Weekend Overview: Woodbine Mile weekend is my favorite non-Breeders' Cup or Triple Crown racing day of the year. I was at the inaugural Woodbine Mile and have missed very few runnings since then. Despite the loss of Kip Deville I was very impressed with the race once again and of course the other races at Woodbine were fabulous. It's a shame the track was so messy at Belmont. I'm convinced a few horses were compromised in the G-1 events there. Akronism won again at Woodbine on Saturday and might be an outside contender for the BC FM Sprint. In Europe there was a huge upset as the filly Goldikova claimed the scalp of Henrythenavigator. Goldikova has not lost very often and will have a huge chance if seen stateside. This filly is definitely the quality of Banks Hill and Six Perfections.
Performance of the Week: This entire review may be a bit too focused on the Woodbine Mile but it was the biggest race of the weekend and I happened to be very impressed with the winner. Generally when a big favorite like Kip Deville goes down and a longshot wins the race it doesn't necessarily convince you that the longshot is a real tier 1 horse. But if you watch the Woodbine Mile simply keying on the winner you'll see that it was a monstrous effort. Early moves at Woodbine have a very low success rate. The stretch is the longest on the continent and if you watch Woodbine on a regular basis you know that any horse who swoops to the lead on the turn is likely to be caught in the last 1/8th. It's a very difficult move to sustain. But Rahy's Appeal moved very quickly to the front and opened up and then just when it seemed like Ventura would expose the folly of such tactics he found something extra and stayed on to the line. It was a first rate performance. As good as any at a mile that we've seen all year long. I'm not sure if he'll be as effective away from Woodbine as he is obviously in love with the course but this was not a fluke result that came about because the favorite flopped. Rahy's Attorney fully deserved this win.
Race of the Week: The Garden City Stakes had a pretty wild finish. In the last 1/8th of a mile 4 different horses had their head in front. Backseat Rhythm eventually prevailed over Pure Clan who really seemed to be struggling with the course. I might favor the latter over the former if they were to rematch in the QE II Challenge at Keeneland. Ariege managed to be one of the leaders at the critical stage but her turn of foot seemed dulled somewhat. She really had to fight to get in front. Perhaps it was the ground of perhaps 8f would really be more suitable. Backseat Rhythm is finally on a roll after an early season slump. Much was expected after hitting the board in the BC Juvenile Fillies but she had been under performing. She's found her best form now and is going to be a very nice turf filly.
Flop of the Week: It does not shock me that Kip Deville lost the Woodbine Mile. It did shock me that he lost as badly as he did. People are all looking for the reasons why he may have thrown in such a clunker. I'm wondering if it is not related to a few of the issues I raised prior to the race. The Woodbine Mile is not often won by horses coming in directly off a layoff. Recent races seem to be an advantage. Also Woodbine itself is not a course that caters specifically to two turn mile specialists like Kip Deville. Many of the specialists struggle at Woodbine because it's a unique course. The eventual winner showed a preference for the distance but all those races came at Woodbine itself. Rahy's Attorney should be regarded with a skeptical eye in his first attempt at a two turn mile.
TCR Movers and Shakers: Tough Tiz's Sis fired a warning in the Ruffian that she could be a big factor in the Main Track Older Female Division. I many people will just interpret this as a nice form referral for Zenyatta but Tough Tiz's Sis came closer than anyone to beating the division leader and this was a definite step forward. It was not just a result of facing easier horses. Ventura gave a good account of herself against males in the Woodbine Mile and is now the second ranked Turf Female behind Mauralakana. Champs Elysees moves all the way to second in what is a very wide open Turf Male division.
There were no major moves in the Power Rankings. Slight changes from the horses who ran but I suppose the biggest change came from Kip Deville. His inability to finish in the top 3 saw him plummet out of the top 5 to 10th in the Turf Male division. Midshipman became the highest ranked Two Year Old Male with his narrow triumph in the Del Mar Futurity.
Tip O'the Cap: I have to give to Bobby Frankel who is on a serious roll right now. First Defense and Vineyard Haven took G-1 races last week, after both losing their prior starts and now Frankel gets Champs Elysees a G-1 win. First Defense had been giving up ground in the stretch in every race but Frankel said he figured something out with the horse and it made a big difference. I've personally been very harsh on Champs Elysees this year because of his losing attitude but the horse looked good off the bench and even had the stomach to win a photo. That's a breakout race for this underachiever and Frankel deserves the credit. He finally found the key.
KC Handicapping: It was my best weekend for a very long time. I hit two of the three races analyzed and for the most part the pieces fell into place as I thought. I didn't foresee Kip Deville losing so badly but I was using the right horses as alternatives. Mile turf races continue to be those that yield the best results for my handicapping.
Cumulative record of selected horses: 6(3)-2-1-1 (+$24.50 +204.17% ROI)
Overall Record: 589(300)-106-99-86 (-$116.60 -9.90% ROI)