The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat
. Remember that from ABC’s Wide World of
Sports back in the 70’s and 80’s? I think we all felt a little bit of that
as California Chrome
fell victim to Big Sandy
as many before him did. It’s almost a surreal feeling this morning as I still think Chrome can win the Triple Crown. Ah, it was not meant to be. This week’s
Dark (and sad) Report contains agony, a silver lining, a review, a lesson, and
a trainer that’s heating up.
THE AGONY OF
I was one of
the millions of Americans that wanted to see California Chrome
take the Triple Crown
. After all it’s only been 36 years! I suppose it just wasn’t meant to be.
I also felt that if Chrome didn’t take it, then Wicked Strong
would. I was
wrong there too. Tonalist at 9-1
, who many had as a contender to take this
race, except for me, beat Commissioner
(28-1) by a head. Medal Count
(24-1), my Kentucky Derby pick
, finished third.
Was Chrome a
prohibitive favorite? Was he just too tired
? DRF’s Barbara Livingston
, one of
the finest photographers in the business, captured a photo of Chrome’s foot
after the race.
Apparently he had been injured by Matterhorn out of the gate.
Was that the excuse for the loss? Many, many questions will be left unanswered.
I also didn’t
get to hear or see the post-race interviews, but apparently Chrome owner Steve
Coburn had a lot to say:
obviously a tough loss for the owners, and a nation. Coburn had a few strong
statements during the interview with NBC. Let me break down some of his points:
other horses, they always set him out. They set him out and try to upset the
apple cart. I’ll never see another Triple Crown Winner because the way they do
this. It’s not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one.”
Mr. Coburn, they are trying to defeat the potential Triple Crown winner. It’s
no different than NFL teams trying to knock off a dynasty team like the 1970’s Steelers
or today’s New England Patriots. The champion will always have a target on their
back. Besides, horse racing is an extremely competitive sport, if you didn't know. The $1.5 million
purse would cause all of the entrants to do whatever it takes to win. That’s a
lot of money! And as far as it not being fair
, well Chrome could have been
entered to just run in the Belmont…
- “If you
can’t make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, you can’t run in the
other two races.”
an interesting point here. It seems as though the Kentucky Derby is the only
race with a points system to be eligible for entry. Should the other races have
such a system as well? How would it be determined? Or would it be as simple as
calling it qualifying points for the Triple Crown and not just the Kentucky
Lots of questions to think about. What are your thoughts on this?
- “It’s all
or nothing. It’s not fair to these horses.”
I really don’t
think it’s a question of fairness. No rules were broken by having these other
horses enter the race. Now, is it one of those unwritten rules like Baseball has
? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, I think it was fair. If you have the best
colt in the country, let him defeat anyone who gets in his way to prove that he
is indeed the champion of champions
. By the way, if you read Derek Simon’s
Belmont wagering guide, he noted that every Belmont winner since 1990 had raced
within 36 days of the Belmont Stakes.
- “This is
the coward’s way out in my opinion.”
Again, I think
not. No rules were broken, and anyone that has a horse with a legitimate shot
their share of $1.5 million should take it.
- “Our horse
had a target on it’s back,” in response to the question regarding the fact that
teams gang up on a potential triple crown winner.
course the horse has a target on his back. He won two of the biggest races of
the year for 3-year-olds. Are the other jockeys and horses just supposed to lay down
- “If you’ve
got a horse, you run ‘em in all three. If you’ve got a horse that earns points
to run in the Kentucky Derby, those twenty horses that start in Kentucky are
the only twenty eligible to run in all three races.”
people get into this sport? Why do people breed horses? Why do people study
pedigrees? For most, it’s to have a shot at the Kentucky Derby. It’s the race
that most folks try to win. However sometimes a horse just isn’t ready for the
Kentucky Derby. Or sometimes a horse is injured, or scratched, for the Derby.
As horsemen, we must ALWAYS do right by the horse. Period.
So is he saying
that he would have denied the great A.P. Indy a shot at the Belmont Stakes?
the amazing filly Rachel Alexandra being denied a chance to beat the boys in
the Preakness? Bernardini in the Preakness? Drosselmeyer in the Belmont? Yeah I
don’t think that would work.
