Breeders' Cup Leftovers

We’re still attempting to digest the bizarre fare that was fed us at the Nov. 4 and 5 Breeders’ Cup smorgasbord that left so many people hungrier than when they went in. Here are a few of the leftovers or random thoughts and questions.

BELMONT BOOM – Could it be that stamina finally is making its way back into the Sport of Kings at the top level? Consider this: the first three finishers of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) – Drosselmeyer, Game On Dude, and Ruler On Ice -- all ran in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), with Drosselmeyer and Ruler On Ice both victorious in the “Test of the Champion” and Game On Dude a close fourth. Also, this year’s Belmont third-place finisher, Brilliant Speed, finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), the best performance by an American-trained horse, and this year’s fifth-place Belmont finisher, Shackleford, finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I).

Finally, Belmont Stakes starter Stately Victor finished a respectable fifth in the BC Turf, beaten only five lengths, and two other Belmont starters – Stay Thirsty and Ice Box – both competed in the Classic. So, the Classic alone was represented by five horses who started in the Belmont Stakes.

We should also note that two Breeders' Cup winners -- Royal Delta and Afleet Again -- were sired by Belmont winners (Empire Maker and Afleet Alex, respectively), and two others -- Secret Circle and Court Vision -- were sired by horses who ran in the Belmont (Eddington and Gulch).

Another mile and a half stakes, the Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II), played a significant role in the Breeders’ Cup, with Classic winner Drosselmeyer and the first two finishers of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, Afleet Again and Birdrun, all having run in this year’s Brooklyn. And Birdrun and Drosselmeyer finished one-two in the Brooklyn, giving the race even more credibility.

Adding to the stamina factor, three Breeders' Cup winners were sired by three different sons of Sadler's Wells (St Nicholas Abbey, by Montjeu; Wrote, by High Chaparral; and Perfect Shirl, by Perfect Soul). Also, Stephanie's Kitten was sired by Sadler's Wells' grandson Kitten's Joy, by El Prado.

SPEAKING OF PREPS – The last three winners of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) all ran in the Presque Isle Masters (gr. II) at Presque Isle Downs, with Informed Decision (2009) and Musical Romance (2011) both winning the Masters in photos and Dubai Majesty (2010) losing in a photo.

The last two winners of the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Drosselemeyer and Blame – both came off a second-place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), in which they were closing fast, while the winners were out of the money in the Classic.

HORSE OF THE YEAR and 3-YEAR-OLD MALE TITLES -- The discussion regarding both awards became hot and heavy literally minutes after the Classic was run, but it’s too early to form any concrete opinions with the Clark Handicap still to be run. Among those possible for the grade I stakes are Game On Dude, Flat Out, and Ruler on Ice. The first two would have a legitimate claim at Horse of the Year should either win, and the last named would have a legitimate claim at the 3-year-old championship, considering he lost a shoe in his third-place finish in the Classic and also lost a shoe in his fourth-place finish in the Travers (gr. I). If he should defeat top-class older horses in the Clark to go along with his Belmont Stakes (gr. I) score he would have to be seriously considered, having finished on the board in stakes at Sunland Park, Pimlico, Belmont, Monmouth, Saratoga, Philadelphia Park, and Churchill Downs.

As of now, it appears that Havre de Grace, Game On Dude, and Acclamation are the most serious candidates for Horse of the Year, with Tizway possibly having an outside chance. And let’s not forget, we also still have the Cigar Mile (gr. I) to be run. Although a victory by Caleb’s Posse in that race could have assured him the 3-year-old championship and even put him in the running for Horse of the Year, he is done for the year, having won graded stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs, seven furlongs, one mile, and 1 1/16 miles, demolishing older horses in the BC Dirt Mile and 3-year-olds in the Amsterdam, and beating Uncle Mo in the grade I King’s Bishop. He also has won five stakes from January to November and placed in a pair of grade II stakes. Right now, he definitely has to be considered for 3-year-old honors, along with several others, in a year where no horse has stepped up to claim the title, at least in the conventional manner.

If there is one factor other than defeating colts in the Woodward (gr. I) that should boost Havre de Grace’s chances it is destroying Royal Delta in Beldame (gr. I) and then having her come back and dominate the Ladies Classic (gr. I).

BIG DAY FOR AN OLD FRIEND – Our hats off to 27-year-old pensioner Gulch, who resides at Old Friends, for siring the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), Court Vision. Gulch, still feisty as ever, continues to pass on that toughness and resilience to his offspring, even at his age.

AFLEET’S FEAT -- Although Chuck Zacney and Cash is King Stable sold Afleet Again earlier this year, Zacney was overjoyed with the 4-year-old’s victory in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon. What’s good for their pride and joy, Afleet Alex, is good for them, as indicated by Cash is King partner Joe Lero joining in the winner’s circle photo after last year’s Travers (gr. I) win by Afleet Express, owned by Gainesway Farm, even though his own horse, Afleet Again, had just finished a well-beaten fourth. Zacney also was happy for trainer Butch Reid, who has worked long and hard trying to get a performance like this out of the nearly white Jekyll and Hyde colt, who hadn’t won a race since taking the grade III Withers Stakes back in April of 2010.

Not only did Afleet Alex sire a Breeders’ Cup winner, so did his sire, Northern Afleet, who had the BC Sprint (gr. I) winner Amazombie. That pretty much explains why Afleet Alex was one of the most versatile horses in recent years, becoming the only horse in memory to win the Belmont Stakes and a six-furlong stakes in the same year. Now here he is siring the winner of a 1 ¾-mile Breeders’ Cup race the same day his sire sires the winner of a six-furlong Breeders’ Cup race.

CHURCHILL ALL WET – It would be nice to know why Churchill Downs, which has always had the fastest drying track in the country, was still wet and heavy on Saturday following a day and a half of bright sunshine, with standing water still noticeable in several spots in the stretch? It’s just something we’re not used to seeing at Churchill, which in the past has dried out from substantial rain in a matter of hours. Just curious.

RIDERS ON THE STORM -- What was Joel Rosario doing sending Pleasant Prince, who had never been on the lead in his life, to the front in the 1 ¾-mile Marathon and running the first three-quarters in 1:12 3/5, which was a fifth faster than they went in the Breeders’ Cup Classic? He still was able to finish fourth.

