Countdown to the Cup: Gold Cup or Cold Cup?


This column has nothing to do with the defection of Tizway from next Saturday’s Jockey Club Gold Cup, as disappointing as it was, or the horses that will be competing in the mile and a quarter event, even though at this point a good portion of the field appears as if it will be made of horses more likely to point for the BC Marathon.

The column is about the Gold Cup’s influence on the Breeders’ Cup Classic and how to approach the race, as prestigious as it is, with the Classic in mind. Remember, the Gold Cup is one of the most peculiar races in the country, with the starting gate oddly placed on the first turn, making the opening quarter mile a bit confusing to watch, with some horses, especially those on the outside, scrambling to get position and others being taken hold of and ridden tentatively, which often results in a slow opening quarter.

The harsh fact is that only three Gold Cup winners in 27 years have won the Classic, and only five Classic winners have even run in the Gold Cup. In addition, of the five Classic winners to have competed in the Gold Cup, two of them came when the Classic was run at Belmont.

The Gold Cup fields usually are small, and top-class horses, ripe for huge efforts, are in danger of peaking here instead of the Classic. Since the race was switched from 1 ½ miles to 1 ¼ miles in 1990, we’ve seen horses such as Pleasant Tap, Albert the Great, Aptitude, Borrego, Bernardini, and Haynesfield all turn in spectacular performances in the Gold Cup only to regress in the Classic.

When the race was run at 1 ½ miles, it often dulled the winner when dropping back to 1 ¼ miles in the Classic, as was likely the case with Slew o’Gold, Vanlandingham, Waquoit, and especially Easy Goer.

History, of course, has shown that you can win the Gold Cup and Classic…as long as your name is Cigar, Skip Away or Curlin…or are in the same class as those great champions. Or you can stumble badly and get creamed coming out of the gate, as A.P. Indy did in the 1992 Gold Cup. A.P Indy basically plodded around there far back in last and passed horses late to finish a well-beaten third, while Pleasant Tap romped in a blazing 1:58 4/5. In the Classic, A.P. Indy was able to turn the tables on Pleasant Tap, who likely peaked in the Gold Cup.

Last year, the Suburban winner Haynesfield got loose on the lead in the Gold Cup and poured it on late, opening up a seven-length lead in the stretch and easily defeated the favorite, Blame. Fortunately for Blame, he was allowed to stick to his game plan and go about his business as usual. He picked up horses late and settled for second, instead of being persevered with to try to catch Haynesfield, which easily could have gutted him for the Classic. That enabled him to bounce back and defeat Zenyatta, while Haynesfield stopped badly, finishing 11th, beaten 23 lengths.

In 2001, Aptitude turned in one of the most brilliant performances ever in the Gold Cup, blowing by horses on the turn and winning by 10 lengths, earning a whopping 123 Beyer figure. Back at the barn, trainer Bobby Frankel, normally ebullient following a big stakes win, was uncharacteristically subdued. All he kept saying was, “How am I going to get this horse to come back in three weeks in the Classic and not ‘bounce’ to the moon?” As it turned out, he wasn’t able to, as Aptitude, breaking from that tricky outside post at Belmont, made another big move on the turn, but fizzled out in the stretch to finish eighth.

Watch Borrego’s spectacular Gold Cup victory in 2005 and then watch him plod around the track in eighth in the Classic at 5-2. Watch the 3-year-old Albert the Great crush older horses in the 2000 Gold Cup, running the fastest 1 ¼ miles by a 3-year-old in the history of New York racing, and then tire to finish fourth in the Classic. The following year, Albert the Great flopped in the Gold Cup, but came back to run a strong third in the Classic behind Tiznow and Sakhee.

You can even add Bernardini, who demolished his opponents by almost seven lengths in the Gold Cup, earning a career-high 117 Beyer figure, but after looking like a sure winner on the turn in the Classic, he was unable to sustain his move and gave way to Invasor in the final furlong.

