Thursday, July 22, 2010 11:57 AM
With the days dwindling until Rachel Alexandra’s return and then the Derby and Preakness winners facing off in the IZOD Haskell, things are starting to get pretty exciting around here – not that there’s ever a dull day during the Elite Summer Meet!!
Word around the press office is that Rachel Alexandra will arrive from Saratoga on Tuesday and school in the Monmouth Park paddock at an undetermined time on Friday.
I had the pleasure of talking to a pair of the nicest horsemen in the industry on Saturday. In the morning, I asked Calvin Borel all about his upcoming mounts on Rachel Alexandra and Super Saver. Borel is one of the nicest jockeys I’ve ever talked to – even though it’s a little weird to be called sir at such a young age. Saturday afternoon I had trainer Patrick Biancone after he took the day’s second stakes race. Maybe it’s the French accent that adds something to it, but Patrick was one of the nicest people I’ve ever talked to.
A horse to watch in the future: Check the Label. This filly won a Grade III stakes at Colonial Saturday in extremely impressive fashion and has a bright future in Grade II or Grade I events. Keep an eye out.
Brad Thomas’ Sunday Samplings
I was watching a re-broadcast of the British Open on ESPN at about 9:30 last night when one of the categories on the news crawl at the bottom of the screen flashed “Horse.” My immediate thought was wondering what ESPN-worthy race was run on Saturday. Nothing came to mind. Then anxiety hit. What happened to Rachel Alexandra? Is Zenyatta okay? Did someone big die? Fortunately, all was well. It had just slipped my mind that a Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In race had taken place at Philadelphia Park. The crawl reported that A.U. Miner (who was beaten 8 ¾ lengths at 83-1 five weeks ago in the Grade I Stephen Foster) had won the (ungraded) Greenwood Cup and thus now was Breeders’ Cup eligible (no mention of which Breeders’ Cup race of division.
Nothing beats the modern media at grasping disinterested newsworthiness, a sense of proportion, and precise context. There was no mention of a slew of better horses who captured stronger, more important races all across the country yesterday.
Check out jockey Garrett Gomez winning Saturday’s 7th race with Soda Pop Kid. The easy control he had slipping the gelding outside and back inside in upper to mid-stretch, and then his wide array of holds, rein crosses, and whipping styles – all delivered in rapid-fire and ultra-smooth fashion – reeked of world class talent and skill.
Trainer Paul Kopaj is low-profile, but highly skilled with all kinds of horses. His three victories this meet have been with a built-up claimer off a five-week respite, an aggressive (basement) spotted first timer, and a raced-into-peak-form maiden stretch-out.
3rd Race – Souma battled tag-team pressure on a dull rail and held better than she had been recently. An outside draw would help.
6th Race – Concorde’s Pastry was compromised by impossible outside draws in recent routes and while she appreciated the drop here, the six-furlongs was too short. A two-turn claimer with a decent post gives her a speed-popping chance.
12th Race – Masqued Tsaar raced against biases in his last two and here he also sharpened up with an improved pace figure. He needs a weak field, but he could be ready to stretch back out.
6th Race – First-timer Pishogue was green and in need of schooling, but was able to finish decently after making a couple of bursts. Overmatched Arise Sir Knight raced gamely, likely moved well forward, and should be toughened up nicely for a return to Colonial.
12th Race – Hard-used routing (again) Wild Doone gamely passed his pace-involved rivals while well-beaten by the closers. He’s dangerous with a real class drop.