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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH — This is where I was headed yesterday until the winds came, my nose began running faster than my picks and the thermometer read 1.01.7. TVG and closed-circuit TV were my only options.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s part of my daily routine five days a week but not on Saturday. I am a Weekend Warrior, falling prey to the ‘manure syndrome’. It’s that sweet pungent smell. If you like it the horses own you.

I was looking forward to the Holy Bull program even more than the Pegasus card. We like to see the young horses up close and personal, follow their progress or lack thereof. Their personalities can tell you a lot.

The following is what we learned from the video; some quick hitters until another time when we have the energy to be a little more comprehensive. Impressions made by the favorites and/or the winners and a maiden score on debut that must be seen to be believed;

G3 WITHERS: Favored Shotski ran a good race, but Max Player ran better. The Remsen winner was sluggish away from the barrier, had to be hustled thereafter, was pressed throughout, and still almost pulled it off. He is a nice horse but will need to move up his game to be a divisional player.

Max Player has upside, he made the last run a winning one, Dylan Davis doing his best Irad Ortiz Jr. impression, as in well timed, last-run finish. Has upside but will also need to reach another level to compete with division’s best. Show finisher Portos is long winded, a real stayer type.

G3 SWALE: The problem with sharp, big-figure Spa shippers is that they are notoriously unreliable. Speed figures, for whatever reason, are faster than at other venues.

Mischevious Alex was a layover on the Thoro-Graph scale but it was a huge lifetime top. The best guess was a bounce but three-year-olds at this time of year string efforts together and clearly that’s what he did with a thoroughly comprehensive open lengths victory after 88 days of recovery time.

Trainer John Servis has some thinking to do, needing to find out if he can go longer around a second turn. But he is by 2019’s Mr. Everything, Into Mischief, so who knows? There’s plenty of time between February’s first Saturday and May’s.

It was a game, if bit dullish effort by the talented Saratoga Special winner and Champagne runnerup, Green Light Go. The Hard Spun bay broke clearly with the field then was victimized by circumstance, forced to race between horses much of the way.

Finally securing room at headstretch, Javier Castellano opted for the fence, ”Green Light’ was extremely slow changing to his correct lead, eventually did allowing him to come back on tough-tripping Untitled for third as Shivaree came down the middle of the track for place.

Jimmy Jerkens trains him for Frank Stronach and should fare better next time after shaking off some of the cobwebs of inactivity.

G3 HOLY BULL: Tiz the Law may not work on Capitol Hill but was plenty good enough in South Florida on Saturday. But a strange thing happened on the way to victory; a Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes tried to break out but Manny Franco was having none of it.

It wasn’t pretty but Franco yanked him off the fence at the cost of several lengths so that he could get to the outside of rivals attempting to pin him in.

Unlike Green Means Go, Tiz the Law broke like a shot but perhaps next time he’ll stay about three paths wide on the first tune and backstretch, dictating to the opposition instead of the other way around.

‘Law’ loomed a winner into the lane and indeed went on with it, drawing out in the final furlong while racing a tad greenly. He’s the real deal but needs to keep progressing. At this point of the season, the 2020 three-year-olds appear to be a very deep class.

G3 ROBERT B LEWIS: Enter star #2 on the day. Thousand Words is 3-for-3 because he wants to beat you. He wouldn’t let a good horse like Anneau D’or by in the Los Al Futurity last year, and he won a four-horse scrum down the lane yesterday vs three rivals, lengthening stride as the wire approached.

He rated well down on the inside until Prat was ready, came off the fence soon after entering the stretch, roughed it up a bit to get through between rivals and went on with it. There was no indication he would not continue improving.

MARTHA WASHINGTON STAKES: Star #3 might prove brightest of them all; the filly Taraz. Size-wise, she’s a more athletic version of Shuvee and he she brilliance to go with all that power. Want to compare? Watch the stretch run and note her size as compared to runnerup O Seraphina.

