Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Weekend Review

Weekend Overview: Saratoga draws to a close with Alan Garcia and Kieran McLaughlin at the top of the heap. Who would have bet on that six weeks ago? No connections we're totally dominant like in past years with Pletcher or Mott but McLaughlin came out with a two win advantage over Pletcher. Curlin was the big story of the weekend with his workmanlike score in the Woodward. My personal take on his race was that it was a good average performance. His race should not be diminished because of the proximity of Past The Point. That horse simply ran well above himself. The good news is that we may not have to rely on our impressions of Curlin in order to compare him to Big Brown. Jackson is now officially reconsidering the Breeders' Cup and I think it basically means we'll see him there. Two year olds were the other big story of the weekend. Mani Bhavan, Stardom Bound and Vineyard Haven became the first G-1 winners of this crop. I'm not sure that any of them aside from Stardom Bound will be good enough to challenge for year end honors. I was rather shocked to see Gio Ponti beaten at Del Mar but I think you might be able to blame the margin on his trip. He's still the best three year old turf horse out there.

Performance of the Week: I think the best performance or perhaps the biggest out-performance of the week belonged to Hostess. She could not have been more impressive in the Glens Falls Handicap at Saratoga. She simply exploded when asked and went on to a career best performance. She hardly ever wins, this being only her fourth victory in twenty starts but she might be developing into a longshot contender for the BC Filly and Mare Turf. I think even Mauralakana would have had trouble with her on Sunday.

Race of the Week: I think you just need to watch the Hopeful for the spectacle it was. Sometimes races that are won wire to wire are pretty drab but this was a pretty interesting contest. Vineyard Haven was pretty much the only horse to get a clean run. Cribnote was likely the best horse in the race but he ended up in the cheap seats around the far turn after bolting for no apparent reason. Munnings ran a very good race as well after losing all chance at the break. It's the kind of race you need to watch 10 times to really be able to evaluate each horse that ran.

Flop of the Week: Neither of McLaughlin's big stakes horses ran well this week but I think Divine Park's flop was worse than Lucky Island's. At least Lucky Island made a real try to recover from that debacle of a start. He came to play it just wasn't his day. Divine Park on the other hand retreated pathetically and was never in the race at any point. He is quite overrated and needs to stick to a mile.

TCR Shakers and Movers: Curlin goes back atop the standings for the first time since the week of July 28th. But Big Brown is not far behind and will likely retake top spot when he runs again on September 13th. Things will likely remain tight between those two until after the Breeders' Cup Classic. Lucky Island really blew his chance to take over as the best active sprinter in the east. First Defence moves ahead of him and a few others into 5th in the Male Sprinter division. Mani Bhavan stayed atop the Two Year Old Female divisional standings but Vineyard Haven was only able to get third place behind the undefeated pair of Run Away And Hide and Azul Leon.

Curlin stayed in first place in the Power Rankings and improved his score slightly to 47.77 that gives him almost a 7 point advantage over Big Brown. Benny The Bull's defection means the sprint division is wide open and it contains very few top class horses.

Tip O'the Cap: I think I'll give the nod to Alan Garcia for taking the Saratoga jockey's title. It's the toughest meet to win and the youngster outdid some of the biggest names in the sport. His career has really moved up a notch this year. The thing about Garcia is also that he is not typecast into riding a certain type of horse. He can win going short or long on turf or the dirt. He can ride closers or speed and has no problem coming up the inside. He's a well rounded rider who still has the hunger of a young man. Too often you see many of the older more established jocks taking the "favorites route" three wide all the way around. It's nice to see someone willing to take the risk of coming from anywhere and having success with it.

KC Handicapping: Took the easy score with Curlin and almost had the cold exacta in the woodward but unfortunately that didn't pay for totally missing the Kent Stakes. I was completely off base in that one. Neither of my picks ran at any point.

Saratoga draws to a close and it was the worst meet ever for me personally. I ended with 75 winners just worse than my 78 winners last year but in terms of profitability I was 28% worse. I nearly broke even last year with my 78 winners and was no where close this year with my 75. I only had one winner that paid more than $20, my average winner was $6.10. You simply can't make money doing that.

Cumulative record of selected horses: 4(2)-1-0-1 (-$5.30 -66.25% ROI)
Overall Record: 583(297)-104-98-85 (-$141.10 -12.10% ROI)

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