Barbaro Updates: 399
updates are now here.
Update 2531: Superfecta here, stopping by for a little Tuesday afternoon guest-blogging.
It was quite a weekend of racing; things are shaping up nicely for the Breeders' Cup. First, the West Coast:
Tiago performed well in his first outing against older horses in the Goodwood Handicap (Lava Man was scratched in favor of a race next weekend), although he was certainly tested by Awesome Gem -- nevertheless, his victory was very professional. I would also like to see more of third-place finisher Lewis Michael, perhaps in a slightly shorter race; I believe he has a lot of potential but has never quite found his rhythm although he seems comfortable on both dirt and grass. Some may recall he finished third to a horse named Barbaro in the Florida Derby and did not look bad in that defeat; I'd like to see him in the Dirt Mile.
Nashoba's Key switched back to grass for the Yellow Ribbon and still remains unbeaten, holding off a strong challenge from Citronnade. As I've mentioned before, the Filly & Mare Turf division is going to be the hardest one to handicap -- but more on that later. It is perhaps more impressive to consider that Nashoba's Key began this winning streak when she began her racing career earlier this year as a four-year-old and she seems to improve with each race.
Switching to the East Coast, but staying with the girls on grass, the Flower Bowl was certainly an interesting race. Lahudood set a stakes record in her win (her first effort in America), but Roskina (one of my picks) was a fine second ahead of Wait a While. It seems that the talented My Typhoon was not a huge fan of the very firm going, as she was never a factor (but she should not be discounted come Breeders' Cup day). As mentioned above, the Filly & Mare Turf division is full of talent already -- once everyone else ships in from Europe, it's practically a toss-up since a good argument can be made for any number of top horses. It's going to be a highlight of Breeders' Cup day.
Discreet Cat's return to the races in the Vosburgh did not play out as planned; his dull third was not a particularly confidence-inspiring performance, but the excuses are built-in -- the long layoff, he needed the race, he needed more distance (although he certainly did not seem to need it at that particular point in time), etc. But the good news is that it means the new Dirt Mile will have a marquee contender, which is something it probably needed -- and it should also mean that he needs to stay in training next year to really prove himself. If anything, the victory by Fabulous Strike should continue to raise his sire Smart Strike's stud fee -- three grade I wins for his offspring in one weekend (see English Channel and Curlin below) cannot hurt.
Back on the turf, English Channel looked tremendous in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (his second victory in the race, which is a remarkable statistic these days for a stallion); I don't know whether that means he's quite in the same league as some of the expected European heavy-hitters, but it was a gutsy run and a very encouraging sign. It would be nice to see more horses with a career of consistent top-level performances. Given that he was fifth in the Breeders' Cup Turf as a 3-year old and third last year, he does have a good shot, but it's going to be a tough race.
The Distaff division is clearly missing Rags to Riches; Unbridled Belle looked good beating stablemate Indian Vale in the Beldame although Ginger Punch did not seem quite her usual self. While Unbridled Belle seems to be coming into her own, she's not really in the same class as Rags to Riches and the division is poorer for her absence. Without her, it's a reasonably solid, but somewhat uninspiring group. However, I've always maintained that winning the Del Cap can propel a mare on to bigger and better things, and Unbridled Belle clearly took that to heart -- not bad for a $4,000 purchase.
Finally, of course, the Classic division. As predicted, Hard Spun bested Street Sense, but he had everything his own way in a tiny field and on a surface he loves. He's unlikely to get to set the pace and lead wire to wire in the Classic, which seems to be his preferred running style; Street Sense didn't look tired to me as much as not necessarily pushed to his full potential -- the race seemed more of a rehearsal for him. As I've said before, I like Hard Spun a lot and would love him at a mile (and he looked fine at the 1 1/8 as well), but I'm not sure he loves the 1 1/4 distance, and Street Sense does. As ever, trainer Carl Nafzger made no excuses and looks forward to the next dance:
Carl Nafzger, handler of Street Sense, was gracious in defeat. "It was up to him at the head of the lane to get by Hard Spun," he said, "but he just outran us. We were right there and we got beat; that's horseracing, no excuses. But we're ready for next time."Curlin proved me wrong, gamely holding off Lawyer Ron in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, although Lawyer Ron didn't do himself any favors -- he seemed rank early on and was in the center of the track for much of the race. It could easily be argued that he just prefers Saratoga to Belmont -- but even if that is the case, it seems there was some concern from trainer Steve Asmussen that Lawyer Ron's pressure was a tough challenge for Curlin:
Asmussen called the Gold Cup "trophies in their own right" but acknowledged it was not his ultimate goal. That comes in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park.The bottom line is that all the Classic contenders who raced this past weekend looked good and will likely go off at relatively short odds on come the evening of Breeders' Cup Saturday, but I can imagine quite a few scenarios in which a European horse runs off with the prize. We'll have to wait and see who ships in...
