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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, July 27, 2021 – This could be the weekend that will foretell what the future holds in several divisions, especially those sexy sophomores.

Friday’s Saratoga feature is the Curlin Stakes for 3-year-olds that have not won a graded stakes over a mile in 2021 at nine furlongs, a potential prep for the Grade 1 Travers.

The Curlin has drawn a field of seven, four of which must be considered serious contenders: Harvard, First Captain, Beren, and Dynamic One.

Harvard has won two straight since blinkers, owns tactical speed, can finish and has won at today’s trip. The connections are high profile and leading rider Luis Saez fits as snugly as OJ’s glove.

Beren has won three straight–one around two-turns–and carried 125 pounds successfully-one more than today’s co-high-weight assignment. The shipper is from top Parx connections, Reid and Pennington, and is the field’s most prolific winner; 5-for-10. But his pedigree is short.

After breaking maiden at 9 furlongs, Dynamic One was forced to move early when beaten by a head in the G2 Wood Memorial, then was badly roughed up in the Kentucky Derby. Freshened since, he sheds eight pounds, getting six from both favorites.

The other high-weight is $1.5-million purchase First Captain, undefeated in three starts for Shug McGaughey. The field’s lone graded winner took the G3 Dwyer at a mile and makes his two-turn debut here. He also has tactical speed, kick and is by Curlin from an A.P. Indy mare—no limitations there.

Saturday’s G2 Jim Dandy, also at nine furlongs, has yet to be drawn, but the field is likely to be short given the presence of divisional leader Essential Quality. The dynamic gray doesn’t figure to be wrapped too tightly, but for $600,000 he will make a sincere effort to win this most productive Travers prep.

Top class sprinters will be on display on both coasts. Saratoga offers the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs topped by reigning champion Whitmore while Del Mar hosts the Grade 1 Bing Crosby, showcasing the fastest guns out West.

Gamine is among the 17 Crosby nominees but the filly will stick with her own kind for now.

The Crosby will feature last year’s winner, Collusion Illusion, and 2020 Pat O’Brien winner C Z Rocket. Both the Vanderbilt and Crosby are “Win & In” qualifiers for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar, November 6.

SPA Trainers and Jockeys Putting On a Show

I cannot remember a time when so many of the world’s most talented horsemen are vying for titles at America’s most celebrated race meet. On sheer numbers, Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher are likely to win the training title, but they have been far from dominant.

Brown leads the pack with six winners, one more Pletcher, who is in a six-trainer tie with Steve Asmussen, Christophe Clement, Brad Cox, Michael Maker and Bill Mott.

It’s odds-on that neither Brown nor Pletcher are happy with their meet production thus far, but much of that is due to the fierce competition among those who have pointed toward Saratoga.

Like 2020, Asmussen’s babies have been rolling, as have Clement’s turf runners, just like last year. Maker and Mott have attacked the condition book from all directions. Seven trainers separated by one winner is highly unusual as the meet ends its first trimester.

Thus far, every time a winner’s circle picture is snapped, one expects to see a smiling Luis Saez or one of the Ortiz brothers, Irad Jr. or Jose.

As racing enters its third week, Saez and Jose top the list tied at 16, with Irad Jr, two behind at 14. Tied for fourth are Joel Rosario and Tyler Gaffalione with eight winners each. It makes for great racing and great wagering.

Speaking of betting, despite the highly competitive nature of the meet, the public has been doing a good job, their choice going 36-for-91, a strike rate of 39.6%.

World Thoroughbred Rankings

Thought readers would appreciate seeing what a sophisticated algorithm long in development and displayed regularly at Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. Below reflects the July 26, 2021 rankings. The first category ranks the world’s top racehorses.

First impressions, anyone?

  1 Palace Pier GBR 2167 2 Golden Sixty AUS 2025 3 St Mark’s Basilica FRA 2008 4 Adayar IRE 1999 5 Gran Alegria JPN 1996

  Jockeys   1 Frankie DettoHorsesri 1999 2 Joel Rosario 1894 3 Irad Ortiz Jr 1855 4 Christophe Lemaire 1846 5 James McDonald

Sires   1 Galileo IRE 2373 2 Deep Impact JPN 2334 3 Dubawi IRE 2181 4 Frankel GBR 1823 5 Into Mischief USA 1722

Trainers   1 Chad C Brown 2826 2 Charlie Appleby 2679 3 John & Thady Gosden 2593 4 Aidan O’Brien 2587 5 Chris Waller 2366

  Owners   1 Godolphin 3234 2 Coolmore Partners 2808 3 Shadwell Estate Company 2241 4 Sunday Racing Co Ltd 1812 5 Silk Racing Co Ltd 1724  
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