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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Saturday Highlights and Reminiscences

In a weak running of the United Nations (doubtlessly due to Belmont insensitively moving the G1 Man o’ War from September to July), Monmouth trainer Mary Hartman gets her first G1 winner with Presious Passion wiring the field. I love this gelding, mostly because he’s always underrated. Sure, he throws in some clunkers, but that’s when he comes back to win at big odds. Last September he finishes last (but only 3-1/2 lengths back) in the G3 Redbank, but comes back 20 days later at nearly 11-1 to win the G3 Cliff Hanger going ½ furlong longer—his first graded stakes victory. In December he finished 7th of 10 (less than 4 lengths back) in the 9-furlong G3 Tropical Turf, but just 14 days later he comes back to win (at over 67-1) the 12-furlong G2 W.L. McKnight. In March he led in the 11-furlong G2 Mac Diarmida by eight lengths early on, but faded to finish 11th of 12 (8 lengths back); 20 days later, he takes the lead again—by a dozen lengths—in the 12-furlong G3 Pan America, and wins by 1 ½ lengths, at over 20-1. He lost last out on June 15, but that was on a sloppy Monmouth track when the Battlefield S. was taken off the turf—and it was the second time ever he had run on dirt. Today was his lowest win payout in recent memory, at $29.60, but don’t bother betting him next time.

The Amazon Zenyatta won—again—in the G1 Vanity, but one of my favorite fillies Tough Tiz’s Sis gave another game performance. In fact, I would argue given a bit more distance or better luck she would have caught Zenyatta. Aaron Gryder had to maneuver her around the fading Silver Z late, and that was just enough to impede Tough Tiz’s Sis from getting to Zenyatta. Honestly, why isn’t anyone (but me) talking about Tough Tiz’s Sis?!? (Of course, she is ranked third in our TBA rankings, just 20 points behind Ginger Punch). Since her disappointing (and understandably so) performance over the slop in last year’s BC Distaff, she has yet to finish worse than second in six races, including 2 G1s, 2 G2s, and 1 G3. She also gave Zenyatta one helluva race when they met in the G2 El Encino, and no one has finished closer to that undefeated filly than Tough Tiz’s Sis. With the BC over the artificial Santa Anita track, this daughter of Tiznow should be a major threat in the Distaff, with or without Zenyatta.

It’s probably no surprise that I often root for the underdog. It goes back to my early love for Foolish Pleasure, the undersized bay that could. Undefeated at two, winner of the G1 Wood Memorial and G1 Flamingo Stakes as Derby preps, he won the 1975 Kentucky Derby, but finished second in both the G1 Preakness and G1 Belmont. He “won” the ill-fated match race with Ruffian, an event that perhaps not so subtly affected his future at stud. He died, painfully, in 1994 of laminitis in all four feet, and is buried on a Wyoming ranch where he lived his final years. You can read about his death here, but be forewarned—it’s a tearjerker, through and through. Still, it was 32 years ago today (July 5) that a 4-year-old Foolish Pleasure won his most impressive race, the 1976 Suburban Handicap against the great Forego . You can watch it here. Look how tiny he was compared to Forego! But what a big heart…

4 comments:

John said...

Weak . . smeak, I had him. I wasn't going to let him get away again at high odds; Champs Elysees PPs didn't look too threatening to me.

Winston said...

That Suburban was one hell of a race.

dana said...

I agree about Tough Tiz's Sis... she's great and it looks like she could have gotten to Zenyatta with a bit more distance.

Frank said...

Belmont's moving of the Man O' War wasn't (or wasn't just) insensitive... it was downright stupid, for both them and for Monmouth. But of course, the poobahs at NYRA aren't smart enough to see that.

Completely agree re: Tough Tiz's Sis - she was best yesterday and would have won with a cleaner trip.