Ron the Greek should prove best in Whitney

I believe Ron the Greek is the best horse in the Whitney Handicap (G1), and although I prefer him going 1 1/4 miles, it looks like there is enough pace in this field to set up his steady late move.

The 1 1/8-mile Whitney at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday drew a field of nine. Trickmeister looks like the speed of the speed, but Rule, Endorsement, and Fort Larned should ensure a steady pace even if Trickmeister is not sent.

Since being transferred to the barn of Bill Mott, Ron the Greek has three wins and three seconds from six starts. One of the reasons I like Ron the Greek so much is that the longer the distance, the stronger he gets. Ron the Greek shows the patterns of motion of a top class stayer. He is on my short list of potential winners of the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), later this year at Santa Anita.

I would not be surprised to see fellow Bill Mott-trainee Flat Out fill out the exacta in the Whitney. Flat Out goes second-time for Mott and second off the layoff. Flat Out looked very good in his return in the Monmouth Cup (G2) on July 7. Flat Out got stuck inside behind a slow pace in that race, but showed great late energy and was reaching out for ground through a final quarter in about 23-3.

Hymn Book, most recently second in the Suburban Handicap (G1), is another who could be poised to pick up the pieces late.

I am just beginning to dive into this weekend's past performances. The other graded stakes on Saturday are: the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes (SAR, 3yo fillies going 6f on dirt), the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Handicap (DMR, F&M, 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack), and the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby (MNR, 3yo colts, including Hansen, going 1 1/8 miles on dirt).

On Sunday, Saratoga has the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt (3yo and up, 6f on dirt), and Del Mar has the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes (2yo going 6.5f on the Poly).


Leave a Comment:

Mary Zinke

This is my preliminary Whitney super(.10): 6,8/2,6,7,8/1,2,6,7,8,9/1,2,3,6,7,8,9

Ron The Greek and Hymn Book(I hate how Hymn Book is so susceptible to bumping and bad starts, but I can't exclude him as a top 9f horse.) on top. In second, adding the Woodbine horse, Hunter's Bay, that can win on dirt and trains on dirt, figuring he's well-prepared to take a crack at a grade 1 against good horses, and Flat Out--if he is back to how his form of last summer, then I have to use him in second, plus I like him (personal bias). I realize the pace was slow at the start of the Monmouth Cup which led to the very fast closing eighth, but taking a chance. If Flat Out has any hustle at the end, his jockey will get it out of him. Next, in third, adding Rule and Fort Larned. Rule can handle fighting for third, and Fort Larned will have Trickmeister to deal with , but after the mile,I figure Fort Larned will be hanging on after Trickmeister is done. I think Fort Larned likes an uncontested lead, won't get that here, has done better against usually lesser competition. I gave him a little excuse for the Foster, but others that were also bothered at the start ran better. Endorsement is a nice horse that is overmatched here. Hope I don't have to eat those words, because I'm leaving him out. He had an excellent Saratoga work on the 23rd. The very slow one was either in slop or drying slop. I may move Caixa up. He's pulled some shockers this year. He likes Saratoga once he gets used to it. I think of him as a sprinter, but he can wait an unleash that sprint late. Just not his usual distance, although he's won the two times he's attempted 9f.

02 Aug 2012 5:55 PM
Mary Zinke

Shoot, I almost edited that correctly from an e-mail I sent. Will this be the spot for all weekend picks, Pete? If so, I'll brave embarrassment and post more.

02 Aug 2012 6:08 PM

The Whitney is quite a knotty affair with pacey types that can hang around like Trickmeister, Endorsement, Rule and Fort Larned, together with some decent closers, Ron The Greek, Hymn Book and Flat Out. The latter has the ability to be closest to the front runners and to get first run at the leaders therefore he, Flat out is my selection to win the race with Fort Larned filling the exacta spot.

Justin Phillips is tipped to upset Shackleford in the Vanderbilt and Hansen is a mortal lock in the West virginia Derby. Enjoy.

02 Aug 2012 7:50 PM

Ron the Greek should prove best in Whitney but he could be rank and never make a run.It will depend on how well Mott has managed his meds and treatments,and his energy level and total well being.These horses dont run all these races without nagging injuries or weak links in their body, which is usually their legs and hooves and all the bones they have in that region(this from a horseplayer so go ahead and chime in on my lack of knowledge)if I cash my bet I dont worry about being a chemist or animal exercise Physiologist.

02 Aug 2012 8:33 PM
Pete Denk

Yes Mary I'll leave this up all weekend. Happy handicapping.

02 Aug 2012 8:47 PM

On Fridays card, watch out for Drinksonthehouse in the 6th at Saratoga.  

