Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hambo Day Notes

The Hambo Card is all done, and we will have some more thoughts on Muscle Hill in the upcoming weeks, but Muscle's performance was not the only good one of the day.

In the US Pacing Championship, Shadow Play (although probably still not 100%), answered the bell and won easily, defeating Mr. Big, Art Official, and other top pacers. I wonder, can this colt finally get some respect? He is a freaking marvelous beast of a horse and would be considered one of the better colts in quite awhile if he had not been born the same year as Somebeachsomewhere.

Another myth that keeps getting shattered is the 4yo's can not beat older. Shadow Play is the latest in a long line of 4yo's to win prestigious Free For All races. It again adds credence to the opine here and elsewhere that Somebeachsomewhere was perhaps the greatest three year old since Nihilator. Shadow Play can not even get a sniff of him last year and he beats up on horses like Mr. Big? Beach would be 1-5 against FFA horses this year, and deservedly so. Don't think for a second he wouldn't.

Muscle versus who?

When we discussed How Good is Muscle Hill awhile back, we were comparing him to other horses who seem to have a lot of hype. One commenter, ITP, stated that Muscle would be an 8-1 chalk against Dewey and a 15-1 chalk against Donato if they match raced. I am sure people read that with a lack of credulity, but as he stated in the comments section tonight, he will "have to increase those odds now". Yes, most definitely. To change around a Jack Nicklaus comment, "Muscle Hill trots in a way I am unfamiliar". He will have to have a lot of bad luck not to break 150 later in the year.

Standardbred Canada is running a poll "Who would win a match race, Muscle Hill or Lucky Jim?" It's a fair question.

So, we have some things happening in harness racing at the high levels to keep us interested. It's a great sport to watch; I just wish more people did!

12 comments:

Pacingguy said...

I would say a 4yo would be hard pressed to beat an older horse during the early part of the 4yo campaign. Assuming the 4yo has been racing from the start of the season, that discrepancy disappears around June or July. It is just a question of getting the experience racing against horses with more seasoning.

Teresa said...

I confess that I didn't pay a lot of attention yesterday--being at Saratoga tends to consume most of my attention, thought I was aware of the harness happenings.

And seeing Lucky Jim at Mohawk a couple of weeks ago has made me pay more attention that I ordinarily would...all it takes is one horse to get your attention, and then you're sucked in...

Sunny Jim said...

In the Hambo, after the :55 half was announced the race was all but over. Did it look to you like Pierce was racing for second place? Did Muscle Hill scare off his competition yesterday? Isn't it pretty rare to have so much money on the line in a big race and not see anyone challenge the leader at any point? With almost $400,000 in purse money for finishing second, I couldn't really fault Pierce but this was not his thinking last year: Remember Art Official in the Meadowlands Pace? He went toe to toe with Somebeachsomewhere down the backstretch, and if his horse had nothing left in the final eighth, well then devil may care. It did make for one of the greatest races I have ever seen and Art Official ended up winning. But yesterday the only one that seemed willing to challenge Muscle Hill was Lachance and Hot Shot Blue Chip who broke (again) going into the first turn after he looked like he was ready to gun for the front.

Pull the Pocket said...

Hey Jim,

You wont see too many challenges with trotters, especially 3YO's, when they are going that kind of speed. That was not a 57 125.4 middle for Muscle. No one could, nor would they be in their right mind to quarter pole with a trotter going that kind of speed. Those trotters were trotting all they could, just to keep up!

PTP

JLB said...

With the elims giving the winners the choice of post positions, more finals like these are on tap. But I agree, Muscle Hill was awesome, and no one could have quarter-moved on him. Ironically, Paul MacDonell's abortive quarter move on Dan Dube, one race earlier, may have cost him the race, and I wonder if the owners regret John Campbell's loyalty to the Remmen stable.

Blaine said...

Raising Rachel was an unfortunate runner-up in the Hambo oaks. Interesting to note, the race was won in 1:54 on a a super fast strip. The nite before Windsong Soprano won the Duenna in 1:52 and a piece. Goes to show that in harness racing you got to be good from weeek to week.

ITP said...

If Pierce would have moved on Muscle Hill, he would either have to retire or go to a county fair to get a drive.

Blaine said...

How much did SBSW win the 2008 Messenger Stakes by Pocket? In other words, the rhetotic that Shadow Play counldn't get a sniff of SBSW is false. SP never beat SBSW, but he made him run @ Yonkers and in the BC 3YO Pacing Final.

Pull the Pocket said...

He beat SP in the Messenger parked the route while slipping all over the track.

By the same I would say Badlands Nitro could not get a sniff of Shadow Play. Shadow Play was hung the route to Nitro in the Windy City Pace and won as I am sure you watched, easily besting Nitro. I dont think Nitro was in Shadow Play's league because of that, and I do not think Shadow Play was in Beach's league by the same barometer.

PTP

ITP said...

SBSW was 15-20 lengths better than SP the night he won the Messenger.

Sandy said...

Slipped all over the track, went about four wide in the 3rd turn, ran half the mile first up, locked wheels in the stretch, slowed himself down to get free, and then, after all that, the ole Beach confidently accelerated past a bonafide world champion colt in SP. All this in a heavy wind and absolute downpour. Amazing stuff.

Pull the Pocket said...

I know people are not in to harness racing like some here, and if you look at the Messenger you see on paper a close victory - but it was one of the best performances I have ever seen.

If you look at the races that night at Yonkers - the filly division of the Messenger went in 157 and change. Enough Talk, who won at CD in 149.3, went 158. The open 100k stake went to Foiled Again, who just won in 49 at Chester, in 154 all out. For Beach to go 152.3 off the adversity he faced was huge, absolutely huge.

I remember watching the race at Woodbine that night with two sharp bettors. We looked at each other about four times in that mile and said "no way he wins this", "he is beat" and so on. Man, could that horse deliver.