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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

SPA DIARY, DAY 14: HISTORY MAKERS, BUDDING LEGENDS, AND ANOTHER GRADED DOUBLEHEADER

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL. This meet—hell, this year—has seen it’s share of dominant winners, track record setters, margin winners, but no horse won a race in 2022 easier than  Jackie’s Warrior did while making Saratoga history on Saturday.

Doc Amster, beneath a resurgent Javier Castellano, stole the march from the sprint champion with five furlongs remaining, forcing Joel Rosario to steady and smoothly guide his horse outside to take an attending position.

Approaching mid-turn, Rosario finally allowed Jackie’s Warrior to flaunt his speed. The champ virtually waltzed to the lead, never even appearing to change gears. Suddenly, he was clear and within himself, assuming total command from the 4-5 path.

From there, it was all Jackie’s Warrior. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Rosario as quiet in the saddle at that point in the race. He never moved his hands, reins dangling as Jackie’s Warrior began flicking his ears. He was having fun; it never was a horse race.

Inside the final furlongs, the reins were still dangling, aimlessly, his ears never stopped flicking and with about a sixteenth of a mile remaining, Rosario far more passenger than piloit.

For the record,  we don’t care who was behind him. I can say disparaging things about the horses that finished behind a  Citation, a Ruffian, a Secretariat. Great horses outmatch and outrun whoever is lined up against them.

And now Jackie’s Warrior owns a singular achievement as the winner of Saratoga Grade 1s at 2 and at 3 and at 4. And why not? The man who trains him has won more races on the planet than any horseman ever has.

At 57, there’s a lot more where that came from. And that only took a half hour. Call it vindication, redemption, or equine justice for that matter. Epicenter still needs that first Grade 1 win. But he equaled with Early Voting and held Zandon safe. Again.

Even over the demanding 2022 Spa surface, after a lonely and loose half mile of 48.20 and 1:12.26, and even if Early Voting is a better horse with a target, and even if Rosario is the coolest cat in Saratoga, I didn’t think much of Epicenter’s chances.

Whatever the game plan, how could he win it? But approaching the five-sixteenths marker everything changed. Jose Ortiz was asking Early Voting for his life as stablemate Zandon needed urging. to keep pace. Epicenter was still making no impression.

But as the Jim Dandy field straightened away, Rosario guided Epicenter off the inside and into the 6-path, of all things, at headstretch. In this handicapper’s mind’s eye, he went from can’t win to can’t lose.

If Rosario, looking for his fourth win on the day and seventh stakes of the meet, was showing that much disdain for his rivals, he knew he was loaded. And was he ever.

Despite ground loss, he made up ground in that final punishing three furlongs run in a sprightly 36.73, in which he made up about a three-length deficit.

The final furlong in 12.44, ground loss notwithstanding, with ears flicking in the final strides, he crossed the line 1-1/2 lengths to the good and stamped himself as the legitimate Travers favorite.

The Jim Dandy was a prep but it was a whole lot more., too A divisional leader was back on top. With emphatic vengeance.

How About Another Spa Graded Stakes Double to End Week 3?  

G2 BOWLING GREEN STAKES      Race 8

The Skinny: Another graded stakes prep, this one for the Grade 1 Sword Dancer. It marks the eight-year-old debut of the vaunted 2-Arklow (2-1) who has been in steady training since May. Brad Cox knows how to do this, but it’s a tall order.

Highland Chief (5-2) is a young turfer with talent and promise, but he must prove that he’s ready for prime time honors. Graham Motion knows how to that, too. With Trevor McCarthy in the boot, they’ll trey to win this for Maryland.

Chad Brown has two of the six but we’re not particularly enamored of either here.

DESERVING FAVORITE:  3-Highland Chief

EARLY-LINE VALUE:  4-Cross Border (4-1)

STRAIGHT WAGER and EXOTICA: Cross Border to win at 7-2 or greater. Exacta Box 3-4. Trifecta Wheel 3-4 // 2-3-4 // 2-3-4. Instant Double: 4 // 4-7

G2 AMSTERDAM STAKES       Race 9

The Skinny:  Speaking of returnees, how about and undefeated, juvenile champion making his season’s debut for a new barn. He was a much-the-best BC Juvenile winner overcoming a killer wide draw on a track that doesn’t accommodate those dynamics.

As for the new connections, Todd Pletcher does well with new acquisitions that leave other prominent outfits. This time, it’s Bob Baffert’s program he needs to overcome.

Unlike, say, the Vanderbilt, this is a sprint replete with talented sprinters and if this is only a stepping stone, Corniche could stub a toe.

But Pletcher doesn’t make a rule of starting short horses. The champ won his debut sprinting, and is well posted and attracts position conscious, strong finishing Luis Saez. We’re betting class will tell.

