Weekend Overview: A fairly formful week as favorites won the Travers, King's Bishop, Victory Ride, Molly Pitcher and Del Mar Handicap. Despite the chalk we were treated to some nice performances. Street Sense out gaming the new boy Grasshopper, Hard Spun digging deep to pull away from First Defence and even Hystericalady wiring the Molly Pitcher. That race coupled with the result of the Personal Ensign points to something we've suspected for a while. The older females on the west coast are much better than those on the east coast. Hystericalady could not get anywhere near Nashoba's Key while she won at Monmouth as easy as she liked. Meanwhile all the east coasters are taking turns getting beaten.
Performance of the Week: If you haven't seen Daaher's performance in the 4th at Saratoga on Sunday (Aug 26th) then you need to get to a replay center. Daaher ran 9f in 1:49.56 winning by 13 3/4 lengths and earning a 106 Beyer Speed Figure. This was Secretariat's Belmont on a mini scale, Daaher had never really shown speed before but he was aggressively ridden to the front by Mike Luzzi and was clicking off fast fractions, it seemed as thought the pace was too quick but he just kept putting ground between himself and the rest of the field. He widened his advantage at every single call. It was the 5th career start for the son of Awesome Again and the first since he tried the Canadian Triple Crown. He was born north of the border and McLaughlin was sufficiently impressed with him to try the Queens Plate and Prince of Wales off no more than a maiden win. He ran 4th and 3rd in those races coming from off the pace. This was a huge breakout performance and don't be surprised if this one turns into a match for the best horses in training.
Race of the Week: After the field came up light on paper many fans thought the race would be a fairly drab affair. It turned out to be anything but as Street Sense and Grasshopper treated us to a fantastic show. it was the classic champion against the challenger with the champ just winning out after a bitter struggle. Some people are suggesting that Street Sense must have run below par, otherwise an "allowance horse" like Grasshopper would not have been able to go with him but that is clearly not the case. Grasshopper is an up and coming star like Daaher and I would not be shocked to see him duplicate that performance many times over before his racing days are done. He and Street Sense were both as tough as nails and it was both a fantastic race to watch and superb individual efforts by both horses.
Flop of the Weekend: My Typhoon has struggled in the past in races where the pace is on the quick side but she was just awful in the Ballston Spa. She looked nothing like the filly who reeled off 3 wins in a row this year. Perhaps it was the pace perhaps it was the short rest or perhaps it was just a bad day at the office but anyway you look at it My Typhoon was a major flop.
TCR Mover’s and Shakers: We have a new overall leader. Rags To Riches had been the top ranked horse in the nation ever since her win in the Belmont but Street Sense has since taken the crown back with wins in the Jim Dandy and now the Travers Stakes. If Street Sense wins his next two races he will be impossible to beat for Horse of The Year but it will likely come down to who wins the Classic. Hard Spun moved into the top 10 with his tough win in the King's Bishop and After Market took back top spot in the Turf division with a win in the Del Mar Handicap. No one has really asserted themselves in that group and Jambalaya, Sky Conqueror and English Channel are all right near the top. Miss Shop moves narrowly into third in the Older Female division. Hystericalady and Ginger Punch are no more than 3 points behind.
Tip O’the Cap: I'm giving a tip of the cap to patience, more specifically the patience shown with talented horses who were brought back to full health. La Traviata struggled with injury early on as 2yo but Biancone and her owners had patience with her and she is now undefeated and I doubt she even knows that other horses run against her. She simply gets in front and runs away. Similar patience was shown with Wait A While, the champion could have been retired after some lackluster races and some sickness but she was nurtured and was back to her dominant self in the Ballston Spa. After Market is also a glowing tribute to patience. John Shirreffs has shown it and this horse has been invincible lately.This kind of handling is great for the horses and great for the game.
KC Handicapping: Not a great week for handicapping. My Saratoga handicapping experiment dipped into negative territory for the first time in the meet and both of my midweek handicapping selections went bad. I was on the right track with the Personal Ensign. At one point in my analysis I said we were left with Lila Paige and Miss Shop as the only horses who can win. I then went on to toss Miss Shop because she just never looks right on paper. Wait A While turned out to be excellent value for money in the Ballston Spa. I was not able to handicap any of the weekends big races unfortunately.
Cumulative record of selected horses: 4(2)-0-1-1 (-$8.00 -100.00% ROI)
Overall record: 339(144)-63-54-53 (-$49.40 -7.29% ROI)