If you think about it, the sport of Horse Racing is a year around sport. I mean, really, there is no “off season”. So with a relatively quiet weekend, and being we are about half way thru the season, I figured I’d take this weekend to take a look at the sport division by division and see where we stand up to this point.
Wait…let me back up a second. I said this weekend was “relatively quiet” but it really isn’t. There are several key races being run, but I really need to a) do a mid-season report and b) take a week off since, in case you haven’t notice, I haven’t been able to pick my nose correctly let alone a horse race. I haven’t had a horse I picked to win emerge victorious in several weeks now. Of course, Dreaming of Julia, Orb (twice), Successful Dan, Flat Out and others have all gotten beat at fairly low odds, didn’t help matters. But no excuses, when you’re in a slump…you’re in a slump….nothing you can really do about except back off, re-group and come back again….I’m sure my buddy Nathan from Ontario, Canada might agree with me on that one.
Anyway, just a few heads ups this weekend starting off with 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan in Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs. The chestnut gelding’s biggest opponent in that race looks to be the 128 lbs he must carry.
Out west at Hollywood Park is the $300,000 Shoemaker (turf) Mile where the speedy Obviously will take on last year’s winner Jeranimo as well as Wilkinson, Za Approval, and Lucayan, who won the French 2000 Guineas in 2012 and was second to Obviously last month.
Also on the Hollywood card on Saturday, and six races later, is a very competitive Triple Bend Handicap for sprinters. The field includes Tom Fool Handicap winner Comma to the Top, the veteran Rail Trip, Grade: 1 winner Jimmy Creed and last year’s winner Camp Victory.
Also keep an eye on the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs, which is the first major stakes race for two year old colts. It will feature powerhouse first time out winner D’cajun Cat and also watch the Iowa Derby and Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows
Now, as far as the mid-season report, I’m going to skip the two year old divisions being we just haven’t seen enough of them yet. That’s about to change, but for now, I’m going to pass it.
Three Year Old Males
This division is like playing pin the tail on the donkey…..literally. I mean, who leads this division? My best guess would be Orb by default because he won two grade: 1’s (Florida and Kentucky Derby) which is more than anyone else. Now, listen to the rest of the division…. Oxbow “stole” the Preakness and quietly ran huge in both the Derby and Belmont Stakes but is still just 2 for 7 this year….Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes and ran a very good, albeit suicidal, Kentucky Derby, but is just 1 for 5 this year….
Verrazano is 5 for 6 this year with four straight wins, but picked the Derby to “mail it in” and didn’t run in either the Preakness or Belmont….. Revolutionary is 2 for 4 with two graded stakes wins, so he is up there…but the division leader? That’s a stretch…. Goldencents is 2 for 5 with a pair of grade:2 stakes wins but was thrashed in both the Derby and Belmont Stakes….. Itsmyluckyday is 2 for 6 but seems to have peaked early in the year (albeit he did run big in the Preakness) and is on the shelf for a while. While the rest…Normandy Invasion (0 for 3 in 2013) still only has one career win (Maiden Special Weight), Mylute (0 for 4) and Golden Soul (0 for 5) all leave much to be desired.
Orb…the pro-tem three year old male division leader…I guess?
Three Year Old Female
Well, I thought it was Dreaming of Julia after her annihilation of the Gulfstream Park Oaks but her form (and speed figures) have dropped like a rock since….Midnight Lucky is 3 for 4 in her career with 3 blowout wins but in her longest (9 furlongs) and most important race (The Kentucky Oaks) she led early but faded badly late…so there might be some distance limitations there…..Close Hatches won three straight in the spring, but was beaten soundly in the Kentucky Oaks and the Acorn then comes back and whistles in the Mother Goose….wait….what?…run that by me again? Beholder is fast and shows a 4-2-2-0 record this year but blew a clear lead in the Kentucky Oaks to a 38-1 shot….the mammoth Unlimited Budget is near the top of the class provided her connections didn’t ruin her by running her in the Belmont Stakes…..Fiftyshadesofhay might still be improving as she won the Black Eyed Susan in her last but that was just her second win this year. …My Happy Face has never been worse than second in 6 career starts but has a lot of catching up to do as she was sidelined for a while earlier this year. All that being said if the season would be over now? I’d vote for Princess of Sylmar, who is 3 for 4 this year (and 5 for 7 in her career) and won the Kentucky Oaks fair and square.