02 Aug 2012 9:06 PM

I agree RTG is probably going to be tough in this race.  The only thing about RTG from watching his races is that it doesn't matter where he goes when he starts his run, outside inside, he seems to have that "I'm gonna get you" attitude.  If he's going to get beat, I'm looking at Hymn Book to spring a mild upset.  I guess Mary and I have the same pick this time :) but I'm using 1,3 and 4 (Rule, Endorsement and Caixa Electronica) on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th leg.  I might also put together a cheap ticket with Rule and RTG on top.  Lots of great races this weekend, good luck Mary and to all playing this weekend!

02 Aug 2012 10:07 PM
Pete Denk

JayJay- good observation on Ron the Greek. That is one of the reasons I like him so much.

02 Aug 2012 11:56 PM


As to your question from last blog about Paynter or Bode winning 3 year old Eclipse, I will repeat exactly what I told Ranagulzion about Union Rags- They must, MUST put together a streak that  culminates in the BC Classic.  The Classic is the key in the MUST.

Pete has it right. IHA is a virtual lock.  It's fairly anti-climatic.  I'm really not going to get even a little excited about anything until some other 3 year old has already won the Travers and JCGC/Goodwood.  

Specualtion about some 3 year old winning a series of races with only one race of that series having been run hasn't gotten us far(think back to all the Union Rags and Bode Travers-JCGC-BC Classic speculation).  Let someone win 3 races in a row leading up to the Classic, then we might have something.  

03 Aug 2012 4:27 AM


What do you make of Amani in the Clement Hirsch?

Her form in Chile is insane, grade 1 wins by 25, crushing wins over males, 10 for 11 overall.

03 Aug 2012 4:53 AM
Mike from Michigan

Personally, I really like Flat Out to prevail here.  RTG is a great horse, but Flat Out is sitting on a big one.

03 Aug 2012 8:58 AM
Pete Denk

Gun Bow-

Amani is getting a ton of respect at 5/2 on the ML, and she gets Gomez (!) I'll check out one of the workout reports tonight and let you know what it says.

Very interested to see her run, but first off layoff, first NA, first at Del Mar...

My handicapping friend from Vegas took a stab with Quaintly (8-1 ML) in the Saturday Locksmith Smart Plays Analysis. She's a little interesting cutting back and she has some positional speed. I believe stamina is required to win on that surface. Giant's Causeway out of a Seeking the Gold mare certainly could work on the Poly...

03 Aug 2012 11:47 AM
Pete Denk

Mike from Mich-

Flat Out should get the jump on RTG, and I liked how he looked first out for Mott. I am actually considering the Mott exacta box in the Breeders' Cup Fantasy Capping League I am in. The winnings go to charity...

03 Aug 2012 11:49 AM

Fort Larned looks to be in career best form.  Although Fort Larned shows early speed and there are a couple other horses with some early speed, it does not appear he is a rank, need the lead or bust type of horse. Also, I believe his outside post position gives him two very important options... if he breaks on top, he can take it to the field on the lead, or he can sit off dueling leaders. I foresee Trickmeister winning the break and taking the early lead with Fort Larned sitting off his flank to the outside. Although Rule and Endorsement have decent early speed, I don not think they are is quick as Trickmeister. Since Rule and Endorsement are both drawn to the inside of Trickmeister, this means they will either have to rocket out of the gate and get into a speed duel, or they will be off Trickmeister's heels and to the inside of Fort Larned. As long as the rail is not golden and the 2-3 path is an okay place to be, I see Fort Larned getting a perfect outside stalking trip and trying to put away the other speed and kick free of the closers at the top of the stretch.

Ron the Greek is a very nice horse and looks like he loves 10F. However, since this race is only 9F, I'm not sure if the race will fall apart enough for Ron the Greek to get there in time.  I find Flat Out interesting as he should sit an ideal trip in mid-pack and is a quality horse with some good efforts at Sar. Hunters Bay seems to be getting better with time and is maybe the sleeper in the race to wake up, although how he handles the rise in class in Sar are serious questions.

I like Fort Larned on top, with Flat Out in second, and then Hunters Bay, Ron the Greek, and Hymn Book to round out the trifecta.

Good luck to all!

03 Aug 2012 12:07 PM
Pedigree Ann

The pace will be critical in the Whitney; under 48 or so for the half, and the horses behind the lead will have a shot; the closer to 47, the farther back they can come from. Can Trickmeister be held to a half in over 48 on a dry track? Hasn't this year.

Saratoga's been carrying insane speed for a furlong or two this year in sprints, and both 9f graded stakes were won by horses on the lead after the first quarter..., Indecision. Watch and enjoy, no bets today.

03 Aug 2012 12:15 PM

For those who like pedigree, check out Fort Larned's granddam... it's Bayakoa! I hope that helps him put away the other speed and kick free of the closers tomorrow!

