Weekend Overview: If I were trying to brand this past weekend of racing I'd probably call it the "Grass Girls Weekend" or something to that effect. 4 of the 7 graded stakes run this weekend were Turf races for females. All of the races were G-2 or higher and none of the other stakes carried a grading higher than G-3. It's too bad the Honeymoon was run on Sunday. The NTRA may have been able to offer an all stakes "Grass Girls" Pick 4. Sadly it wouldn't have paid much because all of the winners (Magical Fantasy, Rutherienne, Gozzip Girl and Well Monied) looked to be very decent horses before and after their respective efforts. Rutherienne finally broke what was one of the most puzzling losing streaks from a major race horse. 7 Graded Stakes defeats in a row where she ran third or better each time. Horses often have losing streaks because they're running poorly. I think Rutherienne was just unlucky to have hooked Forever Together, Wait A While and Precious Kitten so many times during that 7 race skid. The bad news for her is that she never found a way to beat them. The good news is that she can likely avoid them, since all but Forever Together are retired, by staying in Canada and annexing the lucrative local program. Sprint sensation Zensational improved his synthetic track sprinting record with an easy but not explosive victory in a Hollywood allowance. Connections are apparently now looking to put him on the dirt and at 7f in the King's Bishop.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: The Turf divisions were the only ones that were significantly impacted by the weekend action. Magical Fantasy is the new top Turf Female in North America after she took the Gamely. Gozzip Girl confirmed that her early inclusion in the top 5 was no fluke and now that Rutherienne's losing streak is over she can work on holding onto and even improving her top 5 status. Rutherienne was the 9th ranked Turf Female in 2007 and 14th ranked in 2008. Spring House took over the lead of the Turf Male division narrowly over Midships but in all likelihood his reign will last just a week. With the major stakes coming this weekend a new overall leader in the currently underdeveloped division is a virtual certainty.
Power Rankings: Not many changes to the rankings although it's notable that Forever Together holds onto her spot in the top 5. This is the strength of a Power Ranking as compared to the normal TCR. She doesn't have the accomplishments to be in the top 5 but she is definitely still one of the best. Conversely Spring House is not among the top 5 best Turf Males at all despite having enough accomplishments to earn the #1 TCR spot.
Performance of the Week: Well Monied is a much slighter horse than Wait A While but something about this gray filly reminds me of my recently retired favorite. Perhaps it was easy and impressive score in the Honeymoon that hearkens me back. Okay so maybe she didn't show the kind of acceleration Wait A While did when winning the American Oaks but Well Monied was only being asked for the minimum requirement. It was a very easy score for this filly in her stakes debut. She made a nice move on the turn and despite the fact that Acting Lady was taking a real shot at her she looked always in control through the stretch. A classy performance from a talented emerging filly.
Race of the Week: The best race of the weekend was run on my side of the border when Eye of the Leopard ran down Southdale to win the Plate Trial. I have a special bit of affection for the Queen's Plate since it was the 1996 renewal that really sparked my interest in racing. The Plate Trial is the last major prep race and there could hardly be a more popular winner than Eye of the Leopard. Local fans adore Sam-Son Farms and always love to see a runner in the red and gold win a nice race and Eye of the Leopard obliged in the most exciting fashion. It looked as if Southdale had put the field away at the 1/8th pole but Eye of the Leopard kept digging and finally forged past his rival in the second last jump. Southdale is a horse that is building quite a reputation for himself as well and the tight finish between these two was a fabulous result for the fans. I think I'd actually fancy Southdale in a rematch since he was moved a little prematurely, but hopefully both horses run well again to make the Plate a memorable one.
Flop of the Week: I'm going to have to be harsh on Sok Sok. I don't think the Aristides script could have been written any better for him. The competition was average at best, the track was good, the pace promised to be fair, the distance was right up his alley and he got a perfect trip. Yet somehow he failed to even hit the frame. Conclusion: He's not a very good horse.
Tip O'the Cap: The great Irish trainer Vincent O'Brien has passed away and it seems like a good occasion to remind myself of all his great accomplishments. The history of European racing in 50's, 60's and 70's was simply the biography of O'Brien. Champions like Ballymoss, Nijinsky II, Sir Ivor, The Minstrel, Alleged, Golden Fleece, Roberto and many more all came from his Ballydolye training center in Ireland. The dominance he exhibited over Europe's major races was unprecedented and may never be seen again except perhaps from Ballydoyle's new O'Brien, Aidan (no relation). Vincent O'Brien is to trainers what Secretariat is to racehorses. A legend who was absolutely brilliant at his best.
KC Handicapping: Shot three blanks this week as my bankroll continues it's frightening slide. None of my horses even pretended to put in a serious effort. I've been pretty cold since late April. With a big weekend of racing coming up that's a poor sign. I'm going to have to get back to the basics this week and stick with what I do best. At least I managed to stay alive in Monmouth's Survival at the Shore.
Weekly Record: 3(3)-0-0-0 (-$6.00 -100.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 764(423)-131-123-99 (-$140.70 -9.21% ROI)