Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Messenger Stakes - Beach v. Shadow

As we noted, the buzz in all of racing is about the Breeders Cup. But there is a dandy match-up after the glitter of the day fades at Yonkers Raceway in NYC.

Here is the field for the third jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown, The Messenger Stakes (10PM).

$650,000 Messenger Stakes
1-Legacy N Diamonds 12-1
2-Brother Ray 15-1
3-Dali 20-1
4-Santanna Blue Chip 12-1
5-Shadow Play 5-2
6-Somebeachsomewhere 1-2

Slam dunk for the Beach at a 1-2 ML? I don't think so. He will have to work, and work hard I think.

In the Confederation Cup, these two horses met. Beach off an Ontario sired triumph, and Shadow Play off of a World Record performance in the Adios. I had to laugh a little bit as this was about the time that people were saying Beach was dodging horses and looking for an easy spot. The Cup was their toughest field assembled and was much tougher than the Cane, or the Jug, Windy City, or even the Messenger. This was one tough field and one tough race to win.



Clearly another shellacking by the greatest show on traprock. But in throwing a 54 back half around two turns like Beach did, NO horse, not Shadow Play, not Badlands Nitro, not even Niatross would have been close off a second over trip. Shadow Play might have not been at his best that day, but he had no shot if he was.

This time it is one heat, and Shadow Play has the post advantage. I am almost 100% sure Beach will be first over in this test. He is three or four, or maybe even five lengths better than Shadow Play, but the trip will be an equalizer. If he is in a bad spot, like second over, then he has to deal with traffic. It would be even worse. However, one thing I think I am correct on - he won't make the lead early. If he wins by four or five first over against a beast of a horse like Shadow Play (like he might), I think I would not criticize people for bringing up the Niatross comparisons.

So heading into Saturday night, I know two things for sure: One, I would not make the Beach lower than 3-5 in my fair odds line and two, I will be watching the Messenger. It should be a fabulous race.

I was going to live blog the Breeders Cup this weekend, as I thought it would be interesting. Check overseas odds on the invaders, see some opportunities with some of the live paddock reports and so on. But since we are a harness racing blog I thought we'd save that for the Breeders Crown. Let me know if you think this is a good idea. it would be interactive and we could play around and see if we can find some winners. Hey, maybe I can get that Moira chick to give us some hats as prizes for us players :)

3 comments:

Alex M. said...

I was at the confederation cup, and the second heat was easily the Beach's best "leave" of his career. Randy waples commented after the race that he wanted to follow the Beach off the gate, but had no chance to keep up with him.
MacDonnel is going to leave and the big decision for Dave Miller will be "do you try and park the Beach or let him go?" Kind of a million dollar question, literally.
I think one of the underated aspects of SBSW's ability is how easily he handles the turns, even on a half mile track, his gait just makes the whole trip appear effortless.
I was thrilled to see Dr. Moore and Shadow Play capture the Jug, and i can't wait for Saturday night, I hope both horses are at their very best. But I do believe the Beach will once again add to his legend and we will be in awe of just another amazing performance.

Alex M said...

PTP,
What a race, and i don't know if you noticed, but in the heat of that battle, MacDonnel never used the whip. I really hope the "scribes" make note of that.

Pull the Pocket said...

Hey Alex,

Ya, tremendous effort by the big horse. We'll have a post up in a little while about that race.

PTP