Weekend Overview: It was a great week for some of my favorite horses. Gio Ponti was fantastic again. This horse looked like a promising one right from the start but for some reason he had a somewhat mixed bag of results up until his last 3 races. He has now put everything together and no one can match him. He might even be able to win at 12f although I don't think he'll be given that chance. The Arlington Million is next and I expect him to get a layoff after that until a race like the Kelso. Game Face put some bad efforts to rest as she romped in the Princess Rooney. Rail Trip was the most impressive of all. The fears over his ability to 10f were unfounded as he looked stronger than he's ever been. He was a special horse from the start and he'll be a real handful in the Classic. Eaton's Gift won what has to be described as a disappointing renewal of the Smile Sprint. Benny The Bull was the only really good horse in the race and he didn't fire. It was a bit disappointing to see Eye of the Leopard come up short in the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown but it was a great race to watch. I'm not sure if we saw much quality at Arlington's Million Preview day aside from Pure Clan. She is going to have a big year. Top turf sprinter Chamberlain Bridge was narrowly beaten but lost nothing in defeat. Turf sprints are often wild and wacky races. There is no shame in going down by a neck.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: It was quite an active weekend with the standings changing in almost every division. Gio Ponti has set sail after Rachel Alexandra for the overall lead. Rail Trip has finally won a Graded Stakes race and now he's 9th overall in the nation. Game Face reopened her case as a contender in the Female Sprinter division. Her last two races had her staring over the abyss of obscurity but she ran well enough on Saturday to even cast doubt over whether or not Indian Blessing could have beaten her. Perhaps we'll find out at Saratoga. The pair should also meet Informed Decision that day.
Power Rankings: Rachel Alexandra has a new challenger emerging in the form of Gio Ponti. He is only narrowly behind the flying filly now as he's captured his third straight G-1. You may notice that the Three Year Old Male division looks odd. The Power Rankings differ from the TCR in that the top 5 you see listed on the sidebar always represents the top 5 active horses in any division. The retirement of Pioneerof the Nile and Musket Man going to the shelf for the year means they're removed the active list in that division and it gives a slot to Hold Me Back and the up and comer Grazen. This does not mean that Grazen is a better horse, his power ranking is actually lower but an active horse is always faster than a retired one. The TCR let's you know what they've accomplished, the Power Rankings help tell you who the hot horses are, right now!
Performance of the Week: There is no way to get around what Rail Trip did this past weekend in the Hollywood Gold Cup. He ran that last quarter in 24.76 en route to a 3 length win and a track record. He earned a massive 110 Beyer Speed Figure which is equal to the biggest figures given out for a route race on synthetics. I view this race as every bit as good as what Heatseeker was able to do last year and given the relative weakness of the older horse crop you might say that this form makes him a clear favorite for the Classic. I know Ellis is conservative but I'd love to see him take on the Whitney before going back home for the Goodwood and BC Classic.
Race of the Week: Most people probably haven't seen the Prince of Wales Stakes which is the second leg of Canada's Triple Crown. You can see it at the Bloodhorse's stakes replays section on the main page. It is definitely worth watching. You will not only get a glimpse at an exciting three horse stretch duel featuring a longshot, a filly and a Triple Crown contender but you will see that Milwaukee Appeal, the filly mentioned earlier, is and extremely high class horse. It is actually my contention that Milwaukee Appeal is the second best route filly on the continent behind only Rachel Alexandra. Her latest speed figure is unknown but her last three on synthetic were all over 90 with 99 being her highest. She stays 10f but has the tactical speed to be effective in sprints. She's a very good horse and although she was denied by a nose on this day she'll have more than a few days of her own to come.
Flop of the Week: The myth of Midships has been exposed. It's too bad it was done at this time of year. Bettors will have a hard time putting faith in him for the Breeders' Cup. When faced with other classy horses, especially speed horses, he was always ripe for a wilting. Frankel should get back to picking spots with him.
Tip O'the Cap: At one time Linda Rice was best known as the trainer of City Zip, a plucky little 2yo that swept the Saratoga juvenile stakes program back in 2000 but since then Linda Rice has found a niche and is exploiting it like no one I've seen. Rice is the Queen of New York turf sprints and there is no King or even Prince. Linda has dominated turf sprints in New York for probably the last 4 years and this weekend she once again had runners finish 1-2 in a stakes race. Earlier this year she swept the top 4 places in a turf sprint stakes race. I'm not sure what she does different from everyone else but there is no question that she has the eye to pick out what a turf sprinter should look like and then she has the program to get them winning races. She does all this with state-bred and claiming level stock. It really is quite amazing.
KC Handicapping: You can probably just shoot me. I seem to have become an infuriating mixture of brilliance and incompetence. How many people actually thought that Tres Borrachos had a great chance in the Hollywood Gold Cup? I did, but I ignored a horse I've been high on since his maiden so I got nothing. I was finally eliminated from Monmouth's Survival at the Shore game. I gave a decent account of myself but blew it when forgetting to make picks one day and toasting my life preserver. Both my weekend selections ran poorly while three of my personal favorites Gio Ponti, Game Face and Rail Trip won some of the biggest races of the weekend. I like to keep my sentiment separate from my handicapping. In fact I rarely even mention my personal feelings about horses but Gio Ponti is my favorite horse in training and the other two are on my short list of about 10. My heart was a great deal more accurate than my head this weekend.
Weekly Record: 2(2)-0-0-0 (-$4.00 -100.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 787(443)-135-124-101 (-$164.20 -10.43% ROI)