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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH – I was so looking forward to Saturday’s card at Gulfstream Park, to see what I might learn and to take a swing at the Rainbow 6, guaranteed at $2.5 million. I was not disappointed in what I saw.

As for the pot of gold, what was it the baseball announcers from my youth said—the great Mel Allen and the great Red Barber–to describe a similar result? “A swing and a miss, strike 3.” But that’s not the point of this.

Pumped to see the horses, instead of going up to the press box I camped out in the paddock-side seats to get a closer look. I was not alone: George, a professional player I know, was there, too:

“I’m really pissed at Gulfstream; they made me get out here for the first race today.”

“Me, too.” I said. “Never know what you might find out that will come in handy one day.” And there were a few, indeed.

The Saturday opener was the first of seven consecutive races for three-year-old; special-weight maidens, turf, optional allowances, virtually one for every manner of runner. Of course, it was the maidens that were of interest.

And I learned something right off the bat, got a horse to keep and eye on; note, not one to bet back for what he did on the track but what he didn’t do, run well.

Guaco looked too good in the paddock for the Gustavo Delgado/Luis Saez team, was too live in the betting, not to run better than he did, but he made the watch list.

Bumped at the break, he showed some life on the turn, continued his run along the inside into the land but finished one-paced under “intermittent’ handling. Then Delgado runners often improve in second start. More on that when we review the sixth race.

“They” bet the bank on a Todd Pletcher first-timer, down to odds-on, and he got the money, determinedly but barely over a very dogged Mr. Philly Dilly, who had run fast in his only start. A stirring stretch battle, courtesy of Paco and Johnny, but Pletcher’s Silver Ratio prevailed.

In the third, an odds-on Chad Brown newcomer lost, and that makes headlines. Telephone Talker was coming and coming but ran out of ground. But Mark Hennig’s Kingmeister was very good, just like last time, and Tyler cajoled him every step of the way; not easy from the rail at a flat mile.

A couple of nice colts, these.

Palm Springs looked like a million, his purchase price, but settle for place behind Violent City, a first-time starter who was a wire to wire winner for Ian Wilkes. A Wilkes firster? And on the engine? Yes and yes, but he rail post helped get the favorite beaten.

After breaking a beat slow, Palm Springs rushed up to maintain position, forced to steady while in close quarters into the turn, altered course wide after dropping back then rallied gamely late for place. He has ability and heart, looking like he wants more ground. Six furlongs went in 1:10.51.

Note that in the fifth race for claimers on turf, favorite Wicked Solution benefitted from a perfect ride beneath Irad Ortiz Jr., who has ridden an astounding 48 winners at the meet, but the story was runnerup La Rusia who was just nipped after getting bet down from 15-1 to 7-1 in final flash.

There were two graded stakes on the program but the sixth was the race of the day, certainly the performance of the day, as second-time Gustavo Delgado Caracaro won off by six lengths in 1:35.16, nearly two seconds faster than the first division of this split, loaded maiden field.

Stalking throughout from an advantageous outside slip at the trip, he responded generously when Emisael Jaramiilo asked and blew the race wide open entering the straight, leaving a well back and minor troubled and very game runnerup, Spa City, in his wake.

It wasn’t long before aspiring Triple Crown connections started to make inquiries about purchasing the son of Uncle Mo, negotiations taking place with the owners immediately after the race. If they sell, and as impressive as he was, it may take seven figures to get him.

There were two Grade 3 stakes on the card and Saffie Joseph Jr. won them both, his third win of the afternoon, one with the three-year-old Ny Traffic. The other was a turf route with a former claimer, Tusk, with a very able assist from Tyler.

Who does Joseph think he is, Peter Miller, Jason Servis, Chad Brown? I only know his win percentage is becoming embarrassing.

A terrific Saturday card in which 64 three-year-olds were entered overnight, the two stakes and an excellent four-year-old return run by one of last year’s top sophomores, Endorsed. A professional score going 1-1/16 miles, it appeared to be a good race to build on. Stay tuned…

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2 Responses

  1. The “Guarantee” only gets paid if there is one winner. It’s false advertising if that isn’t mentioned, in my opinion anyway.

    Upstream still refuses to run the races at post time, dragging every race intentionally.

    This is not the right way to do business, but what do I know.

  2. Agree with all you observe, however, many tracks are following suit these days, only NYRA seems to stay on course consistently.

    But of all racing’s problems, this is a pretty low priority in my view. And a check of the bottom line indicates it has helped increase handle so who’s to say…

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