Weekend Overview: A weekend of highs and lows that did not live up to it's billing as one that would see the Triple Crown drought broken but the racing was absolutely top class. Anyone who let Big Brown's failure in the Belmont detract significantly from their enjoyment of the weekend is missing out. We saw some great races from Benny The Bull and Dancing Forever. J Be K stamped himself as a legitimate top tier sprinter and the underrated Rosinka got her campaign off to a winning start. Expect big things from her. It was great to see Lava Man sticking his neck out like in the old days and you even have to be proud of Better Talk Now who looked a possible winner until traffic problems cruelly ended his bid in the Manhattan.
Performance of the Week: I thought J Be K was powerful in the Woody Stephens. On this evidence he looks like a horse who could definitely challenge the best sprinters in the nation. He has turned into everything his connections hoped except he can't route but that was never realistic anyway. He went straight to the front and set fast fractions. At the 6f mark he would have been well ahead of Benny The Bull and he did not slow much in the final furlong either. The way he was able to accelerate again after setting those fractions was extremely impressive.
Race of the Week: Take your pick, the Manhattan was enthralling and the Hollywood Oaks spectacular but I preferred the True North personally. Perhaps it's because I was on the two principles but I just love the effort but forth by the top pair. Man of Danger came out running and despite his longshot status he clearly was in no mood to do his competition any favours. Benny The Bull on the other hand looked to be struggling and when they swung into the stretch it looked as if he would not get on track. But he dug down deep and started to rally. Even in the last 100 yards it seemed as if he would run out of ground but he would not be denied. The sign of a real champion, although he hasn't won the sprinters championship yet he definitely has the best credentials right now.
Flop of the Weekend: Big Brown's demise was shocking and spectacular in the sense that no one would have conceived him getting beaten that badly. Perhaps some saw him getting passed late but being eased after producing no response at 1-4? Definitely the worst flop we've seen thus far in 2008. I know he's become a bit of a blog whipping boy but notice once again how Champs Elysees flopped badly without excuse? I've been preaching against this suckers horse for a while now. I'd almost like to see him win a race so the bandwagon can reload but I have a hard time imagining him beating stakes horses.
TCR Mover’s and Shakers: I suppose the best news to come out of Belmont Day is that the race for top TCR ranked horse of the year is not over halfway through the season. Big Brown would have been impossible to catch if he had won the Belmont but now it's anyone's game. Benny The Bull took his 4th consecutive race and moved into 4th overall. Since the Breeders' Cup he's been a monster, definitely the sprinter to beat.
Tip O’the Cap: His fan base has dwindled because of three or four bad performances recently but thanks to a swashbuckling ride from Tyler Baze we saw the Lava Man of old on Saturday. Some thought the old gelding was ready for a life of ease on the farm but Doug O'Neill has found a way to get his batteries re-charged and he definitely had the fire in his belly in the Whittinham. He didn't win the G-1 event unfortunately but he ran his guts out after setting fast fractions and running off from the field. He got passed in mid stretch but re-rallied and was not giving up at the line. He came out the worst in a three horse blanked finish but I'm sure his connections were delighted. I know this fan was.
KC Handicapping: It felt as though I spent the entire day on the cusp of greatness but was unable to cross the threshold and have a truly memorable day. I had the True North just about dead on but the exacta came back in the least profitable order. One more stride and Man of Danger would have scored at 9/1. I was not on the right track in the Just A Game but the Acorn went more or less as I thought. Indian Blessing was the horse to beat and the only one who could get her was Zaftig. I do wish I had just gone with the obvious J Be K instead of wasting time getting sidetracked by horses like Fatal Bullet and Ling Ling Qi. The Woodford Reserve was another nice exacta and I felt quite confident going into the Belmont that Big Brown would either win or lose to a Zito horse. Shame I picked the wrong one. there is definitely something to training over Saratoga's training track in preparation for this grueling event. Horses who have trained over it have outperformed in the past few years.
Cumulative record of selected horses: 15(6)-3-3-1 (-$9.40 -31.33% ROI)
Overall record: 544(275)-99-95-78 (-$115.60 -10.63% ROI)