Of the three who did manage to score a Gold Cup—Classic double, Cigar turned in one of his least dominant performances in the Gold Cup, winning by only a length at 1-5 and earning one of his lower Beyer speed figures. He came back to win the Classic impressively over the same track, running nearly two full seconds faster than he did in the Gold Cup.

Curlin just eked out a gutsy head victory in the Gold Cup in 2007, then came back and demolished the best horses in the country in the Classic, run in the slop at Monmouth.

The bottom line is that trainers and jockeys should tread carefully when sending their horses to the Jockey Club Gold Cup. It is a great race to win, but you have to make sure you don’t do it at the expense of the Classic. Because of the complexities of Belmont Park, with its mile and a half circumference, long sweeping turns, and often speed-favoring nature, it can be a nightmare to some horses and a dream to others.

If the Classic is your ultimate dream, just try to get through the Gold Cup and leave all the blissful images of grandeur for four weeks later.

Unless the Breeders’ Cup is being run at Belmont, which hasn’t happened in six years, horses who compete in the Gold Cup must make the transition to a smaller track with much sharper turns and a totally different surface than the sandy loam of Belmont. Blame was able to do it last year, in good part because he was not as comfortable at Belmont and was virtually unbeatable at Churchill Downs.

A mile and a quarter at Belmont is geared toward two types of horses – those with excellent tactical speed who like to be on or right off the pace, and long-striding, athletic horses who are capable of making their move on the turn and reaching contention at the head of the stretch. The key is saving ground for as long as possible and not getting hung wide too early on that agonizingly long turn. These horses can either stay on the rail, which can be golden, or ease out at around the five-sixteenths pole.

If you have a pure stretch runner, like Blame, you’re at a huge disadvantage, especially with a lone speed horse like Haynesfield in there. So often, horses make a long sustained move on the turn and look like they’re going to sweep by everyone, but by the time they hit the stretch, they’re done. You can get away with it if you’re Forego or if you are a true stayer and the horses in front of you want no part of 10 furlongs.

Tizway, despite question marks at 1 ¼ miles, would have had the perfect scenario in the Gold Cup, with his running style, but he’ll now have to try to emulate Invasor, who also won the Whitney and then was forced to miss the Gold Cup with a fever, but was able to win the Classic off a two-month layoff.  

Stay Thirsty is reminiscent of Summer Bird, coming into the Gold Cup off a Travers victory and a big effort in the Belmont Stakes. Like Summer Bird, he looks to be a grinder who can run all day and wear his opponents down the farther he goes.

The big older horse will be Flat Out, and, frankly, if he can come close to duplicating his performance in the Suburban Handicap, at 1 ¼ miles at Belmont, the others will have their work cut out for them. But it must be noted that Flat Out relished the mile and a quarter, was within a head of the lead at the quarter pole, and none of his opponents really wanted any part of 10 furlongs. But he ran extremely fast, and his subsequent second-place finishes in the Whitney and Woodward at 1 1/8 miles stamped him as a leading Classic contender.

The same principle regarding the Belmont dirt preps for the Breeders’ Cup applies to the Beldame and Vosburgh. Only three Beldame winners have gone on to win the BC Distaff/Ladies Classic, and no filly has accomplished it since 1999 when Beautiful Pleasure wired her field in both races. Before that, you have to go back to Personal Ensign in 1988, so it’s only been accomplished every 11 years.

You also have to go back 11 years to Artax to find the only Vosburgh winner to capture the BC Sprint.

In the 81 combined runnings of the aforementioned three major Belmont Breeders’ Cup dirt preps, only seven winners have gone on to capture the Breeders’ Cup. Therefore, it is important to remember not to go into the Gold Cup, Beldame, and Vosburgh intent on turning in a lights out performance or it could very well be lights out in the Breeders’ Cup.

