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A look back at the best (and worst) performances from the past weekend.
Last week I focused on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but this week, in an attempt to foster a more positive weekend review, I'll only single out one "ugly". Besides, I couldn't let the "great" performance go by with merely a label of "good". Without further ado, let's breakdown the weekend action.
The Great - Frankie Dettori
Yesterday, I extolled the virtues of one Lanfranco Dettori and his winning ride on Joshua Tree (IRE) in the Canadian International but it bears repeating this morning - a world class jock on a horse with a tactical advantage is almost impossible to beat.
Frankie Dettori's career as a jockey is about as distinguished and impressive as is humanly possible in today's game. Dettori hasn't just won big races in Europe throughout this career; he's won big races in just about every corner of the globe since breaking into the sport in the mid-80's.
Check out the sampling of races on Dettori's resume (via Wikipedia):
English 2,000 Guineas (2x)
Ascot Gold Cup (5x)
Epsom Derby (1x)
English St. Leger (5x)
Irish 2,000 Guineas (2x)
Irish Champion Stakes (5x)
Irish Derby (1x)
Irish Oaks (3x)
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (3x)
Prix du Jockey Club (aka French Derby) (3x)
Preis von Europa (3x)
Deutsches Derby (1x)
Grosser Preis von Baden (3x)
Hong Kong Cup (3x)
Hong Kong Mile (1x)
Hong Kong Vase (2x)
Queen Elizabeth II Cup - Hong Kong (1x)
Japan Cup (3x)
Japan Cup Dirt (1x)
Singapore Gold Cup (1x)
Dubai World Cup (3x)
Dubai Golden Shaheen (1x)
Dubai Duty Free (1x)
Dubai Sheema Classic (3x)
Godolphin Mile (7x)
UAE Derby (2x)
Canadian International (3x)
E.P. Taylor (2x)
Breeders' Cup Classic (1x)
Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (1x)
Breeders' Cup Juvenile (1x)
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (2x)
Breeders' Cup Mile (1x)
Breeders' Cup Turf (4x)
The man has literally won nearly every major race in every major racing country in the world. About the only thing he's never won is any of the American Triple Crown races, but other than that, Dettori is simply the best.
The Good - Csaba in the Tropical Park Derby at Calder
It wasn't the most notable race on the continent last weekend but it might have been the most visually impressive. Csaba sat just off the early pace of the Tropical Park Derby, moved to the lead at the top of the stretch and then simply blew away his rivals over the final furlong to win by 14 lengths.
The Ugly - Ryan Moore and Javier Castellano
As good as the ride by Dettori was on Joshua Tree, the rides by Ryan Moore and Javier Castellano on Imperial Monarch (IRE) and Air Support handed the race to Frankie on a silver platter. There's a fine line between engaging in a speed duel that might cost your mount the race and simply giving the race away to a jockey like Dettori on the front end. The splits from the International were as consistent as possible over the course of a mile and a half (25.68, 25.86, 25.57, 25.88 and 50.88) but at no point did the other two horses with pace even attempt to break Joshua Tree's rhythm.
The most egregious of the pair, in my opinion, was Ryan Moore. Imperial Monarch won his races in Europe using a front-running, "need to lead" style which was abandoned at Woodbine when Joshua Tree grabbed the lead. The choice to sit back and watch Dettori take a leisurely Sunday afternoon ride around the course was simply poor. Contesting for the lead would have required Moore to ask for more run from his mount in the first half mile but it likely would have accomplished two goals: 1) it would have made things less comfortable for Joshua Tree and 2) it would have put Imperial Monarch into the best position to succeed.
Air Support isn't a horse that generally goes to the lead, so we should probably give Castellano a little more slack in terms of his decision making, at least in the first half mile. But as the primary stalker sitting right off Joshua Tree's hip pocket, I think he's got to make a more in the middle part of the race to put pressure on the leader because waiting until the top of the stretch is and was way too late.