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Clues from a Classic Weekend

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 8/30/2010 3:30:28 PM

Win, lose or break even, bettors have to try to learn from defeats and successes and be able to project what will happen in future events and this weekend, there was a ton of information to be gleaned from several stakes coast to coast.

First off, let’s talk Horse of the Year and the performance of Rachel Alexandra against 4 rivals in the one and a quarter mile Personal Ensign. Two of those foes were Graded winners and the favorites were tooth and nail till the top of the lane as Life at Ten pushed Rachel from the get go.

Rachel started to pull away late but the distance and the contested honest splits got to her. At the end, Persistently, trained by Shug McGaughey, who trained the miss that this race was named after, grinded out a win just wearing down the leader in the final 100 yards.

It was a game effort by Rachel and she dueled with a classy horse but it does put a major question on her ability to get the classic mile and a quarter distance.

As far as the winner, she always showed ability and still has upside to her as she matures. Don’t be shocked if this upset was no fluke as Persistently continues to get better.

In the Grade 1 $250,000 Ballerina at Saratoga some of the fastest distaffers in the lane squared off at the demanding distance of 7 furlongs.

Eight lined up and all but one had a Graded win in the resume. Rightly So proved that she just invents ways to win. She cut out all the splits bringing her record to 7 for 11. This is the leader in the clubhouse, as she has never run a dull one, has been in the money in all 11 starts and will be one tough cookie in the Fall in the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs.

In the Travers Stakes, otherwise known as the ‘Mid-Summer Derby’, 11 of the best sophomores in the land lined up to duke it out for the $600,000 first prize.

Talk about wide open, the Travers was as contentious as it gets. With a minute to go post the chalk was at 4-1 in Trappe Shot with 7 of the remaining 10 between 5 and 9-1.

When the smoke cleared after Miner’s Reserve finally gave up the lead, Fly Down and Afleet Express came to the wire virtually together and Express prevailed by the narrowest nose you will ever see.

What does it tell us? Well, both came out of the Jim Dandy, which was won by Travers also ran A Little Warm. And this result just seems to re-in force the theory that there is no dominant sophomore in the land so far.

Trappe Shot just never fired, Admiral Alex was in way too tough off just one win and First Dude ran as well as he could but just doesn’t want to go a classic distance.

Ice Box didn’t pull up right but was just left with too much work to do anyway.

Friend or Foe tasted defeat for only the 2nd time in 5 outs and has some upside to him if he matures this fall.

Afleet Again is just not this good while Super Saver could have been too close early and just could not out quicken these rivals. He may be best settling and making one run.

The projected best runner out of this race with an eye to the future just may be Fly Down, who will be coming to the fall events relatively fresh and he had an edge of breaking his maiden over the Churchill Downs strip.

Out West, older runners where showcased in the Pacific Classic and those that believe in the déjà vu thing, got paid. Richard’s Kid won the 2009 Classic under Mike Smith and was re-united with that Hall of Famer in a superbly timed ride to defend his title.

Longshot Crowded House ran well at a big number in only his second race in the states.

Bottom line, this was not the best Pacific Classic of all time. Looking to the BC Classic in the fall, the one thing Kid has in his favor is fact he has handled the conventional surfaces at Laurel and he’ll likely get a hotter pace to close into at Churchill.

He’s not a new Kid, but there is now a legit Kid in town.



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