Philly flyers

The Breeders’ Cup Classic could wind up being dominated by 3-year-olds, despite the harsh criticisms of this year’s crop. With Stay Thirsty already entrenched at the top of leading contenders list, you can add To Honor and Serve and Ruler On Ice following their 1-2 finish in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.

To Honor and Serve finally is beginning to show the talents he exhibited last fall following a dubious winter 3-year-old campaign and taking most of the spring and summer off. He’s back and better than ever, as indicated not only by his comfortable victory in stakes-record time of 1:47 1/5 over a lightning-fast track, but the way he looked down the stretch. Having a tendency to run with his head high in the past, you had to love the way he leveled off and was striding out down the stretch. He still isn’t quite there yet, ducking in from a right-handed whip and jumping back to his left lead, but there is still a good deal of room for further improvement, which should bode well for the Classic. This horse has a regal look to him and was a standout in the paddock.

Ruler On Ice may have lost the battle, but it could win him the war if he runs back to this performance next month at Churchill Downs. And it could result from an accident in strategy. Ruler On Ice normally is a stalker who likes to be within two or three lengths of the pace. He did win the Belmont Stakes in the slop using that strategy, but has made only minimal impact in his other races. In the Pennsylvania Derby, under new jockey Garrett Gomez, he uncharacteristically dropped far off the pace, having only one horse beat, a dozen lengths off the pace.

What was so encouraging about his performance is that he looked like a totally different horse down the stretch. He didn’t look like an accidental closer, but a horse who has been closing from far back all his life. He was four wide going into the first turn and had to swing at least six-wide at the head of the stretch, but once he straightened for home, he kicked into another gear, dropped his shoulder, and began reaching out with great extension, cutting into To Honor and Serve’s lead with every stride.

Considering he came home his final eighth in :12 flat and the fact he was giving 10 pounds to the winner, this was a tremendous performance that just might open new doors for the colt if he runs a similar type of race in the Classic, assuming the pace is legitimate. Unlike the Belmont, when he returned the cleanest horse in the field, he came back Saturday caked in dirt that was still wet from heavy rains the day and night before.

And don’t give up just yet on third-place finisher Rattlesnake Bridge, despite his inability to sustain his move and threaten the top two in the final furlong. The son of Tapit had run a monster race in the Travers, closing fast in the stretch, despite never having run beyond 1 1/16 miles. Dropping back to from 1 ¼ miles to 1 1/8 miles, he made a good move around the turn, but flattened out. Philly Park can be a bit quirky, and this track was wet and blazingly fast, as indicated by the record six-furlong time of 1:07 2/5 in the Gallant Bob the race before. Rattlesnake Bridge is still a work in progress and should be given another chance, stretching back out to 10 furlongs.

Even fourth-place finisher Arthur's Tale bears watching after making a decent run on the far turn after having been sidelined since the Wood Memorial back in April. He also made a tremendous appearance in the paddock.

In other Breeders’ Cup news, trainer Richard Mandella said he’s leaning toward trying Crown of Thorns in the Oak Tree Mile on grass, after which he will weigh his BC options. Wherever this colt shows up, keep a close eye on him. He is a very talented horse who has had several setbacks and has never been able to show what he is really capable of.

Mandella said that Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Setsuko has been gelded and will be given some time off. It is hoped this will allow him to remain in training for several more years and give him the opportunity to get rid of his losing ways.

28 Comments

Leave a Comment:

ThoroGreats

Steve, great history lesson the Jockey Club Gold Cup. I'm so glad you know your history so amazingly well. Many people forget Easy Goer running the 1 1/2mile Gold Cup a few weeks before the Classic and what that did to a Hall of Fame champion like Easy Goer, who ran mostly(18 of his 20 races, with other being a 7f sprint race with a 21,44 pace being set) as a powerful stalker. Or how about that Easy Goer ran in all 3 Triple Crown races,and then won the Belmont,Whitney,Travers,Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/2miles, in succession. Steve, how about that campaign, specifically in the Breeders' Cup era??

