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Monday, November 1, 2010

The Melbourne Cup

Just a quick post to plug my Melbourne Cup postings for newbies over at Hello Race Fans: “Ten Things You Should Know: Melbourne Cup” and “Things to Look For When Handicapping Aussie Racing.” Also did a bit of analysis over at Raceday360 on “The Race That Stops a Nation.”

Post time is tonight, midnight Eastern. 2008 runner-up Bauer is a vet scratch (hoof injury) as anticipated, and the track is currently rated a Slow 6—very good news for those who like soft turf. With a field of 23 remaining, I like to go through and eliminate those who (to my eyes) have zero chance of hitting the top three spots. That group would include (with saddlecloth number): Campanologist (2), Illustrious Blue (5), Mr. Medici (6), Tokai Trick (9), Buccellati (10), Harris Tweed (12), Master O’Reilly (14), Profound Beauty (16), Zavite (17), and Red Ruler (21). Most of these currently have poor form, major distance questions, lingering health questions, or loathe wet tracks.

If you’re betting here in the U.S. via Twinspires or such, you could do worse than bet the field horses (20-24), all lightweights, in your trifectas. That's right, one bet covers them all! These include Bart Cummings’ “other” horse Precedence (20) with Blake Shinn aboard—the same jockey who paired with Bart to win the master trainer’s 12th Melbourne Cup with Viewed in 2008. Linton (22) has yet to miss the top three this campaign, including a win in the 12-furlong G2 Herbert Power, and a nice second-place behind Maluckyday in Saturday’s G3 Lexus Stakes. Gai Waterhouse-trained Once Were Wild (23) won the AJC Oaks and gets an excellent barrier with post 11. And then there is Maluckyday (24) who has yet to miss a placing in eight races, including three impressively-dominating races in a row, the last being Saturday’s Lexus. Carrying a mere 113 pounds...oh, he looks a big chance!

Bart Cummings’ So You Think (3) is the glamour horse, and rightly so. A spectacularly gorgeous animal, he is in excellent form. The one and only query: can he get the two-mile distance? I love Gai’s other entry, Caulfield Cup winner Descarado (11) who will play “try-and-catch-me” and think yet another High Chaparral colt, Monaco Consul (15) could pull off a shocker placing, as could the fourth High Chaparral, Shoot Out (7).

The only European I like is Manighar (13), who can definitely get the distance. I know wise-guy horse Americain (8) is getting lots of play, but I just can’t get beyond how poorly he performed against U.S. turf horses last year.

So, when push comes to shove, what’s it all mean? Here’s my trifecta (boxed) play (not particularly in order—and I may change my mind closer to post):

7 Shoot Out
11 Descarado
20f (includes Precedence, Linton, Once Were Wild, Maluckyday)

However, I will say, some little voice inside just keeping saying "Precedence." Good luck!


Lorrae said...

Love your work, especially this one. You couldn't be more wrong about Americain though. He's a machine. Won easily in the end. An American horse with a French trainer, ridden by a French jockey based in Hong Kong and owned by two Australians. Worth staying up till after midnight to watch.

Valerie Grash said...

Hi Lorrae! Thanks for reading, and, yes, I admit to being wrong about Americain (although that very poor U.S. form last year still bugs the heck out of me :-). Maybe that inner voice saying "Precedence" was warning about Blake Shinn who was suppose to ride him, but had a horse fall on him, breaking his ankle, a couple races earlier, and Jimmy Winks had to step in. What a terrible week Blake's had, being under investigation in a betting scandal.

Lorrae said...

Americain ran down the favorite So You Think in the most dominant fashion. Another notch in the bedpost of Dynaformer, his sire. Apparently he's staying in OZ to race or to breed. The OZ jocks have had problems lately. Namely Nickolic and Oliver who have been in the news for all the wrong reasons over there.
I am in Lexington atm with a group of Aussies who would not miss their Cup. It's been an education. The Aussies certainly enjoy their horse racing.

Anne S said...

Lucky for us in Australia who backed Americain, that we didn't have any preconceived ideas about him other than that he won the Geelong Cup impressively. My logic playing a trifecta on the Melbourne Cup was to select the best Bart Cummings horse (So You Think) the best Zabeel (Maluckyday) and the best International (Americain) and amazingly the trifecta paid off. So I had a very good Cup day.

Americain looked very handsome in the mounting yard - top pick on looks as with So You Think.

I'm really disappointed SYT has been sold to Coolmore. He won't be racing in Australia again. Tragic!

Lorrae said...

Come on Anne S, share your spoils with the world. SYT is an absolutely fabulous racehorse, so I hope Coolmore lets the world see what he's capable of. Maybe we may even get a chance to see him in the States. We have Scenic Blast and I'm just waiting for him to reproduce some of his Aussie form. What's your opinion on Scenic Blast Valerie?

Valerie Grash said...

Lorrae, I’ve always been partial to Scenic Blast, seeing as he’s descended from my beloved Foolish Pleasure. He posted a nice sub-minute breeze at Hollywood recently, and considering Smiling Tiger’s third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, his runner-up performance in the G1 Bing Crosby appears right on track. The mile experiment was just silly, and I’m not sure Victor Espinoza is the right jockey for him as they tried in the Morvich. Honestly, if he’s going to stay on the West Coast with Shirreffs, I’d rather see Rafael Bejarano aboard.

That said, I’d love to see him in a slightly cooler climate, with his kind of turf course, like Arlington or Woodbine, and keep him between 5- and 6-furlongs. I’d ride Edgar Prado, or Rosemarie Homeister Jr. (and maybe even Jean-Luc Samyn!), and turn him over to Jonathan Sheppard.

My ideal Scenic Blast schedule for 2011:

April – G3 Shakertown at Keeneland (5.5f)
May (Derby week) – G3 Turf Sprint at Churchill (5f)
late June – Arlington Sprint Handicap (5.5f)
September – Turf Monster at Philly (5f)
October – G3 Woodford at Keeneland (5.5f) or G1 Nearctic at Woodbine (6f)
November – Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint