Monday, November 7, 2022

Bye Bye Flightline & Other Notes

Another Breeders' Cup has been run, and it appears it was well received (as it usually is).  The collection of talent each year is fantastic, and deep fields (generally) keep us engaged and on our horseplaying toes. 

The star of the show was Flightline, the John Sadler trained superstar, who after six starts has headed to stud. Both the former - "he's a superstar" - and latter - "off to stud" - has generated a lot of discussion. 

Best ever talk always seems to filter its way through the chatterverse (we're fans after all), and there is a real recency bias to it. Arrogate was jaw dropping ...... and so was American Pharoah, Ghostzapper or <insert another horse here>. In terms of sheer brilliance and speed I suppose Flightline could be the fastest horse in memory, but that's a matter of opinion. I do know he would've been 1-5 in the Sprint, Mile or Classic this year, and that's certainly saying something. We should be able to judge him better at the end of 2023, as he builds his body of work. 

It does strike your average fan as curious that a horse would retire after so few races, especially when they see multiple millions to race for in Dubai, at Gulfstream in the Pegasus, next year's $6M Classic, or at the LIV Golf type event in Saudi Arabia. 

It also is somewhat perplexing that a sport who seemingly pays so much attention to breakdowns would breed horses who race so infrequently. But as we all know, there is more money in not racing than racing, and if you're a fan of this sport, you've embraced a lot of lip service and this is old hat. 

Could this horse have moved the needle if he raced for years? 

Although I am never one for "saving the sport" talk, because in my view that's silly, I surmise he could have helped. 

Would boxing be more popular today if it stuck with its historical structure, where great boxers were known and fight all comers at regular intervals? Surely it would be. People get to know a certain boxer, and love him or hate him, you pay for that pay per view, or head to a nearby bar to watch. It drives eyeballs and revenue and keeps us engaged with the sport. What they did with boxing will be studied in business books for five hundred years and it won't be in a good way. 

But it's how the business works. Breed horses, get black type, make a whack of money, and invest the money into more horses. Or in Mattress Mack's case, into more horses, and sponsoring every racing event or venue known to man. 

Regardless, Flightline was introduced to a few million people for a shade over two minutes on Saturday in prime time. And then he was gone. 


I had a very unmemorable BC at the betting windows. I usually catch something, but all I caught was a draining bankroll. This unlike Will Nefzger, who parlayed a strong opinion on Elite Power into riches. I thought that was a superior key, because not only was Jackie's Warrior the key, B tickets were including (primarily) Kimari, who was a fairly strong second choice in the betting offshore the whole week. When you pitch the top two, you get paid. 

Will threaded the needle on his other choices, but it shows the power of leveraging a strong opinion. Will didn't want back ups with Jackie's Warrior, he wanted a $10 pick 6 with a horse a lot of people weren't using. It illustrates the concept well - instead of betting $200 win on Elite Power, or a $200 double of Elite Power with Malathaat - he punched a pick 6. Just like we would not bet a defensive $200 win saver on Jackie's Warrior or Nest, there's no need to in the pick 6 either in this particular case. Well done. 

Chuck Simon has been on fire on twitter the last few days. Gotta love him. 

The BC morning lines are a tough job. I thought Nick Tammaro did some good work. Seriously, is there a more thankless job than morning line maker in this sport?

I pitched Modern Games. He couldn't cross the Atlantic twice and win. Until he did. 

The NBC feed was built for the fan at home, because damn, if you bet the exotics in the Classic you were left guessing. Coincidentally, when a horse was leading by several at the Meadowlands the last few years they'd do the same thing - zoom in on the winner. But they asked some bettors what they thought, they complained, and now we get the pan shot. NBC probably should do that, too. 

I think there's no such thing as a wise-guy horse anymore. And really, this year's wise guy horses were all no good anyway. One anti-wise guy horse - Wonder Wheel - knocked me out. They win a lot of the time, and I'll probably continue not having them. 

Thoughts with Dave Litfin. I hope he got to watch some of the races. 

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