Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm Fairly Certain...

...that Rachel Alexandra will not be Horse Of The Year in 2010. Following yet another defeat (her third in the last five starts) yesterday at Saratoga in the Personal Ensign, I don't see any way that she will win the honor. Not too long ago in this blog, I opined that Zenyatta should be Horse Of The Year and was hammered for saying such heresy by the Rachel contingent out there (which, by the way, I still count myself part of). Well, after Sunday, I think it can safely be said that a mile and a quarter just might be a tad outside of Rachel's limitations and therefore, a win in the Breeders' Cup Classic will likely not happen, especially if the field that is expected to be assembled (Blame, Quality Road, Zenyatta, Awesome Gem, Richard's Kid, Rail Trip, and others) come to Churchill Downs for the Cup.

Rachel Alexandra gave us a season for the ages in 2009 and she was deservedly given Horse Of The Year honors for a season which might be the greatest of the last thirty-five plus years. She won a Triple Crown race, she won the Kentucky Oaks in Secretariat-like fashion, she beat all comers, male and female, three-year-olds and older horses. It could very well have been the greatest single year any horse has put forth ever given all that she was able to overcome and never be beaten. However, this is now not the same horse that dazzled us in 2009. She is beatable by horses that should not be able to be considered in her class, she surrenders in the stretch where last year she would look an opponent in the eye and beat them back. It is unfortunate to say it, but Rachel Alexandra is just not the same horse.

If you accept my theory that she won't win Horse Of The Year, fine, if you don't, that's fine with me also. I still think she ranks with the greatest of all time and you can never take away any of her colossal accomplishments. However, it does leave the unanswered question of who will be Horse Of The Year? I think the winner is on that list I rattled off in the first paragraph and I think it will be whichever one of them wins the Breeders' Cup Classic. I certainly hope that like Rachel Alexandra, it will be a classic.

Tune in on Wednesday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Travers Stakes

Saratoga hosts the 141st running of the Grade 1 Shadwell Travers Stakes on Saturday and there will be field of eleven going to the gate, including the winner and runner-up of the 2010 Kentucky Derby, Super Saver and Ice Box. The winner of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, A Little Warm, is also in the field. In fact, he is the morning-line favorite at 7-2. Here is the analysis of the "Mid-Summer Derby", the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Travers Stakes:

My top pick in the Travers will be #2 Trappe Shot. He has been on quite an impressive run of late, winning five of his last six starts. He finished second behind the best three-year-old in the country right now, Lookin At Lucky, in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. There is certainly no shame in that. I expect him to be sitting pretty right behind the speed and he should get first run at the front-runners when they get to the stretch. For second, I will put the only horse to actually hit the board in two of the Triple Crown races this year, #4 First Dude. He will more than likely be headed to the front of the pack. I doubt he will be there alone, but if he is, he just might not look back. Blinkers will be added today by trainer Dale Romans. His last two workouts (at Churchill Downs) were remarkably consistent. I will put the Derby winner, #11 Super Saver, in the third spot. I would have him higher if Saratoga was getting the weather they had last weekend (rain), but tomorrow is expected to be sunny. If there is any residual moisture in the surface, that will only benefit him. The post position draw didn't do him or jockey Calvin Borel any favors. Finally, I will put #7 Afleet Express in the fourth spot. His last two races resulted in a win and a third. The Sire is Afleet Alex, who is likely the only challenger to Point Given for Horse Of The Decade honors. He also encountered some trouble in the Jim Dandy and still ended up on 2 1/2 lengths off the winner. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Travers Stakes:

$5 WPS #2
$1 EX BOX 2-4-7-8-11
10-cent SPR BOX 2-4-7-8-11
TOTAL- $47

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The 1996 Pacific Classic

Perhaps no running of the Pacific Classic is more remembered than the 1996 edition. That was during the two-year period where Cigar dominated horse racing like no horse had in nearly twenty years before he came along. Cigar went through the entire 1995 campaign undefeated, culminating his first of two consecutive Horse Of The Year titles with a magnificent win in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont Park. Cigar would build his winning streak up to sixteen races in a row to tie the immortal Citation's streak and the 1996 Pacific Classic would be the race that would eclipse Big Cy's record and make Cigar stand nearly alone in the annals of racing.

