If you didn’t enjoy the events of yesterday, from morning till NCAA pre-game, you are not the racing fan you claim to be. Even the losses were interesting, raising questions and other possibilities.
How do you like them Japanese horses?
The racing world took particular notice of American sport about a half century ago and a game plan developed. First came the British bookmakers, then Arab sheikhs, then the Japanese, who quietly were building a broodmare dam. And thank you St. Sunday Silence.
Fans of class-in-the-dam have a lot to brag about, mostly with respect to the Japanese breeding program.
The island nation had a wonderful 2021 Breeders’ Cup, knocked them out this winter in Saudi Arabia, and all of it was building to World Festival Day. Their good horses ran good; their top horses better, even in defeat, amassing a total of five wins on the day.
They kept their noses on and around the finish line virtually throughout the Dubai day and night. Barns going off is commonplace, but don’t recall seeing an entire country go on a roll.
In the end, the Dubai World Cup was fun to watch unless, of course, you are Todd Pletcher. Walden ultimately had a smile to break his star’s fall from grace, Mr. Pletcher had to be frightfully disappointed.
No excuses, just reality: Night racing, a strange, dull surface, a faraway land, stiffer competition, and 10 furlongs all had an impact, one way or another.
But I’m sure Pletcher will admit that, for whatever reason, Life is Good wasn’t on Saturday. Forget there was some early pressure, aggressively pushing the speed but he always looked loaded, Irad Ortiz in complete control. Until reaching headstretch.
Just after straightening away, Life is Good separated himself a bit in upper stretch but Ortiz had been shaking the reins to do so. From seemingly loaded to beginning to empty out. Life was not very good.
In keeping with the handicap division theme, enter Olympiad, who once again seriously looked the part of a serious horse. “You can tell by the way [Olympiad] was maturing, getter strong and faster, we always knew [the talent] was there, said trainer Bill Mott. After yesterday, I think the racing world believes.
One final note, I wrote and told people that Life Is Good should go to the Met Mile route, followed by a Saratoga summer, an Elmont or Lexington fall, and then 10 furlongs of Classic.
Then what does Hyman Roth know, anyway?
It’s Official, Epicenter the Real Deal
Until Messier does or does not do his thing, and until the filly meets the boys in the Arkansas Derby, and unless something extraordinary occurs at Santa Anita, Oaklawn Park or Aqueduct Racetrack, Epicenter is the leader in the Derby clubhouse.
Google defines epicenter as “the point on the Earth’s surface directly above the focus. When energy is released at the focus, seismic waves travel outward from that point in all directions.”
Make no mistake, that was a warning shot yesterday at Fair Grounds, from one sophomore to all other three-year-olds.
The Louisiana Derby even eclipsed Epicenter’s Risen Star performance for the new dimension displayed and the manner of victory. He rated kindly, kicked clear and won with reserves, giving the impression that another sixteenth of a mile won’t scare him. And neither will the conquered Churchill Downs surface.
Bets ‘N Pieces
Zozos and Pioneer of Medina both preformed very well and have significant upside… Echo Zulu needed every once of her championship class to remain undefeated, just outlasting a much improved, maturing Hidden Connection. Had to be impressed that FG Oaks show finisher Favor never stopped trying; another with upside needs to get a little faster…
Two Emmys‘ speed was more worthy of the respect he was shown in the Muniz Memorial… It bears repeating, Olympiad is one of America’s very best race horses; looking forward to the next one… That was one impressive maiden score by Marsalis–one of Asmussen’s five winners on the card–the way he took pressure and lengthened with authority late, winning with reserves…
Don’t know if there was a better feel good story from Meydan than Lord North, returning from death’s door to be a repeat winner of the Dubai Turf, sharing the victory in a dead heat that actually involved three horses separated by inches…
Cool to see old pros like Switzerland beat younger with authority… Crown Pride, one of Japan’s five winners, went to the bottom to win the UAE Derby and is in the big dance if connections opt in. If nominated, game runnerup Summer Is Tomorrow might be better suited for the Derby’s dynamics…
Big Invasion took an impressive next step following graduation, winning his stakes debut by three dominating lengths, the Texas Glitter at Gulfstream Park.
this is a live column and will be updated periodically