03 Aug 2012 12:38 PM
Mary Zinke

GL to you, too, JayJay; thanks.

My top Whitney picks, RTG and Hymn Book, also Flat Out, have all won on off tracks so no change necessary in case of rain.

In the Vanderbilt, no way to exclude Shack even though this is his first 6f attempt, I believe, so I'll pair him with Emcee-dry, and Justin Philip-slop.

Hirsch: Include Me Out, Star Billing, Switch, Amani.

The Blue Tail race and a favorite race of mine, The Best Pal(Sway Away placed and CC won), coming up.

03 Aug 2012 2:06 PM

I am going with Ron the Greek.  Anyone else playing the Breeders Cup fantasy handicapping game? Starts with this race tomorrow....

03 Aug 2012 3:24 PM

Racingfan : what's the link ?

03 Aug 2012 5:11 PM
Mary Zinke

West Virginia Derby:

Win: Hansen(and I don't think he is unbeatable here, just that his early pace and speed blow the others away),Place: Macho MacHo(look who he's been running with lately like Neck N Neck and Stealcase that have placed in big 3yo stakes recently),Show: Called To Serve should appreciate the return to dirt, and in fourth:the sprinter, Bourbon Courage could hang on for fourth, if he isn't burnt up running w/Hansen early. 9,4,6,8.  In a super, I'd add the Lael horse, the 10, Hero Of Order has some degree of class, and Le Bernardin, about whom I'm having trust issues, lol. What was his Peter Pan Stakes excuse? His lead in the 8.5 stakes was diminishing.

03 Aug 2012 6:58 PM
Lammtarra's Arc

Amani is my pick in the C Hirsch.  I am also taking Hunter's Bay in the Whitney as an upset over the ( horse to beat RTG).  Hymn book needs to break cleaner, or stay out of trouble and get his one good sweeping run at the end to get close to RTG.  GO HUNTER!

03 Aug 2012 7:12 PM

Tough beat with my 6 horse in the 6th.  Lost all momentum running up into the leaders on the turn, but came again and got beat a nose.  

03 Aug 2012 7:31 PM

I too like Hunter's Bay, but not to win, i really think he runs third here...but that wont prevent me from playing him at juicy odds to win on saturday.

03 Aug 2012 8:08 PM

JayJay -

03 Aug 2012 9:19 PM

Racingfan : Thanks for the link.  I signed up and made a lot of virtual bets lol, not sure if it's working properly.  I couldn't find the page that shows the bets I made.

It seems everyone is high on this Hunter's Bay horse, juicy 20-1 morning line.  I'm starting to look at Caixa a lot, I think this horse is on a roll right now.  I'll play it by "odds".

04 Aug 2012 2:38 AM

Big Bux Bill:

Thanks on the info about Bayakoa being Fort Larned's granddam.  Didn't know that.

1989 was my intro to thoroughbred racing.  And the first stakes race I ever saw in person was the 89' Chula Vista(now Clement Hirsch) featuring Bayakoa.  But she ran her only bad race of 1989, finishing last as 7-time grade 1 winner Goodbye Halo rolled from the back to win.

But Bayakoa repeatedly thrashed Goodbye Halo that year in California.  Bayakoa also won in Arkansas, and later in the year went to New York for the gr.1 Ruffian and a showdown with the 3 year old filly superstar, Open Mind.  

Open Mind was on a 10 race winning streak(7 grade 1s), a streak that included the BC Juvenile Fillies, the Kentucky Oaks, Triple Tiara(Acorn, Mother Goose CCA Oaks), and Alabama.

Bayakoa gave Open Mind 5 pounds on Open Mind's home track(Belmont) in the Ruffian and won by 3.5 lengths.  Bayakoa then won the Spinster by 11.5 lengths before defeating 3-time gr.1 winner Gorgeous as well as Lukas' 3-headed attack(that included Winning Colors and Open Mind) in the BC Distaff.

Bayakoa won 7 grade 1 races in 1989, and came back in 1990 to win 5 more including that tragic Distaff, the race, unfortunately, Bayakoa is most famous for.

Bayakoa's 12 career grade 1 wins were a North American record for a female until Zenyatta won 13.

04 Aug 2012 5:59 AM

For the record, I like Fort Larned in the Whitney.  Ron the Greek 2nd.

I was thinking Flat Out, from a trip angle and second-time Mott angle, but it seems like every handicapper likes him and his odds might make him an underlay.  For a horse that hasn't run fast in 10 months, and is drawing such hype after just nosing out Sloane Ranger in his last, that's too much risk for me.  I'll need Flat Out to show me he's fully back.