Many think that his comments were out of line and that maybe he should be
banned. I think that’s a little drastic. There was a man who just had a shot at
a Triple Crown, first in almost 40 years, and was soundly defeated. How would
you feel? Sadness? Anger? I don’t know about you, but I may have reacted in the
same manner, right or wrong. On the other hand, it IS a horse race where
ANYTHING can and does happen.
All was not
lost on Belmont Stakes day however. We got to see a Breeders’ Cup-style card in
early June. Most of the best horses in the country were in attendance and it
was a treat
for all of the fans to see.
The Ogden Phipps
was probably one of the best races of the day in terms of the best older
female dirt horses battling together. Featured in this race were Close Hatches
Azeri and Apple Blossom winner and a perfect record in 2014, Princess of Sylmar
who had won 9 of her last 11, and Beholder
, the nine-time winner and victor in
last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Check out the replay:
, what a
race! Close Hatches hung on to narrowly defeat a hard charging Princess of
Sylmar to win by a head. Whoa.
in the Just A Game
was equally as exciting as Coffee Clique
won by a nose with
a head-bob at the wire. Check it out:
got to see one of, if not THE best
older horse in the nation with Palace Malice
. Mega long shot Broadway Empire had the lead in the Met Mile
for most of the race with
(ridiculous 10-1 ML) right behind. Goldencents took the lead in the
stretch, but the class and power of Palace Malice could not be denied. Watch!
amazing finish by a great horse, finishing in 1:33 2/5.
The other thing
to note was the HUGE
mutual pools for these races. Millions upon millions of
dollars were bet into these races, creating value for all folks playing
yesterday. In the Belmont Stakes alone, $14 million was wagered into the Exacta
pool and $16 million into the Trifecta pool! $2.8 million was wagered into the
Pick 4 pool, yet I felt that payout was a bit disappointing (5-1, 7-5, 5-1, 9-1)
as it only paid $425. Still, it was an amazing day of racing and I’m glad I got
to watch! With a crowd of over 100,000 horse racing still lives strong!
BACK TO THAT
DOSAGE THING AGAIN
Ok ok, one
last time. Just to touch on the dosage index and how the Belmont Stakes
finishers fared, Tonalist (2.78) is actually bred for distance though being by
Tapit. Commissioner (2.60) and Medal Count (2.13 and bred to go all day
rounded out the top three. All of which under the magical 3.00 number.
horses with a DI above 3.00 have won the Belmont Stakes before, though it hasn’t
And still, no horse with a DI over 3.00 has won the Triple Crown.
Dean is right. Perhaps the breeding has changed in such a way that the horses
now don’t have the lethal combination of both speed and stamina. How does that
Now to the
handicapping for just a bit. I’m starting to hit that annual point where I pick
a lot of winners and have nothing to show for it. So yesterday I tried going
after the big Pick Four pool at Belmont. However with so many contenders in
each field, without breaking the bank was it really hittable? And for $425,
which isn’t life-changing money, was it worth the effort?
Clique was my top pick in the first leg there was a lot of competition and the
horse only won by a nose. In the Met Mile I spread out the ticket a little bit just
in case Palace Malice couldn’t get it done. I used Goldencents and a few others
when in reality I guess I only needed the beast. The third leg was very
competitive and would have been a good race to use ALL. I didn’t have Real
Solution on the ticket, but I’m also not surprised that the Arlington Million
winner took the race. Finally in the Belmont, I thought if it wasn’t Chrome
then it would be Wicked Strong, but I was all in on the Triple Grown.
No amount of
handicapping or analysis could have possibly got me to singles in many of the
races. I suppose a Coffee Clique with Palace Malice, with ALL and ALL could
have been a good play, but the payout wasn’t as large as I would have wanted.
THAT’S HEATING UP
trainer Tom Swearingen
is certainly heating up at the right time. With $374,000
in earnings and 24/45 in the money already in 2014, Swearingen has a couple of
Illinois-bred horses that are taking Chicago by storm. Last week I Got It All dominated the Springfield Stakes
by over 9 lengths.
Countess Cashmere won the Purple Violet Stakes
at Arlington Park by a half
length, just one race after breaking her maiden! That makes two IL-bred stakes
race wins in a row for Swearingen. I’m anxious to see how these horses perform
later in the meet!
never, ever, get tired of watching this: