Overview: Other than the massive upset by Interpatation over Gio Ponti the week was pretty formful. Interpatation was the only G-1 winner that went off at odds of more than 5/1 and the favorite managed to at least hit the board in every race except the Flower Bowl where Dynaforce struggled to live up to expectations. Even the four G-2 events were all won by the favorite or second choice. So the good horses starting showing their true colors and it's a good thing because the Breeders' Cup record of horses that have had a poor final prep is pretty weak. I do not often mention overseas racing on this blog despite being quite a fan of it. In the early days I actually followed European racing more than American but for the blog I decided to keep my focus stateside. However I simply cannot let the season of Sea the Stars go unmentioned. Sometime after he is retired I plan on thoroughly reviewing his career and comparing it against those of Ribot, Sea Bird, Brigadier Gerard and others to see just how good he was. For now I'll simply say that I am extremely impressed with this colt. His acceleration in the Arc was unbelievable. People speculated that he didn't have that kind of acceleration but as it turns out it seems like he simply never had the occasion to use it. Sea the Stars is a horse for the ages. If you're interested there is an excellent tribute video you can catch on Youtube. There were too many other key races to mention them all by name but Music Note, Summer Bird and Lookin At Lucky were probably the most impressive winners. Gone Astray showed very good acceleration to win his second straight minor state Derby. He may use those wins as back door access to the Classic. Out of stakes company there was a very good debut performance from a Pletcher horse named Connemara. He completely blew the break in a Turfway maiden but he rallied strongly around the whole field on the far turn and kept rolling in the lane to win by 5. This half brother to Lion Heart and French Satin could be a very serious horse.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Mathematically Gio Ponti still had a major chance to catch Rachel Alexandra if he had been able to sweep his final few races. Now that he tasted defeat in the Joe Hirsch that window is all but closed. A win in the Classic would still do it but the Classic is a race he is far less likely to win. The Female Turf division is in a delicate limbo right now. Five horses are within 40 points of each other at the top but with Forever Together and Magical Fantasy still to run in G-1's before the Breeders' Cup the championship may just come down to the two of them. Kodiak Kowboy has put himself squarely back into the mix for the Sprint title. He hadn't won a Graded Stakes race since the Carter back in April so he had been slowly falling down the rankings but this win makes him second only to Zensational. He needs to head to California though.
Power Rankings: Lookin At Lucky is actually one of the top 10 active horses in the country. It's a pretty rare thing for a 2yo to be ranked this high even before the Breeders' Cup which is obviously a major help to whoever wins it. Lookin At Lucky has been phenomenal thus far. Music Note was the other major gainer this week. In just three starts she has captured the biggest sprint race for mares in New York and the biggest route race for mares. Thankfully her opening debacle this season is a distant memory. Her rating of 20.20 makes her joint 12th among active horses and a good showing in the Ladies Classic would see her climb further still.
Performance of the Week: I don't often give Performance of the Week to a horse that lost a race but Always a Princess impressed me the most this past weekend. She came into the Oak Leaf with many things against her. She had never been beyond 5 1/2f and now she was going two turns. She had never faced winners but she was being asked to face stakes winners and to top it all off she drew the rail which often spells death to the inexperienced. She broke with the field but had to be asked in order to get to the lead. In her first start she was sitting 10 lengths off the pace early but here she set a pace that was just on the quick side. Sterling Outlook set nearly identical fractions in the Norfolk and he wound up dead last. Always a Princess could not deal with Blind Luck but she did stay on gamely and fight off the challenge of Bickersons. With the pace and all other factors being so much against her I thought it was a colossal performance. Always a Princess goes to the head of my Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies list. With a better draw, more experience and a different pace scenario she can beat anyone I've seen so far.
Race of the Week: Despite the fact that the finish was not that tight I thought the Jockey Club Gold Cup was the most exciting race to watch. You had to know the context. Summer Bird on a serious roll looking to establish himself as the clear 3yo leader. Quality Road, the talented and brilliant, whose reputation probably outdoes his significant accomplishments. The winner of this match would go into the Breeders' Cup as the top sophomore of their gender. The older horses failed to involve themselves in this race at all it was pretty clear that we were going to see them duke it out as they entered the stretch. For a brief moment it looked like it might get desperate but Summer Bird found something extra and powered a length clear. Quality Road never gave up and performed with much credit but clearly Summer Bird is the better of the two at the distance. I felt like this race was what racing is supposed to be about. Everyone wanted questions answered in head to head fashion and that's what we got.
Flop of the Week: Very few good horses ran badly this weekend so I'm going to have to pick on Get Serious. He was running in the Cliff Hanger at the Meadowlands. Get Serious was 4 for 5 this year and he had not finished out of the frame in a Turf race since he faced Big Brown, Shakis, Proudinsky and company at Monmouth. There were no killers in the Cliff Hanger so he was justifiably sent off as the favorite at around 2/1. Unfortunately for his backers and connections he just didn't come to play. He offered no resistance in the stretch and was quickly swallowed up by the pack. He only avoided a last place finish by a nose. Get Serious is a better horse than that.
Tip O'the Cap: I wanted to give my congratulations to Kodiak Kowboy and to Steve Asmussen as well for his victory in the Vosburgh. Indian Blessing gets praised for being a BC Juvenile race winner still in action and winning stakes but once upon a time I actually selected Kodiak Kowboy to win the Juvenile. He ran a decent third that day and he's been a solid course all of his career. I think he may actually appreciate the Asmussen program a bit more than what Jones was doing with him. Under Asmussen he is 6 for 11 and has never really run a dull race. With Jones he was 4 for 11 and often times he just didn't look like a horse that was really trying.
KC Handicapping: This will be the last installment of the Kennedy's Corridor Handicapping roundup. I have decided that I am no longer comfortable giving out advice that I know will lose you money over the long term. Not that I believe that anyone follows my suggestions blindly but in life away from cyberspace I spend a good bit of time investing in the lives of people that have come from or are in difficult life situations. I got to thinking, is the handicapping advice I give something I'd want them reading?
All things considered I think I do decently with my selections compared to other people. It's hard to turn a profit when making selections for a race a day or two in advance. Most people that offer these types of picks don't keep score because it's extremely difficult to show a profit. My handicapping tips have been good for a loss of 11% over a period of a couple years. I work in the finance sector and I couldn't in good conscience give this kind of advice at work so I'm choosing not to give it in my spare time either.
Does this mean I'll never handicap another race? I've always enjoyed the challenge of finding winners but I am not a gambler. I'm going to have opinions about certain races, especially big races but I'm not going to approach them with the thought of value or turning a profit. I enjoy racing primarily as a fan and in the future I'm going to be focusing this blog more on being a fan than a handicapper.
Lookin At Lucky, Summer Bird and Music Note were all short priced winners so it was another negative week. Going against Gio Ponti was the correct move but I came up with the wrong horse in Telling. Interpatation is one that I never would have selected, a horse with a profile like that is simply always going to beat me. I was a bit shocked that Kodiak Kowboy got to Fabulous Strike. I thought the Strike would have more than enough to hold him off.
Weekly Record: 9(7)-3-1-0 (-$7.40 -41.11% ROI)
Overall Record: 813(463)-141-128-102 (-$181.90 -11.19% ROI)