Also, why did Ryan Moore have So You Think so close in third, only two lengths off the lead, and stuck on the rail, when the colt’s strength seems to be wearing horses down in the stretch? He wound up in tight along the inside down the stretch, stuck on his left lead. He still ran big to be beaten only 2 3/4 lengths.

OH! BRIENS -- How ironic that after 27 years the Breeders’ Cup decided to relegate the BC Turf to a lower position, dropping it two spots in order to showcase Goldikova in the Mile and it winds up with the best story of the entire Breeders’ Cup. Aidan O’Brien winning the 1 ½-mile race with a horse ridden by his 18-year-old son Joseph had to be one of the great moments in Breeders’ Cup history, especially considering American racing fans had watched Joseph and his two brothers and sister grow up at the Breeders’ Cup each year.

Below are five photos capturing the moment, as a jubilant O’Brien watches his son ride to victory, with Coolmore partner Derrick Smith cheering him on, and then greeting him following the race.

All Photos by Steve Haskin and property of Steve Haskin/Blood-Horse Publications.

 

79 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Ida Lee

As usual I enjoyed reading your column. Nobody does it better. I will say that the BC this year left me in a really, really deep funk. All my favorites lost, A.U. Miner got hurt and Gio Ponti finished behind the girl AGAIN. And, of course, Goldikova got beat and almost disqualified. I cried for hours. Then, just as I think it can't get worse, Uncle Mo, Gio Ponti, Big Drama, are retired; Blind Luck, Royal Delta, Life at Ten are sold...all these favorites of mine. The only thing I have left this year is Havre becoming the HOTY. If she doesn't make it, I'm going for the Kool Aid!!!

09 Nov 2011 4:34 PM
Karen in Texas

Game On Dude, Flat Out, Havre de Grace or any potential HOY candidate should definitely try the Clark! A win would give needed clarity to the muddled picture. Not sure what a loss would do....

09 Nov 2011 5:25 PM
ShelterDoc

How about Rapid Redux for HOY?  A lot of people have been saying this lately, and I agree.  Here is a horse that represents the blue collar everyday racehorse, running in races that represent 99% of what racing is in the US, and just keeps winning.  Time to recognize the unsung heroes of the sport for once...

09 Nov 2011 5:50 PM
Slew

I feel that almost everyone was swept up in a wave of emotion when Joseph won on St Nicholas Abbey for his dad, Aiden O'Brien.  It was the highlight of the entire BC.

And it was terrific to see St Nick finally return to form.  

09 Nov 2011 5:54 PM
Anncat

Steve, thanks for the sweepings.  I was unable to watch either day's races, so I had to watch the replays as recorded on my DVR.  My chief complaint was the obsession of ESPN on the Classic.  They showed a race and then they talked about the Classic and then they interrupted the discussion of the Classic and its entries to show another race and then back to the Classic.  There were some fabulous horse races going on while ESPN discussed the BC Classic ENDLESSLY. There were great stories that they just skimmed over during the post parades of all those other races.  And I didn't even get to see the Classic because my DVR didn't go back to ABC or wherever it was finally aired live.

At least there weren't so many interviews with starlets in big hats and segments on cooking, although the frequent updates of college football would have made me scream had I been watching it live.  If I'd been at home to watch the races live, I would have been watching TVG and switching at post time to ESPN.

Great, great races and great stories.

09 Nov 2011 6:20 PM
steve from st louis

Compared to the going at Churchill last weekend and Monmouth a few years ago, does Tapeta-Polytrack-Cushion Track-ProRide get a lot more attractive? Just wondering.

09 Nov 2011 6:23 PM
Delrene

Steve - thanks for this article.  Unlike the first poster, I really thought the Breeder's Cup was really exciting.  Tough to follow in the footsteps of our beloved Zenyatta, but some of the backstories were just superb.  I have followed Court Vision since he started racing and I just was so excited to see him blast away.  My exacta pick was Court Vision and Turralure - love those grays, but of course only on paper.  Was watching at home.  Would have definitely paid for my trip!  All in all, I thought it was great coverage.  Thanks for the pictures.

09 Nov 2011 6:56 PM
skyfire

Steve, you make so many great, insightful points!

I am thrilled to see the Belmont Stakes prominent in so many of the BC horses' resumes.  It really does showcase toughness and stamina.  

The Joseph/Aiden O'Brien success touches the heart this year as the Goldi/groom image did last year.  I am so glad for Coolmore success because they make the BC so interesting year in and year out.  I agree with you that SYT ran very well.

I hope Dross continues to race -- Winstar is a great organization, and I am happy for their success, as well as that of the classy trainer, Bill Mott.

09 Nov 2011 8:03 PM
NW2

Great work, as usual, Steve.  

I don't recall reading much reaction about the vet scratch of Announced in the F&M Turf.  Also didn't see any quotes from her connections.  I saw it as an over reaction caused by the Life at Ten incident last year.  Announced didn't appear to be uncomfortable after banging into the horse ambulance.  I question if the scratch was necessary.

09 Nov 2011 8:15 PM
NASCAR PRO

This might sound off the track,but if I owned Acclamation and the HOY was worth the bother of late nomination etc, and if that is still possible, I would run in the Clark also. Because He will definitely have a good chance to beat GOD and ROI.

09 Nov 2011 8:56 PM
franjurga

That was great, Steve. I really enjoyed it and wonder how you can take pictures and notes at the same time! Thanks!

09 Nov 2011 9:26 PM
Lydia

I wondered too why the track seemed wet, particularly in the middle of the track, on Saturday when it should have been fast.  I don't recall seeing the water trucks.  The "puddles" up near the paddock entrance might well have been put there by the lead ponies.  <g>

Love the stuff re Afleet Alex.  May Alex have a long and positive effect on the breed.

09 Nov 2011 9:48 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Some very astute observations by you here Steve.  The Belmont angle should boost the Belmont Stakes to be as prestigious as it used to be. Run the Belmont, or at Belmont (JCGC) and you can make it anywhere so to speak.  

The wet murk and mire of the Churchill surface?  Man I don't know, ask Baffert, he was saying on an interview how deceiving the Churchill surface can be.  Bring on the Santa Anita palm trees and sun I say!!  Maybe they had drainage issues, at any rate it gave us that new U.S. racing surface called Peanut Butter.

