I was reading Golf Digest this weekend, and came across an article about Tiger Woods. Woods' legend is pretty well known, but some of his records are not as well known. And some of them are impressive. One of them is consecutive rounds where he "beat the field", i.e. where his round was lower than the average score of the field.
Over an 89 round stretch, Woods' scored better than the field average. It might not mean much to you if you don't know golf, so we'll put it in context. The second place score is 35 rounds. In fact there are a cluster of players from 25-35 rounds rounding out the top 20. Tiger Woods is an outlier. That spread is mind-boggling.
What Tiger Woods has done is separate himself from the field through a body of work. There are the Majors, the tourney wins and all the rest, but these records - like this one - have cemented him as a golfer for the ages. It allows him to be included in the greatest of all time narrative.
For we as racing fans, this, today, is made very difficult. Horses are not allowed - in most cases nowadays - to create a body of work, so, we are left to speculation, Beyer figures, quotes grandizing horse 'X' over horse 'Y' etc.
American Pharoah is the prime example of that now.
"Once stud fees are set his value can be estimated, but still unanswered is whether American Pharoah will ever be pushed enough to know just how good he can be."
Baffert: "What he's done is he's just shown us that he is so much better than we really thought he was," Baffert said. "He's just getting keyed up now. He's just getting better."
How good is American Pharoah? He won a Triple Crown, so that's pretty good. However if Victory Gallop was Bayern'd at the start of the Belmont, Touch Gold got sick like seemingly every horse in the Pletcher barn has the last week, or Birdstone stepped on a safety pin - all vagaries in this amazing sport - that could've happened a few times in the last while without any issue.
His Beyers are on the lower end, and people point to that. He did beat some good stock and people point to that. He was all out in the Derby, off a great trip and people point to that. He won the next two legs like a machine and people point to that.
How good is American Pharoah? I don't think anyone really knows.
A golfer can play for a short time and build legend, like Bobby Jones. For others, they need time, like Tiger Woods, to create legend through remarkable statistics and wins. For American Pharoah he has been here for a short time, and he has legend - winning a Triple Crown does that. However, I guarantee that there are handicappers and historians out there who - if the horse shuts down tomorrow - will have a case of the yabuts. Ya but he beat up on crap. Ya but he beat a defacto maiden in the Preakness. Ya but his Derby was slow. Ya but it rained before the race and everyone else stunk in the mud that day.
American Pharoah won't be Tiger Woods - he won't race at four. But he could be a Bobby Jones. I for one will be pulling for him, because I think he's a grand steed and doesn't deserved to be sullied with the yabuts. A big win in a Pacific Classic or Breeders Cup would quiet any naysayers for generations. Let's roll dude.
Freakishly fast horses with a limited resume don't come along very often but in this past weekend's North America Cup eliminations we got to see one; a horse named Wiggle It Jiggle It. He toyed with his field, and I don't think - with a 52.4 last half and 25.4 last quarter - we've seen a horse win more impressively in some time. I am the first to admit I didn't think this guy would make it this far - that hitch in his giddyup
On Saturday night twitter was abuzz with the big horse parading at Churchill. It was a nice gesture by the connections and these things need to be done for the sport. But it does display the difference between the sport and the gambling game. A little over 28,000 showed up, around 7,000 more than usually show up for a Foster card, but the Foster's handle was down 18%. This horse is doing well in the media, and that's good, but the sport of horse racing runs on betting.
Speaking of buzz, American Pharoah, by my calculations, had 2.5X the number of searches than California Chrome did last year, post Belmont. But it was still below the Women's World Cup in the US. I, honestly, found that odd because it was the Triple Freaking Crown. It's not like it happens every year:
Danzig Moon was put down yesterday after a racing accident in the Plate Trial. The race was shown on national television in Canada. I was wondering how the sad event was going to be handled, and the TSN crew - despite being paid by Woodbine to show the race - did not try and gloss over it in any way. It was the story, from when it happened to the end of the telecast; in fact, the Oaks was almost an afterthought. We were discussing on twitter last week how racing telecasts move on after something like this and turn the page, unlike what happens with human tragedy in other televised sports. TSN did not. Some people might've not liked it (better to sweep things under the rug, you see), but I did. They respected Danzig Moon's human connections. They respected our sometimes heartbreaking love for the animal. By not passing Danzig Moon by - like he was a replaceable hip number, and not a horse loved by his fans and those who worked with him - they respected him, and in doing so, they respected the sport.