Weekend Overview: Sha Tin and Calder held the biggest meets of the weekend. Actually it's a bit insulting to even mention Calder in the same sentence as Sha Tin's International Meet. Hong Kong staged a premier world event and since it was all on the grass Americans had very little success. Kip Deville and Out of Control were the best yanks to try and both failed to land a blow. Eagle Mountain bounced out of his second place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf to take the Hong Kong Gold Cup and Doctor Dino recovered from a dull finish in the Canadian International to win the Hong Kong Vase. Hong Kong managed to register home wins thanks to Good Ba Ba and Inspiration. You can view all the races and results from the International Meet here. Stateside we saw some decent final bows from Peppers Pride and J'ray. Unfortunately J'ray was unable to go out in winning style like the New Mexican sensation but both ran very well.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Laragh managed to climb to 4th in the Two Year Old Female division behind Stardom Bound, Dream Empress and Sky Diva. She dominated the Hollywood Starlet and now IEAH stables has a fearsome 1-2 punch with her and Stardom Bound on the roster. The plucky old campaigner Presious Passion vaulted into 5th spot in the turf division thanks to his third graded stakes win of the year. It underlines the weakness of division when a horse like this can make the top five, but he has won a G-1, G-2 and G-3 this year in 11 starts.
Power Rankings: The biggest news concerning the Power Rankings this week was the failures of Kip Deville, Out of Control and Laragh to break into the top five in their respective divisions. Kip Deville and Out of Control obviously fell further out of contention with losses in Hong Kong but Laragh failed to get in the top five despite a G-1 win. Unfortunately for Laragh she just hasn't run often enough at the Graded Stakes level. In fact this was the first graded stake where she finished in the money. She's good enough for 6th place but no better. Peppers Pride did have success getting into the top 5 of the Female Sprinter division just ahead of Zaftig. How could a restricted stakes winner get ahead of a G-1 winner? Well being undefeated does count for something and it this case it was just enough to tip the scales.
Performance of the Week: Hard to look past Laragh dominating the Hollywood Starlet. A few runners led by Pomona Ball even took a serious run at her early on and she just spurted away as needed. No one was going to get in front of her and she had speed to burn at every stage of the race. The strength of the field remains to be seen but Laragh looked good in dispatching them.
Race of the Week: While big NFL matchups between like the Ravens vs. Steelers and Giants vs. Cowboys ended up being painfully dull the duel between Herboriste and J'ray was anything but. The stage was set on the far turn then J'ray made a huge sweeping move to get into contention. Herboriste had been tracking patiently until then but Julien Leparoux recognized that the race might be won right there. He exhorted Herboriste into action just in time to match pace with the advancing J'ray and from then on it was a dog fight to the finish. Herboriste was a true distance horse while J'ray had never won beyond 9f in her career and it told in the final furlong as J'ray battled gallantly in vain.
Flop of the Week: Normally this spot is reserved for the worst performing favorite of the weekend but the announcement that the Breeders' Cup has cut all purse supplements for 2009 takes the cake. The flop of the week is most definitely Greg Avioli and anyone on the Breeders' Cup board who doesn't think that the guy should be fired. Fans want to love the Breeders' Cup, it's our crown jewel and we can't wait to be proud of it but ever since Mr Avioli has taken the helm all we've been able to do to is hold our breath and make excuses for the myriad of terrible decisions he's made. In the spirit of optimism we always "it doesn't sound right but we'll wait and see". Now things have finally hit the fan. The Breeders' Cup is funded by the breeders and the decision to pull out the purse supplement money will anger every breeder in the game and severely cut funding for the event. Over at the Paulick Report there is an open letter from a breeder who echoes this sentiment and is now boycotting the Breeders' Cup until Avioli is fired. We all recognize that times are tough but why cut $5 million from purse supplements when you could get that same $5 million by getting rid of the ridiculous non championship events he's added in the last two years. The Breeders' Cup is completely mismanaged and everyone has to go, Greg Avioli and Peter Land first among them. Probably also the board of directors for allowing these travesties to take place. The Breeders' Cup has completely tanked and someone has to pay. It shouldn't be the breeders'.
Tip O'the Cap: I have more or less ignored the exploits of Peppers Pride in this space for her entire career but now that it's seemingly over it seems fitting to bring laud. No matter what level you're facing it's not easy to go 19 for 19 in your career. I do wish she had ventured into Graded Stakes company so we could have seen the full measure of her talent revealed, but her connections picked her spots and managed to win a million dollars and break the modern day winning streak record. Not bad for a filly from New Mexico.
KC Handicapping: Herboriste was the only thing I got right this weekend, but thankfully it was all I needed to turn a small profit. Windward Islands was compromised by the pace and Alpha Kitten just wasn't good enough to contend with Laragh. The La Prevoyante went right to script. Communique was indeed slower than she looked and J'Ray ran well but wasn't as stout at the distance as Herboriste.
Record of selected horses: 3(3)-1-0-0 (+$2.20 +36.67% ROI)
Overall Record: 672(355)-115-108-91 (-$121.50 -9.04% ROI)