Her size and ability gives her the tools to run in the Kentucky Derby. We don’t know how she’ll handle a challenge because no one’s gotten close enough to test here. Color notwithstanding, one can’t help making comparison to Derby heroine Winning Colors.

She came out of the race well said trainer Brad Cox but no decision has been made as to her next start. If she is to run on Saturday instead of Friday in Louisville come May, she’ll need to win a 50-point prep or perhaps a second in a 100-pointer might be good enough. What a story this would be.

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15 Responses

  1. Watched WC win Derby at Longacres (renamed Emerald Downs). Took bus there from Seattle. Trained by The Coach (D. Wayne Lukas) and ridden by Gary Stephens. A filly in Run for Roses would be kinda cool. Juddmonte must be pinching themselves.

  2. C, right now it’s just fun to speculate. There are plenty of very nice colts out there and she might have the latent level to compete with any of them. Certainly a fun storyline. and if looks means anything…

    Winning Colors was special, so might be Taraz

  3. You’ve said many times that The Stronach Group is walking its talk. It did it again Saturday.

    Green Light Go, owned by Stronach Stables, was the only horse in the Swale not running on Lasix. What’s more he was the only horse on the entire card not running on Lasix. There were five stakes and every horse but Green Light Go was racing on Lasix. Is this what it has come to? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

  4. I think it’s a real question TJ, and great observation on you made. Either you’re serious about reform or you’re not.

    Hypothetically, should he be talented enough and earn his way into the Derby starting gate, would he give away that advantage to 19 rivals presumably all running on Lasix? It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.

  5. I love Honor Code, so I was really thrilled by Max Power. He has to improve, but he has every right to…he’s still green as grass.

    I think it’s way too early to compare Taraz to an all-time great like Shuvee – and I also think that people get too hyped up anytime a filly looks to be very talented. I don’t see her as a Derby horse, not now anyway.

    I know he’s only had two starts under his belt, and he missed a few weeks of training, but what are your thoughts on Honor A.P.?

    It’s been a long time, but I miss you at Newsday – I read you religiously !

  6. The horse I was impressed with was the filly Harvey’s Lil Goil that won the Busanda on Sunday. She broke poorly and ran significantly further than the 9f distance, being wide the entire way, was barely asked at all by Alvarado, and was geared down late with the final time being only 3/5 of a second behind the Withers final time that the boys ran on Saturday. I don’t think she was ever any less than 4 or 5 wide in the first 6f of that race. Being a Pharoah out of a Tapit mare, this one seems like a really serious one and 10f is obviously no issue whatsoever with the distance she travelled. And we know that Bill Mott can work with a 3yo filly.

  7. Betsy,
    My Shuvee reference was only in relation to her size. I do realize the Martha Washington is not quite the equivalent of the old Filly triple crown and two editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

    I need to see more of Honor A P. I liked what I saw but need to see more. Thanks for the Newsday memories…

  8. Doc,

    I read about ‘Harvey’s’ performance and the quotes but have not seen the video.

    I will report back, thanks for pointing her race out…

  9. Just wish I bet the Linda Rice horse in the Withers, tried to beat Shotski with two runners in doubles, was alive from the previous race, but not with that one.

    Still had a good day betting Aqueduct Friday and Saturday.

    I’m back.

  10. Den, happy your back in action. I backed Shotski, was concerned about ‘Max’, and those fears were realized. Stay focused and hang in. We like it when the Faithful win…

  11. Betsy, finally caught up with Honor A. P.’s maiden win. As the youngins’ would say, it was awesome. A powerfully built cot, it’s understandable why he went for $850K at auction. He’s in the right hands, for sure. If there is any question it’s those he beat–no knocks, just don’t know their worth–and the front-running manner of the win. Those are tricky reads and often lead to the wrong conclusion. But I’ll say this; he was pressured throughout and flicked off his rival at headstretch without undo pressure and changed leads smoothly for a big animal. You may be on to something here…

  12. Not sure Mr. Bennett but if a I have an opportunity, will ask Brad Cox. But she’s a big-un’ Got to be like 17 hands, right?

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