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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Several of the stakes and other high class races run OCT 12 might produce a small handful of Breeders’ Cup starters, but most will not run back three weeks hence. But they will run back eventually. To wit:

BELMONT PARK: New York-bred and Belmont loving Fire Key, is such a sweetheart, trying hard virtually every time out, showed her stretch determination once again to repeat last year’s Sands Point victory… But it’s Fear No Evil which might have been best.

Joel Rosario, arguably the hottest rider in America, decided approaching headstretch to save ground, bending his filly in half so that she would stay on the fence. But the filly did not have the turn of foot to go up in there.

Sensing this, Rosario switched outside and, after settling into best stride leaving midstretch, she finished best of all, failing to catch the first two finishers by a long neck. Had Rosario followed outside cover, winning momentum would have been the result.

It’s a minor point, but in our view the tactics were the difference between victory and defeat. We will be betting her back given similar dynamics.

We love it when the top conditioners from top outfits bring their juveniles out at seven furlongs, a tough debut distance at any age. But that’s exactly what Kiaran McLaughlin did with Shadwell Stable’s Ashaar, a 2-1/2 length winner in 1:22.52 after stalking the leader throughout.

After powering to the lead, Joe Bravo geared the Into Mischief colt down inside the final sixteenth. We’re thinking Nashua and Remsen; bet McLaughlin is thinking the same thing.

But it will be Starting Over I’ll be hearing about from Equibase. Starting in midpack beneath Eric Cancel, he settled between rivals three to four wide on the backside, moved inside behind cover at the turn, tipped out into the 4-path in the straight and finished very well late.

Starting Over never would have caught Ashaar, who separated himself from the group at midstretch, but it was a worthy second-out try, turning back from his one-mile debut. Any logical spot that Jonathan Thomas chooses will be fine with us; we’re betting back.

Hemlock also was a very good but never seriously threatened Ashaar for the win. He’s worth following as well.

Rosario finished down the center of the course with New and Improved to win the G2 Sands Point but Olendon, loaded throughout under Manny Franco, never took advantage of a first run situation.

When finally tipped out, Olendon finished willingly, albeit disappointingly. Would like to see her get a clear run outside of rivals next time. Almost any distance would be good but dynamics could be key to her making amends.

KEENELAND: The surface in Lexington played fairly to all styles on the dirt, but horses who were in winning contention in the final furlong were very difficult if not impossible to catch. That was the scenario for juvenile fillies going 6-1/2 furlongs in the day’s sixth.

Turtle Trax played the race perfectly, taking the lead in midstretch for a 3-1/4 length score in 1:18.12. But it was debuting Loaded that really caught the eye.

Far back early, Tyler Gaffalione asked her to get involved and had no choice but to try to circle them all, going five wide on the turn, her momentum carrying her even wide into the lane. An ordinary filly might have given up the ghost in midstretch but Loaded kept grinding.

While beaten 3-1/4, she was a similar margin in front of the third finisher, making up ground through a final sixteenth that went in 06.52. a worthy fraction indeed. We’ll look for her at Churchill and possibly going a distance of ground this winter at Gulfstream Park; note.

We love turf racing but not necessarily races that develop like Saturday’s G1 QE II Challenge Cup. It seems like the better the horses, the slower the pace.

An opening gambit of 23.70 was fair enough as Cambier Parc was pressed on the lead from the hedge beneath Johnny Velazquez. But to allow him to go the next quarter-mile in 25.32 was to give the race away. And, as everyone knows, Chad Brown horses do not tire.

Give the best horse a half-mile in 49.12, there will be no catching her, especially when the leader ca kick the final three furlongs in a strong 35.13. We thought strong-kick stablemate Cafe Americano would have a good upset chance.

But not given Saturday’s dynamics, racing a minimum of three to four wide throughout, entering the straight in the 7-path and trying to make ground against her talented mate, making “a belated gain in the stretch drive.” Belated indeed. We’ll try to get even with her next time out.

WOODBINE: Luis Contreras gave Starship Jubilee very heady handling, stealing the E. P. Taylor with an aggressive move to the lead at headstretch after stalking throughout. He opened three lengths between calls and needed that separation to retain a winner margin over invading Durance.

But it’s the third finisher who caught the eye, right from the post parade. Platane was extremely energetic, not nervous entry but controlled, and did one of those rocking Trojan Horse numbers before Maxime Guyon finally took her out of the parade.

Herded at the break by rivals taking away her path soon after leaving the gate, she settled in the back of the pack, saved some ground at the turn, angled out for room, rallied, but was forced to alter course inside.

Third by two lengths at the end, she just as easily might have won. Hope she stays stateside so we can bet her back; might not get Saturday’s 17-1 but the trip was subtle so there’s a chance this is one tripper than won’t be overbet.

What a nice horse is Desert Encounter, the repeat winner of the G1 Canadian International. It didn’t matter that the odds-on favorite was cruising on the lead in complete command. Andrea Atzeni, who rode him to victory here last year, rode with great confidence and timed it perfectly.

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