Northern Afleet's still got it!!!!!

I knew he would sire another winner and he did in Amazombie who I have been liking for some time now.  I believe Afleet Alex was the first horse to have a website designed by JJ Graci, it was called Afleet Alex Home with stories, articles, and comments from Alex, much like Zenyatta's.  

I know Fran is in her glory over Afleet Again!

The kid from Ireland who sang, "Stateside," excellent!!!! Look at that Europe's youth aspire to come here to participate in the great championships, great for the sport!  And great song by Katy Perry "Teenage Dream" was played after Royal Delta's win.  Good marketing efforts BC.

09 Nov 2011 9:50 PM
Point Given

HOY-Game On Dude after all He is GOD.

09 Nov 2011 10:13 PM
Bill Two

Good points about the stamina angle in the BC Classic.  What with so many of the contestants distance challenged it made sense to look for horses that had known distance propensities.  Looking for horses for the course also is usually a good idea.  Combine the two and you've got Drosselmeyer.  I heard a guy on TVG wax ecstatic about the horse and the way he was working out.  What sold me was that he was introduced as someone who actually picked Animal Kingdom off works alone!  Whatever, yeah hopefully breeders and owners will take note of the results of the BC Classic. Give us more stamina and keep some of the speed.

09 Nov 2011 10:24 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Dr. D.,

Just for the record, 'cause I know you like ROI, I asked Rob of Liberation Farm, ROI's breeder, if they did call him "Return On Investment" at the farm prior to being sold.  He said no but that is Rob's own play-on-words name for him with the initials.  Cute.

And now ROI can't keep his shoes on either, must have been stuck in the "peanut butter!"  (Hope MMM kept his shoes on in his Aqueduct debut!)  At least ROI hit the board in the Classic, I wonder if he would have done better if the shoes stayed on?  Are you planning to go to Santa Anita for the BC next year since you are right there?  This California gal at heart stuck in New York needs that California sunshine badly and we have not even started the dreaded east coast winter!!!!  Help Dr. D!!!!!!!!!!!

09 Nov 2011 10:31 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, great photos. Ah the love of a father for his son riding his self trained winner. So nice. i read or heard that the young man is about 5'10 or 11. He is tall for a jockey and i wonder how long he can go and not starve himself to keep his weight under the limit.

Ida Lee i am funking just like you.

I did not know that Life at Ten has sold. Read about Gio Ponti today and will miss him, he was just always there, no problems, no errors, just where ever he was sent he raced whether it was on sand, soot or slop. This is a really telling time of the year when owners and trainers are deciding their plans for the next year and some horses are shipped to the shed or sold. Like Slew said, we have to enjoy them as long as we can and she is so right.

Hope things take a good turn for you and you hitch your wagon to a sparkling new star on the circuit that will bring you joy.

I already have my stars picked out.

Hansen, Turallure, Grassy, Mr. Bossy Pants, Creative Vision and any dark or black horse that catches my eye, preferably sired by Vindication or one of the handsome fellas at Lands End or Winstar or Claiborne if there are any more in the pipeline since his demise.

And Gulch still siring winners at his age Steve is awesome. Did you go visit Mr. Blowen and the wonderful dwellers at Old Friends? I am waiting for Michael to send me a photo of Cozy Miss's Grave with the Stone and Marker and a lock of her mane he promised me in exchange for the donation i sent to have them made for her. Last photo published of her on Old Friend's web site the photographer caught her on her back doing Snow Angels in a newly fallen snow and she died shortly thereafter and somehow remembering that photo was all i needed later to send something to make sure she would always be remembered.

Steve, i am curious. What was the most surprising thing about this year's Breeder's Cup Races in your opinion compared to previous ones?

09 Nov 2011 10:49 PM
sidekickflats

I'm rooting for Acclamation for Horse of the Year. He was another who was successful at a mile and a half this year. Yeah for stamina!

As far as So You Think is concerned, it looked to me like he pulled Ryan Moore to the front. He had a tight hold on him for a long time.  I wondered if he had let So You Think go on to the lead if it would have been better.  

09 Nov 2011 10:57 PM
Kyderby7

I think Cape Blanco deserves consideration. 3 trips across the

Atlantic, 3 wins in Grade 1 competition. If not for HOY, at least Turf champion

09 Nov 2011 11:42 PM
Karen in Indiana

NW2, I heard on TV the next day that Announce needed 10 stitches and was pretty sore, so even if it was a reaction because of the Life at Ten incident, seemed like a good call.

I agree about ESPN's coverage, for people who follow horse racing, it is pretty bad. But, the other side of that is at least it is getting it out there and in the public. My only real wish is that they would get Hank Greenberg off of there. Every time he picks someone I like, the horse looses. I've never seen him come even close to being even, let alone win anything.

09 Nov 2011 11:51 PM
Man o' War

Game on Dude is NOT "GOD."  This is a blasphemous statement, and not remotely cute or witty.  He is a fine horse, but only a creature, not the Creator of the universe.  Please show some respect, Point Given!

10 Nov 2011 12:11 AM
Steve Haskin

Steve from St. L. I'll take my chances with dirt.

Fran, I've got a little camera and it's easy to just shoot with one hand while still clutching my tape recorder in the other,

NW2 I know the jock was really upset over it. I dont know how serious the laceration was, but I heard it was serious enough to warrant a scratch. Vets in general do not like to stick their neck out, I have no problem with the decision if it was a bad as they say it was.

Linda in Texas, the condition of the track and some very unlikely results.

10 Nov 2011 12:13 AM
Terry M.

As usual, terrible BC coverage by ESPN. I had to watch the Marathon on HPI TV because it wasn't carried, at least not in Canada on TSN. ESPN, go watch Woodbine's regular Sunday racing coverage to see how racing should be covered for TV! And get rid of Kenny Mayne and his friend in the trench coat.

Many of the horses didn't even get a mention in the lead-up to each race, and way too much time was spent on the Classic to the detriment of all the other races.

Time to get rid of the World Championship moniker too. It's not.

I was not impressed by the track at Churchill either. What did they do, add clay to it? It compromised many horses' chances.

