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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Southwestern Heat in the Rumson

In today’s Rumson Stakes at Monmouth, Southwestern Heat (8-1) went to the lead as usual, and set fast early fractions (21.75 and 44.24), but just didn’t look his normal powerful self. In the post parade, he was subdued, not at all on his toes, and coming down the stretch, he widened his lead a bit, but was caught by Cherokee Country (5-1) and West Coast Flier (20-1). Darley Stables’ favorite Ease (even) never fired, finishing sixth of eight, and Reata’s Rocket (2-1) who has been running routes on the Triple Crown trail, finished fourth. The $1 tri paid $549.80, but I didn’t have it :( I hope trainer Tim Salzman gives Southwestern Heat a little break. I mentioned before the G3 Jersey Shore Breeders Cup Stakes at Monmouth on July 4, and with the rest between now and then, I think he can get the distance. Right now, after only two races against this higher class of sprinters, he is still weakening before he gets the entire 6 furlongs, and he blazes to the lead every time.

Speaking of blazing to the lead…what happened yesterday in the Belmont with Hard Spun? I know the plan was to rate him a bit, but Garrett Gomez looked to be REALLY fighting him in the early going, letting C P West take the lead with a dawdling pace. I know, it’s terrible to ponder “what if” but I’m going to do it anyways. What if Gomez had let Hard Spun take the clear lead, and moved him to the rail instead of having him five wide along the backstretch? I’m not saying that he would have won over Rags to Riches or Curlin, but, frankly, I was not impressed by Gomez’ ride, and apparently neither was Larry Jones:

“The pace was very slow. I thought that was our game plan leaving the paddock: to have these kind of fractions but be in front doing it," Jones lamented. "Apparently, we had a miscommunication somewhere.”

Gomez didn’t see it that way:

“At the half-mile pole, I felt I was in a great spot," he said. "At the three-eighths pole, I thought I was money. When it was time for sprinting, he just didn't have the turn of foot the other two had.”

Still, if Gomez had gone to the lead, and the pace was just a bit quicker, I wonder how much more of a factor Tiago would have been.

So much for Hard Spun trying the grass in the G2 Virginia Derby:

“He ate well last night and his legs are good and cold," Jones said of Hard Spun, who finished fourth in the Belmont. "We're not going to plan on anything right away. We'll let him recharge his batteries. He won't run again until August.”

However, it does look like Circular Quay is headed to grass: he worked the inner turf at Belmont on Sunday in a sharp :48 3/5.

After the glorious Belmont victory by Rags to Riches, it was a sobering event to watch “Ruffian” on ABC last night. I am particularly sensitive about her story, particularly its ending, since that devastating match race dogged my childhood favorite Foolish Pleasure, who, for better or worse, became forever associated with her breakdown. I was glad to see that they didn’t take any artistic license, and make him out to be some kind of “bad guy.” However, I was a little surprise by the portrayal of Leroy Jolley who I never thought of as a braggart who egged on the comparisons between the two horses. Then again, I was only 10 years old so maybe I have that wrong. Can anyone attest to Jolley’s personality?

Finally, for those keeping score, Four Acres lost his 67th race in a row, finishing sixth of seven in a maiden claiming race at Suffolk Downs on Saturday.