Friday, July 28, 2006

Horse Racing Odds & Ends

2 weeks ago Barbaro had developed full-on laminitis in his left hind leg and had an infection in his trying-to-heal right leg, and things did not look good at all. Now he appears to be doing better, so we'll wait and see. It sounds like he won't be out of the woods for another several months.

The dominant Preakness winner returns to the track at Saratoga tomorrow for The Jim Dandy Stakes (ESPN 2p.m. PST). He will use this as a prep race for the Travers Stakes on Aug. 26, then point to the Jockey Club Gold Cup and ultimately try to get to the Breeders Cup Classic on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

Bernardini romping in the Preakness.

His main competition will be Peter Pan winner Sunriver. Not much else in the race as far as a significant threat: Hemingway's Key (3rd in Preakness), Oh So Awesome (5th in Belmont), and the dual entry of Dr. Pleasure and Ministers Bid. After such a dominant performance in the Preakness he will be expected to mop up this field with ease, but coming off a 9 week layoff you never know what might happen. I really like this horse so I hope that he does the business.

Yeah, I'm pretty much a hater when it comes to last year's Derby winner, because I thought that he was a joke winner who benefitted from a ridiculous pace scenario caused mainly by no-hoper Spanish Chestnut running as a rabbit and tiring out the best horses in the race, including my horse Afleet Alex, who went on to win the Preakness and Belmont and prove that he was the best horse in last year's Derby after all.

So I was a bit peeved to see that he finally won another race since his Derby last year, coming from behind to nip Preachinatthebar by a nose at the wire to win the Grade II San Diego Handicap. In between he finished 3rd in the 2005 Preakness, 7th in the 2005 Belmont, 3rd in the Grade II Strub stakes earlier this year, and 5th in the Santa Anita Handicap. As a hater, I was kind of hoping that he would never win another race after the Derby to support my theory that he is shit (he didn't win a stakes race in his career before the Derby but did have 1 win in a maiden race), but that is out the window now.

His connections seem to think that he can beat horse of the year candidate Lava Man in the upcoming Pacific Classic, even though Lava Man beat his ass by 11 1/2 lengths in the Santa Anita Handicap. Lava Man has won 5 stakes races in a row this year and is currently ranked #1 in the Classic division. They also seem to think that Giacomo can get to the Breeders Cup Classic. I think that they are baked on both counts.

Lava Man: out of Giacomo's league.

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