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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

June 7, 2014 Embodies Racing's Attributes and Flaws

In the moments, the hours after the Belmont, after a Triple Crown bid has just been denied, emotions are always running high. The highs are higher than Mount Kilimanjaro, the lows can make you feel like just landed face first on a highway blacktop. Either way, in those moments, it is never time to recap. It is the day after, where emotions have settled and everything has sunk in, when it is time to reassess and comment.
Firstly, I’d like to congratulate the winners. Tonalist, Bayern, Palace Malice, Coffee Clique, Real Solution, and Close Hatches. If I missed a horse, I apologize. They ran their eye balls out yesterday, every single one of them. Whether they played hero or spoiler, they ran their guts out and gave us some absolutely amazingly, scintillating finishes.
Secondly, I’d like to offer my thoughts, post-race, on a few. First up, what a sprinter Bayern will become. Bob Baffert said he was talented, said he was something special, and boy oh boy did Bayern prove him right. Lightning fast track or not, those splits were harsh and he was right in the thick of them. Then turning for home, Social Inclusion made his move at him, hoping that Bayern had been softened, but to no avail. Bayer turned him away, and then put him away. He made him and the rest of a very talented group look like 12.5k claimers.  If we thought the sprint division was weak and boring this year, well, it just got a whole lot more interesting. Hopefully this one comes back to make a lot more noise, later on in the year.
The Ogden Phipps was supposed to be Beholder vs Princess of Sylmar! I mean, Close Hatches is good and all, but what the hey! Before anyone gets their nickers in a twist……I’m joking. But seriously, who expected Close Hatches to upset both of these two Distaff titans? Yes, some did, and I give credit to them, but not many. Miss Hatches ran an amazing race. She deserves to be head of the heap, after remaining unbeaten, beating the two best mares in the division, while taking her second grade one of 2014. She ran a fine race. However, I do look forward to if she can keep the Princess at bay when the distances go to nine furlongs and beyond.

On Beholder, She is a talented filly. She deserves a ton of respect. However, she just doesn’t seem to be the unbeatable force that she is at Santa Anita, when she leaves the comfy confines of that track. Twice she has run in grade ones outside of Santa Anita, twice she’s failed. Albeit, not by much, but it would seem that her form greatly improves when she is racing at her favorite course. It should be interesting to see if she continues to try and find success on the east, or if she returns to California for continued success.

Now, to my favorite race of the day…..the Met Mile, where Palace Malice overcame post position, high weight, and traffic troubles to complete a rare double, by winning the Belmont Stakes and Met Mile. Not many horses can boast grade one wins from a mile to 12 furlongs. He, like Close Hatches, staked his claim as the head of his division yesterday, and I’m betting he keeps it with more wins that, hopefully come in the Whitney, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup.
After all the hype and build up, during the day, it sure was hard not to let the events during and after the Belmont spoil everything. First, California Chrome was denied a place among the 11 elites. Then his owner rants on camera, then it’s revealed that Chrome came out of the race with a very nasty looking grabbed quarter, which looks as if he sustained only a stride or two out of the gate.
My original thoughts haven’t changed much. I disagree with the time and place at which Steve Coburn made his arguments, and I disagree with the manner in which he made them. It wasn’t gracious and it left a bad taste in the mouths of many. That being said, I believe he made some good points. I don’t believe the connections of Tonalist and Commissioner are cowards, but I would say they are greedy. More people would rather play spoiler than see a horse win the Triple Crown, and more people are even more willing to do it, when there is a big purse on the line.

Are you going to tell me that the connections of Sham, Alydar, and Easy Goer wanted to spoil the Triple Crown just to say they did? Just to make some money? I doubt that. They were in it to prove that their horse was the best. They didn’t duck any of the races, they took their shots over and over, because they believe that their horse was best, and they wanted to prove it. I doubt any of the connections that ran their horses in the Belmont actually believed that they had the better horse. In fact, many admitted that they thought they didn’t.

I don’t agree that if a horse hasn’t run in both the Derby and Preakness, they can’t run in the Belmont. If that were the case then this year’s Belmont would have been a total of 3 horses, and where is a test in that? I do think however, that if you did not qualify for the Derby, then you shouldn’t be allowed to run in either the Preakness or Belmont. Notice I did not say if you didn’t race in the Derby. Meaning if you had the points, but for some reason, the horse was scratched you can still run back in the other two, as well as those who made the gate. Under that rule the Belmont would have ended up with a field of seven horses. Still a decent sized field with plenty of quality to it.
Would Chrome have won under this? No. In fact he would have lost to a horse I said wouldn’t run well over the Belmont dirt. So, this is not about wanting to make the Triple Crown easier. It’s about leveling the playing field to an extent. Racing is the only sport that sets its heroes up to fail. Would you see Usain Bolt run with seven pounds of lead on his shoulders, to make it easier for his opposition to stay with him? Do we see people who didn’t qualify for the Olympic Games allowed in at the last moment, because what, they wanted to rest during the last half of the season, and because of that didn’t have enough points or merits to qualify? No. The same should apply to any series in horse racing.
I want fans to stick around. I don’t want them to go away, and I don’t want to watch the sport I love die a slow death, because we feel we need to handicap our heroes into the realm of ordinary.

