Weekend Overview: The Sunshine Millions thankfully went off without a hitch despite the threats of cancellation at Santa Anita. It was a fairly formful set of races with many good horses confirming their class. I often think of the Sunshine Millions as the kick off to the year. This is where it all begins and starting next week we'll have some G-1's to observe including the Donn Handicap where blog favorite Daaher will kick off his campaign.
Performance of the Week: Not only did the Sunshine Millions Sprint yield the second highest Beyer Speed Figure of the year (115) but Benny The Bull showed a new dimension that just might make him the best sprinter of 2008. One run closers generally have problems winning consistently but Benny decided to take the bull by the horns all on his own this time. He stalked the pace from close up and moved very quickly when asked showing that he is still able to accelerate when attending a fast pace. He left Mach Ride for dead in a flash and won with ridiculous ease. He is a 6f specialist and may be very tough to beat this year, even for Fabulous Strike.
Race of the Week: There was a definite lack of heart pounding finishes this week so it became a toss up between the gutsy Quite A Bride holding out over Nashoba's Key and Buffalo Man beating Elusive Fort and the late running Host. I decided to give the laurels to the Canadian, Buffalo Man for his first stakes win of any note. For those who had high hopes for him in the Triple Crown this must provide at least some measure of solace. He looks as though he could do even better still. He tracked a moderate pace in this race without the benefit of any cover. Visually he did not display the same quickness that we've seen from him in the past but he had enough to get by the pacesetter and hold off Elusive Fort.
Flop of the Weekend: In general it was a formful week but one favorite who absolutely stunk was Blitzing. Bettors had every reason to back her into favoritism in the Sunshine Millions Oaks but the Asmussen trainee never lifted a hoof while the race was won by a horse she had previously beaten by 2 1/2 lengths.
TCR Mover’s and Shakers: The Thoroughbred Championship Rankings kick off 2008 with a few changes. The handicap bonus has been eliminated because it no longer rewards what it was meant to reward. It does not give great horses an added bonus for carrying high weights. It primary rewarded average horses for stepping down in class and facing poor horses. The undefeated bonus has also been slightly altered as was previously mentioned. Another change we've made is to rename and realign some of the divisions so they make sense. Gone is the ambiguous "Older Horse" division, it has been renamed the "Main Track Older Male" division. Similar renaming and clarification was done for most of the divisions. Also all the back data for the TCR was recalculated using the new parameters and fixing old errors giving us the most accurate version of the TCR yet. We remain committed to giving you the highest quality and most accurate ranking system we can. As we check into this years standings we see the dual stakes winner In Summation at the head of the list. Quite A Bride and Go Between are the only Sunshine Millions winners to crack the top 10 because those races are restricted. The Three Year Old Male division has also not really gotten off the ground yet with Smooth Air, the lone G-2 winner in the division, taking top spot.
Tip O’the Cap: Of all the super trainers or at least high profile trainers I think it's safe to say that Bill Mott has one of the best reputations. You never hear a negative word about the guy and from all accounts he's a class act from start to finish. He sure can train too. Mott took 3 of the 8 Sunshine Millions races with Go Between, War Monger and Quite A Bride. Mott brought himself back into the limelight last year at Saratoga and his hot run looks set to continue this year with that trio as well as 5 Derby contenders. Congrats to Bill Mott and here's hoping his stable continues it's good run.
KC Handicapping: 4 of the last 6 races handicapped have yielded winners. Most of them paid virtually nothing but we still managed to scrape out a profit. The race that worked out the best was most definitely the Appleton Handicap where our top picks ran 1-2 keying a $76.30 exacta.
Cumulative record of selected horses: 10(6)-4-1-0 (+$1.20 +6.00% ROI)
Overall record: 459(215)-86-75-67 (-$32.20 -3.51% ROI)