26 Sep 2011 2:19 PM
Betsy

Stay Thirsty is well suited to Belmont because he has good tactical speed...he is also versatile in that he can come from off the pace as shown in the Gotham.  What I like , Steve, is that he appears to be thriving ....but with his pedigree, it is no surprise.

THAS was my Derby horse so it was great to see him run so well on Saturday.  He showed an ability to rate, which is huge....and his speed will always serve him well.  He blew the race apart,but as you noted, he is still green.   I am not sure he should run in the BC...instead, maybe the Clark....point him to the BC next year

26 Sep 2011 2:23 PM
Ranagulzion

Steve,

This is a very insightful article: kudoos to you.  I'm leaning towards Flat Out in the Gold Cup and Life At Ten in the Beldame.  According to your observations, Tizway's fever might turn out to be a blessing in disguise: he runs well off a layoff and I can easily see him doing an "Invasor job" in the Breeder's Cup classic.  I believe that Uncle Mo will show us in the Kelso that he'll be Tizway's biggest threat in the Classic.  

26 Sep 2011 2:49 PM
Rachel NH

Makes me sick that a race that showcased so many of the greats is supposed to take a back seat to any other race...oh well, I'm old...I remember there used to be racing before 1984.

26 Sep 2011 4:05 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Dazzling and informative article. Thanks for the insight.

26 Sep 2011 4:24 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Great historical overview of the Jockey Club Gold Cup Steve.  It's a tough race in its own right and yes very prestigious.  Good analysis of the differentiation of the JCGC track (Big Sandy) and how they will have to transition to the Churchill track in the BCC even though both are dirt.  Very apt comparison of Stay Thirsty to Summer Bird, I did not think of that until you mentioned the similarities.  Poor Tizway's fever may have just won him the Classic, but Mo is turning in blazing bullet works so who knows.  I can see how the colts could peak in the JCGC and be spent by the Classic easily. I was there when the mighty Curlin won his JCGC as well as for his Classic in the Monmouth slop.  I remember Henny Hughes' Vosburgh too a few years back. Henny's rich reddish golden coppery color was the most beautiful I have seen, more so than Shack's coat.  Henny's at Darley now with Street Sense and Bernardini.

I'm throwing this in here for a second.  Saturday night I was watching Los Al in CA. and I tune in to a post parade and a horse is doing a kind of hop, jump thing with his hind leg in the parade!  It was so funny the TVG guy dead pans, "Well that was some kind of a step!"

Bottom line is the JCGC is no hop, skip, and a jump guarantee to a Classic win, it's tough.  Thanks for another great article Steve.

26 Sep 2011 5:54 PM
Admiral Harriman Nelson's lady

While I enjoyed the insightful analysis regarding the JCGC and BC Classic, it also makes me sick. Not you, Steve, but the premise being written about. The Jockey Club Gold Cup is a race that has a rich, storied history, a race that has been won by some of the greatest horses that ever trod on American turf. To think it is now considered merely a prep for the Breeders Cup. I am no fan of the Breeders Cup. Yes, it is great to see so many fine horses all in one place, but the Eclipse voters put way too much emphasis on these races. It disgusts me that there have been many so-called champions named champions solely because of a victory in one of these races. The BC Classic, in my opinion, will never have the luster and prestige attached to it as the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Travers, or Jockey Club Gold Cup, no matter how much the Breeders Cup is touted as Racing's Greatest Day.  

26 Sep 2011 6:04 PM
Karen in Texas

Great historical analysis of the various Breeders'Cup preps. I agree that the Classic could well wind up being dominated by three-year-olds, especially since the Bernardini colts are finally starting to gain momentum!

I've always thought that Serena's Song did not do well in the '95 Distaff after winning the Beldame simply because she had such a demanding three-year-old campaign overall and was becoming "tired". Her victories in the Jim Beam and later the Haskell against the boys were exciting, but probably took a toll. She was normally unbeatable at 1 1/8 miles or less.

