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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, September 25, 2023 – If the weather gods decide to inundate Arcadia with record rainfall on the weekend of November 3,, the Pennsylvania Derby day results might provide some needed handicapping context.

But if Albert Hammonds is right, that “it never rains in Southern California,” then Saturday’s results are close to meaningless viewed through a Breeders’ Cup looking glass. But it’s not as if we didn’t learn some things.

When the lightly Saudi Crown was beaten an inch by juvenile champion Forte in the Jim Dandy, it appeared that one day a Grade 1 title would be in his future. And that title came over virtually the same kind of wet surface he experienced in upstate New York.

Is Saudi Crown so good that he can overcome fast, dry Santa Anita footing and beat his peers plus a cast of worthy, seasoned older horses, too? I wouldn’t bet on it. However, he proved he has earned the chance to take on the best of his generation.

We learned something else, too, that Todd Pletcher’s confidence in Dreamlike, the maiden he aggressively spotted in the G2 Wood Memorial this spring, was justified, especially after losing a three-horse Wood photo by an aggregate neck.

Three months later, Dreamlike reappeared and broke his maiden with authority at the Spa, thumping older horses by 6-3/4 lengths only to return in a preliminary 3-and-up allowances in which he stumbled at the start and lost all chance.

On Saturday, the blinkers which were added for his two Saratoga runs were removed and the Gun Runner colt, from the Tapit mare, Time to Tap, saved ground throughout, angled out to the 5-path at headstretch and roared home, getting to the winner late.

Off that effort, Dreamlike appears to have a considerable upside and given his pedigree, rates to improve with added maturity, just like his sire did. The final eighth for nine furlongs run in a solid 1:50 3/5 was 12-4/5, in which Dreamlike made up about four lengths in the final stages.

There are reasons to like his effort even more than the winner’s and we look forward to his next start and a four-year-old campaign to come from the $975,000 yearling purchase.

Speedy Californian Takes G1 Cotillion; Damon’s Mound the G2 Gallant Bob

Taking advantage of the surface that produced speed or tactically positioned runners in each of Saturday’s 14 races, Cal-bred Ceiling Crusher went to the front and improved her position, needing very inch of her advantage to stave off the late rally of Pretty Mischievous, foiling that one’s bid for a fourth consecutive Grade 1 title.

Trainer Doug O’Neill will have some decisions to make relative to a start in the Breeders’ Cup, which likely will depend on which way Echo Zulu goes. If America’s fastest sprinter takes on colts, it leaves the F & M Sprint open to this speedy daughter of Into Mischief.

Ceiling Crusher is a perfect 4-for-4 at Santa Anita. At this juncture, the nine-furlong Distaff appears to be a bridge too far, but many would consider this a nice problem too have.

Among three-year-old sprinters, Damon’s Mound has gotten good again. He won two straight to begin his career, including the G2 Saratoga Special, went off form thereafter then found wet tracks to his liking at Charles Town and Parx to begin a new win streak.

However, he’s hardly the type to strike fear into the hearts of horseman who have older, faster, and classier charges to compete. Think Elite Power, among others, here.

Terrible Aftermath

Nobody Listens, that gray bullet the took the swampy G3 Turf Monster wire to wire in a bog on Saturday, died on his way back from Parx, the victim of an incident that occurred in the trailer taking him back home to Indiana.

An Indiana-bred gelding, he was a little horse that made good. A $40,000 purchase as a two-year-old, the gelded five year old won 14 of 26 starts and completed the exacta on seven occasions.

Condolences to owners Matt Kwiatkowski, Roger Browning, and Jayson Kaylor. He was ridden to victory on Saturday by Tyler Gaffalione and was trained by Tim Eggleston. Tough game, this…

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