I wish coverage would focus on the HORSES and the BREEDING since that is the point of a Breeders' Cup. In most cases, without a program, people watching on TV had no clue what the breeding was on most of the horses entered. That is something I like about the Woodbine coverage of its races: every entrant in every race is shown prior to the post parade complete with names of sire, dam and broodmare sire. And each horse is discussed. None are overlooked.

I would also like to see the BC return to Woodbine, which is a  world class facility.

I believe the LOCAL experts and the track's own race caller should do the BC. It's like a slap in the face if the BC comes to a track and that track's announcer is not allowed to call the races, and the local people who host the racing shows day in and day out are replaced by "experts" from ESPN.

10 Nov 2011 12:46 AM
genie918

The two days of Breeders' Cup was the Reader's Digest version of this entire year:  Ho-hum.  At this point, I am looking ahead to next year...

On a side note:  Good to see Mucho Macho Man back in action and winning at the Big A today.

10 Nov 2011 1:00 AM
Diego Conde

I'll ALWAYS be the first one to admit when I'm wrong. UNCLE MO is not the freak I thought him to be... Good horse, but lacks stamina and the heart of a champion. Now, GAME ON DUDE... what a horse! Too bad he didn't see Drossel coming. Not saying he would've won, but I think we would've had a Alydar/Affirmed moment.

Kuds to Drossel who has shown true stamina and should make a great sire.

What happened to Goldi not being DQ. Was the argument that Courageous Cat wasn't going to finish in the money anyway??? She drilled him! Don't get it!

10 Nov 2011 1:34 AM
Rachel O

Man O' War,

YOU are not Man O' War!

10 Nov 2011 2:33 AM
Giddyup

I think we can all relate to what Ida is feeling. This sport we love is such a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions. I remember how depressed I was a few years ago when we lost Barbaro but just when we think we can't get any lower a special horse captures our heart again and the joy returns. It is always bittersweet to say goodbye to the great ones like Blind Luck and Goldi but it is also exciting to watch the next crop develop and work their magic.

10 Nov 2011 6:55 AM
Slew

NW2: Announce's owners and trainers said the Vets did the right thing...She had 10 stitches.

Man O'War:  I said the same thing the other day, but humorously...(because he didn't win)  There is nothing blasphemous..

..it's simply a play on words.  Ruler on Ice is ROI, So You Think is SYT, and Game On Dude becomes GOD. Lighten up!  WE may, however, have to stop shortening everything to initials when they name a horse Fed Up Chalk King. (Draynay?)

10 Nov 2011 7:13 AM
PomDeTerre

No mention of the Repole meltdown?  I think that was pretty significant- a week ago, according to this owner, he had a horse who would beat Frankel.  Today, same horse is retired.  If nothing else, it deserves mention for the hype it did not come close to living up to.

10 Nov 2011 7:30 AM
Smoking Baby

 Steve and NW2.  I believe the scratch of Announce could've been avoided.  For some reason the Euros refuse to send their horses to the post with a pony.  The jock was clearly having trouble controlling her and could've used the help.  Hindsight's 20/20.  I get that but I also think if a horse won't stand still you get her galloping and you might just avoid backing into an ambulance.  For all the complaining the jock was doing I think the incident was at least partially on him and the horse's connections.

10 Nov 2011 8:50 AM
Susan from VA

I've always been partial to Drosselmeyer.  I don't know if it's his name or his kind eye.  Not exactly the best reasoning for betting, but he did win!

10 Nov 2011 9:10 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Alex'sBigFan

   Thanks for that fascinating tidbit. I really enjoyed it. That was quite disappointing losing a shoe again. No wonder he didn't win. Next time they run at CD they need to put some jelly on his horseshoes.

10 Nov 2011 9:34 AM
Linda in Texas

St. Nicholas won from the rail spot. It just shows us that Gate 1 is not always a bummer. And being named St. Nicholas probably didn't hurt. He is known as the miracle creator or wonder maker. Sure fit here.

The 10 inch slit on Announce was no small nick. Glad they scratched her so she could be tended to quickly to cut down on the invasion of bacteria factor.

Drosselmeyer being blessed was refreshing. Who at least once a day doesn't say to themselves,  help me thru this or that problem. Every time i wait for the gates to open for a horse race, i think to myself, please let them all come home safely, and i am not thinking about the devil when i do.

The Waldens are kind and gentle people. One Walden i specifically remember posted on Steve's Blog, even from his choice of words you know he is a good, quiet and patient person. If faith is what gives him that peace and understanding and it transfers to his horses, I think it is wonderful.

10 Nov 2011 10:00 AM
mz

Good for you, Slew.  I couldn't think how to respond to Man o'War but you did it great.

And anyone who doesn't think God has a sense of humour wasn't paying attention to the Breeders'Cup this year.

(p.s.  "Silly Horse In Training" -- I couldn't help it -- Bob/Ted made me do it)

10 Nov 2011 10:01 AM
Smoking Baby

 Slew.  You kill me.  THANK YOU for your 7:13 post.  Once I realized I wasn't dreaming and was actually reading that, Lighten up were the first two words that came to mind.

10 Nov 2011 10:28 AM
Kyri

Couple of thoughts:

Amazombie was the only horse to win me money in the BC... and Northern Afleet is by far the best sire value in the country. Also the sire of Afleet Alex and Evening Jewel...

I was very disappointed with the track condition. I know they can't control the weather but was peanut butter really the best that could have been done?

Re Announce being scratched: Even had she not been injured (I don't know how serious the injury was; not very), I think they have to take every precaution, not only for the mare, but for other horses and jockeys. She was out of control enough to hip-check the horse ambulance -- what would she have done at the gate? I have heard she will be joining Bill Mott's stable, and I bet he can get her straightened out.

To me, Caleb's Posse is 3YO champion (though Shackleford deserves some credit for another good second on a track that was not favoring speed... and speaking of that, don't know how far he will go distance or class-wise, but Hansen's win was very good), but I don't know who is HOY, and I kind of don't care.

Very disappointed to see Courageous Cat retired after losing all chance in the Mile. His full brother, After Market, was a slightly more successful racehorse (AIRC) (and both are very good racehorses indeed) yet when I followed his foals through the Keeneland sale I was unimpressed with the mares he had gotten, and while I wouldn't write him off yet, he hasn't had a standout 2YO and will need to get a stronger book to avoid being sold off to some foreign country. In that light, I don't see why Courageous Cat should go to stud rather than racing another year?