Ron the Greek has proven himself a class performer, he's very consistent, and he gets pace to run at. 2nd.  Maybe Caixa for 3rd.

Closely matched field, and little would surprise me.  

04 Aug 2012 6:15 AM
Mary Zinke

Whitney: 6,8/6,7,8/1,3,5,6,7,8,9/ALL

04 Aug 2012 1:01 PM
Pete Denk

Amani, the Chilean wonderfilly entered in the Clement Hirsch today, has been given extremely positive reviews by those who watch the morning works out in SoCal. FWIW

04 Aug 2012 1:47 PM

Whitney :

Trifecta box :


Super (.50)

3,6,8 with 1,3,8,6 with 1,8,6,3 with 1,8,6,3

P4 : (.50)

09th : 5,6

10th : 3,6,8

11th : 2,6,7

12th : 2,10

04 Aug 2012 1:48 PM
Minnesota Kid

The Whitney-

I like Rule (#1) in this spot today. It will be his 2nd start back from a long layoff, a scenario that has produced solid results for him in the past.

He also has a win, a place, and a show in three career starts at Saratoga. This might be even more important than usual, since we all know that some very good horses, past and present, do not respond well to the Spa's surface.

Hunter's Bay = 0 for 0

Endorsement = 0 for 0

Ron the Greek = 0 for 1

Flat Out = 0 for 2

Hymn Book = 0 for 0

Fort Larned = 0 for 0

I believe Rule will be able to save ground while tracking the #5 and #9 through six furlongs and then, hopefully, hold off RTG and Flat Out.

I also think that Castellano did not have his choice of the two Pletcher mounts today, for those thinking that Javier prefers CE over Rule. Usually, when a new rider wins, as was the case w/ J. Bravo and Rule last out, the connections wish to maintain the status quo. It is just a guess, however.

So, I will take Rule to win and place. He may even drift up from that 5-1 ML, possibly entering the gate at 7 or 8-1 to win the 85th Whitney.

04 Aug 2012 2:00 PM

So, I got races 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 correct, but only hit a $12 Pick 3.  Had a pick 4, races 2-5 and missed the first race.  

04 Aug 2012 5:30 PM
Minnesota Kid

Congrats to those that had Fort Larned in the Whitney.

As for Rule, could not have been more wrong about him, wow-- I might be the worst.

04 Aug 2012 5:55 PM
Age of Reason


All I can say is, "Wow!" In your last post, you predicted, "For the record, I like Fort Larned in the Whitney...Ron The Greek 2nd...[and] I was thinking Flat Out"(edited). BINGO! And this in a race everyone saw as wide open, congrats! Just out of curiosity, what was it that caused you to toss Fort Larned's rather uninspired run in the Stephen Foster, where he was soundly beaten by Ron the Greek? An inquiring mind wants to know. Many thanks.

04 Aug 2012 6:25 PM
Mary Zinke

The old guy at the track, same one from last week, w/no losing tickets, like Fort Larned, too. Sadly, this time I didn't take his advice.

04 Aug 2012 6:56 PM
Mary Zinke

Gunbow, You don't place wagers at Turf Paradise, do you? lol.

04 Aug 2012 6:57 PM

Gun Bow,

I see you're in mercurial form these days ...handicapping the Whitney at the same high level as your renowned post race reviews.  Good stuff my friend.

04 Aug 2012 7:13 PM
Mary Zinke

Yeah, wps Include Me Out, show wager on Star Billing, exacta box of 1,3,7, .10 super. Small winnings, but I'm happy.

04 Aug 2012 9:37 PM

NIce picks Big Bux Bill and GunBow - if you put together your bets, you'd have the trifecta and superfecta lol but I'm quite sure you both hit the tri and super separately.

If that race was run again, I still wouldn't have Fort Larned in my tickets, and yes, I'd lose again lol.   I still think RTG is the best horse in that race, 12 lengths back and fanned maybe 6 or 7 wide at the top of the stretch and kept coming.  Not taking anything away from Fort Larned, he was the sharpest horse in the race, Brian rode him briliantly.

04 Aug 2012 10:48 PM

Age of Reason:

Fort Larned had been so consistent except for the Foster.  It's hard for horses, when they are dancing most of the dances, to run consistently well.  And if one did throw the Foster, his Beyer figs, 108 in 3 races, were best in the field.  

I also liked Fort Larned's speed and thought he could get a garden run sitting behind Trickmeister and Endorsement.  Endorsement can't get 9 furlongs against gr.1 competition, and Trickmeister always finds a way to back up.  That would leave Fort Larned on the lead, and with a win at 9.5 furlongs, I thought he could hold on well enough from there.

