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Thursday, May 29, 2008

What Boys and Girls are Made Of

Alan has one opinion on Casino Drive and the Belmont Stakes—I have another. The lack of racing experience doesn’t bother me, and neither does his defying “the rules” regarding the path a Classic winner should follow. Instead, I see a win by Casino Drive as a victory of nature over man—proof that a superior broodmare and good breeding plays a significant role in producing good horses, not artificial medicinal enhancements or blow-hard trainers or disingenuous (on so many levels) corporate owners. That Better Than Honour has already produced two consecutive Belmont Stakes winners (Jazil and Rags to Riches) is an incredible feat; that she would produce three consecutive Belmont Stakes winners is statistically-improbable, and thus phenomenal. That makes more sense to me than a horse with known hoof-problems dominating every horse he has ever faced, with nary breathing hard. Something about that just ain't right.

Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado gets the ride on Casino Drive—a wise choice, as Prado has plenty of experience and success in the Belmont, with victories on Sarava (2002) and Birdstone (2004). For a rather-inexperienced colt like Casino Drive, Prado should be a calming influence. The switch from Cornelio Velasquez to Peruvian Alan Garcia on Tomcito also thrills me. Garcia is on a hot-streak these days, with Divine Park’s victory in the Met Mile, and Wild Gams winning the My Juliet. He’s currently the third-leading jockey at Belmont, behind only Eibar Coa and Rajiv Maragh.

Devastating news about Nashoba’s Key—the notoriously ill-tempered filly kicked the wall of her pen, breaking her left hind leg, and was euthanized on Wednesday morning. Winner of 8 of 10 races, including three G1 races, on turf and all-weather surfaces (Yellow Ribbon, Vanity Invitational, Santa Margarita), this daughter of Silver Hawk didn’t begin racing until age 4, but, boy, could she run! My favorite race of hers was the G2 Milady BC Handicap where she came four wide to pass Balance, Ballado’s Thunder and Hystericalady to win her first graded stakes; my second favorite was probably the G1 Vanity, when the rail opened and Joe Talamo took her right to the front coming into the final stretch. My sincerest condolences to her trainer Carla Gaines and owner-breeder Warren Williamson.

While Darley either passed on or wasn’t considered for the Big Brown stud deal, they did make a major purchase in France on Wednesday—Democrate, recent maiden victor and one of the favorites for Saturday’s G1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby). His dam Aiglonne is by Silver Hawk, sire of Nashoba’s Key—just thought that was an odd coincidence.


SaratogaSpa said...

I would agree with your assessment on Casino Drive. I understand he is lightly raced, but his breeding is excellent. If Big Brown can run the Derby off a 3 races, why can't Casino Drive run the Belmont off 2 races? I am more concerned with 3 year old horses that retire and go off too stud too early. I think in the long run that trend is more damaging to the sport than horses that enter Triple Crown series with light experience.

race said...

Val--Good Morning. I'll have to disagree with you with Regard to Dutrow. I guess because I've seen so many fall victim, and never recover. I've walked those shoes, it's not easy.

As far as Tomicito, what the heck are they doing with that Horse? He's a proven commodity--from off the pace. So he loses, and the next workout he's flying 59 and change?--Now they are changing Jockey's?---Alan is a very good rider, but I think Velasquez is as well---changing Jockey's?--we'll see--I'll have him underneath.

Casino---I did not bet Big Brown in the Florida Derby, I did not bet Big Brown in the Kentucy Derby, (I bet Eight Belles)---I was not foolish enough to let that Trifecta go in the Preakness. If Casino can run a mile and a half and win---well then you have a super Horse. But just like Big Brown, convince me, Casino will not be in my Trifecta---r

Jessica said...

In some many ways, Casino Drive is the better story. Maybe he'll turn out to be the better horse, as well. We can hope ...

Superfecta said...

I'm on the same page about Casino Drive and I'm thrilled to see Prado aboard.

For a while I was getting a lot of traffic from Darley (more in England than Kentucky) on anything Big Brown-related, so clearly they were interesting in something about him...

dana said...

I think Casino Drive vs. Big Brown is a fab match up and great rivalry.

One thing I would say on Race's comment about Dutrow... I don't think hardship or personal tragedy is a free pass, which is not to say that one can't have empathy for the hardship or personal tradegy.

In fact, most of the people I know who have come out of the other end of substance issues, take MORE responsibility for their actions because of it. Let's face it, Dutrow just isn't for everyone... I would agree 100% with the characterization of blow hard based on the comment in the link alone, others may give him a free pass based on his hardship. Nothing is going to change that, which I suppose is kind of great!

libby said...

Who cares if Dutrow was or still is a drug/alcohol addict? It is his mouth that needs rehab.

I hope Casino and Prado shut him up.

I like BB and in my heart I do want a Triple Crown winner, nothing is easy, not even liking a horse.