Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Review

Weekend Overview: Commentator and Indian Blessing took big steps towards the Breeders' Cup while Proud Spell all but ruled herself out. Still one can't help but feel that the biggest news of this week is that it's almost next week. There are 17 Graded Stakes coming up including 11 G-1's. If not for the Breeders' Cup itself it would be the biggest weekend of the year. But back to the immediate past. Commentator looked pretty good although he was beating no one of consequence. Indian Blessing is easily the best Female Sprinter in the land, although the inexperienced Elope should be a very nice filly when she fully matures. If the race for the 3yo Filly Eclipse Award was still open before the weekend it's wide open now. Proud Spell did not look very good in the Cotillion and if she's as worn out as her connections claim there is no way she'll be going to the Breeders' Cup. Delosvientos took another listed stakes race and has been able to compile a very decent record this year as a stayer. The Breeders' Cup Marathon is not a target for him because his connections refuse to run on Saturday for religious reasons. The race will be the poorer for it. My Pal Charlie always hinted at having some real talent but he finally put all the pieces together in the Super Derby. He is not a legitimate Classic contender, hopefully they'll aim him at a race like the Clark Handicap then continue on with him as an older horse. North of the border we saw Queens Plate winner Not Bourbon return in style. He scored an impressive 4 length win in a listed stakes race and just may be a logical outsider for the Dirt Mile.

Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Proud Spell did not manage to move up any places in the overall ranking despite earning a few more points in the Cotillion. Indian Blessing is now moving into a contending position for the top Three Year Female spot as well as taking the lead as the #1 Female Sprinter. If Proud Spell is indeed done for the year her status as the top sophomore Female is seriously in doubt. She could conceivably end up being third best behind Music Note and Indian Blessing. Commentator has moved into the 5th spot in the Main Track Older Male category and 10th overall.

Power Rankings: If you wanted more evidence that Proud Spell's championship claims are under threat the Power Rankings paint a less flattering picture than the TCR. Music Note remains the top Three Year Old Female and Proud Spell declines as Indian Blessing surges. Proud Spell still owns the second rank in the division but if Indian Blessing were to win at the Breeders' Cup she would surely surpass her. What Jones obviously does not understand is that racing is a sport where wins are accounted as credit but losses count also. Proud Spell has 4 losses from 8 races and this was the worst one yet. She still has an edge on her rivals when it comes to accomplishments but these rankings suggest that overall she isn't as good as Music Note.

Performance of the Week: It was not the 14 length triumph by Commentator that caught my eye, nor was it his sizzling 113 Beyer speed figure. What I loved about the performance Commentator gave in the Mass Cap is that he didn't get to the front and he didn't panic or sulk. The ability to rate is a big weapon for a speedy horse like him. He is actually 3 for 4 in two turn races. His only loss came in the 2005 Hal's Hope when he was injured and we all know the speed figures he's produced have been massive (123, 120, 113). It makes you wonder why this horse has only made 4 two turn races from 20 career starts. I never thought of him as a true 10f horse but one has to consider him a huge danger as he's been doing his best Ghostzapper imitation all year long. The numbers say he is both the fastest sprinter and the fastest router. I really hope he ends up in the Classic.

Race of the Week: As a race fan I actually enjoyed seeing Indian Blessing win the Gallant Bloom. I know it was a short field and the race itself didn't have much drama but I like seeing good horses run well and Indian Blessing is an uncommonly good horse. She's now run three sprints in a row and earned Beyer figures of 110, 110 and 109. That means she has a better average than any of the top male sprinters over their last three races. In the Gallant Bloom she had to deal with Zada Belle early on. Zada was intent on leading but Indian Blessing just wouldn't let her clear. The result was some pretty testy fractions and Elope's pilot must have been loving it but the would-be upsetter's optimism must have faded pretty quickly for as soon as she laid down her challenge Indian Blessing moved away again. I really hope we get to see this filly as a four year old.

Flop of the Week: There were no real high profile flops aside from the loss of Proud Spell which we've already discussed. I think I'll give the flop to the Suffolk Downs racetrack for failing to attract a better field for the Mass Cap. I suppose it's not all their fault but they drew exactly one horse who was up to the standard of previous winners. The Mass Cap was no better than the Tiznow stakes in terms of quality from top to bottom and it's a real shame that Commentator was denied the opportunity to beat some better horses.

Tip O'the Cap: It's nothing great that he's in particular but this week's tip o'the cap goes to Bob Baffert. In a week where he lost his best older filly to injury he managed to rebound with his best horse, full stop. To Tough Tiz's Sis I say thanks for the ride, I was really hoping to see her in the Breeders' Cup but you can't always get what you want. Baffert has had a rough go in the last few years. The switch to synthetics has hit him very hard since he was predominately a speed trainer. But with horses like Tough Tiz's Sis, Indian Blessing and Midshipman he has managed to stay in the big leagues and has even become one of the most dangerous shipping trainers in the nation. He playing the hand he's been dealt and he's doing very well with it.

KC Handicapping: Not a vintage week for handicapping. My longshot special didn't pan out and Forest Command looked like a horse who has some real talent but needed to add experience and a more inward post to see any real results in the Super Derby. He'll be a good horse but he's not quite there yet.

Cumulative record of selected horses: 2(1)-0-0-1 (-$4.00 -100.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 593(302)-106-100-87 (-$124.60 -10.51% ROI)

1 comment:

peeptoad said...

I'm hoping that the Mass cap regains it's graded status at some point in the next couple of years. I agree the field was terribly weak this year, but I can't fault the track for that. The race was half a mill, and Zito basically was pointing Commentator to the race just after his Whitney win. If the connections of all the others under consideration (and there were quite a few: Pyro, Fairbanks, Grasshopper, etc) wimped out, then the track can't be held responsible. They basically did everything in their power to attract the quality, and got exactly one horse. A graded race likely would hold more appeal, even if the purse was less, but I don't see how the race will regain the grade with fields like this...
I'm a New England girl now; have to support the local guys! :)