Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Two Fairy Tales Die In One Day

Unless you live under a rock, then you already know what happened on Saturday.

First CASINO DRIVE was forced to scratch in the morning after a stone bruise in his foot caused him to favor that foot after a morning jog, eliminating 1) the chance for him to win and have BETTER THAN HONOUR sire three consecutive Belmont Stakes winners 2) the matchup between CASINO DRIVE and BIG BROWN that everyone wanted to see.

Then BIG BROWN simply failed in the Belmont. Why? I don't know exactly, and I doubt that me nor anyone else will ever be able to pinpoint it. Could be any combination of: he didn't like the 95 degree heat, he didn't like the Belmont track, which was described as deep & cuppy, he was simply tired out from the Derby & Preakness and didn't have anything left in the tank, he didn't like having dirt thrown in his face for the first time, he was a little rank early and couldn't settle, he may have been kicked in traffic early, and that he got boxed in and had to be reined back really hard, more than once, by Desormeaux until he got off the rail, through traffic, and to the outside.

Personally I think that last one was the main culprit, and was a little surprised that the expert analysts, including hall of fame jockey Jerry Bailey, didn't consider it a bigger factor. I have rarely seen a horse reined in so hard, multiple times, so early in a race in an effort to get out of trouble. Often times in racing when this happens, and the horses momentum is so severely disrupted, it is hard for him to recover and still have something in the tank when it is time to sprint at the end.

In the backstretch the horse seemed to be laboring a bit, especially compared to DA' TARA who was effortlessly cruising. Then in the far turn Desormeaux asked him to run, and he had nothing. Instead, he amazingly backed up against the field and was passed by all, and when Desormeaux knew that his horse had nothing, and was sitting on a multimillion dollar syndication deal, he smartly eased him up, as there was nothing to race for at that point.

That's horse racing. Some days the best of them "don't fire" when asked, and he was certainly due to "bounce" {regress} off his 3 incredible performances in a row. Such is racing. They're not machines, and there's a reason that the triple crown has only happened 11 times in 134 years and not once in the last 30.

Full credit to DA' TARA and his jockey, Alan Garcia, for an outstanding race. He looked so strong on the back stretch, and once he got a bit loose on the lead going into the far turn, and continued to look so strong with that long stride, you knew at that point "holy shit, he's not going to fade and might just win this thing".

Hopefully we'll see more of DA' TARA, BIG BROWN, and CASINO DRIVE later this summer and fall, and would love to see them all tangle with CURLIN at some point before they're all retired.

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