Game On Dude has been dominant so far this year. He had a little scare at Charlestown recently but is clearly the division leader thus far. He needs to be careful though as Fort Larned, who smashed his foes in the Stephen Foster, seems to have finally recaptured his Breeders Cup Classic form …Cross Traffic has suffered back to back heartbreaking defeats, but for him to get beat a nose in the Met Mile in his fourth career race speaks volumes about his talent level…..Graydar won the Donn Handicap and the New Orleans Handicap but was injured and wont be back until mid-summer…..Sahara Sky is coming on very strong, if he can stretch out in distance, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with….and I sorry, but I can’t leave out the remarkable Paynter, who literally came back from the dead to sizzle seven furlongs in 1:21.4 a couple of weeks ago.
This division still belongs to Royal Delta even though she’s only won one of three races so far this year. They’ll get her cranked up fully by the end of the year (Breeders Cup)….not much has impressed in this division yet….Include Me Out was a multiple graded stakes winner last year at route distances yet her 2013 debut race was an impressive sprint win….she might be bound for bigger things this year…..Ciao Bella aired it out in her last two, but I’ll need to see more of that before becoming a believer…. Authenticity is as consistent as the day is long.
Obviously defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan still reigns supreme but, I’ll tell you, Point of Entry, albeit injured and with his career in jeopardy, would makes things interesting. …Bright Thought has crossed the finish line first in all four 2013 starts and his speed figures have climbed steadily….Little Mike should be a major player in the second half…..we should learn a little more about the speedy Obviously this weekend….Optimizer is consistent and can pop a big grass race now and again…..Animal Kingdom has been retired.
Another tough division……Stephanie’s Kitten is improving in leaps and bounds….Marketing Mix, who is 9 for 17 in her career, will take some beating where ever she runs next. Lady of Shamrock closes like a New York City taxi driver drives, is 7 for 14 in her career and has yet to hit her best stride so far this year…..figures bang up in the division….Centre Court is 2 for 3 this year, was 8-4-4-0 last year and 12-6-4-0 in her career….now that’s consistent.
Delaunay is clearly the division leader based off his 3 for 3 2013 record, the ease in which he won and has now won 6 in a row (without anyone being close) dating back to last September. Although, if or when he meets the aforementioned Sahara Sky that would be a great match up….Fast Bullet is well named as he roared home in 1:08.1 in the True North (110 Speed Figure) in his last start…which was just the third of his career….scary stuff right there…..the late running Jimmy Creed is rounding back into form and we’ll see what happens with him this weekend….Female Sprint Champion of 2012 Groupie Doll is on the comeback trail after an extended vacation….look out for her if she comes back the same way from last year…..Smiling Tiger may have seen better days….Trinniberg can still step and I’m curious to see Comma to the Top this weekend also.
Delaunay has dominated while riding a six race winning streak
Joel Rosario leads the country in wins (172) and money won ($11,818,635)…..Javier Castellano has won $9,707,939 and 158 races…..Big money rider John Velasquez has just 97 wins but is third in the country in money won at $8,768, 069 and of course, the lovely Rosie Napravnik has banked $6,729,195 and 160 races won.
Everything is status quo here…..Todd Pletcher leads the world in money won $12,124,747 and has recorded 103 wins…..Steve Asmussen is running away with the “Most Wins” category with 176 (already….and has an almost 40 race lead over the trainer in second place)
Thanks for reading….
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