However, the 1996 Pacific Classic would not go the way anyone thought it would. Cigar's streak would actually end on that day, as he was passed in the stretch by Dare And Go, who sat off of the speed battle that developed and roared past Cigar and stunned everyone in attendance and watching on television (yes, in those not too far distant days, there was racing on television other than TVG and HRTV). Dare And Go's win would be the first of consecutive wins in the race for trainer Richard Mandella (Gentlemen would win the race in 1997). I was still living in Phoenix for the first time in 1996 and the thing that stands out to me was that within minutes of Cigar being beaten, the entire West Coast suffered a loss of electrical power. I recall some people jokingly thinking that since we had just seen the impossible with Cigar losing, anything could happen. The culprit ended up being a freak accident with a crucial part of electrical board in California that wasn't fixed until some time later.

Cigar would actually go on to lose twice more before the end of 1996. He would be defeated by the great Skip Away in the 1996 Jockey Club Gold Cup and would run third behind Alphabet Soup and Louis Quatorze in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic. For a replay of the 1996 Pacific Classic that shocked the world, here is the link:

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Some Kinda Saturday

That is what we have in front of us on both coasts this coming Saturday in the world of horse racing. Two of the summers biggest events will be taking place on the same day. First, the "Midsummer Derby", the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Travers Stakes will be taking place at Saratoga. It is one of five graded stakes on the Saturday Saratoga program and one of three Grade 1 races. Post time for that race is expected to be around 5:45 PM eastern time. Second, the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Pacific Classic will take place at Del Mar with a field of ten going postward in the highlight race of the Del Mar meeting. Post time for that race is expected to be 7:30 PM eastern time.

The Travers will feature this year's Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver, and his Kentucky Derby winning rider, Calvin Borel, breaking from the far outside post position. The Derby winner will be listed at 6-1 on the morning line for the Travers. That is not too far out of the realm of reality since (like Mine That Bird in 2009) Super Saver has not won since his Derby score. The runner-up in the 2010 Derby, Nick Zito's Ice Box, is 10-1 on the morning line for the Travers. Again, no shocker there since he has not been able to recapture the form that led up to his Derby runner-up run. The actual shocker in the Travers might be the identity of the favorite at 7-2, A Little Warm. Granted, he won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy earlier this season at The Spa, which is the natural prep for the Travers, but hasn't he kind of come out of nowhere to suddenly be the top choice in this race. I would have thought that Trappe Shot might have been the morning line choice, given his second to current three-year-old king, Lookin At Lucky, in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational earlier this summer at Monmouth Park.

The Pacific Classic drew a field of ten with the morning line choice being, The Usual Q.T., who drew the outside post in that field of ten. The 2009 winner of the Classic, Richard's Kid, is 7-2 for trainer Bob Baffert. It is my opinion that the most interesting horse in the field will be breaking from the rail. Battle Of Hastings usually excels in tries on the turf. However, his connections are stepping up to run with the big boys of the West Coast here and do it on the polytrack synthetic surface at Del Mar. Brice Blanc has the ride and the horse is 10-1 on the morning line. Could he be the value horse of the bunch? Hold Me Back, who seemed to have the role of "wiseguy" horse for the 2009 Kentucky Derby is in the field at 8-1. For those of you who are fans of Neil Finn, Crowded House will be 20-1 on the morning line.

I am not sure I can ever recall a year in which the two biggest racetracks of the summer ran their single biggest races of the summer on the same day. Whatever the reason for it, I certainly won't be complaining because it promises to be a fabulous day of racing on both coasts.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Arlington Million

The defending champion of the Arlington Million, Gio Ponti, is back to try and become the first horse ever to win consecutive runnings of the mid-summer turf classic. His morning line for the effort is 7-5. I think he has a strong chance to make history on Saturday in Chicago, but those of you who read this blog know that I am loathe to select anyone at 7-5. Therefore, he are the selections for the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Arlington Million:

My top pick will be #2 Debussy. He recorded a Group 3 win at Chester in Great Britain earlier this year and then finished seventh in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales Stakes at Ascot. His last try was at York and he finished 4th in a Group 2. I am concerned that he finished behind horses he will be facing here in those last two starts, but at 12-1, the price could be right. For second, I will go with the favored #6 Gio Ponti. I think the price for him is too short, especially given the fact he has just one win this year. That came last time out and he was hard-pressed to run down a big longshot, Mission Approved, to get that victory. He might finally be coming into form, but at the odds I expect him to be on Saturday, he can go ahead and beat me. In the third spot, I will select a horse that provided a They Are Off winner in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap earlier this summer, #7 Rahystrada. He is 2 for 2 over the Arlington Turf Course and that win in the Arlington Handicap came at this distance. There are only two horses in this field that have won as many as ten races, Gio Ponti and Rahystrada. Finally, I will round out the top four with #3 General Quarters. He has run very well on the turf at times this year, but he got a horribly wide trip in the Arlington Handicap and ended up running sixth, although less than five lengths away from the winner. He has a bullet workout on August 14, five furlongs in one minute flat. Here is the play for the Grade 1 Arlington Million:

