Good Thursday everyone.
Sebastian K's off-track loss last weekend didn't budge him from atop the Hambletonian Poll this week. He still leads the venerable Sweet Lou and Father Patrick - two very good horses. I was happy to see that result, because Sebastian has been the story this season. He's probably the best older trotter to set foot on North American soil since Varenne, and could likely beat 99.8 out of 100 pacers week in and week out. He seems to get beaten by only himself, or his shoes, when the track gets soupy.
The Hambo Poll has been skewed to only wins and losses - a horse could get hit by a flying beer can, go offstride and lose, and lose votes - and I guess that makes some sense. However, when all the top horses have losses, it's pretty easy to ensure we have the best horse on top.
Similarly, yesterday was an odd day that started with a twitter conversation if Captaintreacherous was near as good as his sire, Somebeachsomewhere. Yes, you read that right. The Beach is an odd duck with some. He, still to this day inexplicably to me, never sat atop the Hambo Poll until October of his three year old year; comfortably in an average second place to Deweycheatumnhowe. Only after Dewey began losing, did he budge. I would like to think the night he beat Shadow Play off bell boots flying and a park job in 52 in change in the Messenger in that storm (a night where Foiled Again went two seconds slower and the fillies in the comparable 3YO stake went 4 seconds slower) might've made some take notice, but I really don't know. People had, and continue to have, a tough time judging horseflesh - not so much pure handicappers, but certainly the press.
Regardless, there are similarities between the Beach and Sebastian K. Despite having to race some excellent horses, like world champions Shadow Play, Art Official, or multiple millionaires Market Share, each of their races are not races, but exhibitions. When they are in the box we're not handicapping, we're wondering how much they will win by, will they shatter a world record, or how much the track record will drop. There are very few of those horses in this sport's history. They are the ones that are not compared to others, but others are compared to them.
The only way we'll see Sebastian lose the number one spot - and rightfully so, in my opinion - is if him beating himself is a trend, not something that sparks $50 show prices.
A hearty congratulations to Kentucky Downs. The track that bucked convention and offered the lowest takeout in racing, rather than the government allowed top level (what Churchill is charging), had a stellar, record meet. Although they've had tremendous growth - well over 300% in only a few years - it will be interesting to see if they can take it to the next level next year. With some improvements, I would not count them out. It's a place where an exacta with a chalk onto third choice can easily pay $50 - and with a lower two horse exotic rake, that's very attractive.
The Ron Rippey handicapping article award has been sponsored by Brisnet. Do you know of a good article that should be nominated?
Have a super day everyone.
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