Per usual, a horse-playing pal called Sunday morning to discuss the big events of Saturday afternoon, a little red boarding, a little bad beating, a couple of I-Told-You-So’s.
But I did make a prediction: “I have no problem with anyone who votes Nadal #1 in the NTRA Poll because that’s the nature of this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately game.”
“I’m still sticking with Tiz the Law at number one,” he said. “Me, too,” I answered. “Why should an accomplished horse lose stature because it hadn’t run in five weeks.”
In a perfect world, the top two poll horses would have finished in a dead heat on points.
Indeed, the NTRA Poll is a judgment that on balance combines accomplishment and opinion, so all any voter can do is conjure up is what’s in one’s mind at that moment.
Actually, each earned 19 first-place votes, but Nadal accrued more total points, likely because Charlatan might also have leap-frogged Tiz the Law as well given his four first-place votes.
I don’t know which one is better, though I agree with a handicapping buddy who says that Baffert is just so good at this and that Tiz the Law still races immaturely, to which I added that ‘Nadal is such a beast.”
But, of course, that’s why they run races.
Either way, Baffert has to be embarrassed by all his riches that include Authentic [one first-place vote] and other sophomore players to develop later.
And never mind how Nadal compares to Tiz the Law, he doesn’t know which of his proven colts are best, promising that he isn’t playing politics, either. The graceful Authentic? The brilliant Charlatan? The relentless Nadal?
A race on June 6 might provide another clue, the date of Santa Anita Derby should the Los Angeles County Health Department give the Arcadia track permission to re-open, and also anticipated to be Authentic’s next start.
For all three-year-olds, September is a long way off, so there may be some hope for the rest of the Top 10: King Guillermo is a solid fifth in the poll, followed in order by Honor A. P., Sole Volante, Ete Indien, Maxfield (getting close to his 2020 debut) and Basin.
But Could They Have Beaten Secretariat?
I have a confession to make, I loved the virtual Kentucky Derby and not because I picked the virtual winner, posted here in Marc Lawrence’s daily brief on Saturday morning. (I was awaiting virtual track conditions and late scratches).
And this surprised the hell out of me. The virtual race which pitted real Triple Crown winners against each other, with Larry Collmus lending some excitement to the cartoonish horse race, had movement within the race as dictated by an algorithm.
So, I was rooting for my “pick” and there were times, once or twice, when I thought there was a chance Big Red would be defeated.
My favorite horse of all-time, Seattle Slew, was hanging tough despite race long pace pressure, and Citation was beginning to launch after Secretariat had moved into contention on the far turn.
But, just as the mind’s eye had conjured it, Secretariat’s overwhelming power and brilliance won the day, holding a strong rallying Citation safe, a cold exacta in every sense of the term.
It’s amazing what a little creativity can do at a time when any reason to smile, no matter how small, is appreciated and welcome.