It's kind of musical chairs for the Eastern older horses.  Fort Larned certainly moves up near the top of that group.  His Beyers are so conistently good, and I expect at least a 108 for the Whitney.  He now has a gr.1, 2 grade 3s, and a listed stakes win on the year.

However, I'm not sure he's the horse to watch from this race as it concerns the Breeder's Cup Classic.  Although Fort Larned set the Gulfstream track record at 9.5 furlongs, I have doubts about him at 10 furlongs against other elite speed.  While Fort Larned did win comfortably in the Whitney, it wasn't as comfortable as his jockey thought it was going to be at the sixteenth pole(read the chart notes for some unusual commentary).

What could be key to note about Fort Larned is that his two recent defeats, in the Alysheba and Foster, were similar not just because they were run over Churchill, but because they featured Nate's Mineshaft as a pace rival for Fort Larned.  Nate's Mineshaft is a much more quality speed router than either Trickmeister or Endorsement.  Fort Larned had a nice set up in the Whitney sitting behind speed that had no chance.  While Nate's Mineshaft didn't run well in the Alysheba, that field also included the quality pace presser in Successful Dan.  The Foster had Wise Dan as pace presser.  

So, in both the Alysheba and Foster, Fort Larned had quality around him early and in the middle of the race, and it took something out of him in the stretch.  In the Whitney, with Rule running poorly, the field was basically cheaper speed, Fort Larned as the only stalker, and then a bunch of closers.  When the speed folded, Fort Larned was able to separate and get that mental breather he couldn't get in the Churchill races.

The problem for Fort Larned projecting forward to the Breeder's Cup is the potential presence of Game on Dude.  Dude is classy early speed and middle speed/stalker rolled into one; he goes fast early and then just keeps going and going, doing to other speed and stalkers what the combo of Nate's Mineshaft and the Dans did in the Alysheba and Foster.  Except for his races on turf-like synth, Game on Dude chews other speed up and spits them out.  He did it to Gladding and Twirling Candy in last year's Big Cap, Tackleberry in the 11' Charlestown Classic, Twirling Candy again in the 11' Hollywood Gold Cup, Tres Borrachos in the Goodwood, Unlce Mo, To Honor and Serve, and Havre de Grace in the Breeder's Cup Classic, Uh Oh Bango in the San Antonio, and Morning Line in the Californian.  Off hand, I can't think of a speed horse that's finished ahead of Game on Dude the last 2 years on dirt or Cushion Track.

However, Game on Dude's presence would be less critical if Fort Larned continues to relax as well as he did in the Whitney.  However, the problem is that taken slightly off the pace or not, he will still have to get by Game on Dude, and that takes a lot of energy(both physical and mental).  And if not Game on Dude, there's Bodemeister.

The Whitney horse I still like the most for the Classic is Ron the Greek.  He ran another strong race in the Whitney, dropping far back before coming with a nice late run.  He got a solid pace to run into, but he just didn't get the trip, being forced really wide, ironically be his stablemate.  Ron is even more effective at 10 furlongs, and we know he likes Santa Anita.

Flat Out ran another encouraging race, but even though he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 10 furlongs, that race was at one-turn and I really don't know if Flat Out is a 2-turn 10 furlong horse.  Also, while I think he's good enough to place in big races, there usually seems to be another horse that's just a little faster.

Hymnn Book is a weaker version of Ron, and I also have doubts about how effective his kick will be at 10 furlongs around 2-turns.

The problem with so many of these Eastern older horses is that so few have form at 10 furlongs around 2-turns.

Among the Eastern older horses:

1. Ron the Greek

2. Fort Larned

3. Mucho Macho Man

4. Wise Dan

5. Alternation

6. Nate's Mineshaft

7. Flat out

8. Hymn Book

05 Aug 2012 3:22 AM

Include Me out continues her excellent season out in California, affirming her place atop the Western older females with a win in the grade 1 Clement Hirsch.  That's now 2 grade 1 wins on the year as well as 2 grade 2s.  She might be the most accomplished horse few talk about.

However, I still don't know if she's a really an elite older female, whether from an historical perspective or compared with Eastern rivals like Royal Delta or Get Tricky.

First, I have serious concerns about Include Me Out at 9 furlongs(unless it's wet).  The last sixteenth of the Vanity must certainly haunt Include Me Out's connections, because if it wasn't for that short bit of real estate their 4 year old is 5 for 5 on the year with 3 grade 1s.  

For me, however, that final sixteenth of the Vanity was telling.  Yes, Talamo moved too soon, which didn't help Include Me Out's chances in the stretch, but she went from moving extremely well on the turn to basically stopping; her last eighth approached 15 seconds and her 3 length lead turned into a 2.5 length defeat.  And the filly that beat her, Love Theway Youare, is a grinder that has been smoked when facing the likes of Blind Luck.  

