Did the Classic picture get clearer or muddier, after the
results of Super Saturday? Ron the Greek
, the forgotten horse blasted an all-star
cast in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but was that really a surprise. The ever so
consistent Mucho Macho Man
ran his West Coast Rivals into the ground, but who
did he really beat?
After a long day filled with brilliant, yet some also
disappoint results, I had many thoughts to sort out. First off, what exactly
came of the Jockey Club Gold Cup? Did Ron the Greek really deserve odds of
21-1? No. While he has only won once this year, look at what he’s done and who
he has face. After a monster effort in the Sunshine Millions Classic, he
traveled to California to run a closing third to Game on Dude
, after that one
had an easy lead on a speed favoring track. He then took to the road again,
traveling to Charles Town, where he again ran extremely well in defeat.
After all that travel he was subpar in his next two outing,
against a loaded East Coast division, but still ran third in the Stephen
Foster, and decent 4ths in the Whitney and Woodward. After a hard campaign, it’s
easy to understand why it took Ron the Greek so long to recover from all of his
travels. But, against some very well touted three year olds, and the same group
he had faced in his last two outings, he was let go.
Mistake. The son of Full Mandate, took advantage of the dry
track, a golden rail, and a fast early pace to romp home and win, by over six dominant
lengths. Does this put him in the running for Horse of the Year, even if he
wins the Breeders Cup…the thought here is no. But, it should give pause to
everyone, to consider just what this horse is capable of.
Now, while Ron the Greek may not be in the Horse of the Year
discussion…the colt behind him could be. Palace Malice
, just edged to a slight
lead in his division, after running a monster race in his own right. Ron the
Greek aired, running the distance in 1.59.7….meaning Palace Malice ran
approximately 2.00.85. It has been a long time since I saw a three year old run
10 furlongs that fast. In fact, his time would have been good enough to win the
past nine editions of this race. In defeat, Palace Malice again, ran a monster
effort, and should not be overlooked coming into the Classic.
Shifting gears, and traveling out West, what do we make of
Mucho Macho Man. For starters, the big boy finally got that elusive grade one
victory. He has come close several times, like the Woodward and Breeders Cup
Classic just last year. The win was long overdue, and he did it with authority.
However, who did he beat?
was the only horse of note in the field, and after a
nightmare of a trip, and he managed to run up for second, going away. Outside
of him, however, the quality is questionable. What I drew from this race is
that the overall West Coast Division of older males is considerably weaker than
that of the East Coast, allowing the West Coast based Game on Dude to dominate
and look like a super horse. However, as we just saw, when a horse of similar
stature and talent walks in, he handled the same group the Dude did, with the
same amount of command and authority.
Going into the Classic, I feel the race will set up best for
mid pack closers and pace stalkers, like Will Take Charge
, Palace Malice, and
Mucho Macho Man. The two three year olds are rapidly improving, and Mucho Macho
Man loves this track, and will get a ride worthy of the Hall of Fame, with Gary
Stevens in the irons.