Weekend Overview: The Sunshine Millions has always seemed like a logical kick off point to the racing season. Prior to this weekend there were very few races of importance. Now racing begins for real. It's a Bird came out the big winner of the weekend and continued the hot streak for trainer Marty Wolfson. Despite being a longshot in the Classic he could be the type of horse who could be a contender in graded stakes company. Maybe not true G-1's but his Classic performance was certainly good enough for some graded stakes. Wild Promises, Soldier's Dancer, High Resolve, Georgie Boy, Beltene and maybe even This Ones for Phil look set to have big seasons. This Ones for Phil recorded the years new highest Beyer Speed figure with his 117 in the Millions Dash. These may be state-bred restricted races but they've often got some high class winners and that was definitely the case this year. People love to get on Frank Stronach's case for the many....curious...decisions he has made but there are two things he has contributed to racing that have been truly beneficial. The high quality horses he breeds and the Sunshine Millions.
Thoroughbred Championship Ranking Awards: The last votes are in and the results of the 3rd TCR Awards should be posted later today. I suspect that they'll differ somewhat from the Eclipse Awards that are set to be announced tonight but difference isn't a bad thing. The main reason these awards exist is because of the flaws in the current voting system. Next week the current 2009 standings for both the TCR and Power Rankings will be featured on the sidebar.
Performance of the Week: It's not often that I give the Performance of the Week to a losing horse but I have to tip my hat to the effort Presious Passion put in. It seemed clear from the past performances that Presious Passion was not going to have things all his own way. He wasn't the speed of this race and the distance looked far too short for him. He performed rather badly in all his recent races at distances shorter than 11f. Couple that with shipping across the country to a course that often favors locals and I thought Presious Passion had no chance. Until the last jump it looked like he was going to pull off the unbelievable. He rated off the pace because he didn't have the speed to get to the front and he took control of the race in the final 1/8th. It was quite cruel that this, the best performance of his life, wasn't enough to win. Connections should be very pleased with this gutsy 6 year old, personally I was blown away.
Race of the Week: In truth the best and most exciting race of the weekend was the Millions Turf but I just wrote a paragraph on that race so I've decided to nominate the Oaks for this weeks honor. The undefeated Beltene vs. the classy Hooh Why in an all out stretch duel. Remember that Hooh Why gave Derby hopeful Patena all he could handle up in Canada. Beltene was thoroughly tested for class and aced that test when she wore down Hooh Why for a narrow win. Perhaps this race was more exciting for me because I had Hooh Why among my NHC selections and was trying to root her home at 7/1 but I think even the neutrals blood pressure would have been slightly raised while watching.
Flop of the Week: In Summation might just be the biggest money burner you'll find in stakes company these days. He had every right to run well in the Millions Sprint and he simply didn't. He still has the talent to win races like this as evidenced by his recent performance in the El Conejo but sometimes he just decides not to show up and this was one of those occasions. In Summation is not a big time horse.
Tip o'the Cap: It's hard not to feel good about the success Greg Gilchrist is having. He broke onto the scene with Lost In The Fog and ever since he's been getting great performances from all kinds of horses. He is not buying high end yearlings he is just having success with modest horses. After the tragic losses of Lost In The Fog and more recently Indyanne it's great to see him ship into Gulfstream and sweep a pair of races with High Resolve and Wild Promises. Between those two horses he has coaxed them to 19 wins from 27 races. Neither horse has finished out of the money and they've been in the top 2 in 25 of their 27 stars. Between them they cost just $210k at auction and they earned $440k this past weekend alone and nearly $1.1 million in total. That's the kind of trainer I'd want working for me.
KC Handicapping: Whenever you can turn a profit it's a good week. I am a bit disappointed that I missed badly on so many of the Sunshine Millions races but I hit the Classic nearly dead on and it paid for the week. Wild Promises also won like she should have so she added a bit of gravy to the P & L for the week.
I tried playing along with The NHC Tournament and my entry would have earned a decent return of $113.20. Had I been playing for real it would have meant a 116th place finish. It would be respectable from a field of 302 but not brilliant by any means. I had too many horses hit the minor places and not enough winners. I also had one scratch so I played only 29 races instead of the full 30. The record of my 29 selections was 29-5-6-3. The mandatory races were extremely difficult as they included many races at obscure tracks. Low class levels are also not a strength of mine. Clearly to be successful at this level you have to have a grasp on more than just stakes races at your favorite track. I was a combined 19-4-3-3 at Gulfstream and Santa Anita and 10-1-3-0 at all other tracks.
Weekly Record: 11(8)-2-1-0 ($5.40 +24.54% ROI)
Overall Record: 692(367)-120-109-92 (-$115.10 -8.32% ROI)