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Watchmaker, Will Take Charge, The Captain, Pet Rock and Various Other Musings

After a pretty interesting weekend, here are a few things that had me thinking, or caught my eye.

Nice job by Watchmaker talking about the weekend stakes, while injecting a thought on race riding. I think I bet three races this past weekend where I used my pace figures (which are good) and confirmed it with the Timeform Pace Projector to bet the early projected leader. Three times I was strangled to about 7th for no apparent reason.

Ditto happens in harness like Tetrick's reversal of form drives on Market Share, the winner of the TVG, this past two sessions.

Seth from Equidaily (he has a section on the TVG Pace, so I am sure harness racing thanks you Seth) has a link up today to a story about a jockey in Hong Kong, conversely, who got a 16 day ban for not race riding properly.  Hong Kong racing handle is up from about $8B to over $12B (US Dollars) since 2007, so they must be doing something right. 

Rock n Roll Heaven was a world class pacer. I probably rank him as high as a Rock n Roll Hanover or Art Major and I don't think too many would argue with that. Some might even have him second behind the Beach this century. He stood for $12,000 out of the box. To make the valuation of $12M work for Captainteacherous, he'd have to stand for over double that (unless my math is wrong). Before the TVG you could probably sell that sizzle, but after the TVG, a $25,000 stud fee is some pretty pricey steak. 

Allan touches on similar in the Timeform blog regarding Will Take Charge - a colt who earlier this year was pretty much forgotten (or was considered "one of those Lukas horses who kinda races like one of those Lukas horses").  The big fella has made a name for himself. The three year old year does not end in June.

What's in five years? Quite a bit. Five years ago pacers and trotters were flashing nowhere near the speeds they are today. The UFO bikes and others, aggressive catch driving putting up huge fractions and all the rest are probably the reason. Last evening, the nice pacer Sunshine Beach won the Progress Pace in 150.3, with a last quarter of 28, while the others toiled 4 lengths or so back in a battle for second. Five years ago, the Beach was scratched out of the Progress with sickness. He added that race back on his calendar, trying to become something remarkable: Retiring a World record holder on all three sized tracks as a three year old. He probably would've done it, because Dali won the Progress in 148.2, a then world record. No offense to Dali, but he was not within five lengths of Somebeachsomewhere. The 2008 crop was very, very fast and went good speed when it wasn't sheik to do so.

Along the same lines, almost each year, a hot three year old appears and people start comparing them to the Beach. It was like this for several years after Niatross in the 1980's (with Nihilator, Jate Lobell etc). What I think we found with Niatross and what I think we'll find with the Beach - it's going to be awhile before someone worthy enough to be mentioned beside them appears.

From an observer trackside at the Meadowlands on Saturday who handicaps better than most. "You could tell Pet Rock was no good going into the first turn". I think that's right. I watched him parade and he was on one line. Pet Rock is never a good parader (I know because I pitched him out twice because of it and he roasted my bankroll by winning), but that carried on into the race. Watch when he is first over - his head is turned to the right. He clearly had an off night.

I watched the Captain closely for clues about his effort, but I didn't see anything. He went a little funky gaited on the first turn, but he is not the smoothest horse to begin with. Unlike his clunker against Dedi's Dragon, he seemed to be engaged as well, keeping up under no urging behind that 53 half. I have spoken to a few people and they see nothing either, nor have they heard anything regarding an excuse as to why the colt could not pick up a check.  It is what it is, so far.

Racing Beard shares his thoughts on the Captain race, along with other tidbits here.

Bergman says why do we need four year olds to race when we have Foiled Again? Strangely enough, there are a few geldings this year whom will race for awhile - Lucan Hanover, Vegas Vacation - but we'll have to see if they are good enough to contend against the Foiled Again's of the world. I think the argument is a silly one anyway. Keeping more horses on track do a few things: Obviously you get more column inches and more buzz, however it's much more than that for me. Breeding has always been a bit of a shell game. A three year old races in restricted races and wins a pile of money. He is said to be the "next big thing" and retired with a stud fee over $10,000 without ever having to prove himself at four or five. Then that money is reinvested to try and find another one or three in the fall sales. I realize its the ecosystem and "the way we do things" but I still think (as a fan of the sport) it's nothing more than a form of three card monte. We read stallion ad after stallion ad telling us how great a horse is, with them rarely having to prove it.

I guess the sad thing is, is that the ecosystem is so far entrenched, when a horse does race well at four, and proves his mettle, he does not get a pot of gold. A Rock n Roll Dance and Pet Rock are world class animals who will stand in 2014 for modest stud fees. A hot three year old that couldn't hold either of those horses bridle on the racetrack can stand for double that each year.

Have a great day everyone. Thanks for reading.

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