Yesterday was one of the nicest days in the last couple of months in Western Washington, the majority of which I spent driving to and from a wedding in a small town just south of Mt. Rainier. It was a beautiful day for a driving in the mountains - perfectly clear. Cell phones and internet don't work a lick in that area of the state, which gives a person no choice but to unplug from the digital world. It's actually quite relaxing knowing that you're cell phone isn't going to ring for hours on end...which I suppose says something about the world we live in now.
We left Seattle early yesterday morning so the only live racing action I caught were the three group races at Ascot. Once I got home yesterday evening I cued up the DVR can took in the entire day of racing without a commercial or single bit of commentary from the talking heads. (I love watching races live but there is something to be said to being able to quickly watch 10 races in less than 90 minutes with no commercials or somebody trying to sell me their Pick 4 ticket.)
Below are some notes I took on some of the races after watching yesterday's.
-A pretty impressive run by Nick Zito's Morning Line to deny First Dude (once again) a shot at success in the Pennsylvania Derby. The final time of 1:47.85 wasn't anything earth-shattering, but the way in which Morning Line won, clicking off ½ mile and 6 furlong fractions of :47.29 and 1:10.84, was pretty impressive. I haven't had a chance to compare that race to the rest of the card at Parx but running the first three-quarters of a mile that fast and holding on to win is for me a sign of some serious class.
First Dude...I'm not sure what else this guy needs to get into the winner's circle. They've already put the blinkers on him in order to try and get him to focus more in the stretch but as we all saw yesterday, he doesn't seem to want to battle all the way to the wire. He grabbed the lead briefly yesterday only to give it right back when challenged again.
The Beyer figure for the Pennsylvania Derby came back at 103.
-When I first looked at the chart for the Super Derby I couldn't believe my eyes: did the winner really run 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.31? And it was a fast track? Six furlongs in 1:14.63, a mile in 1:39.44...and still it took almost 13 seconds to run the final 1/8th of a mile. A nice win by Apart but I don't think this race will turn out to have a significant impact on the Breeders' Cup.
Favorite Hurricane Ike had no excuses for losing this one after he was allowed to set such a pedestrian pace.
-The Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont turned into quite the bombfest with 12/1 My Jen beating 25/1 Moontune Missy by a head at the wire. A $2 5/7 exacta on those two unlikely fillies would have put $378.50 into your pocket.
What in the world happened with Rapport and Sara Louise in the Gallant Bloom? At least Sara Louise, who was coming in off a huge lay-off, was able to finish 3rd, but 9/5 favorite Rapport didn't even pick up her feet in this race. The fractions on the front end weren't that fast yet Rapport threw in the towel after a half mile in 46.16. It's hard to look at a race like that and fell good about Rapport in the Filly and Mare Sprint.
-Speaking of horses the disappointed yesterday, how about the clunker that Interactif ran in the Kent Stakes at Delaware? I wasn't surprised that he lost to Grand Rapport and Workin For Hops but to finish sixth and to not even threaten the winners? Didn't see that coming.
Prior to the race I was thinking this was going to be run at a mile (which was obviously wrong since it was run at a mile and a eighth) and that the mile would be the problem for Interactif. I'm even more at a loss as to what the problem was with Interacitf knowing that the race was at 9 furlongs. I haven't read anything in the post-race reports that suggests that Interactif had any excuse for his poor performance.
-This weekend may have been a bit quiet in North America but the stakes calendar is quite full just seven days from now when 19 graded stakes are scheduled to run. Here's a sneak peak at the graded stakes scheduled for next Saturday and Sunday:
Belmont Saturday: Jockey Club Gold Cup, Flower Bowl, Hirsch Turf Classic, Vosburgh, Beldame
Belmont Sunday: Kelso, Pilrim, Miss Grillo
Oak Tree at Hollywood (Saturday): Norfolk, Goodwood, Lady's Secret (with Zenyatta), Yellow Ribbon.
Oak Tree at Hollywood (Sunday): Oak Leaf, Hirsch Turf Championship
Hoosier (Saturday): Indiana Derby (featuring Lookin At Lucky), Indiana Oaks
Hawthorne (Saturday): Hawthorne Gold Cup, Carey Memorial
Woodbine (Sunday): Durham Cup