Even in the Everett at 8.5 furlongs, Include Me Out was losing ground late to the equally distance challenged Ellafitz.  And today, Include Me Out's apparently comfortable lead got real desperate late.

The best thing going for Include Me Out is that Santa Anita appears to be her favorite surface.  Now a winner of graded stakes this year on dirt at Santa Anita, Cushion Track synth at Hollywood, and Polytrack synth at Del Mar, Include Me Out's easiest wins came at Santa Anita.  Although likely aided by wet-fast conditions, Include Me Out easily beat Love Theway Youare at 9 furlongs in the Santa Margarita.

The other Hirsch top finishers should be heading separate ways.  Star Billing should go back to turf, which is where she belongs once maintrack racing goes back to dirt.  She should be a top contender to defend her title in the Matriarch.  It's likely back to 7 furlongs for Switch, who once again came up short in a 2-turn grade 1.  

With no disrespect to Include Me Out, the best Hirsch prospect for the BC Ladies Classic might be Amani.  The Chilean star just wasn't quite cranked up enough to handle the speed of North American grade 1 horses.  However, once she got rolling, she flew, and galloped out easily clear.  

In Chile, Amani was a dirt filly, so the move to Santa Anita should suite her fine.  And with wins going classic distances, the Hirsch was likely too short for her.  The Lady's Secret, also at 8.5 furlongs, might again be a little short(Include Me Out should be a fairly solid favorite), but the 9 furlongs of the Ladies Classic will really play to her strengths.  And as her 3rd start in North America, she should be ready for a peak effort.

After being lukewarm about the Hirsch and the West Coast older females in general, I'm genuinely excited about an Include Me Out-Amani matchup in the Lady's Secret.

05 Aug 2012 4:10 AM
Pedigree Ann

Good call on the Whitney, Gun Bow. I would just like to point out (again) that Ron the Greek was giving weight to the field, 3 lbs. to the winner.

Don't get too excited about Amani in the BC Distaff; she's unlikely to run. Neither she nor her sire were likely to have been nominated and the supplementary fees are too high for all but the very wealthy. The BC was set up for the offspring of the upper and middle level US breeding concerns; foreigners, especially Southern Hemisphere types, and Cinderellas need not apply. Unless they can cough up mucho cash. I can name many a horse over the years who should have been in 'the' championship race for their division but weren't in the Breeders' Cup because of the supplemental fees.

05 Aug 2012 10:31 AM
Pete Denk

He didn't hit the wire first, but Ron The Greek will be elevated to #1 on my BC Classic rankings.

I wouldn't mind if he runs well but loses his final prep too.

05 Aug 2012 11:02 AM
Saratoga AJ

Another good Whitney.

But let's face it, the highlight of yesterdays card was the Saratoga co-feature, the Prioress, where the great Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens did it again...another G-1 for the Chief. Very emotional scene in the winner's circle.

At the age of 21 he won his first race on July 4, 1950 at the Big A, and here we are 62 years later, and the man is still winning races, and G-1's to boot, despite his downsized stable. A true living legend.

And as the Chief said, he'll have that painted jockey by the Clubhouse gate next Summer, just like old times.

I had Emma last month at 39-1, and again yesterday even though I didn't think the pace scenario was in her favor after the late scratch of Jamaican Smoke. But never doubt the Chief.

Great ride by Alvarado. And of course a great training job by the master, who picked her up in February after she lost her first 3 career starts by a combined 26 lengths under her previous trainers. What else can you say?

05 Aug 2012 11:23 AM
Criminal Type

I know I've said this before but Hansen should be pointing toward the King's Bishop not The Travers. He is a typical Tapit. Can't go long. Seven furlongs is a virtual lock for him, in my opinion anything more and it's iffy. His precocity is the only thing that got him the win in the 2011 BC juvi. Has he put together back to back wins in 2012? I don't think so, but I didn't look. I wasn't surprised he was 4th. Dr. Hansen, if your reading this (I know sometimes you do) Please, The greatest service you could do for your horse is to keep him at a mile or less. The field that beat him was average and your horse is better then that if you run him at his prefered distance. I was very happy to see Macho Macho win, I really like those grandsons of Holy Bull.

The Whitney was a shocker for me. I thought Ron the Greek would take it for sure, Kudos to Ft Larned and the connections on a nice win. Pete, nice analysis. I had Ron the Greek, Flat Out & Hymn Book,  but se la vie. Never expected Ft Larned to get up for the win. I was screaming at the TV, get him Ron..haha

Ranagulzion, Just thought I would let you know, I've got an official invite to Fair Hill on Thursday this week. I will see Union Rag's and hopefully Teeth of the Dog, Lentenor, Margano and the Motion horses as well. I'm suppossed to get there early, 600-630 am and go directly to the clockers tower. Will have camara in hand...I am very excited to see Union Rag's before he ships out to Kentucky for his stud career. I love that horse and I still don't think we got to see his best race.

