Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sea-ing The Stars and Some Juvenile Hopefuls (Hot Dixie Chick and Dublin!)

So hard to pull myself out of the cool sheets this morning. Even though autumn doesn't officially begin for a few weeks, there's a kind of post-Labor Day malaise hanging over this Tuesday morning. I think part of it is that I'm still kind of spinning from my weekend in Saratoga Springs...what an idyllic place to celebrate the end of summer.

Yesterday I'd written about the possibility of Mine That Bird's connections winning a kind of double crown (of the Kentucky Derby and All-American Futurity), which, in the end was not meant to be. I watched the race on television and it was an exciting one, won by Running Brook Gal, but I'm going to have to say that I much prefer thoroughbred racing to quarter-horse racing. Both are beautiful animals and incredible athletes, don't get me wrong, but the quarter-horse races are just too short. (I know, they're quarter-horses...that's the point.) It just doesn't allow for as much of the strategizing or gamesmanship of thoroughbred racing, in my opinion, at least. There's no place for a late closer, or a stretch running wonder. Those quarter-horses are the equine equivalent of Usain Bolt--they are speed demons!!

All fun to watch, in any event...I'd never even try to handicap a quarter-horse race, but their power and strength is admirable and beautiful.

Incredibly, there were some really well-contested races over the weekend that didn't feature Rachel Alexandra! And some of them were on the other coast, even! (That never-ending battle between Oriental and Occidental goes on!) I kid, of course. Though I must say that watching the Pennsylvania Derby (Gr II), won pretty handily by Gone Astray, I wondered if Rachel's camp had ever really seriously considered running her there. It just seemed a much smaller and certainly less prestigious race than The Woodward (G I).

Einstein, one of my other favorite horses, ran a strong race in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar but was defeated by long shot (24-1) Richard's Kid. Rail Trip ran valiantly in between them, but it was a real battle. I'm always going to be cheering on Einstein, but was very impressed with the off-pace run of Richard's Kid and Mike Smith's ride as well.

Two juveniles that I'll be keenly interested in over the coming months are Dublin (out of the athletic Afleet Alex) who won the Grade I Hopeful Stakes on Monday at Saratoga, and Hot Dixie Chick who won the Spinaway (also Grade I) Stakes there on Sunday. She's a two-year-old stable mate to Rachel Alexandra and she's won her last three races convincingly. I was amused to read that she's a very laid back youngster, because she certainly seems to be all business on the track. It seems wrong to be thinking about next spring already, but with so many talented two-year-olds, it's fun to keep an eye out and start to settle in on some favorites.

Now for a pipe-dream: I'd love to watch Sea The Stars race over here. He won the Irish Champion Stakes on Sunday--in convincing fashion--and has cut quite a swathe through European turf racing this year. As a three year old, Sea The Stars now has won five straight group I races, and has improved his overall record to seven victories from eight starts. Pretty impressive. While he seems pointed toward the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) at Longchamp in October, his trainers have not ruled out a trip to Santa Anita this fall. One of the writers or commenters on a blog weighed in that he would be a great stallion to match up with Rachel. With his love of the turf and hers of the dirt, the possibilities could be endless.

Something new to me is blog-talk-radio. It's an intriguing thing and while it's maybe not new to you all, I'm enjoying investigating it. If you haven't heard enough about Rachel and Sea The Stars or weighed in on Calvin Borel's ride on Saturday, then tune in to ABR blogtalkradio tomorrow, where they will be discussing all that and more.

And on a final note, congratulations to Linda Rice for her historic achievement--winning the training title at Saratoga and marking the first time in the 145 years of racing that a woman has taken that title. She's in pretty good company this summer with a large cast of talented equine females. You go, girls!!

No comments: