Last night at Mohawk the eliminations for the North America Cup were contested. The weather early in the evening was fine, although a little chilly, however when race 7 rolled around, Bethpage Black showed up, and it got pretty soupy. Overall it was a very good evening of racing.
In elim one I felt that Well Said could not "flip the switch" and be better this week, which was dead wrong. I think the connections, although publicly not saying anything, were quite concerned with his two flat efforts, the evidence being they changed both hind shoes to aluminum. Whatever happened, he was a different horse. East coast horse Keep it Real raced very well to be second.
Elimination two, on paper was Dial or No Dial's race to lose, and he did not disappoint. OK Borimer, with Luc O's buddy and blog contributor Greg standing in front of me with a fist pump, came second in a good effort to make the final at 30-1 odds.
Elim three was where I was going to take a poke at Arctic Warrior. He got stuck back in traffic and closed to be third. I hope he makes the final. Rooney winner If I can Dream won gate to wire, and Annieswesterncard was a good second.
In the last elim there was no fooling around for Mr. Wiggles. Gate to wire. Assuring himself a spot in the final was Art Colony.
Notes and News and opines from around the track
Federal Flex, the horse usually mentioned as the "born in the wrong year" three year old trotter looked more than fine winning his elim for the Goodtimes. It amazes me when we get to watch good trotters. In the elims for the Goodtimes I think I saw only a handful of knee boots. Most of them were equipment free and trotting smooth as glass.
Yellow Diamond was flat as a pancake in her elimination for the Fan Hanover. Do we chalk that up to happenstance and chuck out the subpar effort?
I was looking to bet against Well Said, as mentioned. I chose Lisagain as my 'value' horse. Lisagain was 6-5, Well Said was 5-2. In a lesson that we should all remember, not liking or liking a horse depends solely on the odds. Although I hated Well Said, if I knew he was going to be 5-2 I would have bet him.
I spent the Mr. Wiggles race in the paddock. As written on the blog, I wanted to back him pretty good this week. At about three minutes to post I saw he was 14-1. I had to run into the grandstand to bet, so I just said "fagetaboutit", and stayed in the paddock for the race. Never a doubt...... he won and paid $33.
After the Mr. Wiggles win (by the way, the kids at the winners circle after the race when I returned were all chanting "Mr. Wiggles". Kids like that name I guess) I saw the groom of the horse run up to trainer Brenda Teague, who was dutifully cleaning up and loading stuff into the truck, and say "cmon we just won!". Brenda said, something along the likes of 'I have things to load, so go ahead'. I have heard from three or four people telling me that Brenda is one of the nicest, and least pretentious successful trainers in racing. This told me they were right.
In what I like to call "The Art Colony Mystery", I am wondering who keeps betting this horse. He was 7-5 off a bad effort where he lost at 2-5. He should be about 20-1 next week, but for some reason I think he will be 7-2 or something.
I had a nice chat with Jamie Martin of Woodbine last night and he was quite excited about the Queens Plate, the pick 6 guarantee and the WEG/TVG deal. Let's hope that some of these things take hold. And let's hope we see some similar action on the harness racing side as well!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
North America Cup Elims in the Books; On Track Recap
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Wow....Not a mention of the most incredible performance of the evening.....Vintage Master?
It was a great performance. I could have mentioned it, but the fingers got tired and I was concentrating on the horses who made/or could draw into the final.
Barber Pole was good as well I thought. He seemed to be back to his old self last night.
Sorry you missed on Mr. Wiggles, his odds went up as post time drew near. At a few minutes out he was 6-1 or so, but than at 0 min to post he went to 15-1. Gotta love a horse and driver that believe they can overcome the "outside". I agree Vintage Master was a machine after he settled, something was up with him, as he was headed back to the paddock for equipment repair he bolted and was on the run for several strides, or maybe he ran when Dube took a hold of him, either way he was flying when he was able to free-wheel. I think that Keep It Real was on idle heading under the wire, and for sure Well Said was under a fierce drive, as Pierce received a $500 whipping fine on that horse. Speaking of whipping it looks like the Judges are serving notice to the out-of towners, Sears also was tagged $200 on Barber Pole. However of note is the fact that Mario Baillargeon only received $100 for excessive whipping on Bay of Sharks. Hmm??
I will say I understand giving a horse respect, but allowing an almost 31 second breather for a horse like Federal Flex is suicide. I do not think that will happen next week. I know the driver of Southern Rocketop, and he is out to win, I do not know if he can beat him, but I believe he will make a race of it. Than throw in Duded Up on a serious upward trend and well, who knows?!?
Anyway there should be great finals next Saturday night, cannot wait.
We can go the rest of our lifetimes and never see a horse close 23 lengths in a stakes race against top class horses that run 1-2 the entire mile...especially after making a break.
I've never seen it before and I bet I never will again.
As for letting Federal Flex go a pedestrian pace.....those elim races where 7 are racing for 5 spots in the final are worse than qualifiers.....nobody really cares about winning, just not finishing 6th or 7th.
To each their own, but the lengths i could care less about. He came his back three quarters in 121 and change up the inside, which happens often in racing, and very often when a 25 and change first quarter happens. The field only came home in 126, so a talented horse like that should be able to pick up a ton of ground. Arctic Warrior came his last three panels in 120.3 last week, and I was more impressed with him.
PS- For the greatest performance I have seen off a slow first quarter in a stakes race it is American Ideal in the Simpson. Charted with a 31 second first quarter he paced his last three quarters in 119.3, while parking a half mile, and going wide on the last turn. I think there might be only a handful of horses in racing that could have done that. He set a WR the next week when he got a decent trip.
I'm not a time guy. One of my horses came his last 3 in 1:21.1 a couple weeks ago in his NJ Classic elim while never being able to be given his head the entire way and he is just an ordinary 3yo. Trust me, I understand the difference.
When I see 30K claimers go in 1:48 and 1:49 on a regular basis, time to me means nothing. If a horse wins the 6th race, a 40K claimer in 1:48 2/5 and then the 7th race INV is won by Bettor Sweet in 1:49, I know who the better horse is.
When a top horse who made a break closes 23 lengths on other top horses that weren't in a raging multi-move duel (they were 1-2 around with no moves), I don't care about time.....that's one hell of an effort.
Plus another factor which most people don't have any understanding of is that he lost contact with the field early with his miscue.....that makes what he did even more impressive.
I'm not saying it's even close to the greatest effort I've ever seen.....I'm just saying that I've never seen a top horse in a major stakes race/elim close 23 lengths against other top horses who were not viciously abused. It just never happens. Top horses might be able to do it vs. avg horses, but not other top horses. Unless Mr.Wiggles and Art Colony are unexposed 15K claimers, the effort was incredible.
I well understood that they were "just elims", however, anytime a horse gets that kind of breather well.Not to mention there are other ways of keeping pressure on a leader, and ones that are allowed all the time at WEG. Namely the #2 horse setting half in, that will keep double J guessing what is up behind him and help keep the pace honest. Because lets be honest the easier he (Federal Flex)gets things on elim night the fresher he will be for the final. As a finalist that will be racing against him the last thing you want is a very talented horse that is coming into the final feeling extra fresh, because he cakewalked his elim. That was the point I was thinking of.
The other thing was they had to be 1,2,3 in the elim to ensure they made the final. Finishing fourth put you on the bubble and in a "luck of the draw" scene. So if you are sitting 4 or 5 and letting those frations go, it makes it very hard to make up ground and get even the 2 or 3 place finish that ensures you make the final. so yes I still believe it was crazy to let him have that much leeway on the front.
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