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Super Saturday Recap

Belmont offered 5 major Grade 1 stakes races on Saturday.  Too bad the weather was absolutely brutal and the fields disappointingly small.  You would think that with the Breeders’ Cup being run on a synthetic surface some of these prestigious G1’s would have drawn bigger fields but there are simply too many big money races for too few good horses – but those are topics for another day.   Nevertheless, it was still pretty disappointing to see these races come up so weak from a depth perspective.

Beldame – 6 weeks ago this race was being offered as a potential stage for a Rachel-Zenyatta meeting with the possibility of Icon Project & Careless Jewel being part of the field as well.  Instead it turned into a workout for Music Note with only Unbridled Belle offering any type of G1 form in opposition.  Unbridled Belle got loose on a pretty easy lead, but Music Note was still able to pass her and win in hand, running a very legit figure.

Music Note is a horse that I feel like we never really got to see just how good she is.  She got very good very quickly last year and showed an ability to finish with extremely strong final quarters.  She wasn’t sensationally fast, but as an AP Indy she figured to keep maturing.  Plus, several of her races were little more than public workouts where she simply laid over the field and barely had to run at all.  She ran well in the BC against Zenyatta but the race is a toss for me since it was on synthetics.  Music Note didn’t return until the middle of this year – where she ran inexplicably awful.  Following another small layoff she came back to run huge – defeating Indian Blessing in the 7F Ballerina.   Should she conclude her career with yesterday’s pretty effortless win and another BC race on synthetics we will really not have had the chance to see her truly strut her stuff in a stakes race going a route on the dirt in quite a long time.   Music Note clearly has gotten faster and better at 4 – as her breeding indicated was likely – so I’m definitely disappointed to not get a real season out of her.  I think it’s possible that she may have been able to take that leap and be “special” (ie – The type of horse who can blow a good field away with a powerful closing kick and run 110-type Beyer figures) but due to a combination of circumstances and the BC’s ridiculous decision to run on synthetics, she’ll likely just go down as another in a long line of “what-ifs.”

Vosburgh – 400k for a prestigious Grade 1 sprint on dirt and just 4 horses show up?!  Hard to figure.  The Forego had a full field a few weeks ago.  You would have made 12k just for walking around the track and finishing 5th!  Talented bunch at least.  It’s hard not to love Fabulous Strike.  He’s extremely fast and he’s been on the scene for several years.  I feel like yesterday’s might be the first sign that age is catching up with him.  Watching him get a perfect trip sitting off Go Go Shoot, going by at will, and opening up a couple lengths in stretch, it was tough to imagine that Kodiak Kowboy would be able to mow him down.  The last time that happened (Carter), Fabulous Strike dueled through an insane 1/2 and had to negotiate an extra furlong.  Yesterday he looked like he’d win easily, but surprisingly Kodiak Kowboy ran him down.

Time to give Munnings a rest.  He looked like he might be a sensational sprinter but since his attempted stretch out in the Haskell he clearly isn’t the same animal anymore.

Flower BowlI wrote yesterday about Queen of Hearts so it was definitely exciting to see her run a good 3rd.  This was a tough race and my only thought was that Pure Clan would be around.  I didn’t like Dynaforce much who, despite loving a soft turf, doesn’t appear to be the same filly as she was last year.   In the Beverly D she got a perfect trip sitting close to a very slow pace and still didn’t run nearly as well as she had last year.  I got lucky when longshots ran 2nd and 3rd to Pure Clan to make for a nice super, but a look at the fractions over the ridiculously soft turf tells you all you need to know about this race.

Turf Classic – My friend asked if there was any shot that the favorites could be beaten in this race.  I replied “the only real chance is if Musketier steals the race on the front end since there isn’t much speed and his best races aren’t too far off Gio Ponti’s.”  So what happens?  Interpretation, who has never sniffed the lead (and rarely the winner’s circle for that matter) in his long career, goes to lead and has enough left to put away Gio Ponti in the stretch.  I didn’t play Musketier strongly, but this is why racing is maddening sometimes.  The trip that Interpretation got was exactly what Musketier should have been doing.  I can only theorize that his connections decided to take back because he faded so badly last time – but that’s because he dueled through insane fractions in the Sword Dancer.  His prior 2 efforts on the lead both produced solid efforts (100-102 Beyers and a G3 win and a second to Gio Ponti).  For them to sit lengths off a confirmed closer in Interpretation in a race where the early leader essentially goes wire to wire is simply poor strategy.  As for Gio Ponti, there were questions about his ability to get 12 furlongs going in.  Hard to put too much stock in a race like this given the conditions, but the fact that he went by Interpretation and couldn’t put him away is definitely a black mark against him regardless of circumstances.

Some interesting stats on the great Interpretation (who I actually like since I’ve used him successfully many times in the 2nd and 3rd slots).

  • Off the board in all 6 prior starts this year
  • His last win came on Sept 15, 2007 at Philadelphia Park – with 17 straight losses in between
  • That race snapped a 1-year and 10-race losing streak as well
  • Couldn’t finish in the top half of a 6-horse field at Philadelphia Park last time out

I think it’s safe to say that Gio Ponti’s longshot Horse of the Year chances just evaporated!

Jockey Club Gold Cup – Summer Bird is developing into a very nice horse.  Nice to see Quality Road return to his spring form.   It’s too bad he was rushed into the Travers without proper foundation.  It would have been very interesting to see how good he would have gotten if he had progressed normally rather than going straight from 6.5F to 10F.  At this point it will take a 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic win by Mine That Bird to deny Summer Bird the 3 yo title.  Given what has been said about Summer Bird’s poor training over synthetics in the spring, I’d pass the BC Classic with him and just prepare him for an early start to his 4 yo campaign.  He’ll win the title anyway unless Mine That Bird sometime pulls off a Classic win – and right now his stock is as high as ever.  Why risk it on a surface he purportedly doesn’t like?

I ‘d love to see Quality Road come back in the Cigar Mile and then have a proper 4 year old season where he’s not playing catch-up.

Macho Again reverted to previous form without an advantageous pace setup like he received in his prior 2 starts.

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