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YEAH. THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.

Most of you will probably remember what a frothing fangirl I was while Curlin was running. Care to experience that again? Because I think I have an incurable soft spot for enormous chestnut colts with names that start with C.

Please to be going to the Travers now so I can see you in person, you beautiful thing.

Gimme.

I will try to post a more organized post with actual thoughts and things and stuff later, after my brain recovers from having exploded into giddy mush.

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Yes, I am a bad blogger. Sh.

Before I dive into the Haskell and other things that make the gears in my head turn, let’s talk about Stay Thirsty’s brilliant breakout in the Jim Dandy yesterday. This is the son of Bernardini we thought we might see after his sneaky-good juvenile season. In fact, not only did he finally build on his two-year-old form, but made a huge leap forward from his second-place finish to Ruler On Ice in the Belmont. And given how well he ran in the third jewel of the Triple Crown, we know that the mile and a quarter of the Travers won’t be too long for him, and therefore that he’s got a great honking chance at winning the summer derby should he keep this form.

In the Haskell, give me Coil any day of the week. Why take a horse who lost last time out over the winners of two Triple Crown races? I’ve never been much into speed figures, but in this case I have to mention them: in his last three races, dating back to the optional-claimer tour de force he staged in May, this magnificent son of Point Given has run consecutive E figures of over 100. By comparison, the only other horses in the field to have run three 100+ figures total are Pants On Fire and J J’s Lucky Train, and only J J’s Lucky Train has ever run a figure (108) higher than the lowest (105) of Coil’s three most recent races. Yes, that includes Shackleford’s Preakness (101) and Ruler On Ice’s Belmont (103). Coil’s peak of 114 (and even the 109 he earned in the Affirmed Handicap) is so much better than the rest of these horses that I had to stare at it for a while to wrap my mind around what we might be looking at.

But that’s not all. Trainer Bob Baffert hasn’t lost the Haskell in his last four tries at it, a win streak he began with Coil’s sire Point Given. He’s also a master at transferring horses from synthetic surfaces, especially at Hollywood (where Coil has made all five of his starts so far), onto conventional dirt. So much the better when it’s a horse with front-running zeal and the receiving track is traditionally speed-favouring, as Monmouth Park most certainly is. Basically the only knock against him is the rail position and that it might force him to go too fast early, thereby making the task of holding off Shackleford, Pants On Fire and Ruler On Ice much more difficult… but then, he’s kind of got practice in exactly this kind of situation. He drew the rail in the Affirmed, ran up to challenge the Awesome Patriot on the backstretch, destroyed that one at the top of the stretch and held off the powerful charge of Runflatout with gas left in the tank. It was his first try at two turns, and he ran a 109 E fig. His Beyer for that effort was a 106, officially the second-highest Beyer earned by any three-year-old this year.

So, yeah, the draw might work against him. Orrrr it might not.

Also Baffert called Coil’s final breeze, six in 1:11.20, his “best work ever.” He went in company with Iowa Derby winner Prayer For Relief, who was Baffert’s other Haskell possible and whom he destroyed by almost a full second. SO THERE’S THAT.

OTHER THINGS:

Bourbon Bay has always been a sentimental favourite of mine (and not only because his sire Sligo Bay stands in Canada), so it was every flavour of awesome when he not only won the Cougar II but smashed the track record while he was at it. The Pacific Classic has been mentioned as a possible goal. When I have too much money, Bourbon Bay is one of those lovely geldings I would just love to buy and re-train and turn into a happy little pleasure horse.

Also Al Khali. I want to buy him and geld him and make him a jumper. Just look at this. Nom nom nom.