$5 WPS #2
$1 EX BOX 2-3-6-7-9
TOTAL- $35

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dishing The Dirt

The Thoroughbred Times website is reporting that Frank Stronach will be putting a dirt surface in at Santa Anita Park in time for their winter season and its traditional starting date of December 26. This move, of course, is an admission by the California Horse Racing Board that their premature insistence that all tracks install synthetic surfaces was a mistake. While Hollywood Park (with cushion) and Golden Gate (with Tapeta) have been relatively successful with their synthetic surfaces and Del Mar (Polytrack) is at best an iffy proposition, Santa Anita and their Pro-Ride track was an unmitigated disaster. Santa Anita would lose racing dates if any type of rain fell in Southern California because the track became unusable. It happened time and time again and now, hopefully, with the restoration of dirt, Santa Anita will once again be able to be a racetrack and not something of a joke.

In a related article on the Thoroughbred Times website, it was also rumored that Stronach would reverse his previous position and offer Oak Tree a three-to-five year extension to run their racing season at Santa Anita. Of course, Stronach would then ask for something in return, which Thoroughbred Times reports is a four-week extension of the winter season. If the dirt plan goes through, I cannot see how it would be a bad thing for there to be more dirt racing in Southern California.

What we have here, it appears to me, are numerous rushes to judgement and the people that made them realizing that they were in the wrong. First, the CHRB mandating the changeover to synthetic and now seeing what they have wrought and deciding to allow Santa Anita to remove a disastrous racetrack with a more stable one, hopefully. Secondly, Frank Stronach declaring that Oak Tree must get out and now electing to welcome them back, if the rumors and reports are true, which is a good situation for all concerned because Oak Tree just belongs at Santa Anita.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not To Be Ignored

The most amazing performance of this past weekend did not come in the Sword Dancer, where Telling went back-to-back (and beat out my top pick in the process). It did not come in the La Jolla, where Sidney's Candy dominated a strong field to win his first-ever try on the grass. No, it came a Triple Crown race from north of the border. 65-1 Miami Deco (pictured) scored a monumental upset in the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, The Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine.

Miami Deco stormed up the inside to steal the race from Stormy Lord, who appeared ready for glory after putting away what seemed to be his last challenger in Cognashene after a stout challenge in the stretch. The performance by Miami Deco was all the more amazing given the fact that entering The Breeders' Stakes, he was still a maiden. That's right, Miami Deco had never won a race before Saturday in his career. In fact, much like Sidney's Candy, this was the first time Miami Deco had ever tried to run on the turf before. The lineage certainly did not suggest that Miami Deco could accomplish such a feat as going 1 1/2 miles on the turf for the first time. His Sire is Limehouse, whose Sire was Grand Slam, he made his name at much shorter distances. The only clue that this might happen comes from the fact that the only time Miami Deco ever even hit the board in five lifetime starts was in the longest race of his career, at 1 1/8 miles over the polytrack at Woodbine on June 13.

So, in the final analysis, it is nothing short of a miracle what we witnessed on Sunday on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. A horse that had never won a race, never really been close to winning a race to be accurate, a horse that had never been on the turf before and never been the 1 1/2 mile distance rose up and shocked everyone by winning a Triple Crown race in Canada.

Is this a great game or what?

