Yesterday's Jug is complete. It was another Jug day, that is just like other Jug days. Tons of people, too much food, too much libation, a gazillion races, and what it means to enjoy the sport of harness racing. For a full recap, bullet by bullet, head to Harnessracingupdate.com for a column by a bettor, and a picture of beagles.
Also in Harness Racing Update, Captain T head Myron Bell says his career might be done. He's been sick since his Preferred race at Mohawk, and, according to Bell, there looks to be no use bringing him back. As most know, the Captain was syndicated for $12M, and they have to 'protect that investment'. American Ideal, owned by the same crew, had a bone bruise early as a four year old and was also shut down in similar fashion. This is nothing new with four year olds, or even three year olds who get bought early for stud.
Buying live racehorses before their careers are done is a relatively new phenomenon. Before, they were purchased after, or near the end of a career. With the "Gural Rule" where a horse must race past his three year old year, breeders have not changed tactics - they're still buying horses early. This, in no small part, probably makes racing careers more managed now, where losses are exacerbated, and its most important to avoid them. Even ten years ago a three year old would not race only 14 times a year. As well, even if there's a hint of a bad four year old year coming, it's easier to shut them down.
In any other business a change in tactics would likely occur - i.e. instead of stud farms buying a horse at two, where they don't know what they'll be at four, buying the horse later, when you know if he's a true, not paper champ would occur. But in harness it's easier to lobby to have the rule changed. Or get mad at the guy who suggested it.
I am of the belief that racehorses sent to stud for big money should be the pinnacle of the sport, and should be able to race and win at four. If your horse can't do past three, that's not Jeff Gural's fault.
Having said that, I completely agree with Myron Bell's selling of the horse. He will get great mares, and he is probably one of the most can't miss prospects we've seen in awhile. He's a good grinder, and those make excellent sires, his bloodlines are flawless, and he's the best son of the beach to set foot into the shed. The fact that handicappers like me were flamed at times for pointing out last season that he was beating up on a poor crop was nothing more than that - handicapping - and had absolutely nothing to do with his success in the shed. He'll get to prove his mettle, deserves the chance, and has a high probability to sire many $200,000+ yearlings.
I noticed a funny last night. Churchill Downs for Downs after Dark is having a yodeling contest, and some sort of chicken dance (for en francais readers, that's 'dance poulet'). Considering that Kentucky Downs touts big fields, low rake, and good racing to get people out to their product, the northern neighbor has some work to do. If they're trying to get people to bet, not dance, they should not have raised the takeout in April.
Have a nice Friday everyone. Enjoy your weekend.
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