Weekend Overview: I thought the weekend was the stuff of legend, the realization of dreams. There is hardly a more popular occurrence in racing than a big race victory by a filly over the boys. Rachel Alexandra's Preakness victory was most likely the moment of the year. Mine That Bird performed with credit as well and seems to be more than a Derby winning fluke. One wonders exactly how he managed to perform so poorly in New Mexico. Parading confirmed his form from Keeneland with a nice victory in the Dixie Stakes. It would seem that connections now have the luxury of pursuing both a Turf and Synthetic campaign at the highest levels. Everyday Heroes looked monstrous in the Hirsch Jacobs. Possibly a real sprint star in the making. Capt. Candyman Can, Cash Refund, Heart Ashley and Light Green also contributed to the notion that the three year old sprinters look very tough this year. The lovable little Hooh Why showed her preference for synthetic surfaces once again with a stakes win at Woodbine while Seattle Smooth was all class in the Shuvee. It was a wonderful weekend for racing. Reasons to be optimistic about the quality on hand are plentiful.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Rachel Alexandra is the #1 horse in the country and the front runner for Horse Of The Year. Although many have seen this coming for weeks it still does not diminish the significance of the accomplishment in my eyes. Anytime a Three Year Old Filly is ranked the #1 horse overall in America it's a big deal. Einstein and Zenyatta will likely both still have a say in the overall title race but Rachel Alexandra has her head in front and with her new connections zeal for a challenge she may be very tough to usurp. Last week I lamented at the lack of quality in the Male Sprinter division and I hoped this weekend would provide a ray of hope for the group. The ray emerged but not in the Maryland Sprint as I had expected. Everyday Heroes won the Hirsch Jacobs in the most impressive manner possible and have moved into second in the Male Sprinter division. He is undefeated in 4 starts, earning big figures and winning by large margins. All this while being immature and unprofessional.
Power Rankings: Rachel's win was not quite enough to see her top the Power Rankings. She's third, ranked narrowly behind Well Armed and Einstein. As much as sentiment would prefer her to be the #1 it's probably correct that she's slightly behind but near equals with the top older males. Three Year Old Males are a significant hurdle for a filly, Older Males are a whole new challenge. Seattle Smooth, Parading, Heart Ashley, Everyday Heroes and Payton D'oro all managed to break into their divisional top 5's for the first time but the only division that has a new leader is the Three Year Old Males. Mine That Bird has now surpassed Pioneerof the Nile.
Performance of the Week: The race did not receive a very high Beyer Speed Figure but I was impressed with the professionalism of Capt. Candyman Can. There is no doubt that Cash Refund is emerging as a very good sprinter but in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs this past Saturday Capt. Candyman Can gave him a lesson in class. He seemed to be always in control even though he was sitting off the pace. When they turned for home Cash Refund still had something left but Capt. Candyman Can was still way too much horse for him. This talented son of Candy Ride is still undefeated in dirt sprints.
Race of the Week: The Maryland Sprint Stakes was a real nail biter and I thought it was the best contest of the weekend. The field lacked a strong favorite on paper. It seemed like no one was much better than anyone else. In the end there was very little between Ravalo and Silver Edition. It was a classic head to head duel for the length of the stretch and only a nose separated them at the finish. It actually looked as if Silver Edition may have come back and forced a dead heat. Certainly if the finish line camera had been a foot nearer or further a dead heat would have been a reality.
Flop of the Week: I'm going to give this to the bettors at Pimlico that refused to let horses go off at long prices when they deserved to be long prices. On a day when there was plenty of horses without any real chance only one horse was sent postward at odds of 50/1 or more. A similar effect was seen after the victory of Giacomo. After a 50/1 shot wins the Derby everyone begins to have an unhealthy respect for horses that have little to no chance. They backed a horse like Tone It Down at 23.90/1. He ought to have been 60/1 or more. It's fine to go after a price, if you backed every 50/1 shot you'd lose money but you'd have some nice scores. If you backed every 20/1 shot that should be 50/1 you'll lose a whole lot more money and never get the payouts you deserve for backing such impossible horses.
Tip O'the Cap: Jess Jackson drew a ton of criticism this week, many think he's an egomaniac and somewhat heartless but he did something great for racing this past weekend. His NBC interview summed up the feelings of many when he said that it's not so much a question of fillies vs fillies or fillies vs males racing is about champions against champions. We saw some potential champions facing off in the Preakness and without Jess Jackson we wouldn't have. I don't really care about any of his motivations. I like the fact that he wants to see good horses run in good races and he's willing to pay for it. How could a fan be upset with that?
KC Handicapping: I was able to narrowly scrape out a profit thanks to the wins by Parading and Rachel Alexandra. From a profitability standpoint I would have preferred some of my longer shots to come in but it's still somewhat satisfying to break even when things don't really turn out. Yano was poor and outclassed, Strike A Deal looked extremely rusty and Musket Man didn't quite see out the trip. I'm not all that burned up about Silver Editions narrow defeat. He ran his race, unfortunately for me his best race still sees him a nose short in G-3 company.
For those following the results of the Preakness 20-20 it seemed to be a very formful race. A perfect qualifier won the race while a box of the top 4 would have had you the trifecta. Straight wagering on all contestants slipped into mild negativity with yet another favorite winning this race but it's still some 55% better off than betting all entrants equally. I thought the value of the 20-20 this year was just as it was stated prior to the race. It helps to sharpen your focus on the obvious horses and steers you away from the interesting horses. It didn't take a brilliant system to come up with the trifecta but you could have saved some money by using the system's recommendation to avoid horses like Pioneerof the Nile, Big Drama and Friesan Fire.
Weekly Record: 6(4)-2-1-1 (+$0.20 +16.67% ROI)
Overall Record: 755(415)-131-121-98 (-$122.70 -8.13% ROI)