10 Nov 2011 10:28 AM
FSF

TerryM, completely agree with you on wanting them to highlight the breeding, which was always a given in 1980's and 1990's racing coverage even on the network channels.

I now send an obligatory email to ESPN/ABC after every televised day of racing, thanking them for bringing racing to a wide audience but asking them to at least put the sire/dam/breeder back up in the graphics during the post parade.

10 Nov 2011 10:39 AM
Bill Two

Terry M: I too would like to see the BC return to Woodbine.  Great turf course and a fair synthetic track. Who cares if it snows?

10 Nov 2011 10:40 AM
sidekickflats

A few things

So You Think - I read an Australian article after the race that said hat Aidan O' Brien is considering shortening up SYT to a mile next year.  A Frnakel?So You Think match up would be great.

Lead poines don't always work esp. with horses not used to using one.  Announce was just unlucky that the ambulance was parked there.

Game On Dude - lovely horse but remember he has 2 gr 1's to Acclamation and Cape Blancos 3 Grade 1's.  ALso, Acclamation beat Game on Dude in the Pacific Classic.  

10 Nov 2011 11:02 AM
MortonLex

Steve, Has a horse like Caleb's Posse ever been champion 3-year-old? Can't think of one who was a sprinter or miler.

10 Nov 2011 11:16 AM
tanzab

I agree, ESPN needed to at least show sires/dams of the entries during the post parade... while to the general public it might not be that interesting, it is to followers of the sport.  And while it is good Press to keep on with the Mike/Chantel thing, it is really getting old!  Let it go and let's talk about their ability as riders instead.  Game On Dude was super as was Drossel...  I hope that they leave both in training for next year.  Drossel only (IMO) will get better with age

10 Nov 2011 11:23 AM
Mister Frisky

No peanut butter next year.Track fast,turf firm,75 and sunny no humidity.Get with it BC make Santa Anita the permanent home already.

10 Nov 2011 11:27 AM
Rachel NH

I thought it was great...you know the old saying "That's why they run the race"...

My only pet peeve is the lack of attention to each horse at least in the post parade...I was talking real fast trying to explain each horse as the announcers rushed through them to concentrate on the expected winners.

10 Nov 2011 11:34 AM
Pedigree Ann

Don't see why horses being sold is so disturbing to some people. Royal Delta was sold because her owner died and all of his horses were sold by the estate. Blind Luck was owned by a partnership; the sale was likely to dissolve it. (A friend of mine has both reasons; she was a partner with her late mother in a mare, who is being sold to settle the estate and she may just buy the mare back herself.) Owners who don't breed will sell their stock when the horses are ready to retire. This is the way things have always been in the horse business.

Slew, St. Nicholas Abbey returned to form this spring, when he won the Ormonde S at Chester and the G1 Coronation Cup at Epsom, over the Derby course. Britain had a very dry spring (for them) and the courses were more like US courses when firm. He ran honorably on soft ground at Ascot and Longchamp; the Arc was run oddly run race and he was in the scrum with Snow Fairy and So You Think for the minor placings. Taking into consideration his 9-lenghth win on the tight, left-hand turning track at Chester, I made him my first choice in the race.

Gee, a dirt track that gives the horses with some stamina a fair shake in the races. Horrors. This can't be permitted; only horses with 'speed' and limited stamina should have a shot at the big races. <Typed with scorn> By the way, the 'peanut butter' quote was referring only to the rail. Any horse that stayed on the rail the whole race and still finished, like Game on Dude and Hansen, deserve some extra credit.

10 Nov 2011 11:48 AM
ec photographer

lucid analysis and excellent prose.  Thank you.    ec photographer

10 Nov 2011 12:19 PM
Betty S

Great article, please do one on the 2 yr olds as well, I love the way you put everything in perspective.  (Personally, I fell in love with Hansen).

10 Nov 2011 12:26 PM
200 lb. Jockey

The Breeders cup was strange this year. I found it to be the most difficult 2 days of racing to handicap EVER. How I managed to hit 3 trifectas on Saturday I will never know, but I would put it down to luck more than skill. Everyone in my section was pulling their hair out just trying to make picks. One thing definitely missing this year was the electricity in the air before the classic. Last year you could cut it with a knife, as everyone knew it would certainly be Zen or Blame, no doubts about it. This year the air was thick with confusion. What a wide open affair.

The low point of the weekend for me was the absence of Frankel and Black Caviar. The BC would have benefited greatly with their appearance. I don't blame Black Caviar's connections for not showing up. She ran for a cool million at home on the same day, and the turf sprint is now an under card race that pays less than the juvenile. They should fix that. I find it hard to buy the billing of "world championships" when the 2 top horses in the world aren't even running. What can the BC do to get more of the best international horses to ship stateside?

10 Nov 2011 12:30 PM
predict

I think the only reasons Drosselmeyer won this year's mediocre ( just look at the time splits and compare to Caleb's Posse's times) Classic, were 1) the ride Mike Smith gave him, which he was able to do because he knew his horse well enough to know he had to ride him without ever having to check him in any manner, for once this horse slows for any reason he takes forever to get going again and 2) the track, all the speed horses were on the rail, which was why they all tired allowing for the stamina types to finish where they did, which only attests to the greatness of GOD for he had the worst of it and still held on for second,OMG!

I hope breeders are smart enough to look beyond the fact that a horse wins a certain race, and use that in their decisions to breed to him, for if they do in Drosselmeyers case they will be getting stamina and little else. There are better horses to consider.

10 Nov 2011 12:54 PM
yani

Drosselmeyer saved my bank account and he was my personal favorite anyway, I am so disappointed to hear here for the 1st time Courageous Cat will be retired.