"Everyone knows the Classic is the pinnacle," he said. "And I'm extremely concerned that he left too much out there today."
Update 2530: A Fair Hill, farm and sales update from Penny at timwoolleyracing.com:
Tim has made an early call this morning to let me know what is going on at the barn. It is business as usual. Grandma will be going home to her owners. Her legs do not look good and before anything happens to her we are stopping on her. She will not be far away so we will be able to visit her on a regular basis. Her owners love her so she will have a wonderful home. Maybe they will breed her and we will have Grandma babies. That would be great. I will miss seeing her face everyday. She is such a joy. Real Lace is fine after her "race" last week. She is bucking and squealing around the barn causing lots of mayhem. Maybe mayhem is too strong a word. She just feels good. The babies (Paris & Diva) continue to train along slowly and so far they are fine. Mass Romantic I believe will be running her first race for us shortly. She is as lovey as ever but is becoming quite the racehorse. She actually pickes up her hind leg when you are brushing her trying to be mean and kick. She does this in slow motion so you know she is not really being mean. She is my sister Andrea's favorite. What a charmer. Something Wild continues to improve his fitness level. Being that he isn't doing much yet his leg seems fine. Hopefully when we kick it up a notch his leg will be ok. What a flashy boy he is and wonderful to work with in the barn. It's hard to believe that he can be such a tough gallop. He totes Tim around quite easily. They are a good match. Both tiny and compact.
The sales went just fine yesterday. Lots of beautiful babies and lots of buyers. The average was down slightlty from last year. Who knows what today will bring. Some of these babies do not even look like babies. The horse Tim has on the farm "Lucky" and also the horse Paget has on the farm "Wilmer" both have half siblings in the sale (same Mare different Stallion). We had a look at Lucky's little brother. He has the same face as Lucky and is just as big as Lucky is now. He is quite good looking but looks like he needs to be gelded already. We haven't had a look at Wilmer's little brother yet. It is so cool to be able to see siblings. You get a pretty good idea on the sort of baby a mare will throw.
No reports from the farm just yet today. Emily is taking care of the boys and Bubble Gum.
She reported yesterday that everyone is fine and she thinks Wilmer is very cute. It is hard to believe that he is only three years old. We missed a nice paper chase on the weekend in Unionville but there will be more of those later in the month. Buddy will be ready! The breeder of my horse Timmy was here yesterday. She promised to come see "Fabio", he is still the most gorgeous horse out of the mare (MY Friend Kim). There are two other babies out of Kim running right now and hopefully they will do well. I will try to write again later if there is any excitement at all to report.
Update 2529: Another beautiful morning at Keeneland. I had six to ride, three in the dark, under lights, and three once the sun picked up. There is an odd noise coming from the grandstand as you jog back from the gap. It sounds like a zoo, an avary in a zoo, even screaching monkeys at times. Apparently it is birds in the grandstand, with the noise amplified. As you pass this noise on the left horses are breezing by you on your right, and you cannot hear their feet hitting the ground. Its very cool. We are also right next to an airport so you also have the noise of jets taking off once in a while.
There are a few people who mingle by the gap as you come onto the track. There are also people in the grandstand observing the training. I think this is something to do if visiting Kentucky. Go early morning to Keeneland with a cup of coffee and enjoy the atmosphere, and there is a wonderful atmosphere.
All that being said, my six horses went nicely. Its just a pleasure to be here.
We will have a guest blogger, once a week, posting a weekly recap and review of racing. This begins today.
Update 2528: Picking the favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic will be a very tough call. If Street Sense had beaten Hard Spun at the weekend he would have been favorite. He did not. If Lawyer Ron had beaten Curlin, he would likely have been favorite, he did not. You could make a case for Curlin, but his Haskell race hurts him, and you could make a case for Hard Spun, but going a mile and a quarter in a full field against his Triple Crown foes makes him look a little vulnerable on the front (with Laywer Ron ?) Oh well, I am glad I don't bet: BC Classic: One race for two titles.