June 7, 2014 embodied all of racing in one day. Its beauty and its shining positives and its flaws. It’s time we embraced those flaws and learn from them, and fixed them. It’s time we stopped trying to hide them, dressing them up to make them into something they aren’t. It’s time to make a few changes, or watch this sport fall into oblivion. 


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Older Comments about June 7, 2014 Embodies Racing's Attributes and Flaws...

Another rarity in sports is that only four times has a baseball team threepeated World Series. I think it is inherently unfair that a team going after a threepeat has to play teams that did not compete in the previous two playoffs, they just sat at home and rested up for the next season. From now on only teams that competed in the previous two playoffs should be allowed in the playoffs to challange a potential threepeat. And there has never been a threepeat in the Super Bowl. The NFL needs to change the rules too to make that happen. They need to look at how the NBA operates, they know how to make sure the bad teams stay bad so the same teams get into the playoffs each year. They get threepeats all the time.
Your article made perfect sense. Yes I believe that if you don't have the qualifying points to get into the derby, then it should apply to the preakness and belmont.
You missed Norumbega, who won the Brooklyn on June 7th, and it was a very gutsy win.
My 6-year-old granddaughter told Steve about how much she loved Chrome and how she thought he was "still a champion". I found her talking to him on my phone and Steve told me what she said when I asked if she had said anything rude. He went on to talk about how glad he was that people still believed in Chrome and said he ruined everything. He started to get all choked up and told me he would "apologize to the world tomorrow".
Did he tell you if he will cry for phony effect. Maybe he will use the words that that Preacher used when he slept with the girl" I HAVE SINNED" . I would at least maintain my 1 % respect level in him if he held to his guns. An insincre apology will lose the 1 %.
I spoke with Steve over the phone and he told me he's apologizing tomorrow.
No horse is worthy or deserving of being a Triple Crown winner. It's an accomplishment to be earned on the track, not an award to be merited. They either win it or they don't. Secretariat and 10 others won it. California Chrome and several million others did not. All played by the same rules. It's as simple as that. If you want another prize that's easier to be won on the track and will be won by more horses, come up with something else and give it another name. Like, oh I don't know, The Breeder's Cup.
Dani the field size has turned into a diversion. What i did not like about your article is the shot you took at Evans and others for trying to only win the race for money. You made past connections seem hilier than thou. Are you kidding me that they ran for competition. If that were the case,i did not see any of them refusing the winners share. You came across as if running their horses in the race was a pre meditated action to stop CC from winning the race. Everything else meant nothing to them. You blamed everyone under the sun for his loss ,but the real culprit. That would be CC himself,he was not good enough to win. Please keep that in mind. I thought it was a cheap shot at an owner who has invested so much more time and money in this game,than the one you were attempting to defend. If it were such a stickler, why did they not make it an issue before the race. Because they were wrong in assessing their horse.
Indy didn't really "skip" the Derby, he was knocked out of it on the day of the Derby.
The Peter Pan is the traditional prep for the Belmont. A.P. Indy skipped the Kentucky and Preakness, won the Peter Pan and then the Belmont. AP won the Santa Anita as well. Tonalist had an illness that kept him out of competition and when well enough won the Belmont Stakes prep race and then went on to win the Belmont Stakes. Too bad we didn't see what might have been had he not had a lung infection but one one may call "greed"(?) I call perserverence on the part of Tonalist's connections. Way to come back Tonalist!
Dani i will not try to justify if they were worthy or not because i don't care. I want big and contentious fieds to enjoy that particular race. You did not answer me ,if you owned horses and invsted Millions into the game. Would you still feel that way or would you still invest in a buisiness that affords you a model of not reaoing the benefits.
Another way of looking at the so-called big fields that CC had to run against. The majority of them were not a factor and he didn’t have to contend with them. In the Derby, only two horses were ever in front of Chrome, Uncle Sigh and Pablo De Monte. He ran away from them. Social Inclusion tried to run at him but he was no factor and Chrome was much better. The other 16 horses, including Social Inclusion, were not a factor and had no bearing on his race…..In the Preakness, of the 10 starters, Chrome was never worse than 3rd. Of the balance, only Pablo De Monte and the filly were ever ahead of him. Again, the balance of the field, 7 horses, were not a factor and were never in front of him……In the Belmont, he faced 10 others. The farthest back he was at a call was 4th. Only 4 of those horses were a factor and were in front of him at any time in the race, Tonalist, Commissioner and Medal Count, who finished in the top three, and General a Rod, who was up close to the pace and faded. The other 6 weren’t a factor. The fields might have been large, but the actual competition was not nearly as large as the fields and IMO had no effect on Chrome. He lost because either he wasn’t good enough, was tired, couldn’t get 12F or he hurt himself when he grabbed a quarter. Those were the only reasons, not the size of the fields.
