! It’s been a while and I’m glad to be back.
Yes, the last blog entry
was from the Breeders’ Cup and it took so much out of
me that I didn’t have the energy to write until now! Actually, I was SO CLOSE
to winning some good money at the Breeders’ Cup and since I didn’t, I decided
that maybe I needed to change up the way I’m doing things. I think all
handicappers go through this at some point.
Anyhow, this will be the first in a series of regular
reports from the “dark” side of horse racing where the “darkness” is my
dark-horse mind as I share my current thoughts with you.
I had the pleasure of attending the Bluegrass Stakes at
Keeneland this weekend and I was again impressed with the cards that the racing
office had put together. First, I’d like to start with Wise Dan. Like a champ
he rolled home in the Makers 46 Mile in a decent 1:34 4/5 seconds holding off a
charging longshot in Kaigun.
Trivia question: who were the winners of the last
three races Wise Dan actually lost? Answer is at the bottom of this page.
Anyway, this champion of a horse continues to dominate at age 7 and I’m so glad
I got to see him in person. I’m guessing he will aim for the Woodford Reserve
I think Brian Zipse
said it perfectly when he noted, “I know
she appreciates Keeneland, but it might be about time we start talking about
Judy the Beauty as the best female sprinter in the land.” This horse has yet to
finish off the board in her 5-year career with 7 wins and only one show. Seeing
her in person this weekend, I was taken away by the awesome beauty and power of
this mare. She left the field in the dust by 2 ½ lengths in the Grade 1 Madison
on Saturday, a certainty of more things to come.
In the paddock before the race, I was speaking with Dawn
Mellen who is part of the ownership group of Dance With Fate
. I asked her if
she won this race if they would bring the horse to the Kentucky Derby. Her
response, “well…….” led me to believe that they wanted to cross the bridge when
they came to it. Not more than 10 minutes later, Dance With Fate came from far
back at an honest pace and stormed home to take the Bluegrass. Still pressuring
for an answer the next day on whether or not the horse will end up in the
Derby, “no comment” was the answer. Though I’m thinking we’ll see Dance With
Fate on the first Saturday in May.
Keeneland Gets Dirty
It’s no longer a secret. Earlier in the month Keeneland
announced that the main track will be reverting back to a dirt surface, ending
the eight-year reign of Polytrack at the main oval. While this will be a
popular decision for racing fans (as the Bluegrass gains some prominence in the
Kentucky Derby preps), I fear that the track might get chalky again. Remember
how to handicap the old Keeneland? Find the speed, bet the speed. It will be
interesting to see what the fall meet brings. Personally, I will watch first
before placing any wagers.
In a classic case of track vs. horsemen, it appears that the
state of Virginia will not be hosting any live racing any time soon. Colonial Downs is pushing for more of a boutique meet, a handful of days with large purses
while the horsemen in the state prefer a longer meet with purses distributed
more evenly across more days. Track management feels that they can
actually make more money by running fewer days. The horsemen feel that a
boutique meet will virtually kill the long-running breeding program in the
state (remember Secretariat?). The sides are very far apart at this point and
things are so bad that the track is looking to create a new horsemen group in
order to close the deal! So again a major U.S. sport comes down to the almighty
dollar and the fans suffer again. This isn’t the first time this has happened
and I’m sure it’s not the last.
Well the Derby preps are in the books and the points
standings are complete. It’s really no surprise that California Chrome leads
the pack with 150 points. This horse has beaten everyone in his path. Still I
wonder about the deeper Churchill Downs surface and how this horse will
perform. Following California Chrome are Vicar’s In Trouble with 120, Dance
With Fate with 108, Wicked Strong with 102, and Samraat, Danza, and
Constitiution all with 100 each.
Right now I’m looking at three horses. First Wicked Strong
impressed me in the Wood Memorial and I love the improving 3-year-old angle. I
think he steps up again in three weeks and he certainly has the distance in his
pedigree. Next I’m looking at Constitution. Yeah, the horse didn’t run until
his year and has only run in a handful of races. Still, he is a big and
impressive colt who is improving as well. I will take a long look at this one. Finally,
for me it’s Hoppertunity. Similar to Constitution, this horse did not run as a
2-year-old but looked very impressive at Oaklawn. He finished a distant second
to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby, but I think the Churchill
surface gives him an edge.
Back to Keeneland
This track has beauty that rivals my old home track of Arlington Park. Here are some of my photos from the day!
Katie Gensler interviews JJ Castellano before the race card begins.
Rosie Napravnik along with Mr. Ramsey.
Trivia Answer: Silver Max, Ron the Greek, and Gio Ponti.