26 Sep 2011 6:28 PM
Deltalady

Just love going to the "school of Haskin on horse racing"! Thanks for the great lesson, Steve!  

26 Sep 2011 6:47 PM
John from Seattle

Steve,

The world is completely uspside down when both Charles Town and Parx offers one million dollar races and Belmont Park can't match either the money nor the horses to run.

26 Sep 2011 11:00 PM
PomDeTerre

I think it unfair to consider leading HOY candidate Tizway's absence fron the JCGC a "defection".  He is not sound right now, and to knowingly run him in that condition would be derelict.  I'm sure his connections wanted that race for him as a tune up to the BCC, but they did the right thing.

I do agree that the BC card, especially in its now diluted format, has been given far too much emphasis at the expense of other equally important races.  

27 Sep 2011 6:06 AM
NASCAR PRO

Good history about the gold cup leading to the classic.After reading the article it gives me ideas using comparisons.Tizway dosent have the same back class or distance race bottom as did Invasor.Summer Bird finished 4th in the classic and I think Stay Thirsty wont fare much better in this years classic.I still think ROI is like Mine that Bird in that they move way up on an off track,so if the classic is run on an off track he has a better chance,of course the odds board will reflect this.One thing that has changed in my assesment of this years classic field this early, before they line up is I am including ONE 3yo in my possibles and after last weeks races everyone on this board should know who that is.

27 Sep 2011 8:51 AM
Smoking Baby

 I think the time has come to upgrade a few races.  I'm thinking that the Delaware Handicap, The Cotillion (did I spell that right?), and The Pennsylvania Derby all deserve Grade 1 status.  Guaranteed if they were run at NYRA tracks they already would be grade 1.  If the Sbuvee (first one that came to mind) and several others deserve to be Grade 1 these three most certainly do also.

27 Sep 2011 9:58 AM
mz

Rachel NH: I'm with you.  Remember Shuvee?

Steve: considering the way things are going, maybe you should explain who "Vosburgh" and "Beldame" were.  And keep doing that for all the races which were star races to me and Rachel NH and which are being downgraded for the million dollar "my corporation name here" races.

Bah, Humbug!

27 Sep 2011 10:33 AM
Pedigree Ann

What happened to Belmont's 10f chute? Used to cross the training track, gave everybody a fair chance to get their feet under them. Sure, the 10f start was in another county (truly) and was hard to see with binoculars, but with Big Screens, etc., these days, who cares?

In the same vein, when did Saratoga close down its mile chute off the first turn? Gave the track more options for racing distances, especially 8f and 8.5f off-the-turfers.

The NYRA has made so many bad decisions over the last 4-5 decades it is not funny. They should have left the JC Gold Cup at Aqueduct at its established distance and traditional date (early November); the idea that Belmont should have all the big races was mean-spirited and self-defeating. When the BC came in to steal its date, it still could have been run at the Thanksgiving carnival and since racehorses were for racing in those days, it still could have drawn a good field.

And why does the NYRA think that all races for older horses should be at 9f or less before the fall? East Coast horses are at a distinct disadvantage in preparing for the BC Classic, without a 10f race before October.

As for the Invasor/Tizway comparison...., Invasor was already proven at 10f; heck, he was proven at 12.5f (the distance of the Uruguayan Derby). He could be a bit short and still prevail at 10f. Tizway has never tried 10f and with his running style and damsire (Dayjur, very suspicious), he is better compared to Quality Road than to Invasor.

27 Sep 2011 10:34 AM
trackjack

Thanks Steve for another article loaded with information and keen insights.  On its own, Belmont's Super Saturday does not have to take a backseat to any racing card in the country.  It is a true delight for the racing fan and handicapper.  Thanks!

27 Sep 2011 10:50 AM
JerseyBoy

Pedigree Ann:

I was going to post something, almost exactly what you wrote. You do know racing.

