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Racing's Renaissance?

Fort Larned BC 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire

In an era where owners are often criticized by fans for sending the sport’s stars off to the breeding shed too soon, it appears that racing has entered a Renaissance Era. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is similar to racing's golden age when the likes of the mighty Kelso and Forego ruled racing in the 60’s and 70’s regularly toting over 130 pounds, while winning the country’s biggest races on a regular basis. The 2013 racing season is quite refreshing in the fact that many of the games top stars are at least 5 years old. In fact, 6 of the top 10 horses on the HRN poll are 5 years of age or older.


Granted, the top 2 are the country’s top older males are geldings, therefore squashing any thoughts of them going to the breeding shed, but Wise Dan and Game on Dude are both 6-year-old geldings that are undefeated this year and appear as though they haven’t lost a step in their “advanced” racing age. Both appear destined to be favored once again in the BC Mile and Classic respectively, as they were last year.


The 5-year-old horse Fort Larned had a tumultuous start to 2013, when dropping jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. at the start of his seasonal debut, and then running 5th in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2). His backers were starting the think he lost a step from his breakout win in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, but he put those doubts to rest with a dazzling win in the Stephen Foster (G1) last month. The star of the Ian Wilkes barn appears to be on a collision course with Game on Dude this November at Santa Anita once again.


Though defeated at Churchill Downs last out, 5-year-old mare Royal Delta looks to rebound in this weekend’s Delaware Handicap (G1). After fetching an $8.5 million price from owner Benjamin Leon in 2011, it would have been easy to send Royal Delta to breeding shed after winning her 2nd consecutive BC Ladies Classic in 2012, but Leon has been a breath of fresh air for keeping Royal Delta at the track. If things go according to plan, Royal Delta will attempt to be the 2nd horse to win a Breeders’ Cup race 3 years running (Goldikova).


After his win in the Westchester on opening day and 3rd place effort in the Met Mile on Memorial Day, the 7-year-old horse Flat Out took down the Suburban Handicap (G2) at his home track, Belmont Park on July 6th. There’s no doubt that the Baron of Belmont isn’t quite the same when taking his show away from Long Island, but it is still a treat to see the veteran compete in at the highest level anywhere he goes.  


On the sidelines since narrowly missing in the Cigar Mile (G1) last November, the 5-year-old mare Groupie Doll has been on the work tab the last 2 months and appears to be on track to try and duplicate her breathtaking effort in last November’s BC Filly & Mare Sprint. A fan favorite, Groupie Doll may return to the races in the Ballerina Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on 8/23.


Last Saturday, Rahystrada, the 9-year-old gelding by Rahy became the first horse to capture the Arlington Handicap (local prep for the Arlington Million) 3 times. Though not a leader in his division, the Arlington Park specialist could vault his way up the leader board if able to improve on his 3rd place finish in last year’s Arlington Million.


Marketing Mix, the 5-year-old mare defeated males last out in the Sunset Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park. Owned by Glen Hill Farm, who breeds a lot of their runners, it would be very each to send her off to the breeding shed after her runner-up effort in last year's BC Filly & Mare Turf. Expect Marketing Mix to be one of the favorites in next month’s Beverly D (G1) at Arlington Park, before heading out to Santa Anita to take another shot at Breeders’ Cup glory.


Point of Entry is a 5-year-old horse who was at the top of the turf marathon division before sustaining an injury during his win in the Manhattan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. It’ll be a stretch, but his long term goal is to make it back to Santa Anita this November for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Though it appears Point of Entry has relinquished his spot at the top, it seems that his stable mate, Boisterous (6-year-old horse) has picked up the torch in the marathon turf division following his win in last Saturday’s Man O’ War Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.


Ben’s Cat is the 7-year-old gelding who lays claim to being the best turf sprinter on the Eastern Seaboard. A winner of 3 of 4 races this year; Ben’s Cat is honest as they come by winning stakes throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Though not Breeders’ Cup nominated, don’t be surprised to see Ben’s Cat consistently beat horses that will show up to racing’s biggest weekend.


Sure, there are some flashy youngsters that will make an immediate splash and then be whisked off to their second careers, but whether its dirt, turf, short or long it’s nice to see some of game’s biggest stars competing at such a high level for an extended period of time.



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Older Comments about Racing's Renaissance?...

Mary Z, Groupie doll went 5f in 59.60 this am.....WOW! she must have heard me questioning her last 2 workouts
Yes, I meant the Doll
All very good, benji. About 1/2 inch of rain in Louisville on the 9th, so not sure what the track was like on the 12th. plus, just a thought, maybe she didn't need to be quite so sharp when that far out from her next race, but I don't see any problems, so far. She "sharpened" right back up with her 5f work looks like. I'm rather horrible with figuring abbreviations, but I got that you meant Groupie Doll from the blog and your profile.
this is HARDLY a trend
Mary Z, What are your thoughts on GD's workouts so far this year?
One positive step. Add more links if you have them:
One positive step. Add more links if you have them:
watching our great sport develop congestive heart failure with no digitalis around is difficult since the prognosis remains poor.
Vic, it's saturday night. Let your hair down and relax.
Racings REBIRTH is headed for a miscarrage with the overt conpalcency throughout the differing tracks in NOT providing and united front to promote what is right about the game.
He's not the same league as those you mention, but Jackson Bend is working too.
You can't forget Jeranimo either.
And I really hope this trend continues! As the breeding market is not outrageous the quick retirements should be reduced
Nice article, like all of them.
Love my Flat Out :)
I love that Ben's Cat is in here. He gets knocked by many for not having faced "top competition" since he doesn't travel much.
Nice to see the Baron of Belmont get a mention ... at 7-years-old and not gelded, he is better than ever.

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Meet Jasen Mangrum

My interest in the Sport of Kings goes back over 25 years with my father taking me with his friends to the old Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course in Omaha, NE.  From those early experiences I was able to read the Daily Racing Form before the age of 10.  Once The Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1988, I became totally hooked on the sport studying racing charts after homework and tennis practice.  In recent years, with the explosion of handicapping tournaments, my love for handicapping the races has risen to a new level.  Primarily focused on New York, Chicago and Louisiana racing, I have now been forced to study races far and wide in attempt to find “cap horses” in the tournaments I play.  I have also dabbled in horse ownership within syndicates and on my own.


My fondest memories in racing include Silver Charm’s 1997 Kentucky Derby victory.  Both my father and I selected him, which made for a memorable day.  The best race I’ve seen was Tiznow’s first Breeders Cup Classic win in 2000 when he outdueled Giant’s Causeway down the length of the Churchill Downs stretch.   My biggest windfall as a gambler was a pool-scooping pick-4 win, paying over $6,600 at The Woodlands in 2005.


The point of this blog is to get everyone out there a few winners, but also to go in depth at how I come to the conclusions that I do.  From week to week, I’ll explain angles I think are important to locate winners.  I encourage others to post picks they like too, but please explain how you come to your conclusions.  That way everyone can learn a little more about this great game, and add another weapon to their handicapping arsenal.-Best of luck, Jasen Mangrum

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