By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
The View From the Press Box — A Breeders’ Cup Recap
OCEANPORT, N.J. — Clumps of mud and powerful hooves outshone the soupy conditions to make the 24th Breeders’ Cup a success.
The BC Committee and the staff and officials at Monmouth Park promised a good show, and they did their best to comply.
NTRA official Jim Gluckson had a moment to catch his breath and admire his good work. “It was a great effort on the part of the entire staff — from the track supervisor to the grounds crew, and so on.
As the sun peeked out minutes before the final race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Gluckson further reflected on the day. “Over the days of this first two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships, we’re very pleased with the turnout, despite the very inclement weather.
“On Friday I knew we were in a good situation because about 28,000 racing fans came and wagered over $30 million.
Monmouth Park worked for about four years to put this together and handled the adverse conditions admirably.”
But let’s get to the meat and potatoes — how’d we do?
Well, to start it looked as if the super soaking the track was getting from a nasty front that seemed to take forever to move out would jeopardize all the turf races scheduled for both days.
Track Supervisor Robert Juliano gave us updates as to the condition of the turf surface a half hour before the first BC race on Day One — the Filly & Mare Sprint. “Because the rain isn’t a torrential downpour, the moisture isn’t running off – it’s sitting and soaking,” said Juliano. “Ultimately, it will be the BC officials’ call as to moving any race or races off the turf.”
At post time, track conditions were muddy for the dirt and yielding for the turf — a surface of 85-87% grass, and a remainder of silk and clay mix.
Race One: Filly & Mare Sprint
The muddy conditions changed the strategy somewhat, but as I stated, everything you saw on in previous article, I played. I did add a couple of savers, but missed on a couple of big ones…
The mud was tailor made for Maryfield as she gobbled up the favorite Dream Rush and Oprah Winney. Sadly, I used Maryfield in a trifecta partial with Dream Rush and Oprah Winney, but they ran outta gas near the wire.
Total investment: $86.00.
Race Two: Juvenile Turf
It looks like I’ve got the triple as Achill Island is rolling on the outside of the soggy turf; but the aptly named Nownownow is generating some serious hoss power, and surges ahead as Julien “Loup Garou” Leparoux comes homehomehome with his first BC victory.
This is not the first time “De Werewolf” has taken $$$ out of my pockets. Afterwards, the winning rider said the turf was holding up. “It wasn’t slippery out there — just wet.” insisted Leparoux.
Total investment: $152.00
Race Three: BC Mile
Now the main track is all soup and no crackers. In addition to my other bets, I wheel my hunch hoss, Lewis Michael with Gottcha Gold and Corinthian, who move up on the muddy track.
The move pays off as I finally get to shout, WORK THAT NOBLE BEAST as Corinthian kicks on past Gottcha Gold to top my trifecta. I miss the super, however, as Joe Talamo didn’t send Lewis Michael to a preferable stalking position. But we’re finally off the schneid.
Total investment: $230.00 won $170.40. Balance: – $60.00.
Race Four: Juvenile Fillies
I remember Indian Blessing rockin’ the house at Belmont in the Frizzette, and her pedigree moves her up as well on the wet. So I wheel Indian Blessing and Proud Spell with Clearly Foxy in a $2 triple wheel; after all, scared money never wins. The rain is still pouring and Indian Blessing is soaring:
WORK THAT NOBLE BEAST!
Indian Blessing’s speed holds up — important because early speed was getting caught the day before — and runs home like a favorite should. Winning jockey Garrett Gomez: “The idea wasn’t to get to the lead, it was just to get a good forward position, but once she made it to the turn she was rolling so easy, I just had to let her go.”
Thanks to Proud Spell, I catch the triple, and start the day off right.
Total investment: $150.00. Day One balance: – $60.00; won 243.00. New Balance: + $33.00.
Race Five: BC Juvenile
War Pass ran like a winner, leaving no doubt in a 4 Â¾ length victory, deftly handled by the underrated Cornelio Velasquez. I get a chance to see a little something extra special as Jamaica’s Shaun Bridgmohan scores one for the Island Brethren as Pyro is a game second, earning him a cool $40K for the afternoon’s work.
With his first score in 5 BC races, Bridgmohan says look out for his hoss next time. “He (Pyro) was spinning his wheels early. He never got the traction he needed, but still got second.
“The sky’s the limit for this horse. We got beat to the pole three times now, but my horse’s future is ahead of him and I’m confident we’ll get even down the road.”
I cash three 10 cent supers with War Pass and Pyro leading my picks.