I hereby add my name to your post.

27 Sep 2011 11:12 AM
TV Training

I picked Ruler on Ice to win the Belmont because of the distance.  In his previous races, I saw that if the race was a little longer, he would have won because he was gaining late.  Since the Belmont, he has been doing the same thing, gaining late.  Wouldn't he make a better marathon horse?  Seems like he does better in the longer distance.  Or does the Jockey need to get him going a little sooner?

27 Sep 2011 12:44 PM
TXLonghorn

PARX and West Virginia can throw huge sums of money into 2 or 3 races, while NYRA schedules a full slate of championship-calibre contests, spring, summer and fall.  When they start bumping purses next year, I believe some of these great old races will once again offer the rich purses they deserve.  

I agree that a 10F chute at BP is needed, and I see the merit in running the JCGC over Thanksgiving weekend at the Big A....perhaps for a $2M purse and maybe back at 12F?  It probably won't happen, but that might allow NYRA to reschedule a great old race like the Brooklyn at 10F 4 weeks before the BC and reinstitute an attainable Handicap Triple.

27 Sep 2011 3:07 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

I enjoyed reading your comments concerning the Pennsylvania Derby.  I am in total agreement.  I thought Ruler on Ice looked sensational and with a longer race the outcome could be reversed. It was exciting to see you in the saddling area at Parx last Saturday.  Wanted an autograph but settled for a zoom in photo of you.  Glad to see you there.  

27 Sep 2011 4:16 PM
The Deacon

Intersting and informative blog Steve, man do you know your history. You never cease to impress me. My take on this is the JCGC is a million dollar race, very pretigious. Owners and trainers maybe believe they can win that race, earn a lot of respect (the money doesn't hurt either) but knowing that they may not win the Classic. Stay Thirsty for example may not like the track at Churchill Downs but he will love Belmont. Ruler on Ice already won the Belmont Stakes at 12 furlongs so we know he loves Belmont so he would be my logical choice. The connections may feel that the field will be much tougher in the Classic so why not win the one you can win. He hasn't won since the Belmont Stakes so you have to wonder. Truth is, our classic horses are few and far between this year so the BC Classic is a longest for most of these horses. I would say To Honor and Serve, if he likes Churchill Downs will be hard to beat in the Classic. Still a ways away and a lot can happen. I think there is a lot posturing and what ifs going on right now. Most owners and trainers want to put their horses in the best possible scenario for victory. I would say most of these horses only get one shot at this. Even Twirling Candy and Acclamation, if he runs will be formidible in the Classic.

You sure explain things well, what a gift of writing you have....

27 Sep 2011 8:28 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Pedigree Ann,

Interesting post.  I agree on the 10f idea but disagree on the Belmont Park issue.  I for one think Belmont is glorious and steeped in tradition and prestige.  They are well equipped to handle the big races and I think they should be there.  I have never been to Aqueduct and have no desire to go.  It starts in the cold and ends in the cold, no thanks.  I go to Saratoga, Belmont, and Monmouth all in the tri-state area.  But not Aqueduct, it's synonomous with "winter" which I hate.  Perhaps a weather related attendance issue has moved the big races to Belmont, if I feel that way others must as well.  I only fault NYRA for their lack of concerted marketing efforts.  There is so much creative that can be developped to lure in the public, but they do operate well-run, top-notch tracks

from a maintenance and operational viewpoint.  Belmont Park and MSG are my favorite places in all of New York.

27 Sep 2011 9:43 PM
Alex'sBigFan

The colts in a pre-BC Classic barn conversation:

Stay Thirsty:  "Hey Mo, word's out that a chick is in our race!"

Uncle Mo:  "Say, what, man?  What is this becoming a yearly event to embarrass us on national tv?  Toddy, oh Toddy, T-O-D-D-Y!!!!!!"