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Grade 1 $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational

In yesterday's post, They Are Off documented some of the great Sword Dancer's career, including his epic 1959 campaign that resulted in him being named Horse Of The Year. Today, we analyze the race named in his honor at Saratoga at 1 1/2 miles over the Inner Turf Course at The Spa. It features a field of ten, headlined by the 3-1 morning-line favorite, Expansion. Here are the selections:

My top choice in the Sword Dancer is #6 Bearpath. If you take a look at his last race (against many of this company) in the Grade 1 Man O'War, he ran 4th and was only two lengths behind the spectacular Gio Ponti. The comments part of the past performances mentions that he got squeezed at the quarter and still managed to rally and come close. Don't forget that the Man O'War was almost stolen on the front end by longshot Mission Approved. Another factor in Bearpath's favor is the addition of Calvin Borel in the irons. How much longer can #10 Grand Courturier run with the big boys of the turf? So far, 2010 has seemed to represent the end of the road for the seven-year-old. He has a sixth and two sevenths in three graded starts this year. However, he does have five wins at the distance and two scores over this Saratoga Turf Course, including a win in the Sword Dancer in 2008. I think he might run one more big race before fading into the sunset. I will put the favorite #4 Expansion in the third slot. He only lost the Man O'War by 3/4 length and ran third overcoming a wide trip to do it. He has finished in the top two in both previous Inner Turf tries at Saratoga. One demerit for this runner is that he is still winless in 2010. If he is going to be the favorite here, I would like for him to have given me an indication he can handle it. Finally, you just cannot leave a Christophe Clement trainee out of your handicapping paragraph when we are talking turf races. That is why I will include #7 Grassy in the fourth spot at 10-1. This horse has never been greater than 9-2 in the wagering in any of the last seven starts. He could be a big value here, especially coming off a win, although this is quite the step up in class. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational:

$5 WP #6
$1 EX BOX 4-5-6-7-10
$1 TRI 6-10 with 6-10 with 4-5-7
TOTAL- $36

As always, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sword Dancer

Saratoga Race Course will be running one of their top turf races of their season this Saturday, the Grade 1 $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational. The race will feature ten horses going 1 1/2 miles on the Inner Turf Course at The Spa. For today's feature, I thought I would provide a look back at the horse that the race was named after.

Sword Dancer (pictured) compiled an impressive record during his time on the racetrack. He started 39 times in his career, winning fifteen of those races, with seven seconds and four thirds. Sword Dancer earned a total of $829,610 in purses for his career. Perhaps the most famous part of Sword Dancer's story is a race he didn't win. Sword Dancer finished second by a nose to Tomy Lee in the 1959 Kentucky Derby. The rider of Tomy Lee, Bill Shoemaker, thought that Bill Boland and Sword Dancer were poised to run past him at the top of the stretch and he shouted above the din to Boland, "Go Get It!". Boland thought Shoemaker was playing tricks on him and waited for Shoemaker to re-rally with Tomy Lee. It just so happened that at this point Tomy Lee and Sword Dancer made some minor contact with each other causing Tomy Lee to finally switch leads and he managed to stay right with Sword Dancer and held on to win the Run For The Roses by a mere nose.

Sword Dancer went on to win the 1959 Belmont Stakes, which just began a run of greatness that would lead him to the 1959 Horse Of The Year title. Sword Dancer would go on to win the Woodward, Suburban, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup on his way to the title. He would come back again in 1960 to repeat his victories in the Woodward and the Suburban. By the way, in addition to the Horse Of The Year crown in 1959, Sword Dancer would win Three-Year-Old Colt and Male Handicap Horse recognition as well.

Sword Dancer would go on to sire one of the great horses of the 1960s in Damascus, who also failed in Louisville in 1967, but would go on to win the Preakness and Belmont that year. Sword Dancer was inducted in the Racing Hall Of Fame in 1977 and was voted #53 on the list of Top 100 Horses of the 20th Century.

Tune in tomorrow for my selections for Saturday's Sword Dancer Invitational. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rachel's Run

2009 Horse Of The Year, Rachel Alexandra, is clearly not going to be a candidate for a repeat of that honor in 2010. She has already lost a couple of times and when she has won, she really has not been super impressive. For that matter, the company she has beaten also has not been super impressive. Given those points, plus the fact that Zenyatta keeps on winning (although her competition hasn't been stellar either), Blame is undefeated, and Quality Road has been eye-catching in his wins and was mystifying in his loss this weekend to Blame, I think it is safe to say that Rachel has far too much to overcome to be Horse Of The Year in 2010.

OK, so she won't be Horse Of The Year, that doesn't mean we can't cheer her on when she does take to the track. Her next scheduled appearance will come in the Grade 1 $300,000 Personal Ensign Stakes on August 29. She posted another workout on Monday morning over the Oklahoma Training Track at Saratoga, covering six furlongs in 1:12.95. Her trainer, Steve Asmussen, seemed pleased with the performance and the handling of rider Shaun Bridgmohan. Rachel Alexandra will have two more workouts before the Personal Ensign on the next two Mondays, August 16 and 23.

