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Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Ravings of a Madwoman

For racing fans, the big news of the weekend was, of course, Invasor’s injury and subsequent retirement. Invasor suffered from the exact same injury—a cracked sesamoid bone in his right hind leg—as a three-year-old and recovered, going on to win the 2005 Uruguayan Triple Crown, as well as the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic and the 2007 Dubai World Cup. However, why tempt fate again when he obviously is at the top of his game? Yes, his pedigree is not fashionable, but there will be plenty of owners lining up their mares to breed to Inn-vah-soar.

After word of Invasor’s injury and retirement this weekend, news today that Scat Daddy is likewise headed to the breeding shed after a tendon injury to his right foreleg—an injury that could easily be healed in 90 days, and then he could safely resume racing. OK, this one ticks me off, not because I will miss him on the oval, but because a fraud is being perpetuated. How so? Here is a colt whose daddy Johannesburg was a champion 2 year old but a total bust at three. Scat Daddy won the one-turn G1 Champagne at two, but was crushed by Street Sense (as well as Circular Quay and Great Hunter) in the BC Juvenile. This year he won the G1 Florida Derby over a still-developing (and now injured) Notional and Chelokee and the G1 Fountain of Youth over early speedball Stormello, and then disappeared after his extremely disappointing 18th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Now, off to a lucrative stud career? For what!?! Even if he did win several G1 races, this horse proved nothing to me, except that, like his daddy, he could run successfully for a very short period— not even one year in actual time. Therefore, we send him off to the breeding shed to produce more short-time speedsters who beget even shorter-time runners. Hell, in a couple years why bother running them at all? Plug them into a virtual race with all the other offspring of quick-to-retire bluebloods and let a computer decide the winner. Seriously, Scat Daddy just is not that good of a horse, and would not improve further, so send him off to stud, I don’t care—no loss there.

On a similar (yet less negative) note, watching last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic again (as posted over at Pulling Hair & Betting Horses), I found myself not focusing on Invasor, Bernadini or Premium Tap, but instead on Giacomo. Boy, I just love deep closers and that was one hell of a nice race for a Kentucky Derby winner who otherwise underachieved. I will be curious to see his first offspring come to the track in a few years.

I admit to barely following racing at Woodbine (although I daily read fellow TBA blogger Jen’s fantastic ThoroughBlog). Yesterday’s Queen’s Plate victory by Emma-Jayne Wilson on 16-1 longshot Mike Fox peaked my interest, though, so I did some follow-up reading on this young female rider, winner of last year’s Eclipse Award as North America’s top apprentice jockey. Fascinating 2005 interview here. Amazing that she got her first win on only her second lifetime mount! Heartfelt congratulations to her on this awesome victory, and much future success!

On the other hand, I want to bitch about two other jockey-related stories. First, ESPN announced its nominees for the ESPY top jockey awards: Calvin Borel, Robby Albarado, John Velazquez and Frankie Dettori. OK, I realize the ESPYs are a joke, a popularity contest rather than a serious reward for excellence. Calvin’s genuinely emotional reaction to winning the Kentucky Derby, Frankie’s trademark flying dismount, Robby Albarado hanging on when Curlin hit another gear to win the Preakness, and Johnny V’s historic ride aboard Rags to Riches…sure, and all four are very talented riders. I have no argument there. But, what about Garrett Gomez?!? Geez, here’s the leading jockey in the country by far, with a 22.3% win rate, 53% in the money, and over $10 million in winnings! Calvin Borel, great story that he is, finishes in the money only 38.5% of the time and wins 14.8%. Frankie Dettori is a token international pick. Hypothetically, if Garrett Gomez had taken his regular ride on Rags to Riches instead of Johnny V, who do you think would have gotten the nod? ESPN, just give it to Calvin because he’s a nice guy, and be done with it…

Secondly, the stewards at Philly Park handed down their verdict today for jockey Victor Molina’s televised kicking of 2-year-old colt Yes Yes Ohyes on June 25—$1,000 fine and 30-day suspension. While not condoning his actions in any way, I have watched Victor Molina for years, and he is not an abusive jockey. He is extremely well-respected, and a talented horseman. He lost his temper and made a mistake—who of us hasn’t? But, 30 freaking days is wayyyyy too long and serves only to mollify certain people while harming the authentically solid reputation of a fine jockey. Fifteen days should have sufficed. Instead, Molina is being gelded just as Yes Yes Ohyes was last week.

Finally, The Green Monkey worked again this weekend, breezing four furlongs in 49.59. The Toddster seemed pleased, "Much more forward and aggressive than he was last year," Pletcher said. "Seems more enthusiastic and eager to work." Pletcher said that if all continues to go well, The Green Monkey could debut at Saratoga (!). Dream on…

(Yes, it's hot and muggy and I'm bitchy today! LOL)


Nellie said...

I feel more comfortable about Invasor's retirement knowing that it was previously injured - just from looking at healed (human) bones, I've seen a few that apparently had just fractured over and over. But it's one of those things where everyone/thing is different - clearly his healed well enough to go on ... but why chance it a third time?

But Scat Daddy... there's absolutely no excuse. I'm not certain, but I'm fairly sure that I managed to tear/twist/*something* a tendon in *my* right leg just recently. If I were go through the proper care/therapy, then I can assure you that I'll be running races in a little over 90 days!! OK ... maybe not. But I'd definitely be walking normally. Been there, done that, I always heal up just fine if not better than before (I seem to abuse my right leg more than I realize...).

When I talked to my Dad today (called to say 'have you heard??'), even he seemed a little jaded. When you think what that does to developing fans, it just makes you sick.

John (AKA Not Too Swift) said...

Yes, the ESPYs are a popularity contest.

Gomez and Velasquez are great riders with very good clocks in their heads who rarely get beat at the wire in close calls but Borel and Dettori are excellent riders with something Gomez and Velasquez lack and that is a dramatic flare. Whether it’s the flying dismount or that railing skimming ride in the Derby, Borel and Dettori create dramatic moments with their riding styles.

I will be surprised if Calvin doesn’t win.