Total investment: $108.00; won $82.80. New Balance: + $5.80
Race Six: BC Filly & Mare Turf
The soft turf is agony and ecstasy for me as my horse Simply Perfect gets to the frontâ€”then eventually bolts and veers off track. At that moment the words of my new friend and colleague, Mr. Tom Krish of Indiarace.com: “The narrow turns may not bode well for many of the European horses, who are used to the sweeping, wider courses.”
But the good news is I use the other English horses (Passage of Time and the eventual winner, Lahudood) in a triple and super box with Honey Ryder and Nashoba’s Key in addition to my previous bets; again, scared money never wins.
And today, I catch a break:
WORK THAT NOBLE BEAST!
Alan Garcia gets his first BC win aboard Lahudood, who pays $25.40 on top. I catch the four horses with Simply Perfect for 5 ten cent superfecta boxes and a dollar triple box. It can pour rain all day nowâ€”’cause the sun is shining where I’m sitting.
Total investment: $296.00; won $977.70; New balance: $686.20
Race Seven: BC Sprint
WORK THAT NOBLE BEAST!
The combination of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Garrett Gomez strike again as Midnight Lute, sitting way off of the early speed, kicks into some serious four heel drive and steamrolls the field by four lengths, last to first, generating the first genuine ahhhhhs form the press box.
“We haven’t seen the Classic yet, but that performance by Midnight Lute looks like a true superstar in the making,” says Vancouver Province columnist Tom Wolski. Actually, I think Midnight Lute and War Pass will have a lot to say about the three-year old championship next year.”
I’m already counting my cash with Idiot Proof on top, now that I’ve got some of the house’s money. But Midnight Lute’s performance is the talk of the meet — and rightfully so. Missed the super, but we catch the triple.
Total investment: $88.00; won $485.20; new balance $1,171.40
Race Eight: BC Mile
WORK THAT NOBLE BEAST!
As is his usual stealthy way, Cornelio Velasquez hits the board again with Kip Deville. (Velasquez: “He broke very fast but I didn’t want to go to the lead, so I covered him up. At the quarter pole, I had a lot of horse, and when I was able to get clear, he took off. He absolutely loved the soft turf.”)
John Murtagh comes flying with Excellent Art, and No Biz Like Showbiz’s fourth place finish gives me a dime superfecta box; but oooh, if he had come in third – I would’ve had a real tale to tell you.
Total investment: $180.00; won $929.10; new balance: $1920.50
Race Nine: BC Distaff
I like my three choices as they are and wheel them again for $2, since I’m playing with house money. Ginger Punch and Hystericalady have my heart up in my throat because I made a saver with Hystericalady on top. I get the triple, but miss the superfecta because Octave got third and my Lady Joanne got fourth.
Total investment: $276.00; won $1,069.40; new balance: $2,713.90
Race 10: BC Turf
The penultimate race to the day’s festivities opens with the sun finally peeking through. John “Baby Cordero” Velasquez is masterful with his handling of English Channel’s throttling of the ballyhooed European champ Dylan Thomas.
I played to beat Dylan Thomas, but leaned more to Better Talk Now. I used Dylan Thomas in all my exotics, and he ran out of the money. That’s racing.
Total investment: $590.00; new balance: $2,123.20
Race 11: BC Classic
The race jumps off as expected — Hard Spun to the front, as far as he’ll go; the question is — who’s gonna catch him?
The answer is Curlin, and this beautiful beast gave the crowd its final roar as he romped home with Hard Spun holding second and longshot Awesome Gem third. Street Sense ran fourth.
Unfortunately, George Washington broke down in the stretch and had to be euthanized near the sixteenth pole; a sad denouement to a truly memorable event.
Total investment: $700.00; won $214.60; final balance: $1,637.20
We took our shots, and we leave with more than we came with, which is always the goal. Mike Watchmaker, national handicapper for the Daily Racing Form, expressed his surprise at the overall results of the races. “The races ran much to form today, with a lot of favorites winning; but there were clearly cases where horses had chances to do well, but could not handle the track.”
My new friend Philip Bate, head of Queensland Country Life and racing show Down The Straight, a hat fancier like myself, came from Australia to witness the BC and will unfortunately miss the big race back home. “It’s the Melbourne Cup, and we’ll arrive home a bit after the race has run. But it was worth it to make it to Monmouth Park and see some smashing performances.”
Once again, a big “thank you” to all the BC people, and special thanks to Rhonda Newby at Equibase for their help and information.
We will keep up the thoroughbred pace, and look forward to Santa Anita and next year’s cup!