Monday morning quick picks

As predicted last week, the Derby prep re-runs have begun on the OTB channel, so if between now and the middle of April you miss any, just tune in to channel 71 and before too long, you’ll be able to recite the race calls along with the track announcers. Here we go…

I feel a certain responsibility to recap the exciting coast-to-coast racing action across the divisions over the weekend, but as my interest doesn’t quite match my sense of obligation, I’m giving it a pass, perhaps to your relief, given the amount of coverage you can find elsewhere.

I was rightly chided by the children of Anna House for my dismissive comment about Nicanor last week, and reminded that the Jacksons are incredibly generous contributors to the Belmont Child Care Association. The Jacksons’ philanthropy and generosity far outweigh the irrational attention devoted to Nicanor, and it’s certainly not their fault that the world awaits the second coming of Barbaro.

Interesting comment by Ray Kerrison in the New York Post over the weekend, regarding Frank Stronach’s Eclipse Award last week:

It’s not possible to detail the exact influence Stronach employees had on the outcome because the NTRA/Equibase and Daily Racing Form blocs do not disclose individual votes. It has been that way since the Eclipse Awards were first launched. Only the turf writers operate under full transparency and reveal who voted for whom.

Do the turf writers do this of their own volition, or are they required as journalists to disclose their votes? Why do the other voting blocs choose not to share theirs? A fascinating bit of information, the background about which I wish I knew more.

And speaking of Post writers, I love the way Ed Fountaine slips analogies to great racehorses into his writing; they are all the more delightful for their incongruity. A few recent examples:

FOURTH RACE: How bad was this field of 15G NY-bred maiden claimers? Well, heavy favorite, at 8-5, was Smokin Gladiator, dropping from 25G, stretching out to mile after losing first two starts at six furlongs by 15, 11 lengths. Smokin Gladiator gunned to front under C.C. Lopez, pressed by 12-1 Badge of Red, opened daylight into far turn, repelled another challenge from Badge of Red turning for home, but was quickly inhaled by 5-2 No Bloviating. Dropping from 35G with blinkers off after losing his three starts for Gary Contessa by 15, 19 and 14 lengths, No Bloviating circled field like Forego on far turn and kicked clear to win by pole. Smokin Gladiator faded to third, once again beat double-digit lengths.” (January 15th)

Who would take 7-2 on a 6-year-old mare that’s only raced four times, beaten a combined 54 lengths, never finishing better than fifth? Paraneck Stable’s Fifty Six Straight – coupled with Ace Rewards, 5-year-old mare beaten combined 71 lengths in her three starts, never closer than ninth – dropped from 20G into 15G maiden claimer, was far back top of stretch, then finished like Personal Ensign in ’88 BC Distaff to give trainer John Campo Jr. his fifth win at this meet, equaling his entire output for last year. (January 16th)

They also suspended Rajiv Maragh seven days for careless riding in Friday’s eighth race, when he gave 7-5 favorite She’s Prime the worst ride since Ronnie Franklin on Spectacular Bid in the 1979 Florida Derby, and still lost by less than a length. (February 1st)

Finally, a word on the 2009 NYRA calendar. It’s a treat, it really is, a terrific look back at last year in New York racing; it brought back great memories of watching magnificent horses in action.

And I know that a lot of work by a lot of people went into putting it together, designing it, selecting photos.


(and you knew a “but” was coming, right?)

Was there really no filly or mare deserving of being the top, full page photo for even a single month? Not Ginger Punch, with her two spectacular Saratoga wins? Not Proud Spell? Not Indian Blessing? They’re all there, in smaller, day-sized photos on the calendar pages themselves…but when I think about New York racing 2008, they are some of the horses who made my memories, and I wish that they’d gotten pride of place.

To each her own…

5 thoughts on “Monday morning quick picks

  1. Each year at the end of the Saratoga meet I buy a pic of my fovorite performance. This year the choice was easy, I bought a shot of Proud Spell’s Alabama.

  2. to my mind, you have to have the winner of the Alabama on a full page shot every year. 08 was such a great stirring race, to not have Proud Spell this year really seems like a major goof.

  3. LJK: Maybe my favorite race of the summer. Though Ginger Punch was awesome, too. SS: So here’s the question: do we take Commentator in the Whitney off July and put the Alabama on? Tough call…TDH: that’s what I love about it–just comes from nowhere!Thanks for reading and commenting–

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