A list of all the weekend stakes winners, with a link to the result chart at DRF.com, can be found at this post.
A quick look at my thoughts on some of this weekend's top racing action:
- Following his performance in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park, Paddy O'Prado is cemented at the top of my list of North American turf horses. Not only is he winning race after race, but the manner in which he's winning - unleashing a devastating late kick in the final quarter - is continually impressive. Paddy O'Prado ran the final closing quarter mile of the Secretariat in 22.92. For comparisons, Debussy (IRE) ran the final quarter of the Million in 24.11, while Gio Ponti closed in 24.09.
- The 1st and 3rd place finishers of the Million (Debussy and Tazeez) are nice horses and both have been running against good competition in Europe, but they are clearly not the cream of the crop from that continent. Yet our top turf horse (at least in the eyes of many) was all out to beat the show horse and didn't have enough to hold off the winner. And that is despite the fact that Gio Ponti, in my opinion, had a much easier trip than the other two. He certainly had to go wide coming off the turn but his path was much clearer than that of Debussy. He also didn't have to deal with the bad start that befell Tazeez. For a 4/5 shot, I thought Gio Ponti had no excuse.
- I thought Tazeez ran a very nice third considering he reared at the start and then broke outwardly from the gate. Ironically, trainer John Gosden gave an interview in the paddock prior to the race where he mentioned the "at-angle" position of the starting gate for the Million and wondered how his horses would handle the start. For a horse that wanted to get up near the early lead in an easy fashion, the start didn't make Tazeez's task any easier.
- Following his win in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Derby Day I got the feeling that General Quarters could be a sleeper in this year's Turf division. After his last two performances you have to wonder whether a mile and a half on the lawn is going to suit him because he had nothing in the tank for the last quarter mile of the Million. Only the 45/1 early pace setter, Quite a Handful, ran the final two furlongs slower than the 25.71 seconds it took General Quarters.
- Prior to the Alabama Stakes I questioned how good Blind Luck's last race was in the Delaware Oaks. Turns out, it was pretty damn good. Both Blink Luck and Havre de Grace, the 1-2 finishers at Delaware, came back to run 1-2 in the Alabama and both were easily better than the favorite, Devil May Care.
Speaking of Devil May Care, for a filly with as many accomplishments and talent as her Alabama performance was about as dull as they come. Perhaps her heavy schedule is starting to catch up with her and she needs a bit of a break (although she's only run five times in 2010). Perhaps she just threw in a clunker. Who knows? But there is little good that can be said about her 4th place finish to Blind Luck.
Devil Mar Care ran the last quarter of a mile in 25.31 after a fairly tepid pace in the early going.
I certainly hope that Doris Harwood takes Longacres Mile winner Noosa Beach to the Breeders' Cup to compete in the Dirt Mile because he really deserves a shot at that race. Sure, he'd be a mid-to-long shot to win given the quality of the horses he'd be facing and his humble roots at Emerald Downs. But I'd love to see how he matches up on a national stage given how dominate he's been up here this summer. (I wrote this before I read this article in today's Seattle Times; Noosa Beach will not go to the Breeders' Cup since his sire, Harbor the Gold, is not Breeders' Cup eligible. It makes you wonder how much longer the Mile will be a "Win and You're In" race if no horse ever goes "in".)
Noosa Beach covered the first six furlongs in 1:09.42 with splits of 23.09, 22.72, 23.62. His final fraction was a pretty slow 25.38, but, as was pointed out by Bob Rondeau on the broadcast, nobody was really coming home all that fast at Emerald yesterday and the early fractions were pretty average for what is usually a very fast track. Noosa Beach ran them into the ground early, making the final quarter almost irrelevant.