Category Archives: Turf racing

FAVORITE BC RACE #2: LIKE A ROCK – or a DOME

Domedriver turned in one of the biggest upsets in BC Mile history when he defeated Rock of Gibraltar in 2002.  Today, he lives in luxury at a stud in France.

Domedriver turned in one of the biggest upsets in BC Mile history when he defeated Rock of Gibraltar in 2002. Today, he lives in luxury at a stud in France.

There’s just something about those big Breeders’ Cup upsets!  Volponi, Arcangues, Adoration…but my 2nd favorite Breeders’ Cup race is once again a Europe vs America mile on turf.  The 2002 BC was held at Arlington Park that year, and the talk of the track was Rock of Gibraltar, the top miler in Europe, winner of 7 Group 1s in a row & undefeated in 2002.  The Breeders’ Cup Mile was to be his coronation and farewell race. 

Thirteen other top milers lined up to challenge him, including Landseer, Beat Hollow, Forbidden Apple and Aldebaran (stretching out from 7f to 8).  At the start, Boston Common set a speedy pace on the yielding turf.  The rest of the field followed close behind, with The Rock in dead last. 

Boston Common gave way after 5f and was passed by Good Journey, but The Rock was still way back.  In the final turn, Landseer tragically took a bad step and broke down, sending the field swerving to avoid the stricken horse.  Rock had to check, as well as several others. 

In the stretch, Good Journey looked to have the whole thing in the bag, but Rock of Gibraltar had regained his momentum and was barreling down the center of the track.  On the rail, Domedriver had found his stride as well, and he slid up beside Good Journey, who battled fiercely to maintain his lead.  In the final strides, Domedriver got ahead of Good Journey, but The Rock was still coming on like a freight train…and just couldn’t make it! 

Domedriver dove under the wire a length and a half in front.  The Rock was defeated! 

His jockey, Mick Kinane, took a lot of flack for waiting so long and for dropping so far back in this race, but Landseer’s breakdown happened in The Rock’s direct path to glory.  Any lesser horse would not have been able to recover from such a sharp check let alone finish second driving.  Domedriver ran a helluva race, though.  He stayed on the rail the whole time and took advantage of a tiny opening.  It was an incredible upset, and one of my favorite BC races, despite Landseer.

Domedriver paid $54.00 to win, making him one of the biggest longshots in the Mile.

Today, he resides in France, at Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard.  Judging by his conformation photo, he looks like he’s enjoying life.

The Rock is at stud in Ireland at Coolmore.  He sired Eagle Mountain, who will race in the BC Turf on Saturday.

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Filed under Breeders' Cup, favorite races, Turf racing, Underrated Racehorses

Favorite Breeders’ Cup Race #5: GREATEST COMBACK SINCE LAZARUS

DA HOSS(right) held off Hawksley Hill by a head in the biggest comback since Elvis in 68, the 1998 BC Mile.

DA HOSS(right) held off Hawksley Hill by a head in the biggest comback since Elvis in '68, the 1998 BC Mile.

The first time I watched the Breeders’ Cup was the 1996 edition, when the championships were held at Woodbine in Canada.  I was excited to see the legendary Cigar try and repeat in the Classic.  Cigar would fail in his quest, to a grey horse named Alphabet Soup and the Preakness winner Louis Quatorze, but a plain brown horse named DA HOSS would be the one to leave a lasting imprint on my memory.  That was still when I picked horses off their names, and who wouldn’t go for a horse named HOSS?

DA HOSS won the Breeders’ Cup Mile easily in ’96 with Gary Stevens up for trainer John “The Genius” Dickinson.  Dickinson is a master turf trainer.  He even invented a tool to determine a grass course’s exact condition (firm/yielding/soft/etc) and also developed a type of synthetic racing surface, named after his Maryland farm, Tapeta.  But Dickinson’s genius would not be fully realized until the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Shortly after the ’96 Mile, Da Hoss was out of training due to a chronic foot injury.  He was out for the entire year in 1997, and spent most of 1998 recuperating as well.  But Dickinson recognized the competitive fire still burning within the then 6yo Da Hoss.  He brought the horse back slowly, entering him in one allowance prep 30 days before the Breeders’ Cup, held at Churchill Downs that year.

I was tuned in to the ’98 BC for Skip Away’s attempt to be the first dual Classic winner, and prove to the world that he was Cigar’s equal, if not superior.  What I got instead was a heckuva blast from the past: DA HOSS, on da LEAD, in da MILE…and then a gritty duel with Hawksley Hill in deep stretch…DA HOSS looked beaten…but then the old gelding, who had only ONE START in TWO YEARS surged to put his nose in front at the WIRE!  Race caller Tom Durkin called it “The greatest comback since Lazarus!”

Da Hoss was also SuperJock John Velasquez’s first BC winner.  Johnny V would go on to ride 5 more BC winners, most recently English Channel in the 2007 Turf.

Today, Da Hoss resides in luxury at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of CHampions, where he gets to stick out his tongue at Cigar and say, “Neener neener, *I* won TWO Breeders’ Cups!”

Alas, the iron horse Skip Away could not capture a 2nd Classic, either.  It would take a national tragedy, a beloved veteran jockey and a lame ex-champ with nothing but grit to do that.  But that is for another story.

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Filed under Breeders' Cup, favorite races, Turf racing, Underrated Racehorses

COWBOY CAL SURVIVES INQUIRY

Cowboy Cal (inside) wins the Bryan Station via DQ of Seaspeak (outside).

Cowboy Cal (inside) wins the Bryan Station via DQ of Seaspeak (outside).

