The Ups & Downs of Horse RacingThe weekend of racing started at Churchill downs as Einstein bested the field in the Clark Handicap, a race that the connections of Curlin most likely should have run him in. Never second guessing Jess Jackson, but the feeling I get in my heart of hearts is that either they felt it was too soon for him to come back from his last start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic or they felt it would be an incredibly daunting task to ask him to run down Commentator. Either way, I would have sent him to the Clark, but Curlin comes out looking ever so much better due to Einstein’s win against the speedy Commentator. As expected Commentator went straight to the lead and set legitimate fractions, 1st ¼ - 24.57 the ½ in 48.58 and he got ¾ in 1:12.64, if you know Commentator like I know Commentator you know one of two things is going to happen as they begin to turn for home. One, he’s going to turn it on and begin to bury his competition by 8, 10, or even 14 or 15 lengths. The second option is that he doesnt run his race and fades in the stretch. Basically, Commentator is an all or nothing horse, there is nothing wrong with that but he’s and older horse and he’s run the same way his whole career, for 2 or maybe 3 races he can hold his incredible form, putting down 119, 120, 121, or 122 beyers, but then there comes the inevitable bounce. Nick Zito knows it, Tracy Farmer (the horse’s owner) knows it, but that’s what makes Horse Racing so incredible, they still love Commentator for going out and trying hard every time. He shows the heart of a champion every time he steps out onto the track.
Einstein’s dominating victory against the Clark field adds even more validity to Curlin’s chances to garner 2008 Horse of the Year honors, as Einstein raced against Curlin earlier this year in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill and dispatched of that field easily. Its was a great ride that Julien R. Leparoux, he sat comfortably off the pace that Commentator set and flew by him in the stretch easily dispatching Commentator and holding off Delightful Kiss. This was a quality win in a Grade II race against a Grade I field.
On Saturday the focus of Horse racing was thrust on New York as Aqueduct became the center of the horse racing world with 2 races being run that would push the two victors forward towards the Kentucky Derby. The Demoiselle Stakes is a 1 1/8 mile race for 2 year old fillies, this race normally sets up the winner as one to consider come Kentucky Oaks day. And the winner Springside didn’t disappoint her connections, turning what seemed to be a hotly contested race into a romp. Springside broke slowly and was in the back of the pack as the favorite Sky Diva sat chilly through fractions of 24 & 48, which is a moderate pace, Sky Diva and Aint Love Grand hooked up at the top of the stretch, but as they turned for home Springside ran to the lead and absolutely had things her way winning with daylight. Sadly as Springside changed leads while galloping out Garrett Gomez said that he heard a pop, and at that point pulled her up as quickly as possible. Springside was shipped to the New Bolton Center the same location that Barbaro was treated. I am sure they will take good care of this beautiful girl and hopefully one day soon she will be able to get back onto the track.
The Grade II Remsen was to be a race that pointed one of the top 2 year old colts towards the Kentucky Derby next year. Quickly though Old Fashioned, the same connections of Hard Spun, and Eight Belles, took control of the race and galloped to a very impressive 7 ¼ length victory. Old Fashioned, a song of Unbridled Song, went straight to the lead while ridden by Ramon Dominguez. He was under a hard hold throughout the race, and with about a furlong to go Dominguez let him out a notch and allowed him to finish up strong. Dominguez is quoted as saying: “Once he made the lead, I took a peek back, hit him one time, and he took off,” Dominguez said. “It was pretty impressive. Judging by today, there is no telling how far he can go.” Thus far the undefeated 2 year old is 3 for 3 with a maiden win by a nose in his first start, and a 15 ½ length win in an allowance race at Delaware, and now his first black type win against a field that was well aware of his capabilities. To be able to win a race with a target on your back with ease like that says something about the horse and the training job that Larry Jones has done thus far with the horse. With the win Old Fashioned pushed his career earnings to $173,280 and with the $120,000 In graded earnings from this race he looks primed to move forward patiently towards the derby.
The big race on the Aqueduct race card was the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile. A nice field was assembled for this race, with the likes of Visionaire, Monterey Jazz, Arson Squad, Kodiak Kowboy Harlem Rocker and Tale of Ekati. With Monterey Jazz setting suicidal fractions of 22.87 for the 1st ¼ mile and the ½ mile @ 45, and ¾ in 1:09.42, Tale of Ekati sat patiently 4th in the field rating, as the field began to turn for home Tale of Ekati and Harlem Rocker hooked up but Harlem Rocker came over on Edgar Prado and Tale of Ekati. Prado changed course and Tale of Ekati made another run at Harlem Rocker, but it seemed at the line that he came up a nose short. Immediately after the race there was an inquiry and although the stewards took a few minutes to make a decision Harlem Rocker was DQ’d and put in second position giving the win to what looked like the best horse in the race. The euphoria that was felt by Barclay Tagg and Charles Fipke was absolutely tempered by the news that the ever so consistent Wanderin Boy, trained by Nick Zito suffered a fracture of the sesamoids in his left front leg and unfortunately the decision was made to euthanize Wanderin Boy. The news that he was put down was sickening due to the fact that he ran against the best older horses in his career, including Curlin, Lawyer Ron, Bernardini and Invasor. This horse had overcome so much in getting back to the track after sustaining a number of injuries early in his career. I for one will miss the presence of Wanderin Boy, he gave it his all every time he stepped out on the track. You will be missed Wanderin Boy. RIP..