Weekend Overview: For a week with a pair of Grade 1 races it felt pretty quiet, perhaps its just because I'm holding my breath for Saratoga. It could also be that both G-1 races were underwhelming. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for Global Hunter and Funny Moon but it's hard to make a strong case for either horse becoming top contenders in their divisions. Rahy's Attorney and the opening of Del Mar were the bright lights of the week. One of the reasons we all love Del Mar and Saratoga so much is the two year old racing. A lot of talented juveniles will be on display and we'll get a feel for who the coming stars of racing might be. Saturday's 7th race at Del Mar may have seen quite a few good 2yo's debuting. Baffert and Sadler both unleashed a pair of good looking horses. Tiny Woods was the best on the day but Samardo might be the best of the four in the long run. Tasty Temptation took the last leg of Canada's Triple Tiara but most likely the biggest impact of this race is the positive form reference that this result gives to Milwaukee Appeal.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: No one made a significant jump forward in the rankings this week but one horse did fall back quite a bit. A medication violation for It's a Bird in the Oaklawn Handicap saw him stripped of the purse and officially disqualified this week. Consequently he was stripped of the TCR points he earned that day. It's a Bird fell from the 5th ranked Main Track Older Male to the 14 spot. Belmont specialist Bribon inherited 5th place.
Power Rankings: He may only be running at Woodbine but Rahy's Attorney is a legitimate top class turf horse. He moved into 4th place in the Turf Male Power Rankings and he would seem to have plenty of options open to him now that he's a Graded Stakes winner from 8f to 10f. Like Gio Ponti and Battle of Hastings who join him in the top 5 he's unlikely to find his best trip at 12f. The top 12f horse is usually the front runner in the Turf Male division but not this year.
Performance of the Week: I don't often look beyond stakes company to find the most impressive horses of the week but this time I'm going to talk about Samardo who ran third in a maiden race at Del Mar. It's really early to be predicting what kind of impact 2yo's could have in championship type events but Samardo is the first juvenile of this season to really catch my eye. The worst post position for any first timer is the inside post. Unless your horse is naturally faster than the rest they're going to have a hard time securing a position and having a bunch of horses to your outside can be very intimidating. Samardo did not break particularly well and he soon found himself last, a little over 11 lengths back. He began to gather himself and move through the field but was stalled entering the far turn as his pilot waited for something to open. Quinonez finally had enough and just swung the colt wide. He began to pick of horses but was still well back with a furlong to go. It was the final furlong of this race that most impressed me. Samardo made up about 5 lengths, although he could only be third he was a length in front of the top pair just a few strides after the wire. A better break and a bit of ground saving would have been enough for him to sweep past the entire field. He should do very well next time out.
Race of the Week: Despite the lack of quality the Coaching Club American Oaks was an interesting race to watch. Five horses had a shot at the top of the lane and all 5 finished within 2 lengths of the win. Wynning Ride stuck her nose out in front and staved off challenges from Casanova Move and Livin Lovin but the final 100 yards was too much for her as both Funny Moon and Don't Forget Gil swept past.
Flop of the Week: Does anyone have any idea why Thorn Song suddenly bolted to the outside rail? At first I feared injury for the lovable old guy but it just seems like he went crazy all of the sudden and he had no physical issue at all. I don't think I've ever seen an experienced horse like this simply bolt like that without an injury.
Tip O'the Cap: Global Hunter is one of the luckiest G-1 winners out there. Thorn Song who had previously won a G-1 bolted for no reason that anyone can see and that incident got Monterey Jazz, the favorite, all keyed up and he ran off with his rider. Global Hunter was experienced enough not to get riled by those events and he simply ran his race. When Monterey Jazz stopped Global Hunter had inherited a lead that none of the closers could chip into. Global Hunter has been a hard luck horse for basically his entire career in North America. He's not really good enough to win a race like this but it's nice to see him roll a 7 on such a big occasion.
KC Handicapping: Marlang scratched in the Nijinsky and Livin Lovin didn't stay in the CCA Oaks. It was a quiet week at windows. I should have stuck with my gut feelings from the Acorn. In the Acorn I tabbed Livin Lovin and Funny Moon as the two most likely winners. Both failed that day but keeping the faith would have been wise here.
BRISnet hosted a free online handicapping challenge on Saturday that offered 3 qualifying spots to the National Handicapping Championship in Vegas. Since the NHC is something I'd like to qualify for someday I gave this contest a shot. In the end I could do no better than 166th. It was a respectable performance but the best handicappers out there are certainly a few class levels above me at the moment.
With Saratoga starting up this week I'll be continuing the tradition of playing public handicapper for the meet. 100 winners, a flat bet profit and one perfect day with nothing but winners are my goals again this year. This will be my 5th year of this exercise, I've beat the meet twice. The most winners I ever managed was 96 in 2005. In 2007 I had 7 winners on a 9 race card. That is the closest I've ever come to sweeping.
My plan is to also post some wagers for Saratoga when the opportunities arise. Something similar to Brad Free's $50 a day plays at Del Mar for the DRF. We'll see how that goes.
Weekly Record: 1(1)-0-0-0 (-$2.00 -100.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 789(445)-136-124-101 (-$159.00 -10.08% ROI)