Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend Review

Weekend Overview: The stretch run of the Stephen Foster was a bit of a mess and it left you with the feeling that the best horse may not have won. However by the same token and losers in this race only have themselves to blame. Macho Again ran good enough to beat that field but he was not a brilliant winner. A high class horse like Curlin likely would have been 5 lengths further clear of this rabble. Santa Teresita seemed to handle Churchill even worse than she did Hawthorne. Looks like sending her east was not such a great idea. Better to run second to Zenyatta than 4th against weaker horses. Former claimer Informed bounced back from an ill-fated trip to Dubai to lower the colors of the talented Rail Trip in the Californian. Informed seems like a useful and solid type while Rail Trip seems like a brilliant horse that has not put everything together. I'd love to see him come east for the Whitney. I think a dirt track would suit his speedy style far better than synthetics do. Miss Isella and Calvin Borel proved once again that despite their size they're not afraid of forcing a hole on the inside even when there is none there. Miss Isella showed a ton and a half of heart to battle through on the inside and win the Fleur de Lis to defend her home track. She's a tough horse to beat at Churchill Downs. Look for her again in the fall meet no matter what her summer form looks like. Seattle Smooth, Presious Passion and Successful Dan all earned hard fought stakes wins as well. The defeats of Indian Blessing and Kip Deville were both shocks but neither horse was getting the conditions they really wanted and they had the possibility of travel fatigue hanging over them as well. Both those losses can be forgiven.

Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Einstein blew a chance to make a real run at Rachel Alexandra for the overall lead. A win would have done it for him but a third place leaves him lacking in the race for Horse of the Year. There are still many twists and turns to come though. Einstein remains the only horse to be ranked among the top 5 in two separate divisions. TCR scores are split by division this year so Einstein's Turf and Main Track races are calculated separately within the divisions but combined for his overall score. Macho Again moved into second place in the Main Track Older Male division courtesy of his Stephen Foster victory. The division looks wide open and will likely be closely contested all year long.

Power Rankings:
Seattle Smooth is the new hot property in the Main Track Older Female division. She takes over from longtime leader Life Is Sweet after managing to fight her way past the Darley/Godolphin entry in the Ogden Phipps. Zenyatta's campaign hasn't really heated up up but Seattle Smooth may prove a difficult horse to overturn. Kip Deville slid just a bit in the Turf division. He can be thankful that only two horses, Midships and Gio Ponti, have done well for themselves on the grass so far this year.

Performance of the Week: No one was more impressive this weekend than the inexperienced Successful Dan in the Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs. This three year old son of Successful Appeal was going for his third win from three starts but this was both his stakes debut and his two turn debut. Warrior's Reward who had just beaten Munnings was the big favorite in the Northern Dancer. Successful Dan forged to the front and set steady fractions but his race seemed to be over when Warrior's Reward went past him entering the stretch. It seemed as if only a matter of time until the favorite drew clear but Successful Dan kept fighting back. All of the sudden Warrior's Reward seemed to be struggling with this stubborn pacesetter that was supposed to be beaten. Successful Dan refused to lose and came back on Warrior's Reward to win by a head. Successful Dan is a pretty humble horse with small time connections but for now he can sure be proud of his undefeated record. He ran an excellent race to defend it.

Race of the Week: I can't pick just one. Go back and watch the Stephen Foster with it's wild finish, the Fleur de Lis featuring Borel's risky rail move or the Ogden Phipps with the classy Seattle Smooth just getting past Seventh Street in time. Anytime you get a bit downtrodden with the state of the industry, an argument on a forum or a string of handicapping losses just find a good race like one of the few above and watch it. There is plenty to get excited about when you watch racing.

Flop of the Week:
I'm not sure whether to blame Music Note or her connections. It was a sad sight to see Music Note trail home in 5th place in the Ogden Phipps Handicap. Her form at Belmont had always been so good. This was way out of character and one can't help but think of her trainers comments that she was on the fence for the race because she wasn't doing that well in the mornings. She ended up looking good enough to convince her trainer to compete but obviously all was not well with her. They ran a championship caliber horse that was not ready for competition. That's worth a flop of the week.

Tip O'the Cap: This goes to Mary Hartmann and Presious Passion for putting together all the pieces that have transformed this horse from an inconsistent longshot specialist to a versatile high class performer that hates to lose and is not very easy to beat. Presious Passion is now 5-3-2-0 in his last 5 races. Those 5 races came at 4 different racetracks on turf and dirt at 4 different distances. The furthest he was beaten during this little run was 3/4 of a length on the dirt. His latest victory in the Monmouth Stakes was extremely hard fought but he prevailed as he has so many times in tight photos. This is a horse a fan can really get behind and the thanks for that goes to the connections and to the horse himself.

KC Handicapping:
Three races and three out of the money finishes. It hasn't been a very good run for me lately and this weekend only exemplifies that. Santa Teresita, Researcher and Strike A Deal all failed to throw down a meaningful challenge.

I have managed to stay alive in Monmouth's Survival at the Shore contest but I am currently ranked 1345th among 1495 active players. I haven't hit one single horse at a decent price in the whole contest. I'm 908th for winners on top with 12. Alive but not exactly well.

Weekly Record: 3(3)-0-0-0 (-$6.00 -100.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 775(432)-133-123-99 (-$149.90 -9.67% ROI)

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