Overview: It's Big Cap weekend and all people can talk about is I Want Revenge. His electrifying victory in the Gotham has people wondering if this crop isn't the best for several years. Often when you see a powerful win like Quality Road's last week you can be pretty confident that it will likely remain the fastest prep race of the spring but all of the sudden massive Beyer figures look a bit ordinary. It makes you wonder what some of these other prep races will yield. Einstein doesn't deserve to be pushed to the sideline. His victory in the Big Cap was thoroughly professional and I think there is little doubt that he is the class of 2009. Even at 7 years old he looks like the early favorite to win older horse honors this year. No matter what surface he's on he's got a great shot to win. The curse of two turns struck Ventura again as she went down in defeat to the talented Gio Ponti. Ventura got a questionable ride and seemed to wait once she hit the front but all credit to Gio Ponti he still came and got a very, very good horse. Gio Ponti is a horse I've been high on for quite some time and he definitely justified my faith in this race. He has Breeders' Cup winning ability in him. Ignore any races of his beyond a mile or on the main track for the rest of the season. He was born to be a turf miler. Stardom Bound is lucky to have her winning streak alive after narrowly escaping with a victory in the Santa Anita Oaks. It likely spells an end to whatever Derby aspirations her connections may have had and even raises questions about whether or not she'll be able to win her own division this year. Six year old Ah Day made a winning return to the races in the Toboggan Handicap while it seems that Lucky Island is no longer the horse his connections hoped he would be.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Einstein was the main mover as you might expect. He jumped all the way into first usurping longtime leader Cowboy Cal. Stardom Bound moved into second overall as she became the first dual G-1 winner of 2009. Ventura's performance in the Kilroe Mile was enough to earn her second place in the Female Turf division. She is also second in the Female Sprint division and 4th overall. Few horses are actually good enough to win multiple divisions but she is definitely one of them. She will likely go to Keeneland next and get back to the main track but most of her summer is likely to be spent on the grass.
Power Rankings: Einstein's Big Cap victory was only enough to get him a share of the overall lead with the horse who beat him in the Donn Handicap, Albertus Maximus. One gets the feeling that these are both the best of this group and that the group in general is not overly strong. Gio Ponti moved into second in the Turf Male division just behind Kip Deville. Most of the stayers in that division haven't got going yet. Ventura shows up only in the Female Sprinter category because Power Ranking scores aren't split based on the type of race like the TCR is. A horses entire season is calculated together and the division they're listed in is based on what type of race they have accomplished the most in. In 2009 Ventura is a G-1 winner on the main track and is G-1 placed on the grass. For now that means she stays ranked as a sprinter.
Performance of the Week: There are actually more to choose from than just I Want Revenge's tour de force in the Gotham. There were a whole pile of horses who distinguished themselves in combat this weekend. I'm going to focus on one who probably won't have reams of reports on the brilliance of his performance. Watch the Santa Anita Handicap again and observe Matto Mondo. He did get the lead to himself for the first 5f but several horses made early moves at him entering the far turn. Among them was Cowboy Cal who was coming off two stakes wins but Matto Mondo never let him pass and even when Einstein came to him and went past he stuck on and was still fighting at the finish. This is a horse who had never won beyond 8f before and here he was going 10f and not giving up at the finish. Mandella has a very good horse on his hands. Perhaps next time he goes this far he'll rate a little off the pace, that ought to make him even tougher to get by.
Race of the Week: Tell me the Santa Anita Oaks didn't raise you to your feet! What a race that was and I wasn't even cheering for Stardom Bound. I was hoping the former Canadian Hooh Why could pull off the upset. All four of the horses that hit the line together had somewhat troubled stretch runs. Stardom Bound had to shift late as Hooh Why, Miss Silver Brook and Third Dawn all got tangled up together. Nan was desperately looking for a seam behind that group and had to dive to the inside only finding room late. Nan was perhaps the most unlucky horse in the race. One more stride and she would have passed them all but unfortunately for her owners she didn't even earn a G-1 placing. I got a huge thrill just watching these horses for fun, imagine what an owner of one of those four was feeling. Horse racing offers excitement in its purest form.
Flop of the Week: I'm sad to have to mention Wild Promises in this segment but her performance in the Honey Fox had to be the most shocking result of the weekend. 6 wins in a row and an ultra consistent race record against a field that ought to have been beneath her. I suspect Wild Promises simply went too fast early in the race but she also put up very little fight in the final furlongs. I hope this was just one of those bad days at the office and that she can shake it off and get back into form.
Tip o'the Cap: I'm certainly glad that the connections of Einstein have chosen to keep him in training despite being an entire. Perhaps they were forced to keep him on the track because of legal issues but no matter how he got here I'm glad he's here. Einstein and his trainer are a pair that you can't help but tip your cap to. He has come very close to winning G-1's on three different surfaces. He won his first G-1 way back in 2006 and he looks better than ever three years on. It's no small feat to ship in from the East and win the Big Cap. It's a race the locals have defended rather well over the years. Hats off to Einstein.
KC Handicapping: It ended up being a pretty profitable weekend. Going against Ventura proved to be a profitable venture as Gio Ponti just got up to claim the spoils. Imperial Council didn't do as well as I hoped in the Gotham but I was on the right track thinking that I Want Revenge was the other horse to include. I was pretty excited about the result in the Santa Anita Handicap because it meant some debut success for my statistical profile. The practice of making profiles is one I'd suggest to those who have a decent amount of back data on a race. Once I have at least 5 years of data on a high profile contest I review the PP's and look for trends and similarities. My projects on the Derby, Breeders' Cup and now Santa Anita Handicap show that there can be some profit to the practice. Einstein is a horse I didn't really like, for whatever reason, but he fit the profile perfectly.
Weekly Record: 5(3)-2-1-0 ($14.80 +148.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 716(385)-124-116-93 (-$117.50 -8.21% ROI)