10 Nov 2011 2:24 PM
barryaksarben

Kitten's Joy is one of my favorite horses of all time so I went to Gulfstream just to bet on Stephanies Kitten ( not really expecting to cash my win ticket) So I was thrilled by her win and changed my mind and decided to let it ride on Musical Romance. I didnt underestand why her odds were so high after looking at her form. Happily, I left after that race and had a wonderful ( expensive) dinner out while I TIVO'ed the rest of the races. But, it was a strange year with no real HOY choice. I loved watching Blind Luck go anywhere and win and was heartbroken with her last race but look forward to her babies

10 Nov 2011 3:13 PM
Smoking Baby

Pedrigree Ann.  THANK YOU.  Horses being sold is just another part of the business.  The outrage over the sale of Blind Luck is only the self-righteous rants of the misinformed.  

10 Nov 2011 3:20 PM
NASCAR PRO

Hey Karen In Indiana Hank Greenburg already is out of here as in out of the planet resting confortably, God bless him.The new hammering Hank Goldberg is still here and his performace at the Breeders cup might have been subdued by the two blondes that were spotted with him at the adult refreshment stand at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

10 Nov 2011 4:07 PM
bobbiscuit

Steve, all due respect: Vis a vis the track condition, why don't you ask Churchill? We need you to ask, you have the sources. Illman reported that the track was sealed even Saturday up until the first BC race!! Something is going on and the track took these races completely out of form.

10 Nov 2011 4:08 PM
NASCAR PRO

Repole stable was so impressed with Draynays bold prediction on the classic, and his subsequent all or nothing $2000 win wager on his beloved colt that from his first crop, there will be an Uncle Draynay

10 Nov 2011 4:20 PM
TXLonghorn

I echo Ann's comment: Why in the world are people so distraught by horses passing through a sale ring? They are, in fact, livestock. It looks like all these high profile fillies and mares have gone to good homes over the past few days.

As for the track...there was an odd feel in the air last weekend. My clothes felt "heavy" and despite a pretty healthy breeze, my skin never felt dried out or burned.  I'm guessing the atmospheric conditions just weren't conducive for the track to dry out.  That said...I didn't see as much "work" on the track as I expected between races, but it's all good. Like football, racing is a sport "played" in the elements.

10 Nov 2011 4:24 PM
Lava'sStilltheMan

Thank's for the recap.  As a west coaster, I look forward to the BC coming back to Santa Anita.  The surface at CD did seem to dry oddly, but I was more surprised bt some of the results on the turf.  Court Vision...Holy Cow.  Pk 3's and 4's went up in flames.  it was sad to see Goldi depart on a loss.  The juvenile was a heck of a race.  Time for a layoff before SA opens again on 12/26.

10 Nov 2011 5:25 PM
Freetex

I didn't win a dime but I enjoyed every race in the Breeders Cup.

Steve you were so right about Game On Dude being so tenacious and tough on the racetrack.  I also have to say it was a thrill to see Mike Smith flying to the wire on Drosselmeyer.  If only.

Hansen is a beautiful specimen.  I hope Hansen, Union Rags, and Creative Cause will make it healthy and sound to the Derby.  Actually, they are all three magnificent beauties.

Goldikova looked a little tired.  She accomplished so much in her career.  

Personally, it was good to see the vets scratch on the side of caution.  Announce looked completely distraught after backing up into the horse ambulance.

Steve, your observations are so remarkable.  Thanks for the photos too.

10 Nov 2011 5:40 PM
Slew

I do believe it might have been Baffert who said he thought CD added more clay than usual to the track mix which made for a dirt track that did not dry as quickly as it usually does.

Has far as Hansen having class...Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer, Native Dancer and Damascus.  That's one hell of a lot of class packed into a bolt of white lightning.  And, while I love Union Rags, the stamina balance rests more heavily on the side of Hansen.  Now, can a front runner take the Triple Crown?  Duh!  Ask Seattle Slew.

Pedigree Ann:  Ah..the horse I really missed at this year's BC was Snow Fairy.  She's brilliant and so very fast.  The only thing that kept SYT ahead of her in the Irish Champion stakes was that his stride was longer than hers...but she was gaining on him.

Sidekickflats: it was a post race interview at the BC where O'Brien said they would bring back SYT next year, and possibly run him in the mile.  I think he may have been referring to just the BC mile.  SYT had no problem with the dirt.

To others...some days we just need some small thing to giggle about.  Now what horses' names would YOU think twice about before posting only in initials?  

10 Nov 2011 6:47 PM
sidekickflats

Slew,

Heres an excerpt of an article from FOx News Australia:

"Trainer Aidan O'Brien says So You Think's days as a middle-distance runner might be numbered.

O'Brien, who earlier celebrated Breeders' Cup victories with St Nicholas Abbey and Wrote, said there was no disappointment from the Coolmore camp over So You Think's race

"He's run a great race and we are very happy with him," O'Brien said.

"He's a horse with a lot of speed, and we were probably going the wrong way with him in that sense.

"(Jockey) Ryan (Moore) said they weren't going quick enough for him, and I look forward to going back to a mile with him.

"He'd have no problem with that distance.

"I was very excited looking at him today, and we are getting a picture in our heads of what he is.

"I don't think the dirt was any problem, but I would say distance-wise we should come back rather than go forward."

That doesn't sound like they are only talking about the Breeder's Cup next year but I quess will see.  I would love to see him tackle Frankel next season though.

10 Nov 2011 8:25 PM
Stellar Jayne

Bravo to all the winning equines - they gave it their best, as did many of the also rans.  

A few have made negative comments about Uncle Mo, so I'll defend him!  He did make a valiant effort to win.  If you read the B-H the next day you would have read that his blood work was not good.  A negative blood report does not happen over night.  My skeptical nature of some owners and trainers is that his blood count was not good prior to the race, but they ran him to see if he could pull it off.  He really should not have been running at all - so much for everyone's mantra - 'we will do what is best for the horse'.  LOL!  In Uncle Mo's case, I don't think owner and trainer did what was best for him!  I think he is a grand horse and I pray that he has a long healthy life and sires many great colts and fillies.

10 Nov 2011 9:50 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Stellar Jayne

  I was curious also about when the last bloodwork was and what it showed. Mo looked pre-race like he could be starting to get sick again. He didn't look nearly as well as he did in his prior race. If bloodwork wasn't taken after his final workout it should have been. The Mo 10f naysayers got their victory and bragging rights but they got lucky. Mo has the pedigree, stride, demeanor, natural stamina and ability to relax to get 10f in a winning time in a big race but what he didn't have was continued health, a track he could handle or a racing or training foundation for 10f. I wouldn't hesitate to use him as a sire if I wanted a classic distance horse. This is coming from someone who often says that horses aren't 10f horses and shouldn't be on the Derby Trail but running sprints or the mile.