Cowboy Cal

, making his first start since running up the track in the Kentucky Derby, won the steward’s inquiry in the Bryan Station stakes today at Keeneland.  The son of Giant’s Causeway looked unbeatable coming off the final turn, but longshot Seaspeak hooked up with him in deep stretch.  The two dark bay colts slugged it out in the final furlong, with Cal on the inside bearing the brunt of Seaspeak’s jabs.  The longshot put a head in front of COwboy Cal at the wire.  Stewards spent 5 minutes reviewing the tape before DQing Seaspeak to 2nd.  It was a great return for Cowboy Cal.  It may be too late for him to make the Breeders’ Cup field, but this victory will set him up for a great winter campaign.

CASINO DRIVE, the mysterious chestnut from Japan, won an allowance prep at Oak Tree today.  The half-brother to Rags to Riches turned in an effortless performance against 5 others, proving he could handle the Pro-Ride surface and that his minor hoof problems were behind him.  Casino Drive will be a live longshot in the BC Classic.  He could be the next Arcangues.  However, there are a few Euros who may have a stronger case for victory in the Classic.  Duke of Marmalade, winner of 5 Group I races in 2008, is pointing for the BC, as well as Henry the Navigator and Soldier of Fortune (that sounds like the 3 horses of the apocalypse).  Casino Drive has only run in 3 races in his entire life, and though he has won all 3, he has never faced the quality of competition lining up for the Classic.  That’s not even mentioning the American contingent, who I’ll delve into later this week.

In OMG WTF news, CATO pulled the biggest upset I’ve ever witnessed today at Louisiana Downs:  the colt went off at odds of 182.60-1!!!   The winning payoff was $367.20/$134.20/$53.20 with a $1418 EX and $11,938 TRI !!!

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Filed under Breeders' Cup, Keeneland, polytrack, results, Santa Anita, Turf racing

BIG BROWN vs OLDER HORSES & and OFF TRACK

Big Brown is such a star that Monmouth Park has carded a race just for him, the Monmouth Stakes at 11/8 miles on turf.  I suppose the idea was to get an easy prep in for the BCClassic, but this has turned out to be anything but for the presumptive 3yo champ.  The half-million dollar purse has attracted a full field of Graded stakes winners, older turf specialists itching for the chance to take down the Derby winner. 

SHakis, trained by Keiran Mclaughlin for Darley, just won the Baruch at Saratoga.  11/8 miles is his bitch. 

Proudinsky was 6th by only 2lengths in a blanket finish to Shakis in the Baruch, and Frankel has him tuned up for a victory this time.  He may get it, too, because along with the older horses and the grass, Big Brown may also have to overcome turf less-than-firm.  Weather predictions are calling for rain saturday, which could even pull the race off the grass and onto the main track. 

Silver Tree has a win over the Monmouth turf course already, and was game in his last narrow win in the Oceanport. 

How sweet would the stretch call be if Fugeddaboudit Sal won? 

Despite his record thus far, Big Brown does not have me wholly convinced of his greatness.  He has been beating a questionable crop all year.  His peers, whom he so thoroughly wolloped, have been barely beating each other (sloowly) .  What will happen when he gets in with the senior class? 

I like Proudinsky and Silver Tree, or Shakis on top if the course is dry.  Drum Major may be a dangerous upset play, after a year layoff and a 7th place finish in the Baruch.  Get Serious, BAllonenostrikes and Kiss the Kid are local Monmouth horses looking for some big-time cred.

If Brown can pull off a win here, it will go a loooong way in convincing me — like Curlin last year.  I was not on the Golden Warrior’s bandwagon until he beat my buddy LAwyer Ron in the JCGC. 

At least Brown is attracting positive attention to the sport.  Memphis is the dead zone of racing coverage, and even people here are talking about him.  They may even flip over from the Southern Heritage CLassic to catch the race on TVG (3:30pm Central).  Who am I kidding?  Memphians skipping a football game?  LOL…

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Filed under Graded Stakes, Handicapping, Monmouth Park, Turf racing

TRIFECTA!BATTLE ROYALE HEATS UP LIKE AN AUGUST AFTERNOON!!!SAUHBR Week 3 RESULTS!

The SAUHBR action kicked it up a notch this past weekend, leaving Borderland Totalisator and me in a dead-heat for Total (amateur) Handicapping Domination – 65-65!!

YEHAW!!  TRIFECTA, BABY!  1st TRI in SAUHBR was hit by yours truly in the Secretariat Stakes!  Winchester (1)-by daylight-Plan (2)-Tizdejavu(1)!!  Winchester’s victory was so visually impressive he’s going into my new fave category, and the final time wasn’t that bad, either -2:01:76.  TRIPLE POINT BONUS! 12 points!!

But that’s not all — In the Beverly D, Mauralakana (4) and Communique (1) galloped under the wire for an EXACTA!! YESS!  DOUBLE BONUS! 10 points!

Then, as I predicted, the Million was the Euros’ race to lose — they swept the top 3 spots.  Spirit One lead them wire to wire, with Archipenko (2) and Mount Nelson (1) rounding out the tri.  I didn’t hit the winner, but I *did* get the place/show.  Stream Cat was 6th behind Einstein — the best US placing was 4th finisher Silverfoot, who may just have taken my advice on that John Henry juju.  3 points!

BT, on the other hand, didn’t have such stellar luck at Arlington — Tizdejavu got him 1 pt in the Sec, he was shut out in the Bev D, and Archipenko won him a point in the Million.  What happened to you, Glen?

Sunday’s 2yo Sprint Stakes were a little Crazier but I still did pretty decent with the picks …  BUT!  I have a Scoring Q that must wait ’till BT gets back to his computer!!

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Filed under arlington park, Brag sheet, Graded Stakes, Handicapping, results, SAUHBR, Turf racing