like what I would write. Usually the commentary here at HRI is excuses for the plodders promoted instead of favorable comments to the winner.

  6. A least if Dennis does have another Moment against top competition, he will likely reward his backers with a decent price.

    I didn’t see the Saudi Cup until hours later on replay, but even without a wager, it turned out to be an exciting and emotionally satisfying event. Would Midnight Bisou been as close without Irad’s infuriating inclination for intimidation and interference impacting the winner?

  7. I, Irad interfered or blocked the winner’s path; the filly got through on the fence…

  8. C, thought Zenyatta definitely would have won with a better trip–way, way– too much to do.

    Felt bad for Mike but was right to blame himself some.

    But the winner was a nice horse, taking nothing away…

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