05 Aug 2012 11:24 AM
Criminal Type

Pete, I was thinking the same thing about RTG. I've always had a soft spot for this horse because Ron was my sons name. He died of an athsma attack on Thanksgiving 09. I followed RTG at 3 and hoped he would have done better, but damn he has exploded into a top Handicap horse at 5. He is a perfect example of what we should be seeing at the track, horses racing beyond 3 and much better for it.

05 Aug 2012 11:34 AM

I thought there was a speed bias at Saratoga yesterday, not surprised RTG came up a little short.  Agree he will move forward off of that, and maybe have better odds because of it.  

My picks for Sunday at Saratoga.

Race 2 Pick 4:  1,9/2,5/6,7/8,10,11

Race 5 Pick 3:  8,10,11/2,4,6,8/3,9

Race 7:  9 WPS

Race 8 PIck 4: 6/8/2,4/2,11,13

Race 9 Pick 3:  8/2,4/2,11,13

Race 9: 8 WPS

Race 10:  Tri Box 1,2,4 (I've bet against Shackelford since I lost a ton on him in the Derby; hasn't worked out for me betting on him or against him).  

My best bets today are the 9 in the 7th and the 8 in the 9th.  Both will be about 2-1.  

05 Aug 2012 12:07 PM

Talking about supplementing a horse to the Breeders Cup, the very first BC Classic winner, Wild Again, was supplemented at a cost of $360K.  He came into the race after winning the G1 Meadowlands Cup at 10F defeating Canadian Factor in 2.00 3/5.  However his race immediately preceding the BCC was a one mile allowance on the turf at Golden Gate and the best he could do was finish third.  Was it any wonder that he was 30-1 in the BCC and won after a determined head-to-head battle throughout the stretch with Gate Dancer and Slew o’ Gold.  That $360K gamble took a lot of guts.

05 Aug 2012 1:50 PM

Forget all of those picks. 30% chanc of isolated storms has turned into a monsoon and most of my horses are scratched.  

05 Aug 2012 2:31 PM
Mary Zinke

Vanderbilt: 1,3/1,3,4,7/1,2,3,4,5,7/1,2,3,4,5,7

wps 3, s 5

Best Pal: I like the filly, Heir Kitty, best. Tough for a filly to beat the boys though. 5,4,8,7

05 Aug 2012 3:26 PM
Mary Zinke

Hard to tell with babies; the 2 looks good in the Best Pal, too.

05 Aug 2012 3:48 PM
Criminal Type

Laz, I loved Wild Again, I will never forget jumping up and down watching him win that race. Yes, 360K was I think the largest supplemental fee ever paid to get a horse in a race. I don't even recall what the purse for the race was. Was it a million then, the first one?

05 Aug 2012 4:48 PM

Criminal Type it was three million.  That was one exciting race.  All the talk was Slew O’ Gold who came into the raced undefeated that year (5 for 5) and after having won the JCGC for the second year in a row, this time by just under ten lengths.  Precisionist, then three, was in the beaten field and Gate Dancer, who was third, won the Preakness that year and came into the race after beating Precisionist in the 10F Louisiana Derby (he would finish second to Proud Truth in the ’85 BCC).  Lots of bumping in the stretch run and one of the most exciting BCC’s ever.

05 Aug 2012 5:42 PM

The Vanderbilt showed what a difference 6 furlongs is from 7 or 8 furlongs.

Breaking from the rail certainly didn't help Shackleford, but he just couldn't keep up with grade 1, 6 furlong speed.

The Vanderbilt was also an interesting lesson in pace.  Before the race, had I told people that Shackleford would have trouble keeping up with the early leaders, most wouldn't have been too surprised.  However, I speculate that many would have then assumed that Shackleford would have been able to make up ground on the field in the stretch, given his superior endurance.

However, Shackleford can get 8 and 9 furlongs running early fractions of 23, 46, 110.  Going at that good clip, Shackleford can just keep rolling, running other speed into the ground.  The ability to maintain what is for middle distances a quick yet steady pace is what makes Shackleford so tough.

However, the fractions Shackleford runs at middle distances are insufficient at 6 furlongs.  Thus, Shackleford struggled to keep up early.  And, because the pace was so much more demanding than he's used to, this failed early effort zapped him of energy and left him with little for the stretch.

One of the great surprises for me was when Acclamation made his first start going over 10 furlongs in the 2010 Jim Murray.  At middle distances, Acclamation was a hard trying speed horse, but he continually lost ground through the stretch.  He, therefore, seemed an unlikely candidate to relish 12 furlongs.