Common Dani,i certainly hope that you would give me more credit in asking that question.If you are going to trap me,be a bit more creative. I trashed your 7 horse theory. So now because those fields were smaller than that.Are you trying to get me to say that they were quality packed. But i will answer you , other than Alydar and Sham. I don't remeber any of them. Also a fault in Coburns statement.He said that 3 horses ran in all 3. That is wrong.Chrome ran in 2 of 3,ROC ra in 1 of 3 and General A Rod ran in 0 of 3. Heshould of said that they participated in the race not ran in them. In the races these horses did not fire,they were awful.But Dani regarding your suggestion of horses that qualify for the Derby should be allowed to run.Lets go outside the box for a second. If you had the means(and am not saying you don't) Would you invest in any competetive buisiness where it was predetermined that not even .00001 of 1 percent (not 100 percent) would get the opportunity to compete for top honors,regardless of how good they are. How many qualify 25 or 30 . Do you honestly think that the game would be better served to have 1 ass hole win it all in the form of a triple crown,as opposed to many potential stars.
Dani does it really matter how many horses lined up to face Secretariat in the Belmont, whether it was 4 horses or the top 20 of all time? No horse on that day was ever going to beat Secretariat.
It doesn’t matter what the fields that Secretariat, Slew and Affirmed competed against, they were worthy TC winners. They didn’t get a patty cake TC either. They dominated some pretty good horses and they also worked hard in preparation for the Derby…..Before his Derby, Slew worked a mile in 1.41 4/5B on May 1st, worked a blazing 3 furlongs in 34 2/5 on May 6th and ran in the Derby the next day, May 7th. Leading up to his Preakness he worked 7F in 1.22 4/5ths on May 15th and breezed 3F in 36 on the 20th and ran away with the Preakness the next day. For the Belmont he worked a mile breezing in 1.38 2/5 on June 2nd, and 6F in 1.11 3/5 on June 7th and ran in the Belmont on the 11th. Obviously their trainers weren’t worried about fatigue. Trainers today wouldn’t think of putting a horse through that type of regimen…….In Secretariat’s year he defeated a Derby much deeper in talent than this year’s field. Sham came in off a stakes equaling 1.47 Santa Anita Derby. He also dominated horses like Linda’s Chief, a 10 time stakes winner who defeated Ancient three times and also defeated Stop the Music and Forgo. Secretariat also defeated Forego in his Derby and his Preakness time was a record and his Belmont was possibly the greatest dirt race ever……Affirmed had to contend with a tenacious and very classy Alydar. Believe It won the 9F Remsen in 1.47 4/5 as a two year old defeating Alydar, and won the Wood easing up by 4L. Sensitive Prince went into the Derby 6 for 6 and would win 10 stakes in his career including the 10F GPH in 1.59 1/5 setting a track record and running that distance faster than any of the BCC winners that raced at Gulfstream including AP Indy and Sunday Silence……Affirmed worked a mile on April 19, 5F in 59H on May 3rd and ran in a taxing Derby on May 6. Then he worked a mile on May 13 and ran in the Preakness on May 20 off a short blowout the day before. He then worked three times at 3F, a mile and 5F on June 7th before the Belmont on June 10……The point is that these horses earned their TC laurels the hard way and many horses like Northern Dancer, who ran in and won 5 consecutive races including the Blue Grass, Florida Derby and Flamingo in a 10 week period before the Derby and was worked extensively between the TC races, were denied their TC glory in the Belmont. None of their owners cried about it and no one wanted to change the TC format to make it easier. The TC is on a level that is virtually impossible to attain. There is a meaning behind it. To make it easier is to water it down and to water it down will make it lose its meaning.
No, I'm trying to get you to admit that they weren't great fields.Which would be the truth and only help my argument. Those horses are TC winners. We hold other TB's to them, especially when we like to compare those that fail in the TC today, to them. Truth be told, they didn't face better fields, not in the Belmont at least. They actually faced relatively weak fields outside of their main rivals. So, your trashing of my decent seven horse field, would mean that by your standards, these fields are irrelevant, therefore you might as well call their Belmonts irrelevant and their Triple Crown accomplishment as well. I mean if you can't win a Belmont Stake that is over seven horses in field size, you must be irrelevant, correct?
tmallios, what do you think of the fields that Secretariat, Affirmed and Slew ran against?
Great day of racing, it make me sick that most did not even notice a great undercard, it was a day packed with good races and many great races.
tmallios, you have no couth!
Laure i read through some more of your article. Based on your master plan,there would of been a "DECENT SIZED FIELD OF 7" Please answer me this.Are you a graduate of Palacemite University. You know the place,where second rate accomplishments are over blown out of proportion. You see in my way of looking at it. The Derby / Preakness and Belmont Stakes are the TOP OF THE RACING GAME. This means EXCELLENCE and not DECENT entrants . If DECENT is what we are looking for. Why the uproar of making wholesale changes. DECENT to me is another word for IRRELEVANCE.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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