Friday, September 14, 2007

Belmont Gets a Good Saturday

We last talked about racing here in early June, where yours truly kvetched that the Belmont sucked because Street Sense was passing on the race to point for the Travers. Since that post, we actually got a pretty good race in super filly Rags to Riches outdueling Curlin, and Street Sense returning with a pair of wins at Saratoga, the latter in the Travers over a stubborn Grasshopper. But we'll get to him at a later date.

We're now back at Belmont for the Fall Championship Meet, which used to be of titanic significance, and is now stuff laden with good races, but they're mostly preps for the Breeders' Cup. Still, occasionally, you get a day like tomorrow, where there's a few interesting horses running. Let's note the top 5, in reverse order.

#5: The Leopard. This multi-million dollar purchase isn't even the most expensive horse running on the card, but he may be the fastest. He goes in the Futurity against...

#4: Kodiak Kowboy...the poorly spelled colt out of Posse, with the winner likely being one of the favorites in next month's Breeders Cup Juvenile, the championship race for 2 year old colts. Here, we have the question of potential versus production. Kodiak Kowboy is out of top-notch trainer Steve Asmussen (of Curlin fame), and has done nothing but win consistently to date. The Leopard was an expensive purchase in the Pletcher barn who's got speed but has only won 1 of his 2 races to date (over a horse that flopped at 1-5 last Wednesday). And more importantly, they both have sucky names. As I've noted repeteadly, I am firmly anti-crappy names for horses, and refuse to even admit that Lil E. Tee ran in the '93 Derby. So if people try to convince you that these guys are the end-all-and-be-all, don't buy it. Take a stab with Paint instead, who will be a price.

#3: Lear's Princess. If you're going to ever take a hunch bet, this would be the time to do it, as betting Goneril's namesake while Sir Ian McKellen is performing at BAM makes just too much sense. Sadly, this horse is good, not great, and she's going against...

#2: Rags to Riches. Her last start was the Belmont Stakes, where she became the first filly since 1903 to take the classic, and instantly catapult her to something resembling stardom, all whilst getting Todd Pletcher off the schneid in Triple Crown races. Why hasn't she run since? Bad luck and infirmities, ranging from a cough to a fever to some gimpiness, it just hasn't been a good summer for her. But now she's back, and is working on Grade 1 win #5 here. A win here and in the Breeders Cup Distaff vaults her squarely into Horse of the Year talk.

So how is the defending Belmont champion (who was also the first filly to win in >100 years) not the most interesting horse running? Easy, because also on Saturday's card is...

#1: The Green Monkey. For those not innundated in racing every day, this name won't be familiar to you, but here's why this is the most notoroious horse to have never run a race. Last year at a sale for 2-year old horses, he cost $16 million. Let's try that again. SIXTEEEN MILLION dollars. And has yet to run a race. For the same price, Michael Tabor could have bought 20,000 bearded collies and gotten a better performance, not to mention a lot more laughs. Instead, we have The Green Monkey, who I'd dock severely for having a stupid name, but the golf course and resort are on such a high level that it gets a pass with me. He's going to be even money in the 4th race against 5 horses that cost under a million dollars combined. Karma and Murphy's Law both indicate this horse is going to flop, right?

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