However, the reason Acclamation faded at middle distances is that, as a pace horse, he simply got tired running fractions of 23, 46, 110.  At 12 furlongs, Acclamation found himself running alone going 25, 49, 113.  What was discovered is that while Acclamtion tired running half miles in 46, he could gallop along at steady 24s for as long as needed.  And that's something that few horses can do.

So, it should be back to middle distances, with a focus on the BC Dirt Mile, for Shackleford.  And as I've been saying for a while, the best sprinter in North America just happens to be the defending BC and Eclipse champ, Amazombie.  Not Shackleford, not The Factor, not Jackson Bend.

05 Aug 2012 9:15 PM

While Shack can not run on the pace in a sprint with true class speed for graded stakes,I dont think his connections expected him to.He was probably going to save ground from the 1 several lengths off the pace and run them down in the stretch for at least a piece of the purse,(he has more stamina)this was announced as a prep for him(I didnt expect him to win)After the race the jockey and trainer said they didnt think he handled the sloppy track and would not run anymore on a similar track.

06 Aug 2012 8:01 AM

Sorry a little late getting back to posting... Played the East coast tracks then Del Mar all day Saturday, then went out Saturday night, then played the played the East coast tracks and Del Mar again on Sunday, then went to The Red Mile last night for opening night.  That was a solid 48 hours or of so of racing.

I tried to look smart by calling the exacta in the Whitney cold with Flat Out in second, but fortunately I wasn't greedy enough to play it this way and I liked Fort Larned enough in the win spot to key him there and use multiple horses underneath... I would have been a fool not to use both Motts underneath.

GunBow, interesting stuff on Bayaoka.  You have one more year of experience on me... 1990 was my first year of going to the races, so I didn't see Bayakoa in 1989, but I do recall her Breeders Cup distaff all too familiarly, as this was the first Breeders Cup I ever watched and wagered on. I have done some reading on Bayakoa since then, but it is always interesting in getting a first person narrative about their experiences, so thanks for this.

Let's hope to get it right again next weekend and cash some more tickets!  Have a great week all!

06 Aug 2012 9:29 AM
Pedigree Ann

Bill, the thing I remember most about Bayakoa is that she ran with the tip of her tongue hanging out of the right side of her mouth. And that quote from Andy Beyer before the Gulfstream BC Distaff - there was no way in hell that Bayakoa could run as fast on the lead as she needed to and still hold off a quality filly like Gorgeous. Famous last words.

06 Aug 2012 11:35 AM
Pedigree Ann

P.S. on Fort Larned.

Do you notice that he has a half-sister named Izarra? Their dam is named Arlucea, out of Bayakoa. Well, Bayakoa was out of a Group winner in Argentina named Arlucea, whose dam was named Izarra. Someone is having fun with name symmetry, up and down the generations.

06 Aug 2012 11:38 AM

Good stuff Pedigree Ann... thanks for this!

I didn't notice that the names of the dams in Fort Larned's pedigree were being recycled, but I looked up the pedigree and you are indeed correct.  I don't think I have ever seen this done before.  It is interesting that Fort Larned's dam and third dam are both named Arlucea.  At least they can't recycle the name Bayakoa, right?

I noticed that Janis Whitham is the owner/breeder of Fort Larned and that she was also the owner of Bayakoa, along with her late husband.

I don't remember Izarra (the 1/2 sister to Fort Larned, not the 3rd dam of Fort Larned) as a race horse, but I see she is G1 placed and multiple graded stakes placed. It appears that Izarra had her first registered foal in 2011, who is a colt by Stroll. She had colt this year by Sky Mesa. Good stallions, but not elite stallions. I always like a strong female family that can produce runners no matter who they are bred to, and maybe Izarra will fall into this category.

06 Aug 2012 12:43 PM

I just want to say that the Breeders Cup people are a bunch of friggin idiots for keeping the race there again in 2013. What happened to rotating sites? They need to go back to Gulfstream IMO. I understand certain sites have bad weather and it may be cold, but the Europeans love it. The horses love it. The fans love it. Nothing a little bourbon can't fix... lets keep the BC inclusive, not exclusive to Santa Anita and CD, and I am saying this and I live 10 minutes from CD...

09 Aug 2012 9:35 AM

well, I guess if only 3 sites apply for the BC, monmouth, CD, and Santa Anita, that limits the opportunity.... Damn California

09 Aug 2012 11:53 AM

I agree with you Billy.  I'm not a fan of having it at Gulfstream because quite often there is too much bias on the main track, but I would sure love to see it at Belmont.

09 Aug 2012 12:42 PM

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