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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


In all, there were 15 graded stakes and a bevy of the listed variety over Thanksgiving weekend, providing additional meaning to the term movable feast.

Added to the East and Midwest, a trifecta of graded grass events from Del Mar provides a measure of anticipation for next Saturday as the Cigar Mile program features the last New York Grade 1 of the late starting 2020 racing season.

Friday’s G1 Clark Stakes was interesting for different reasons. First, even if the trip weren’t ideal, it’s now fair to ask whether or not Code of Honor has lost his killer instinct. He almost always shows up with his best go, but once more this year he was more one-paced than not at the end.

Maturity certainly turned on the light for Bodexpress–and the party was over for his rivals in the gloaming at Churchill Downs. He is still a bit edgy but stayed within himself long enough to learn how to sit off a rival, kick to the front and finish up. He’s grown up and might be a star in the making.

The Clark exacta, among other leading lights including King Guillermo who may be prepping for the Pegasus in his long-awaited return in the Cigar Mile return and pointing toward the Pegasus World Cup Invitational. The Gulfstream Park Championship Meet begins Wednesday.

The Future Stars II program at Churchill, coinciding with the first 2021 Kentucky Derby Futures pool, was interesting for its prospects but was not without its disappointments… and horse racing would be unrecognizable if it were any other way.

As for the headliners, it appears that Simply Ravishing’s over-ambitious schedule has gotten to her. At her best I never believed she was a need-the-lead type as she appeared to rate so kindly–yes, the paces were softer. But our races in 86 days was a bit much. Not every filly is Swiss Skydiver.

Of course Travel Column and Clariere, the 1-2 finishers in the G2 Golden Rod, might be better fillies, putting on an excellent show. The lasting impression, at least until when next they meet, is had their trips been reversed, so might the order of finish. Bottom line: Both are serious Oaks players.

Keepmeinmind confirmed his quality in the G2 Jockey Club Stakes, breaking maiden coming from last with a lengthy sustained stretch run, underscoring his ability and confirming the form of undefeated Essential Quality, his vanquisher in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Four races in 56 days also might have been too much schedule for Simply Ravishing’s well supported stablemate, King Fury, to overcome, although not many two-turn races would be won won by stalking the speedy rivals three or four wide throughout.

Racing out in the clear is one thing; racing wide on both turns is quite another and we could care less what the instructions were. At this posting, Keepmeinmind is 20-1 in the Futures Pool–not enough price even with an outstanding performance over the Derby track.

Other prices worthy of note on Sunday morning were, for better or worse: Essential Quality 7-1; Jackie’s Warrior 17-1; Life Is Good 9-2, and All Other Three-Year-Olds at 3-2.

In New York, meanwhile, the takeaways were Forza Di Oro and Mutamakina, the former a late developing Bill Mott three year old who won the G3 Discovery as if he will become a serious older horse. There was plenty in the tank after switching over to his correct lead in the shadow of the wire.

Mutamakina had a nightmarish trip when third in her U.S. debut last month, but made amends yesterday as the over-bet winner of the G3 Long Island Stakes, skillfully, and confidently handled by Dylan Davis, doing his best Joel Rosario impression. The four year old Irish-bred owns a Grade 1 turn of foot.

The Chad Brown horses, meanwhile, ran as well out west as poorly as his east coast performed. Domestic Spending nailed his G1 Hollywood Derby rivals right at the line in a very solid 1:47.15 for nine furlongs.

The victory over-shadowed Brown’s other stakes triumphs; Fluffy Socks in the G3 Jimmy Durante and Thursday’s G3 Red Carpet. All were ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. Brown has three older fillies entered in today’s storied G1 Matriarch.

Today is closing day at the seaside track where business has been brisk. Handle is up 25% year over year with Saturday’s take at a hefty $15.8 million. By comparison, there was no comparison.

Handle figures for publicly traded CDI have not been available for several years, but what’s New York State’s excuse?

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