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Rehearsals for Retirement

Well, what can you say about the Pacific Classic except ‘Polytrack?’ I had predicted a slow winning time of something in the 2:05 neighborhood, but the actual finishing time being closer to 2:07 seemed ludicrously snail-like. I’m all for good synthetic surfaces, but all the results on the day made trainer John Shirreffs look like a genius for scratching Tiago. Perhaps a switch to ThoroughTrack is in order? I did appreciate a number of aspects of the broadcast — Kenny Mayne is always welcome and the statistics shown during the race (e.g. current MPH) were great to watch.

Continuing in the problem-solving department, things are (finally) moving ahead at Saratoga as far as correcting the starting gate comedy of errors that has been playing out at Saratoga throughout the meet — the head starter has been retired and replaced by an assistant, although only John Velazquez remaining in the saddle will indicate that a positive change has occurred. What, it’s not normal for a top jockey to experience an unexpected dismount near the gate again and again?

One hopes these issues are sorted out before the Travers — of course, that’s if anyone feels like participating in it. Tiz Wonderful is also on the fence now, and Rags to Riches is back in the ‘probably not‘ column, although she’s been there for some time. Bill Finley hits the nail on the head in his article about the Travers — it’s not the Breeders’ Cup, it’s the breeders:

Street Sense is a star, but he is not alone. The list of elite 3-year-olds in the country also includes the Preakness Stakes winner Curlin, the Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches, the Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun and the division’s newest sensation, the Haskell winner Any Given Saturday.

Everyone is healthy, and had all five been entered, the Travers would have been considered among the best and most interesting races of an era.

Instead, the $1 million Travers will serve as a glaring example of the new realities of horse racing, a sport in which the competitors seem to be merely auditioning for the booming breeding industry and can be so fragile that most trainers say they need a month or more to recover from the rigors of a race.


But in more cheerful news, there are some pictures coming out now of Makybe Diva’s colt (right) — hey, he’ll be a bargain by US standards if he does end up going for AUS$5 million (or something in the neighborhood of US$3.9 million). Anyone want to form a syndicate and race him until 7 like his mother? For comparative purposes, that price would put him at double the Australian auction record — no Green Monkeying about there! Who knew it was OK to breed to race?

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