Jerry Hollendorfer has mentioned that he may send Blind Luck to the Pacific Classic rather than the Personal Ensign. As awesome as that might be, I really want her to go the Saratoga on the 28th, because I’m planning on going there for Travers weekend (27-28) and Mr. Hollendorfer please give me Blind Luck I love her. Havre de Grace would be nice, too, Mr. Jones. Nudge nudge. In my perfect world I would get a King’s Bishop with Uncle Mo, Flashpoint and The Factor, a Travers with Stay Thirsty and Coil, and a Personal Ensign with Blind Luck and Havre de Grace. Nnnnnngggggg

I also want to mention that my early pick for champion three-year-old filly has switched from Zazu to Winter Memories, who I believe may be the best turf horse on the continent, period. Her stunning victory in the Lake George was nothing short of a heroic effort, and a final time of 1:41.57 on “good” turf is exquisite. The turn of foot on this filly may well become legend should she continue to employ it with such casual regularity. Fifteen years ago, her mother, Memories of Silver, won this race by diving into a space between horses that simply had not been there before she created it; the daughter has proven as brave as the dam. In short: what a filly.

AND FINALLY the Haskell will be broadcast on ABC from 5-6pm EST this evening. Join me in boosting their ratings and making them broadcast moar ponyraces.


Honestly, when these fillies go neck and neck, I don’t think it matters how much they’re carrying or even really what the split is. Blind Luck beat Grace at equal weights in the Alabama, and was beaten only a neck by the same in the Cotillion while giving away ten pounds. Combined with the narrowest of nose victories at Delaware yesterday, these facts simply do not support any hypothesis that weight will seriously affect these horses’ performances. They’re that good.

If anything, the Philadelphia secretaries were the ones that made the mistake last year by giving Havre de Grace ten pounds fewer to carry in the Cotillion. Delaware might have shot itself in the foot a little with the two-pound relief to Blind Luck, which given the circumstances (Lucky six GIs, Grace one, Lucky up 3-2 in their rivalry so far, etc) is admittedly bizaare, but I will personally put the greater fault on everyone who is flipping the hell out. Oh my god: the racing secretaries gave Hollendorfer two pounds so that they could ensure one of the great duels in recent racing memory, everybody panic.

I should probably mention that this is in no way a cheap shot at Larry Jones. I have every respect for him and he had every right to grouse publicly about said weight spread. However, I will bet a great deal of money that he’ll go back to doing what he does best and send his star filly out wherever the pickings are lush and the competition is fierce. Trainers bickering with racing secretaries about weights is as old as handicap races. Hell, half of the drama in Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of Seabiscuit was about Tom Smith vs. the secretaries.

But to all the other flapping jaws: shut up.


Your Horse of the Year?

Sure could be.


Who do you think is going to end up on top come the end of the year? My projected winners would probably go something like this for the major categories:

Horse of the Year: Blind Luck

Older Male: Twirling Candy

Older Female: Blind Luck

3yo Male: Coil

3yo Female: Zazu

It’s really difficult to separate Blind Luck and Havre de Grace in both the Older Female and Horse of the Year categories. Grace beat Lucky in the Azeri, but the rivalry is fairly even on the whole. Plus, Lucky seemed to be having a bit a of a slump and has since roared back with that spectacular run in the Vanity. That, and her connections are considering the Hollywood Gold Cup. Should they go for it, and win, that will put Fox Hill and Larry Jones in a difficult position with Grace, because Blind Luck will have earned the advantage in the Eclipse race. That could touch off an “arms race” of a kind to keep outdoing the other until the next time they meet.

All of which, of course, makes me crazy happy.

Some might say that Coil is a bit of a reach in the 3yo Male division, but having watched his races, especially his magnificent backstretch blitz in the Affirmed to dispose of Awesome Patriot and second wind in the homestretch to turn away the dangerous bid of Runflatout, I am more or less convinced that this horse could be miles the best of his crop (excepting maybe Uncle Mo, but who knows when he’s coming back).

Zazu just seems to be aging like fine wine, improving as she goes along. Her defeat of Plum Pretty was the third time she finished ahead of the Kentucky Oaks winner in four meetings (the Kentucky Oaks itself being the only exception), and her fearlessness and determination in the stretch make her difficult to beat when she’s given a chance to run her best race. She might not be as good as older fillies and mares like Blind Luck, Havre de Grace, Awesome Maria and Switch, but boy, is she good.


I WANT THIS TO HAPPEN.

DESPERATELY.