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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Racing is a Cold-Hearted Bitch Sometimes

Today was one of those cold, overcast days that make me despise winter—and, of course, it is still technically autumn, although you couldn’t tell that by the amount of snow we have already endured here in the Laurel Mountains. And just in time for the last week of classes—an ice storm is expected on Monday. Lovely...

The weather matched my mood, as it was one of the ugly racing days, with two significant breakdowns at Aqueduct—G2 Demoiselle winner Springside fractured her right-front leg and will be sent to New Bolton on Sunday, but Nick Zito’s 7-year-old warrior Wanderin Boy had to be euthanized after shattering his left foreleg sesamoids in the G1 Cigar Mile. That race was ugly, not only because Wanderin Boy visibly broke down in the homestretch, but also because Harlem Rocker was disqualified from first to second, with the stewards ruling he had impeded Tale of Ekati who gained his second G1 victory as a result. Honestly, it looked like a good call to me, but obviously a tough one to make with so much on the line.

It wasn’t much better at Churchill where Todd Pletcher-trained 2-year-old colt Big Surf was pulled up and vanned off after the G2 KY Jockey Club Stakes; he’s the offspring of multiple-G1 winner and champion 3-year-old filly Surfside, by Storm Cat. No further word on his condition.

It would be an understatement to say I’m not a big Todd Pletcher fan, but he has done a helluva job getting Bsharpsonata back to the winner’s circle. On Thursday, Bsharpsonata ($16.20) impressively won the Playa del Rey Stakes at Hollywood, her first race for Pletcher and jockey Garrett Gomez. How quickly people forget! She was the second longest price in the seven-horse field, but the only multiple-graded stakes winner—and she had finished a neck behind Little Belle, and 2-1/2 lengths in front of Proud Spell, in the G1 Ashland.

Incidentally, her dam Apasionata Sonata sold at the November Keeneland sale, in foal to Bsharpsonata’s full sibling, for $1.5 million. The purchaser, S.K.A.S., also bought Kiss a Miss in foal with Backseat Rhythm’s full sibling, for $1.4 million.

In addition to Bsharpsonata, I’m looking for a strong 4-year-old campaign out of Awesome Chic who worked 4f in 46:93 (2/128) at Belmont on Saturday. Both fillies were my Oaks Futures wagers this year, but neither panned out. Still, both have a ton of talent, and appeared geared to continue onward.

Trainer Helen Pitts had Einstein ($11.80 win) locked and loaded in winning the G2 Clark on Friday, but I can’t help but love Delightful Kiss ($10.80 place) who, per his modus operandi, flew out of the clouds to finish second, beating out 1-5 favorite Commentator to flesh out a $118.40 exacta. Oh, did I mention (for the upteenth time) my frustration at not being able to bet on Churchill Downs, when my one and only ADW selection is Twinspires? Honestly, it's not just the economy that has hurt handle this year; it's the ridiculous self-defeating pissing contest that horsemen and tracks have undertaken this year.

In case you missed it, Australian racing on early Saturday morning here featured a sprinting battle royal as Takeover Target and Apache Cat fought to a photo-finish in the $400k G2 Winterbottom Stakes, with 9-year-old Takeover Target coming out victorious by a nose. However, it is the baldy-faced Apache Cat who is flying to Hong Kong to take on the world in the $2.8million Hong Sprint on December 14.