Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Holy Bull Recap

The pace was hot. Sometimes I forget the jocks and trainers also read the form. If a race doesn't seem to have much pace, what better scenario to send your horse right? All of sudden the pace overfloweth. Aikenite was never able to get settled and Piscetelli and Homeboy Kris outran themselves. For a losing effort, Jackson Bend looked great, just as good as Winslow Homer to me. Homer snuck through on the inside, and it was a bold move, a feather in his cap. But Jackson Bend never gave up, wide throughout he lost by less than a length.

Fifty Bucks
The Railbird returned $80 and change on the first Fifty Bucks. Not bad, but I wish I would have been a little more dubious of Aikenite. I knew he would prolly be near the pace given Pletcher's predilections. I guess I just didn't want to get burned and that cost me. But, hell whats all this wet blanket talk, I'm in the black, baby!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Holy Bull

We've reached the trailhead. At Gulfstream Park, we have a Pletcher horse, an Unbridled from Tony Dutrow, a Dicky Dutrow horse with a goofy name looking to rebound, the Ramseys are represented with a classy colt form the El Prado line -- the frenchman in the irons, Zito has a precocious fast one at the far post and Wolfson adds blinks to a 3YO that needs focus at the rail. This is pretty exciting for the opening shot of the 2010 Derby Trail.

Fifty Bucks
For this year's trail, I'm gonna try a new a segment called fifty bucks. Rather than just a narrative, I'm gonna apply specific wagers (using fifty bucks) to weigh my opinions and perhaps demonstrate good money management throughout the trail.

For the Holy Bull, I'm not goiung to bet anything more exotic than an exacta. It's early in the trail and it's a one-turn race. The pace is hard to determine but will likely be tepid. There is no need for any of these horses to win this race; however they'll need to finish strong and give more of an account of themselves. I want to focus in on three horses for the win in this contest: Aikenite, Winslow Homer and Jackson Bend. I also see Thank U Philippe, Homeboy Kris and especially William's Kitten as threats to hit the frame. 

I'll start with Thank U Philippe. This guy loves to be the bridesmaid, but what he's shown in last is that he is still sort of playing around. He had to be put under a ride for over half the race and never drew within contention. He gets blinks and the rail and I don't see him lasting long on the front end. Homeboy Kris didn't really change trainers as the form suggests; this was Dicky Du passing his horse to his lieutenant while serving a violation. Kris folded miserably when stretched out in last and I don't know what effect that will have on his confidence. He could grab a piece of this race. William's Kitten boasts the powerful Ramsey/Maker/Leparoux connections, which in Kentucky, you would ignore at your own peril. This guy finished well at Churchill in last to take second in a race that had a lot of pace going two turns. The turnback in distance and the lack of pace bode poorly for him here, but I wanna see his last furlong. It could be smoking. And it's wise to trust the punters with him; if he's favored, he wins.

Aikenite had a nice campaign last year placing in a couple grade ones and getting a rough trip at the Breeders Cup. Like the Kitten, it seems he might want more distance, but I have a feeling Pletcher will tweak this guy's running style and ask for more in the early stages. The pace for the one-turn miles at GP are usually pretty tepid; the long backstretch allows for no need to fight to save ground. This combined with Pletcher's pretty blatant tactic to hit the front end could spell Aikenite to be closer to the front, and I think he's gonna have a good shot in here. Winslow Homer loves an Off track and the bettors love the other Dutrow. He's an Unbridled Song, which also gets a lot of attention. This will be a class test for him, but he's live in here and could be ready to take the next step. Jackson Bend has not had the best of trips but finds a way to win. He seems ahead of the curve and the only liability is his trainer Nick Zito doesn't have a good off-the-layoff record. But I think it won't matter and Jackson Bend will continue his dominance.

$10 exacta Jackson Bend/ Winslow Homer-Aikenite ($20)
$5 exacta box Jackson Bend-Winslow Homer-Aikenite ($30)

Monday, January 11, 2010

1: Zenyatta Is Unbelievable in Breeder's Cup Classic

This race decided Horse of the Year for me. It's impossible to knock Rachel Alexandra, but what if she were in the Breeders Cup? And what if Zenyatta were in the Woodward? I would take the behemoth Zenyatta in both, but it's not an easy decision. As well-crafted and astonishing as Rachel's campaign was, it still missed the two biggest days of the year. And, she probably would have won the Derby and had a good chance in the BC. The decision to not run was not based on her abilities, but on different ideas her owners had about racing and fillies. Zenyatta's campaign was lighter, and the problem with this is that we don't know how good she is, and the Breeders Cup showed we may never know, but right now she's unbeatable. So, my choice is Zenyatta for the honors and look forward to maybe watching them both race this year. Maybe against each other.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

2: The Preakness

The boys were stumbling over themselves to get to her. But it wasn't gonna happen. The track was deep and tiring, even Borel commented on how Rachel was not getting over it well. She had the outside post and would have to head the fractious Big Drama on the front and save enough to repel Mine That Bird's late bid.

The NYTimes photographer got a great shot of her eyes around the bend; her focus and intensity and clean coat in the fore ahead of a scrum of many sooon-to-be-injured peers -- General Quarters, Friesan Fire, Pioneerof the Nile and Papa Clem, to name a few. It would be the Pioneer's last race. Friesan Fire and General Quarters have recently returned in Allowance races, both losing efforts. Papa Clem ran a gamely second in his stakes return. Rachel would go on to beat three year olds again in the slop of Monmouth and elders at Saratoga in the Woodward.

Monday, January 4, 2010

3: The Kentucky Derby

"Those cowboys came with a nice horse," said Baffert, who like his stable star Pioneerof the Nile did not see Mine That Bird coming. Tom Durkin also did not see him coming. Jen R. did see it and had a nice payday, though I wasn't able to impress on her the fiduciary benefits of an exacta -- she had the tough part nailed; maybe it's hard for people with crumpled tickets to impress fiduciary benefits on people with cashers, and this was the second year in a row she'd cashed and the second I did not. Jen was the only one screaming in the room when it was all over, everyone else had a frown, queer grin or look of befuddlement. Watching the replay, it's as if the little gelding knew the path he had to take, and was ready to unfurl the courage to take it.

The next day Mine That Bird's connections passed out roses from MTB's blanket in an act of class that will hopefully be repeated. It's hard to think of an analogy for these cowboys coming in and taking the most hallowed award with a 100-1 gelding. It doesn't happen in other sports. And maybe I was the only one laughing when Wooley got exasperated with Costas in the interview after the race when Costas asked about his trip in. People thought Wooley was rude, but the show of honesty and fearlessness parelleled that of the gelding he trains, at least in my eyes. Maybe he hasnt been coached in PR. Perhaps they don't offer those classes where he's from. The sincerity, even if a bit coarse, was refreshing.