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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Preservationist led into paddock for Woodward
photo: Kristine Riley

In light of Saturday’s results, we have come up with newly graded set of entries reflecting results, not forecasts. Below, then, is the order of finish with post time odds:

Would like to note that considering the moderate early fractions, the time of 1:48.11 was every solid indeed, even if visually it appeared as if the stretch run never would end: Final three furlongs in a more than respectable 36.63, last eighth in 12.44.

5-PRESERVATIONIST (3-1): The wiseguy horse in the actual betting, he and partner Junior Alvarado were very game, battling forward while in extremely tight throughout the stretch run, and that’s after getting sloughed at the start. Prefers a target and got one.

2-BAL HARBOUR (16-1): We expected he would outrun his early line odds and he did. He caused most of the gate issues inside with his fractiousness but received excellent handling from Javier Castellano thereafter; beaten a half length for it all. Todd Pletcher scratched co-second favorite, the fast working Vino Rosso, and nearly pulled off a huge upset.

7-YOSHIDA (2-1): Trailing throughout, as is his custom, he was bumped and in close at the break despite the trouble inside of him. He put in his usual late run but was one-paced at the end: “He ran his race,” said Joel Rosario. “He came over [in midstretch] and I thought we were going to get there. The pace just wasn’t as fast up front.” Not an excuse, just an accurate assessment.

9-TOM’S d’ETAT (2-1): Seriously overbet throughout the wagering, he raced wide throughout attempting to chase the moderate pace from closer range but was never going to win from there. ‘Tom’ was a little flat and perhaps a little outclassed and showed it in the late going.

4-MONGOLIAN GROOM (28-1): Didn’t run badly but didn’t run good enough to threaten. As long as trainer Enebish Ganbat continues to pitch him this high, he may have a future of picking up checks but expecting him to win one of these Grade 1s is just not realistic. Gelded four year old is a nice horse who will win his share if he continues developing and spotted more judiciously.

8-WOODERSON (6-1): Another underlay, probably based in his proximity to Tom’s d’Etat in the Alydar. He didn’t have the smoothest journey in this trouble-laden event but never looked the part of a winner. He, too, needs a little more development before tackling this kind again.

1-MR BUFF (12-1): Dead on the board and ran to his long odds. We’re well aware that Saturday’s competition is better than your average New York-bred stakes, but given the soft pace he was extremely disappointing. The fact he likely prefers a target, as opposed to pace setting, may be a somewhat mitigating circumstance. However, he should have raced better than that.

6-FOREWARNED (97-1): The off odds tell you all to need to know. What is the point of entering a race like this in the first place? It didn’t even appear that getting a slice of the minors was anywhere close to realistic.

On balance, this renewal of the Woodward did not resemble the quality of a majority of renewals past; the race deserves top class competition. Then racing has become all about the juveniles, the three-year-olds, enhancement share holder stud value.

Never mind the super trainers; how about today’s super ownership groups? Doesn’t it seem like everyone has a piece of every good horse?

We are all for schedule changes and, while many alterations have been controversial, we think the changes NYRA has made to its racing calendar, on balance, has been good,

However, the Woodward belongs at Belmont Park, not Saratoga, defunct Fall Championship Series or not.

Positioned where it is, the conditions should read “for horses looking to duck the Whitney heavy-heads earlier at the meet.” It has become almost an afterthought, for horses that did not fire Whitney day or a good bridge to the longer Jockey Club Gold Cup.

In an historical context, the storied Grade 1 Woodward deserves better than it got on Saturday.

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