BASN’s Paddock to Post

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: October 28, 2008

PHILADELPHIA – With the completion of the 25th edition of the Breeders’ Cup it is time for us to come clean on a few topics:

Since I received e-mails asking why we didn’t handicap this year’s Cup, I want to explain why our coverage (for this year, anyway) was after the fact.

Our handicapping of previous Cups was predicated on knowing we were working with dirt surfaces and grass courses. As this year’s cup was (and will be next year) at Santa Anita, the phenomenon of the synthetic track has now become a vital part of the equation when it comes to evaluation of what the hoss will do on a specific course.

Polytracks, synthetic racing surfaces, call them what you will — they are now in the mix; and are driving some veteran ‘cappers crazy.

Certain tracks that are now part of the Breeders Cup “win and you’re in” strategy don’t truly grade out a hoss’s ability simply because he or she may not like the surface.

Santa Anita, which went to Pro-Ride, a synthetic surface a couple years ago, offers a different challenge now; and since we have not done enough collaborative study to hone in on what will consistently get hosses to win on the synthetic stuff, we opted to beg off until we could put some more Mad Scientist time into our research.

Unlike many other ‘cappers, we’re not just going to pull names out the hat and hope they win. We truly put our money where our mouths are – so we don’t say it unless we play it.

So fret not – we’ll be ready next year!

Now to the highlights:

Zenyatta - calmly rushed up and destroyed a field of excellent female turf specialists, to finish the year undefeated and perhaps secure a Horse of the Year award.

Miggy Scores! – Jockey Richard Migliore, long a local favorite at the New York area tracks, bombs the tote in the Downhill Turf Sprint for $75 and the winner with Desert Code – and his first BC winner.

Go – Go Gomez! – Garrett Gomez left no doubt that he is the best rider in North America; and maybe the world, winning three BC races in one day – first ever to do the deed.

Midnight Lute – One thing we can say about the Pro – Ride surface at Santa Anita – it allows speed to thrill. The huge colt, who was one of the mega – stars of last year’s Cup on Monmouth Park’s sloppy track, kicked into overdrive and unleashed some serious hoss power – like the high – performance Oatsmobile he is; clocking in an unreal 1:07:08! Which brings us to something I did mention last year would be a factor this year;

Canadian Muscle- Canada’s Woodbine, long a synthetic track, sent some of their house tigers down to sunny Cali, and they did some damage. Chantal Sutherland rode a good race aboard Van Lear Rose in the Filly & Mare Turf; leading trainer Mark Casse and his main man Patrick Husbands almost shocked the house aboard 48 – 1 shot Sealy Hill, losing by ¾ lengths to Julian “the Werewolf” Leparoux and Forever Together.

It was later announced Sealy Hill would not race again. She came out of the race in great shape and will now be a broodmare. For Husbands, the Bajan Sensation, his first BC in the money finish – and a nice check for a good day’s work.

But the most elated and disappointed jock in the entire two days had to be Eurico Rosa da Silva, whose Polytrack speedball Fatal Bullet had the misfortune to run up on a super – game Midnight Lute in the Sprint. I can’t think of any other track anywhere, regardless of surface, where 1:07:2 won’t decisively win a six furlong sprint; and I betcha da Silva can’t either!

European Muscle– Frankie Dettori, Olivier Peslier and John Murtaugh led another European charge as their hosses enjoyed Santa Anita’s surfaces, with Dettori’s defeat of the mighty Curlin in the Classic on Raven’s Pass. And speaking of…

Curlin- In spite of his fourth place finish in the BC Classic, Curlin has earned his oats as a Noble Beast for the ages.

With the retirement of Big Brown, Curlin dug in like a true champion, but did not like the Pro – Ride; but he took on all comers and all surfaces (running place in his turf debut earlier this year) all year; and passed Cigar as racing’s all – time money winner.

Had high weight races still been in vogue, Curlin would have joined the exclusive class of hosses like Kelso and Forego; heavyweight champs who had to be knocked out to be defeated.

In any event, racing owes Curlin for handling his business and being a superstar as a four – year old. What could be better for racing? Curlin continuing his drive for greatness at five if he is fit to run — and wants to run.

Meanwhile, we’re back at the lab, and we will see you again in 2009.

Always remember, bet smart, have fun, and when you see your hoss thundering down the back stretch, don’t forget to scream at the top of your lungs: