Weekend Overview: I'm on a vacation of sorts so I've been keeping up with the action as best I can but posting will be sparse this week. I think the results at Arlington suggested that the Americans we've been seeing are not all that great. Although notable horses like Dancing Forever and Gio Ponti were missing for the home team the results the Europeans were able to achieve really do stand out. Don't get too downhearted though. A little digging reveals that Arlington is not a conclusive indicator of Breeders' Cup performance. In fact from 1996 to the present only one horse (Lahudood) ran in one of the three big features on Million Day and came back to win a BC race. And of course Lahudood was well beaten in the Beverly D. Arlington Millions Day competitors are a shocking 1 for 51 in the Breeders' Cup since 1996.
Performance of the Week: Winchester was huge in a spot where he looked live perhaps but he had such muddled form it was hard to see him coming up with a race like that. If anyone was to blow away the field it was supposed to be Tizdejavu but he was exposed and made to look decidedly second class. Winchester bettered the time of the Arlington Million despite running behind an even slower pace. There is no doubt that he would have won the event for older horses with some ease. I'm not sure what to make of this horse going forward because the result does seem to be something of an aberration but there is no taking away from the fact that in the Secretariat Stakes he was as good as any Turf horse seen this year.
Race of the Week: The Best Pal has turned into an extremely controversial race. The winner Kelly Leak was disqualified rightly in my opinion for swerving all over the track and denying Azul Leon a clean trip. The jockey's involved even got into a fight after the race but if you put all that aside and simply watch the contest it surely was one of the most exciting of the week. Horses were coming from all over the place to contend for the lead and Azul Leon in particular was eye catching in going about 10 wide then swooping inside only to miss by a head at the line.
Flop of the Week: I'm going to come down a little roughly on Precious Kitten. She has been one of my personal favorites but she really ought to have done better in the Beverly D. The distance likely found her out but she should not be losing to horses like Communique and Torque de Queda. She had every chance and simply could not deliver. Connections will now be seriously considering her future as she has two off the board finishes from 3 starts and it's becoming obvious that the BC is not a great option for her. Perhaps a campaign pointed at the First Lady and Matriarch are all that's left.
TCR Mover's and Shakers: Mauralakana took back top spot in the TCR Turf Female division after losing it last week to Black Mamba. Einstein remains the top turf horse despite the debacle. Spirit One is ranked 4th in the Turf Male division but he will not be eligible unless he runs twice more in America. Tizdejavu really blew a chance to become part of the elite Turf Males. He was no where near as good as the Europeans. Azul Leon is the new leader of the Two Year Old Male division although it's really in it's infancy. He's put up a solid 50 points which is enough in most years to guarantee a top 10 finish. One or two more good stakes performances will almost guarantee him a top 5 ranking by years end.
On the TC Power Ranking front Spirit One was the weeks big winner. He is the #2 ranked Turf Male behind Dancing Forever. Curlin remains in the top spot despite being second to Big Brown in the TCR. Ariege also moved into 4th place in the Three Year Old Female Division. Music Note Indian Blessing and Proud Spell are still her superiors but Ariege has bucket loads of talent and could become a more major player as the year goes on.
Tip O'the Cap: I did not see a great deal this week worthy of special praise or attention. I suppose I'd give the nod to any public handicappers who are either beating the meet at Saratoga or are on pace to get 100 winners. It has been extremely tough to find success at the Spa so those who are deserve some special mention.
KC Handicapping: Not a great week as a handicapper. I failed to pick up on the fact that the Europeans were simply far better than the Americans. I did feel slightly aggrieved when my top pick for the Million, Sudan, was scratched, then we watched a slower horse wire the field. One has to think he could have managed it as well. Rosinka was terribly rank and even bumped the rail in the first quarter. She looked quite terrible.
Saratoga has had my number this week. It's been a very rough first half of the meet as you can see by my results. The terrible weather has turned many of the races into chaotic affairs. My 36 winners is well behind the pace required to get to 100 for the meet. Still I'm one of those deluded optimists that believes that I can still make something of it.
Cumulative record of selected horses: 5(3)-1-0-1 (-$3.20 -32.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 571(291)-101-98-82 (-$136.20 -11.93% ROI)