Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday's Jam Packed Racing

Harness racing Saturday happened yesterday from all over the east coast.

At Charlottetown Driving Park, the usual huge crowd showed up for the Gold Cup and Saucer. All the Weapons, a longshot, shocked the crowd to hold off pre-race favourite Silent Swing. One of the most unique and interesting races in all of racing is now gone for another year. I hope to head there again next year. For commentary, Allan has a post up about it.

Here is the video for some thoroughbred readers who have not seen this unique midnight race, with a full crowd.

The Breeders Crown races took place a the Meadowlands last night. The highlight was the aged pace, where stalwarts Mr. Big, Won the West and Shark Gesture took on 4 year old challengers Shadow Play, Bettor Sweet and Art Official. Won the West skimmed the rail to defeat Shadow Play. The latter finished in about the twenty path because of his foot issues.

Several questions have been answered this year for me with these horses, and last years three year olds.

One, Shadow Play is an absolute monster. He has now defeated Art Official in all his starts, with three and a half feet. With apologies to Mr. Jesk, who proclaimed his horse better than Beach, and any other horse in North America earlier this year; sir, your horse is no match for Shadow Play.

The second thing for me is that Mr. Big has finally had father time catch up with him. Despite the mind-blowing start in the Franklin, he has been pretty ordinary this year. I hope he makes a good stud. He is as tough as nails and clearly one of the best FFA'ers we have seen in some time.

Three, these horses have to be at the top of their game nowadays. Twenty years ago, a talent like Shadow Play could show up with nagging issues and still jog. The depth today is tremendous. If you are not at your peak fitness and health, you can and will get beat.

Lastly, I am so happy that Beach raced last year. We get to see horses like Shadow and Art Official because of that. With that, we get a better idea where horses fit in history. For example, if you asked 100 people last year who was truly a better horse, Beach or Art Official, you might have 30 or 40 say Art. Now after getting to see him for another year, and having been able to put his career in perspective with more racing, we know he is no Somebeachsomewhere, and probably not as good a racehorse as Shadow Play. He was a sharp horse for a period of time, good enough to slay the Beach, once; and one race does not make a career.

For a full recap and video of all the BC tilts, Allan has it synopsized for us in a post here.


That Blog Guy said...

Shadow Play reminds me a lot like Rambling Willie. Willie was never sound most of his racing career and still took on the best, having his share of victories. They both were/are gutsy performers.

Blaine said...

Yo Pocket, do you believe that 1:46 and change could be done by Shadow Play had he been sound all the way around? His last 4 starts, all at the Meadowlands, have been between 1:47-1:49.

Anonymous said...

Ok now, I know I have been the Mr. Big defender all year, but seriously, when have we ever seen Brian go to all out urging before the 3/4 pole trying to catch cover?
Obviously something physical was wrong other than losing a step.


Pull the Pocket said...

Hey B,

Pocket trip in fast fractions on a rock hard track - I think that would have set up well for him to go sub 47.


You might be right. But I do think the days of Big going overland and hooking horses in a 26 and change third panel are behind him. JMO, tho. I could not have seen him going 48 at Chester awhile back either.

Blaine said...

When Won The West outsprinted Mr. Big in the Houghton Prep, I knew then and there that he wasn't the same. I actually felt sorry for him around the turn when that 3rd panel in 26 and change was taking place. The older pacing group this year is a beats.

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