11 Nov 2011 9:45 AM
davidr

I think the Horse of The Year is Cape Blanco. Why does the HOY have to be one who primarily raced on the main track? He won the three of the most prestigeous turf races in the country; The Man O'War, The Arlington Million and Joe Hirsch. He would have won the BC Turf if he hadn't been injured.

11 Nov 2011 10:15 AM
Karen in Texas

davidr----Other posters have mentioned Cape Blanco as well. HOY has been awarded to turf horses in the past--John Henry and All Along come to mind--probably some others, too?

11 Nov 2011 1:43 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Dr. D,

Well stated.  Boy am I glad you said that, I was beginning to think I was delusional backing Mo all this time but I think you nailed it.  Mo did have the stamina and pedigree but due to the illness he lost that continual momentum, for which he is named, to advance forward and therefore the big lapse in training and foundation.  I think if circumstances were different and we had had a healthy Mo we would be looking at a different outcome.  He did try and stayed up there until almost the end of the Classic. Perhaps Mo was clinically ok but maybe it just takes the body a good year to recover from a liver illness.  I would not hesitate breeding to him either, I still say he is unique for an Indian Charlie kid.  And if they had to lose the Classic, there was something cute in Mo and Thirsty crossing the finish line together, like I said before probably wanting to go "hang out" in Louisville rather than go face Toddy!!!  And I liked what Mike Repole said about his family and the Sunday dinners with 30 people, "that is the real Winner's Circle."  I bet if Mo, Thirsty, SSMaria, and Overdriven could eat daintily and were not so huge they would be seated right at the dining room table too!

Steve, remember when Court Vision was originally one of "The Guns of Iavaronne?"  I remember that article of yours!  Still can't believe he got Goldikova. IEAH should have held on to him and not sold him, he turned out to be the biggest gun of all they had!

11 Nov 2011 8:14 PM
Stellar Jayne

Dr Drunkinbum,

If I remember correctly the B-H article said his blood levels were tested following the BC Classic and the GGT's were elevated.  I would have assumed, or hoped that they (Repole and Pletcher) would have had his enzyme levels tested while he was training, as well as days prior to the BC Classic.  From what I have read recently (on other sites), that liver ailment is a chronic condition that can be caused by stress or racing. R and P had to know that during and following his treatment.  I agree with you in the last video of Uncle Mo's training for the BC he did not look well, and if you and I think he did not look well on a video surely Repole and Pletcher should have been cognizant of it as well.  

I agree with every thing you wrote.

I think he is just a grand, stellar

horse.  He is also very handsome, what a face!  I think he could have gotten the distance had he been well and they would all have eaten his dust!  He would have been a Triple Crown winner.

But he is alive and I pray that he lives a long happy life.

11 Nov 2011 8:24 PM
Cris

Shackleford was in the money most of the time, raced at a number of tracks, faced everyone. He did not win all his races but he did his best every race and should be in the hunt for three year old champ. Although I think they did not want to place her last, which is what they would have had to do if they dq'd Goldi she would have been taken down if it was any other horse.

11 Nov 2011 10:33 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Stellar Jayne

   Yes, that's what counts now is a long and happy life. They knew the risks of racing him again, that the stress could elevate his GGT. I thought that Lasix and other racing meds might be a problem also. Hopefully lessons will be learned this time. Life At Ten was even less fit to race. Looked very ill pre-race. I'm not saying this to degrade Pletcher who I like and who sends most of his horses to the track very healthy but I am hoping that a big race will not cloud judgement in the future when it comes to a horse's health.

Alex'sBigFan

   You're not delusional. It's very obvious to me that the conditions of Mo's health and preparation were the primary factors. We still do not know if Mo could have been a champion at 10f given the right circumstances. The people that said he didn't have the pedigree for it can now use that as proof that they were correct but they are wrong in stating that it now has been proven. It has not been proven and will always be an unknown.

12 Nov 2011 8:29 AM
Linda in Texas

Alex'sBigFan - had written a short note to post re: Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty as to why i felt they crossed together but i was afraid i would be called ridiculous. But I think that since Stay Thirsty had always trained with Uncle Mo, and they let each one go ahead of the other only for the other one to catch up so often, I think Stay Thirsty knew Uncle Mo was not in his best form and made sure he had a companion at the end of the BC Race. Yes i totally agree with you, there was "something cute" about the both of them crossing together. Just like Sunday dinners at the Repoles, it is a togetherness thing. With just 2 members including myself left in my family outside of a witchy widowed sister in law, i can only wonder what those Sunday Dinners are like. Love it.

Saw a wonderful up close photo of Uncle Mo, he is beautifully put together from his head to his toes. His chest is something else.

I wish them all success and happiness and most of all the best of health. And don't forget Calibrachoa, he won The Bold Ruler Stakes earlier this month. He is a $40,000 claimer belonging to Repole. I love the claimers.

12 Nov 2011 10:41 AM
HildyPie

Re: Stellar Jayne/Dr Drunkinbum discussion

The post race blood test was something I wondered about as well.  As in, did they not test UM prior to the race to make sure he was as healthy as possible?  Were they not regularly testing him throughout his training?  After all, he had been seriously ill just earlier in the year...

If I was the owner of a huge investment such as UM, I sure as heck would want to make sure I wasn't compromising that investment by racing him if unhealthy.

It just seems like UM was compromised somehow by his connections.  Why not forego the rush training job to make the Classic and let him try his luck as a 4 year old?  Or did they know that he'd never really be healthy and figured they'd give it a shot, regardless?

Admittedly I am not a fan of Pletcher (ahem, Life at Ten, cough, cough) and definitely not of Repole's hubris, so these questions do linger in my mind.

12 Nov 2011 12:39 PM
Moodygirl

I enjoyed ALL the races even though some of my favorites, and most all favorites all year long, did not win. Just the way the year went and the top 3 finishers always ran great races. There were always exciting finishes.

