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A Return, and a Long Weekend

Things are slowly getting back to normal here at Casa Superfecta, after a quick jaunt to the left coast for some soccer (but more on that later). The Breeders’ Cup may be in the history books, but Thanksgiving weekend offers quite a variety of top-level racing.

On Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs, Unbridled Belle and Swift Temper are in action in the Falls City Handicap; it is likely the last start for both millionaire mares.

The following day, Einstein (picture, by Barbara Livingston) is aiming to return to winning form in the Clark Handicap; as Julien Leparoux will be in Japan, he’ll have Rajiv Maragh aboard as well as some stiff competition from Macho Again and Bullsbay. But it seems that it may not be the final start for the stalwart son of Spend a Buck – he’s been supplemented to the Hong Kong Cup in December – however, it would still be lovely to see him win.

Both coasts are in action over the weekend; in New York, the Cigar Mile is the headliner. Quality Road has been working hard on his gate schooling, and the distance makes the race seem like a good fit for him – if he wants to start. It’s a great lineup in any case – Bribon, Kodiak Kowboy, Munnings, Vineyard Haven and Pyro are all possible starters. The 2-year-olds will also be on display in the Demoiselle and the Remsen.

In California, Ventura has a chance to give Bobby Frankel a final win in the Matriarch; while she will run in the name of his longtime assistant, Humberto Ascanio, Frankel was still directing her career, even at the end:

“Last Friday (Nov. 13), Bobby called me while I was at the barn and told me, ‘I’m going home tomorrow. I’m not going to take any more transfusions. I just don’t want to go on like this.’ And he said, ‘I’m scared.’

“There was a silence, and then, Bobby said, ‘Talk to Humberto and just tell him, two easy halfs for Ventura and she’ll be fine for the Matriarch.’

Ventura’s frequent rivals Rutherienne and Diamondrella (who is now trained by Gary Stevens, which was apparently something of a surprise to him) are also expected, but it would be nice to see Ventura end with a flourish. Also looking for a positive final race is Cowboy Cal in the Citation, but he will have competition in the form of El Gato Malo, Whatsthescript and another Frankel horse – Proudinsky.

And while she will not be running, Zenyatta will still be very much a presence in California over the weekend; she’s expected to parade around Hollywood Park between races on Sunday. There will be posters, DVDs and other collectibles on offer – although hopefully these are not part of the package.

Overseas, Breeders’ Cup Turf repeat champion Conduit will line against top Japanese mare Vodka in the Japan Cup – last year’s winner, Screen Hero, will be on hand to defend his title. Conduit will be retiring to stud in Japan after the race, but he could take home a considerable bonus if he wins on Sunday. Interpatation, Marsh Side and Just As Well will be representing the US in the race.

And while neither news item relates specifically to this weekend, there is welcome word that Rachel Alexandra has begun to stretch her legs again, and that Goldikova will, as rumored, remain in training next year. Rachel Alexandra will head to the Fair Grounds for the winter after leaving Churchill Downs, while Goldikova’s campaign to win a third Breeders’ Cup Mile will begin again in France.

Check back later (likely after the holiday weekend) for some thoughts on what racing might learn from American soccer – and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

2 comments to A Return, and a Long Weekend

  • railrunner

    Great updates! I wish I had checked before the weekend so I could have shared some of my picks.
    Einstein ran good for third in the Clarck I thought. It's a shame to see such a consistent horse retired.
    Vodka and Ventura were both spectacular in thier wins. And it was a great way for Ventura to go out after being trained to Bobby Frankel's last wishes.
    I was very impressed with Remsen winner Buddy's Saint! He looked great fighting for the lead around the turn and then opening up.
    Flashing was also pretty impressive in the Gazelle. Glad to hear she will probably run again next year now that she has won at a longer distance.
    I can't wait to see Rachel's 2010 debut, Asmussen said she will probably not race until March or April.
    I really enjoyed this post!

  • mabel

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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