DESERVING FAVORITE:  7-Corniche (5-2)

EARLY-LINE VALUE: 4-Pappacap (6-1)

STRAIGHT WAGER and EXOTICA: Corniche to win at 2-1 or greater. Exacta Box: 4-7.

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9 Responses

  1. Slim Pickin’ s . After a 6 race skid hit a slim $ 16 exacta which made me lose money,then another small one which was not profitable and now,on basic spot bets I’m below $ 1000 profits since opening day.,, while skipping the last four races of Saturday s card.Big Pick 6 even if some odds on favs won,imagine that ( not that influences me one way or another)! Wonder if jockey agents have to be good handicappers besides salesmen/ lobbyists .Are,generally speaking,jockeys good handicappers ? Are Formula 1 drivers good mechanics ? Listening to Migliore and Stevens makes me wonder if their allegiance to some people makes them biased even if the numbers,stats may state otherwise. The way a horse moves during pre race is as important as the recent PP s ? Dunno, I’m only a spot bettor. Anthony Stabile,after getting his chance on talking about the races,he should know when to stop talking and just getting to the point.Two Sterlings types are too many in one program…Tom Amiss,he sure can pick them,,whenever that happens…begging the question,Are trainers good handicappers ?

    1. Back in the Saddle Again ! Had not hit any decent exactas or triples in days,thus the Slim Pickins. Today an abundance of races were on the board,notebook (3,4,6,7,9 and 10) on such hot ,humid Sunday.Bet them two at a time,straight and doubles. Failed to hit the 7th and the 3 Rd while the others were profitable with three exactas and two triples plus three doubles,all ranging in $ from $ 17 to $ 107.The last race could have been the great ending to a good day,but cannot complain even if my third choice came in fourth.Hey, as long it works why change methods or tweek them anymore ? ” Let it ride ” ,but stay humbly on the course. ” So,what are you gonna do when you retire” ? Reside in a country side valley with a good internet access,continue spot betting for few hours as i have for the past few years and try not to have a panicky losing streak just like the one i had some ten months ago. Yes,of course,with a couple of big,well trained dogs,like Doberman-German Shepherds for hunting,fishing and security .It won’t be in the deep South but in a state where internet gambling will be as legal as the night time breeze….which i almost forgot what it was.One intentional bet at a time. Taking some time off,You will appreciate it, I’m sure !
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  2. It’s horse racing and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    What I will note is that I notice things, too. I’m not saying I disagree with your points, [I agree on some], but JG I generally give a slant-eye to armchair handicapping producers when they criticize programming, especially live programming.

    It’s made to look easy, but with segment timing, unscheduled time-fillers due to track or paddock incidents, and with the director in your ear while you’re talking, it’s not as easy as it looks…

    But , yes, many times there are slim pickings in these races–that’s why multiple pools were invented. Yesterday, there were nine other races one could bet on. I would not have missed the two features for the world. A true racing fan enjoyed the excellence on display.

    1. That excellence was stunning. I can’t recall the last time I saw a jockey simply go for a ride on a race horse the way Rosario did on Jackie’s Warrior. $25 paid to a $100 win bet was an absolute gift.

  3. A streak of 10 consecutive losing selections ended yesterday. Its great to be getting all this losing out of the way early in the meet. 🙂

    SAR 2022: 12 for 37, minus $231, minus 31% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 31JUL2022 (Day 14)

    Race 7 – $20 to WIN on EVER DANGEROUS
    Race 7 – $20 to SHOW on EVER DANGEROUS
    Race 8 – $20 to WIN on ARKLOW

  4. Hang in at Saratoga, Dan. It’s not even August yet!

    And I still can’t get over the easy speed of Jackie’s Warrior, a rare sprinter. Rooting for the horse, hoping he wins out for his career, Asmussen planning on the Forego and BC Sprint…

  5. Another indication of how competitive the 2022 meet has been so far:

    (not including steeplechase races)
    2021: After 14 racing days, 16 jockeys won at least 1 race.
    2022: After 14 racing days, 21 jockeys won at least 1 race.

    SAR 2022: 12 for 40, minus $291, minus 36% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 03AUG2022 (Day 15)

    Race 4 – $20 to SHOW on WAR CANOE
    Race 6 – $20 to WIN on SMOKIE EYES
    Race 8 – $20 to SHOW on SILIPO

  6. 1 for 17 in the last 6 racing days, but it’s Saratoga. Losing on racing this good makes the situation a little easier to withstand.

    SAR 2022: 12 for 43, minus $351, minus 41% ROI

    Wagers for SAR 04AUG2022 (Day 16)

    Race 1 – $20 to WIN on ACQUA BELLA
    Race 4 – $20 to SHOW on RAFFINITY
    Race 6 – $20 to WIN on FIRE KING

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