ROI:  "Did you see her?  She's got some frenchy oooh la la name too."

Twirling Candy:  "I'm gonna bring her a box of chocolates."

Uncle Mo:  "Oh, great, I can see the headlines now, "Colts Fall From Grace in Classic."

Game On Dude:  "Hey Tizway, take an aspirin, get some rest, and call Dr. Drunkinbum in the morning.  We need you strong for this battle."

Stay Thirsty:  "I heard her lucky jock is Agapito Delgadillo (LOVE that name)."

Uncle Mo:  "Thirsty what have you been drinking man?  C'mon colts, it's time for a game plan........"

C'mon Slew, take it from here.....

27 Sep 2011 11:54 PM
Pedigree Ann

Before the 1975 debacle, Aqueduct ran three meetings a year - the spring one they inherited from the defunct Jamaica course, a summer one between Belmont and Saratoga, and a fall meet. In 1972, these ran from March 1 to May 13; June 19 to July 29; and Oct 16 to Dec 16. Highlights of the summer meet were the Brooklyn H and the 10f Dwyer for the 3yos. In the fall meet were the JC Gold Cup, the Vosburgh and the Ladies H, all championship events.

In the mid 1970s the NYRA decided to dig up the inner turf course at Aqueduct (previously the steeplechase course) and turn it into an 'all-weather' course (they call it 'winterized,' but it has non-dirt components) so that the State of New York could get betting revenue year round. Aqueduct was stripped of its signature summer meet and its best races. I have no doubt the physical plant has not been given the care that Belmont has in the intervening years.

The NYRA suits have seemed, for some time, to consider Aqueduct a lower class facility and unworthy of their care and consideration, not as a track with a storied history going back to 1894 (11 years OLDER than Belmont).

29 Sep 2011 10:20 AM
Linda in Texas

Steve, just watched and listened to you and Lenny discussing the abominable treatment, or shall i say, lack of treatment for the horse that broke down and suffered agonizingly before a Vet was found to euthanize the poor thing.

I am just now reading on Bloodhorse.com that Pennsylvania Casinos took in 274.9 million dollars last year.

Question: Does Penn National have an on the track Vet for training hours yet??

When i read the article back when it happened, i thought perhaps a vet had not shown up for work. Then i realized they just didn't have one at all during training.

Hope they have done something by now. And that goes for every track that makes money from the public.

Racing doesn't need things like this as a reason to turn people away not only from Penn National but this sad situation gives a black mark to other race tracks also.

30 Sep 2011 2:02 PM
Deltalady

I was a little disappointed in Stay Thirsty's 3rd today in the JCGC until I remembered your article and came back to re-read it to get some inspiration and encouragement! My heart broke for Blind Luck today....will be interested in your take on what happened there.  Will also be interested to know if they find anything physical that might have caused her to collapse like she seemed to do.

Thanks for your insights, Steve...what a treasure you are!

01 Oct 2011 11:24 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Steve

  In an earlier column you said that Uncle Mo should go to the Classic. It looks like you were right, and now I agree. He's too talented to pass it up. The entire Flat Out story with the horse and trainer is tremendous. I'm hoping you can do an article on it. Experience wise he's fairly young because of the 19 month layoff. He'll be among the BC Classic favorites and has been tremendous this year.

02 Oct 2011 11:55 AM
Old Timer

Steve,

Good article. I have learned the hard way that those Belmont preps for some reason do not lead to victories in the BC. Uncle Mo sure ran a nice race in the Kelso but a mile and a quarter is a lot longer and I can't seem to like an Indian Charlie at that distance.

My experience has made me look more to the Goodwood for BC Classic horses and Tiznow and Pleasant Colony were two who both followed that route. I wondered what you thought of Awesome Gem, who closed well in this year's Goodwood? He has been knocking on the door for years - will this be his big race? He should be very nice odds if he runs in the Classic.

03 Oct 2011 3:27 PM

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