The ESPN coverage was a little better but I was unsatisfied with the depth of coverage for races other than the Classic too. Good grief, Brilliant Speed was mentioned NOT ONCE prior to his turf race except that he was being loaded into the gate! He was a front runner all the way & finished a good 3rd. The horse has found his niche in the turf.

I had my ROTFL moment when Mike Repole said Uncle Mo could beat Frankel. Frankel is well trained, healthy, and a brilliant horse. The trainer & owner chose NOT to stretch his distance out at the end of the season, but will do so next year.

I was starting to like Mr. Repole more after the coverage of his family dinners & such until Uncle Mo's blood level problems were disclosed and the fact he was pushed to the Classic distance, shame on you Mr. Repole. The nicest that can be said is that he is "colorful" and his big mouth seems to be jinxing his horses. Only Headache finishing dead last was behind of Stay Thirsty & Uncle Mo. Pushing Uncle Mo to the Classic distance given his health shows his arrogance and poor judgement. Todd Pletcher must certainly need to handle him with kidd gloves. Does TP need to grow some?

I can't wait to see some of these horses back next year and how about that Hansen!

Thanks Steve for your observations & giving me an opportunity to get this off my chest:)

12 Nov 2011 1:14 PM
Chicagofan

Truly an odd and puzzling 2 days at the BC, but still some great racing and some great stories.  Was good to see you there and get to thank you in person for being one of a kind!  Some random thoughts on the wkend:

Heartwarming to see both St. Nicolas Abbey and Joseph O'Brien win for Aiden O'Brien.  Afleet Again just underscores that Afleet Alex was/is something else!  For the weekend, Royal Delta made the biggest impression on me from a purely visual standpoint...she just seemed to be a strong and sure winner as she came to the finish line. Union Rags and Creative Cause (my favorite) ran well, so will be watching to see if they can go the classic distances next year.  Glad Stay Thirsty is staying in training from what I gather...think he has more to show and hope he will be a factor in the older horse handicap division next year.

Visited both the Romans and Mott barns and have to say they were absolutely welcoming and open to fans...Drosselmeyer and Shackleford were amusing to watch up close.  And the Zenyatta celebration was an excellent event and hope they will continue it at the next BC.  First class.

By Day 2 I was betting on longshots in many races, and you'd think I would have won a ton of money.  But there were enough longshots that I just didn't pick all the right ones or the right combos! Still an incredibly enjoyable time, and now hope maybe things will return a bit to form...

Thanks again for your reporting and insight, and thanks to all posters here...I learn something each time I read!  

12 Nov 2011 1:22 PM
Arch the phoneman

Steller Jane, I think that you are absolutely correct: Mo will sire some really fast........SPRINTERS! The only way Mo was going to get a mile and a quarter was if he hailed a taxi at the top of the lane. Don't you see, they pull out this "bloodwork" excuse everytime Mo throws in a clunker.

12 Nov 2011 4:53 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

HildyPie

   Excellent points. Bloodwork is one of those tests that could be done fairly often without harm you would think. The other thing that lingers in my mind is the maintenance of the courses for World Championship BC racing at CD. I don't think they're up to the task. It has been said that more clay was in the dirt course than normal this year which didn't allow it to dry as it normally would, turning the course into peanut butter which they are now selling to Skippy. But it's last year that really still bothers me because Rough Sailing had to be euthanized after slipping on the very slippery turf course which was over watered apparently to try to appease the Euros who wanted a softer course. The jockey's all complained about how slick the course was. I have faith that Santa Anita is going to be a tremendous success for next year's BC and is a deserving place for a possible permanent or two thirds place. A rotating two years at SA then one year somewhere else for a year (rotating to 5 or 6 different tracks for that year) then back to SA for two more sounds good to me. SA would have two thirds of the races. This can be justified by weather alone but SA is also world class in every way. The only drawback is a Repole strike, or maybe he has retracted that statement by now. Well it's on to a tremendous 3yo group for 2012, and as Moodygirl said- How about that Hansen !!!!!! And how about Ever So Lucky, Creative Cause and Union Rags too. But Hansen is my favorite. I vote for an early Derby Dozen. Let's get this show on the road !!!!

12 Nov 2011 5:52 PM
Karen in Texas

Arch----It's highly unlikely that "they" pull out Mo's bloodwork as an excuse for anything. An elevated GGT enzyme level (or any elevated enzyme specific to a corresponding organ) can only occur when that organ is damaged or inflamed. Sometimes the specific cause is not known. Regardless of the cause, if stressors are not reduced, the organ (his liver) could become fibrotic--damaged permanently from scar tissue. I'll try to link a source for you.

www.ivis.org/.../divers.pdf

12 Nov 2011 6:52 PM
NASCAR PRO

Ok lads so the jury has gone out and decided that Mo lost the classic because of health issues.I think I recall someone stating on here that the decision to run was made by the owner instead of the trainer,so duh whoever bet on him and you got 5-1 made a TERRIFIC BET but he lost because of health issues,yeah right dont make excuses he never should have been running in the race to begin with Dr D.

12 Nov 2011 6:59 PM
Linda in Texas

Dr. Drunkinbum, thanks for remembering Rough Sailing. I thought about him the first turf race during the BC Races this year. I believe he went down on the first turn.  

Anyway, leave it to you to remember his name and his contribution for such a short time.

You have such a great memory and share so much of your knowledge.

Thanks.

12 Nov 2011 8:01 PM
Stones

I was so impressed with Hansen digging in to hold off Union Rags in the Juvy.  I can't wait for his 3-yr old season!

13 Nov 2011 5:57 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Linda in Texas

  Thanks to you for thinking about him also. It's one of those tragedies that has stuck in my brain. I've thought of him often especially around this BC, and hoping others did also, especially the ground crew. Deaths of our magnificient friends, especially ones that it seems shouldn't have happened can't be taken lightly. Most of all we need to learn from our mistakes and give 100% or more to helping them to be safe.

13 Nov 2011 9:25 AM
Alex'sBigFan

Linda in Texas,

I bet you are right about the togetherness thing.  If Mo and Thirsty were going down in defeat they did it together. Yes I envy those dinners too, my family has all but dwindled down to nothing due to illness and death.  I miss our Sundays too and I am happy for the Repole family that they are very blessed and can enjoy them.

15 Nov 2011 12:15 AM

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