By the way, while we are here, who do I think is the Horse Of The Year in 2010? I think it is unquestionably Zenyatta. I know I bashed her competition earlier, but all she does is win, win, win. That is the point of the game after all. I am interested to see whether or not she goes in the Ladies' Classic at Churchill Downs or the classic Classic. Everyone seems to be automatically assuming she goes in the regular Classic to try and match Tiznow's feat of back-to-back wins in that race. I don't think it is as cut and dry as that. There will be a lot of mitigating factors that go into the decision of which race to run her in. Where will Rachel decide to go? Will the win streak still be alive? Which field will present her the best chance to win? The Mosses and John Shirreffs will have to answer all these questions before too long.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What A Weekend!

First, I must apologize if my look at the weekend that was is a day late. I have taken over the announcer's duties at Yavapai Downs in Prescott, Arizona and just returned to Phoenix this evening. That being said, to me, there were three events this weekend that merit a little further discussion, so here goes.

#1- The Whitney Handicap- I would like to ask anyone if they thought there was any way that Quality Road was going to get beat when he led the field into the stretch of the Whitney. I happen to think Blame might be the best horse in training this year and I didn't think he was going to get there. But, get there he did and by doing so, he seemingly turned the handicap division topsy-turvy. If Quality Road hangs on, he is the clear top male older horse and he would likely have waltzed into the Breeders' Cup as the possible favorite in the Classic (unless Zenyatta gets a lot of support for a repeat). However, he didn't hang on and now Blame can make his case through the rest of the year for the top spot. After all, Blame is now undefeated on the year and he has had to overcome Battle Plan at Churchill Downs and now Quality Road at Saratoga to keep that record intact. I think right now he is #1 on the list of older male horses.

#2- The Clement Hirsch- Zenyatta made it 18 for 18 with another come-from-behind victory. She actually closed into a nonexistent pace and took the lead at the top of the stretch and held on to defeat Rinterval by a neck. Did she toy with the opposition after taking the lead in the stretch much earlier than usual? Personally, I think so. I think she could have won that race by whatever margin she wanted. Apparently, her next start will come in the Zenyatta (formerly the Lady's Secret), which I think is taking the easy road by trainer John Shirreffs. He says he is not a telephone trainer, which I understand, but at this point, I don't feel there is any competition left for her in California and by not sending her out to face some tougher stuff, he is defeating the point of bringing her back in the first place. The connections have said all along that they want everyone to enjoy watching Zenyatta. Apparently, they mean everyone in California because she has only shipped out to race in another state once this year. It appears to me that protecting the streak is becoming the most important thing and rather than face quality opposition elsewhere, Zenyatta will simply be beating the same bunch of horses she has been beating. There is certainly no shame in this, but I would like to see her challenged a little more before going to Churchill Downs.

#3- The Alfred Vanderbilt- This was the performance of the weekend as far as I am concerned. The Vanderbilt was over as soon as the gates opened. Majesticperfection was in front by two lengths when the latch was sprung and never really looked back. His quarter and halftime fractions were nothing overwhelming, but the final time of 1:08.3 was sensational. He has catapulted himself to the top of the Sprint Division by beating quality stakes-winning competition like Big Drama and Bribon so decisively. I am reminded of 1998 when a horse named Reraise won the Kentucky Cup Sprint and used that late-season victory to propel himself to a Breeders' Cup victory in the Sprint that year.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, August 06, 2010

The Grade 1 $250,000 Test Stakes

There will be a plethora of exciting racing action this weekend. Quality Road, Blame, Mine That Bird, and Haynesfield are all part of the stellar field in the Whitney at Saratoga on Saturday. Zenyatta tries to make it 18 wins in a row in the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar also this weekend. However, the fields for those races came up a little short on quantity, so They Are Off will look elsewhere for a race to handicap and actually look at the OTHER Grade 1 race at The Spa on Saturday, the Grade 1 $250,000 Test Stakes:

