On a rare day of Monday racing at Belmont, there are many good stories to be told. They’re not about major stakes winners, or huge money earners, or even big prices…and fortunately they’re not about breakdowns, either. A look at a few of the more interesting races over the last few days:
Sunday, October 7th: OK, not at Belmont, but as I was flipping channels Sunday morning, I came across the live feed on the NYC OTB channel of the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. I was surprised at the poor quality of the transmission: a vehicle moved around the infield in front of the runners, but the view was frequently obstructed by trees, railings, and other unidentifiable objects. The colors were so muted that I couldn’t tell one horse from another, and during the lengthy (45 minute!) inquiry into Dylan Thomas’s finish, the sound came and went. Railbird writes about the race in more detail.
Dylan Thomas is owned by the same people who own Rags to Riches and The Leopard.
The first race at Belmont Sunday was a $35,000 claimer, and there in the field was Doc Cheney, who last year was second to Strong Contender in the Grade II Dwyer (won this year by Any Given Saturday) and second to Bernardini in the Grade III Withers; quite a comedown, for him to be available for $35K—and he was in fact claimed. I don’t know exactly what happened, but he broke oddly, and just stopped: the jockey didn’t come off, Doc Cheney didn’t seem to be hurt…he just…stopped. According to both Ed Fountaine and Jerry Bossert, Doc Cheney is fine, but given the behavior and the dropdown, you have to wonder.
Bookending the day, the last race of the day featured Good Going Darl, a horse my brother bet (and won with) on the last race on Belmont Day ’06. Just before the gates opened, Eibar Coa got off the horse, who took off without him (and was declared a non-starter, so all bettors got refunded). Good Going Darl had post 1 and decided to stick to the rail, without his jockey, posing an unimaginable threat to the horses and riders ahead of him, who had no idea that a riderless horse was coming on them from the inside. GGD made steady progress through the race; Mad Bob Cat (who you might remember was my cats’ pick yesterday) made the lead in the stretch, but Darl was right there with him, and Jermaine Bridgmohan, clearly cautious, had to be extra conservative with his horse, so Mad Bob Cat was beat half a length by Kent Desormeaux on Chasing the Crown. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a riderless horse ride the rail like that…if you want to take a look, sign up for a free account to watch NYRA replays.
A local favorite, Allen Jerkens’ Teammate, was third in the Spinster at Keeneland, a length from the wire and behind two Grade I winners, Panty Raid and Lady Joanne. She was right there, a competitor to the end—no dishonor in this loss.
Monday, October 8th: It was royalty day at Belmont! In the fourth, our girl Duchess of Rokeby ran a great race to get up and win; in her last start, she broke through the gate ahead of time and still ended up a spirited third. Today, she was last by about ten lengths at the quarter in a six furlong race, and around the turn she began to make a move, saving ground by staying on the rail. Down the stretch she had plenty of run; Jorge Chavez swung her out to give her room, and she ran down Behrdine to win by three quarters of a length. The last three times I’ve seen her, she’s galloped out well and full of energy, on dirt and on grass, and she was the first of two winners on the card for Allan Jerkens. I was happy to see Chavez get the win; “Chop Chop” was a favorite rider here and left this circuit, unsuccessfully, to go west. He’s had a hard time getting mounts and it’s nice to see him get a winner.
In other royalty news, the feature race, the Pebbles Stakes, contained a horse whose owner is listed as “Her Majesty, the Queen.” Yup, Elizabeth II had a horse running in an ungraded stakes today at Belmont—go figure. If you’re into hunch bets, you’d have bet her horse, Medley, in an exacta with Queen Joanne…and you’d have lost. Cat Charmer hung at the back of the pack in slow fractions, and making her move in the stretch, found a hole in the two-path and shot through, finishing full of run to beat Queen Joanne, who was in the middle of the racetrack.
Because of today’s races, Tuesday and Wednesday are dark at the track this week.