Weekend Overview: The last great racing weekend of the calender year and all I saw was replays. One can never complain about a weekend away but it does seem like a shame not to follow all the racing action blow by blow. We said goodbye to some nice horses like Wanderin Boy, Magna Graduate and Precious Kitten while the impressive Old Fashioned looks like he wants to step up and fill the void of retiring stars. We saw great examples of connections getting rewarded for getting their horses back to doing what they do best. Fabulous Strike seemed quite pleased to be back on dirt while Tale of Ekati showed once again that he's a very serious horse around one turn. He is 5-4-1-0 around one turn and 7-1-0-0 around two turns, I'd be disappointed if his connections did not get a clue and restrict him to one turn races next year. Court Vision has really started to fulfill the promise we saw from him as a two year old. Who would have thought it would take grass to bring out his best? Sky Diva, Dream Empress and Sara Louise all performed below expectations and it leaves one with the feeling that the juvenile fillies are just a bit below par this year. It was great to see comeback efforts from Gayego, El Gato Malo and Bsharpsonata. The first and last horses listed managed to win while the "bad cat" could only get 4th but it's nice to see them in action.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Einstein is the big weekly winner despite not taking a G-1. He vaulted into 6th overall as well as solidified his status as the top Turf Male and even became eligible for the Main Track Older Male award. The way the TCR works in this respect is that all of a horses starts count towards their score but they need three races of any particular type to be considered eligible for that division. So Einstein's win in the Clark does actually help him in the Turf category because it contributes to the overall assessment of how good he was this year. It also makes him an eligible Main Track horse because it was his third start on dirt. Cocoa Beach moves into 3rd in the Main Track Older Female division as well as 12th overall. She can be considered a bit unlucky to be ranked so low. This is the first time since 1999 that three different Main Track Older Females have broken the 200 point mark. It's been a strong year for that division. The Three Year Old Male division has a just look about it. It seems that class has told in the end. Smooth Air and Tizdejavu are decent horses but Tale of Ekati and Court Vision are definitely classier. Things seem to be as they should be as we start the final month of the year
Power Rankings: No one moved up significantly but Whatsthescript and Commentator both lost top 5 ratings in their respective divisions. Losses get punished with this system and both those horses felt the wrath after disappointing. Cocoa Beach managed to achieve a 20.08 rating. The 20 point mark is generally considered to be the threshold for true champion class horses. Cocoa Beach unfortunately has no chance of getting an award this year but she is certainly of that class level. She just has the misfortune of racing in the same year as the best filly of the decade.
Performance of the Week: I knew Cocoa Beach was good but Precious Kitten is a killer at a flat mile. It was always going to take a massive effort to deny her. A massive effort is exactly what Cocoa Beach provided. Precious Kitten did what she does best and seemed to have killed off all her rivals but Cocoa Beach just kept digging to get up and beat what used to be the best female miler in the nation. Cocoa Beach is now a Grade 1 winner on Dirt and Turf and only Zenyatta denied her from getting a synthetic Grade 1 as well. I hope Godolphin can keep her fit for a campaign in 2009 because she is quite something.
Race of the Week: I can't say I care much for the DQ in the Cigar Mile, I thought it was a bit soft but purely as a racing spectacle it's a hard race to top. Defying the notion that this year's Three Year old crop can't compete with older horses Tale of Ekati and Harlem Rocker put on an exciting show. Both horses seem well suited to the one turn configuration. Harlem Rocker seemed to produce the winning move as he out-kicked all his rivals to the front but Tale of Ekati wasn't asked for his best run as quickly. He waited just a second longer and then had to switch to the outside. Harlem Rocker did beat him to the line and even without the enforced lane change from Tale of Ekati, Harlem Rocker likely would have still won but I don't let stewards decisions detract from my enjoyment of the race. No matter how many times I see it on replay I still think it's a great race.
Flop of the Week: Lots of contenders for this dubious honor. Sky Diva, Dream Empress, Commentator and Idiot Proof were all major disappointments but I think the worst of the week was Whatsthescript. I think he was probably ridden too close to the pace and it took him out of his game but at the same time he virtually beat no one in a race where he was a deserving odds on favorite. All credit to Hyperbaric but Whatsthescript should have been able to handle him.
Tip O'the Cap: So many times when misfortune befalls a racetrack favorite like Wanderin Boy we want to point a finger or we simply get turned off. I want to give his connections some kudos instead. This is a multiple grades stakes winner who could have been a stallion but was still doing what he loved most at the end of his seven year old campaign. This is exactly what racing fans want to see. The story doesn't end happily but that doesn't mean it's not a great story. Rest in peace Wanderin Boy.
KC Handicapping: It was a pretty embarrassing week of handicapping. No winners and only one pick hit the frame from four races. To be fair two of my primary selections were scratched but the rest performed well below expectations. Sorry to anyone who thought my opinion might be worth a darn this weekend.
Cumulative record of selected horses: 4(4)-0-1-0 (-$8.00 -100% ROI)
Overall Record: 665(349)-114-107-91 (-$115.70 -8.70% ROI)