Of course, with the Test this year, you have to acknowledge the scratch and subsequent retirement of #5 Franny Freud, who likely would have gone off as the betting favorite in what had been a field of ten. Now, we are down to nine and the original morning-line odds could be slightly skewed. I am still going with a double-digit price on that original morning-line and take the Asmussen trained, #8 Ash Zee. She has only run three times and is making a major leap up in company, but the seven furlong distance seems to suit her nicely and her times running it in her maiden-breaker at Churchill Downs and an Allowance race at Saratoga on July 24 were certainly comparable to what she will be facing in the Test. 10-1 on that morning-line is also very attractive. I will put #4 Bonnie Blue Flag second with John Velazquez aboard. She also has a win at this elongated sprint distance on her record, in the Cinemine at Lone Star Park on May 31. She ran 3rd behind the retired Franny Freud and one of her other competitors in here in the Grade 1 Prioress. That competitor is my third choice, #3 Champagne D'Oro. She won the Grade 1 Acorn earlier this year at odds of 40-1 in a front-running performance. I think that way of running might compromise her chances here, though, as there appears to be other prominent speed that might not allow to coast on an uncontested lead. Finally, I will jump in the Way Back Machine and select #9 Christine Daae for fourth. Earlier this year, she was the hot property at Gulfstream Park. That was before she got smoked in the Bonnie Miss by Devil May Care. She first arrived on the scene winning a seven-furlong race at Gulfstream with a time of 1:21.3. Patrick Biancone is putting blinkers on for the Test. We'll see if she can dig deep and recapture some of her lost glory. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $250,000 Test Stakes:

$5 WP #8
$1 EX BOX 3-4-8
$1 TRI BOX 3-4-8
TOTAL- $22

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Who's Who

It will be a racing Who's Who come Saturday afternoon at both Saratoga and Del Mar. First off, you will have the Grade 1 $750,000 Whitney Handicap at The Spa. This race is only expected to feature Quality Road, who might be the early choice for Horse Of The Year right now, Blame, who makes a compelling argument himself for the honor, the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird, and Haynesfield, who took care of "Comeback Kid" I Want Revenge in the Suburban already this year.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, The Perfect Lady, Zenyatta, will make her return to the track at Del Mar to try and extend that winning streak to 18 for 18 in the Grade 1 $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap. Of course, her trainer, John Shirreffs, is playing it close to the vest saying her ultimate participation in the race will be determined on Thursday or Friday, but should she go, all you can say is that Del Mar will be dripping with history on Saturday regardless of who she faces. Her last listed workout was six furlongs in 1:13.60, which Shirreffs himself described as "flawless"

So, be ready to roll on Saturday and take in the action. It could be a day you will never forget. Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Leader In The Clubhouse

There might have been some question earlier this spring during the Triple Crown season as to who was the top three-year-old in the land. There might have been some support for Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver, or the runner-up, Ice Box, who ran such a phenomenal race in Louisville. There might have been some backing for an argument for Drosselmeyer, who won the "Test Of Champions" at Belmont Park, or First Dude, or Fly Down. Maybe even a hint of thought behind someone else also.

However, after Sunday, there can be no question in anyone's mind anymore that Lookin At Lucky, winner of the Preakness and now winner of the Haskell Invitational, is the best three-year-old in this country. His performance yesterday was the stuff that legends are born of. He took a field that included a good chunk of the names mentioned in the first paragraph and toyed with them through the stretch to come home a crushing four-length winner at Monmouth Park. The Derby winner and Preakness winner made their moves together on the far turn and Lookin At Lucky just flicked Super Saver away like he was a fly troubling him back at the barn. Super Saver appeared so disheartened by this, he couldn't sustain any type of run and finished fourth. THAT is what champions do, they take their competition and destroy it in such a manner that you hardly notice it. They also do it with class and dispatch, so that you admire it at the same time.

It also seems to me that Martin Garcia and Lookin At Lucky are a perfect match for each other. Lookin At Lucky was under Garcia's steady hand when he held off everyone in a frantic finish in Baltimore and this time, it looked like Garcia was sitting there with pocket aces and the flop had just hit the board A-A-K.

I would like to ask you to go back and watch the 2010 Kentucky Derby replay again at some point. Watch the #1 post position where Lookin At Lucky broke from all the way through the stretch the first time. He doesn't just get impeded, he gets annihilated. His chances are completely compromised within the first quarter-mile of the race and it is a testament to him that he still managed to rally from as far back as Ice Box and finish sixth.

So the question becomes where does he go next? Trainer Bob Baffert said after Sunday's win that he wasn't sure if he was headed home to California or will stay east to run in the Travers at Saratoga. The one thing we can say is that even though he is a three-year-old, you might want to think about adding the name Lookin At Lucky to the current big four of Quality Road, Blame, Rachel Alexandra, and Zenyatta when it gets to be time for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Photo courtesy of