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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

PAYING ATTENTION LAST WEEKEND AND NEXT TO WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND THE WORLD

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, OCTOBER 1, 2023 – It took a couple of days and some needed sunshine but finally the first of two weekends of significant preps is complete. Scanning the simulcast notebook for impressions going forward:

CHURCHILL DOWNS

THE JEFFERSON CUP: As a Europhile, I generally work backwards on grass races after I concede the race to the invaders. Breeders’ Cup turf history is replete with European shippers. When they are defeated it has taken an exceptional American to do it. More Than Looks might be that horse.

And while More Than Looks would need to defeat older and better talent, the turn of foot he demonstrated was Euro-like, making up a five-length deficit inside the final furlong to win going away. Either way, More Than Looks has a bright future, if not next month then next year at 4.

G3 ACK ACK: Zozos has always been a nice horse; he would not have compiled a (10) 6-1-0 slate otherwise. Make that 11 come 7.

True, he raced on a wet surface that favored speed throughout the day, but there was no denying his brilliance and his class.

Zozos has never been defeated going a mile, thrice, and is not run-off speed, so two turns should suit him, although Florent Geroux and Brad Cox believes one turn is best.

Zozos is no cinch to run in the Dirt Mile, Brad Cox said in a post-race, saying he wants to see where the Breeders’ Cup competition is coming from. Putting that together with the assessment of his handlers, Cox might be thinking Cigar Mile a month later.

G2 LUKAS CLASSIC: Clapton’s had quite the 4-year-old season, going from a hard-hitting allowance type at Gulfstream’s 2022-23 championship meet to multiple graded-stakes winner. Making his second start after a mid-season barn change, he found the right group to break through.

Churchill lover Trademark ran well every step, was a serious stretch threat but settled for second ahead of much improved Blue Devil who made a solid late rally against the fence. The other Churchill lover, Rattle N Roll, never fired; second favorite Americanrevolution was no better.

BELMONT PARK

G2 WOODWARD: Good efforts are in the eyes of the trip handicapper. By most accounts, Zandon, who took his time breaking through this year, his open lengths victory in the 9-furlong Forever-Should-Be-Grade-One was impressive.

He finished up well and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 114 which at first blush seems inflated. It was earned over a drying-out fast track after two canceled programs. Thoro-Graph figures were unavailable at this posting.

Clearly, a mile and an eighth is his optimum run and it appeared that an extra BC Classic furlong is within his capabilities. Whether he’s up to the superior competition he will face in California is another matter, including a handful of high class three-year-olds, is the question going forward.

G2 VOSBURGH: Cody’s Wish ran much better than it first it might appear. After a clumsy start, Junior Alvarado was compelled to move early into a soft pace and did so, striking a stalking pose. He wrested the lead from a quality speedster, Accretive, and eventually asserted his class.

If this was an intended stepping stone to the Dirt Mile, he will very likely benefit from this run. The added furlong and a second turn rates to help, not hurt his chances for a repeat of his Grade 1 title.

The Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic was rescheduled for a second time, now to be run this coming Saturday. Caramel Swirl took the G2 Gallant Bloom via a controversial double demotion which earns her the right to meet Echo Zulu, Goodnight Olive, or both, in the F & M Sprint.

SANTA ANITA

G1 AWESOME AGAIN: Just as his Eastern counterpart Zandon broke through in New York, Slow Down Andy broke through with his initial Grade 1 score, winning the mile and an eighth from end to end in 1:47.62–racehorse time.

The Awesome Again was a comprehensive score and he has shown an ability to win stalking from close range which likely seems to be the scenario he will find himself in a little more than a month from today. There’s much to be said about getting good at the right time.

Unlike the Woodward, the first two finishers can be a Classic factor. Defunded elected to allow the winner to dictate the fractions and he stayed very well considering the dynamics. Show finisher Senor Buscador finished up with considerable interest, giving both license to improve.

G2 SANTA ANITA SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP: There’s no speed like SoCal speed. Then again, there’s no speed like the filly Echo Zulu. Does she take on the boys?

Well, a three-year-old filly beat the boys in Breeders’ Cup VII. Zulu is 4, strong than last year’s model and she will get a 3-pound sex allowance. With nothing to prove against her own kind, why not go for the gusto? In taking on males, her downside is very limited.

Dr. Schivel is a very talented home-track sprinter who was courageous winning Saturday’s head-bobber. This sounds crazy but the effort might not prove to be as enervating as it rates to be given the scenario.

Dr. Schivel took pressure every step inside, handled it, and always looked in command. He gave talented three-year-old Speed Boat Beach a couple of pounds and would let him by despite the unfavorable dynamics. He is very good, especially at Santa Anita. The Sprint could be quite a matchup.

PARISLONGCHAMP

GR 1 PRIX DE L’ARC DE TRIOMPHE: One video replay is worth all the words to follow, so find a replay link to the Arc below. If you don’t want to spend much time, fast forward to  the final quarter mile.

We’ve come to expect turn-of-foot finishes from top European horses. This 3-year-old is no exception. He began accelerating late, taking his time to build his momentum and when he reached high gear, he rolled right on by.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rLuszBVMTc

There is talk of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, possibly as a stopover to Japan, but we doubt that, opting instead for a 4-year-old campaign. But the second and third finishers, Westover and Onesto, would make a welcome addition to The Turf if their connections are so inclined.

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