What an incredible 36 days of racing. Who would have ever thought that Linda Rice could pull off the upset and win the training title over guys like Pletcher, Mott, Asmussen and McLaughlin. Turf sprints have become a bigger and bigger part of NYRA's daily diet and Rice is simply amazing in those races but she also got great performances from a limited number of runners. Pletcher had 59 more starters and 1 less winner. I think the real hole in the current Todd squad is that he doesn't seem to have any horses than can win stakes races. He only took 3 stakes races in the entire meet. That used to be an average Saturday afternoon for Todd.
The Asmussen/Jackson fillies are definitely the story of the meet for me. Rachel Alexandra is the best Female racehorse of the modern era. Better than Ruffian, better than Personal Ensign and even better than Twilight Tear. This is greatness being played out right before our eyes. It's sad to think that it might be her last race of the year but what a race it was. Macho Again is no slouch on his best day but the most impressive part of her performance was not that she beat Macho Again specifically it was that she handled the tag team pressure. These old guys weren't about to give her an easy ride and she was pushed very hard in the early stages. At about the 1/8th pole I mentioned to my wife that I think they got her but Rachel just would not give up. That performance definitely put her over the top. She's the best ever.
Hot Dixie Chick would normally be a huge story for the Spa meet. A pair of scintillating open length wins in Graded Stakes. Three of the top four Beyers earned by 2yo's this year and she was even impressive while overcoming the supposed adversity of the inside post position. Saratoga is often said to be about the juveniles and Hot Dixie Chick was the finest juvenile in action this summer at the Spa.
The male 2yo's by comparison were a bit disappointing. I have a hard time coming up with the answer to the question "Who was the best male 2yo at the Spa?" Maybe it was Dublin, maybe it was Aspire, D'Funnybone looked pretty good as did Discreetly Mine but no one really stamped themselves as the must watch horse of the fall. I have no doubt that many of these juveniles will have a major impact in future stakes races but none of them seem to be of extraordinary quality.
From a handicapping perspective the meet was a disaster. Having 80 winners on top does represent an improvement over 2008 and 2007 but I still lost about 17%. It took me a long time to gain any traction in the meet. The one bright point for me was the development of the Kennedy Speed Rating. It's far from infallible but the ratings did help me get back on track and nail a few winners.
My spot plays showed a -44.11% return. My apologies if anyone was actually looking at this space for some decent advice. Despite the lure of big profits from exacta's and trifecta's I actually would have lost much less if I had simply bet each of my picks to win. That's usually the way of it with my handicapping and wagering. This meet just goes to show that I'm not that great at either. Still it's an immensely enjoyable exercise and challenge always is to get better.