My first foray into the sport of curling prevented me from watching yesterday's action at Gulfstream Park, but thanks to the power of the DVR, I was able to catch up on off of yesterday's action. Here are some thoughts on the two big races of the day.
Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (Chart)
That was an interesting race, wasn't it?
The story of the day at Gulfstream on Saturday was the ride by Joel Rosario on heavily favored Animal Kindgom in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Sensing that the pace was a crawl on the frontend, along with a 108 foot rail which typically helps speed on the Gulfstream turf course, Rosario made the smart decision to move Animal Kingdom closer to the leaders son the backstretch in order to get into a better running position.
Watching the race unfold, I thought Rosario's initial decision to move Animal Kingdom was a good one; the pace was brutally slow and if he'd kept the Derby winner at the back of the pack, he had very little chance at making up ground on the leaders in the stretch. On the other hand, there's a fine line between moving your horse into position and being overaggressive.
Instead of being content to sit just off the leaders (and perhaps just off of Point of Entry's hip pocket), Animal Kingdom was moved to the rail and the lead, where he was summarily pressured to his outside by Salto (IRE). Salto is a quality horse, perhaps not a graded stakes winner, but he's not a 50/1 cheap speed horse that's going to wilt at the first sign of a challenge.
So Rosario sticks Animal Kingdom right in to the inside of a horse that has the ability to put pressure right back onto his mount. That's a move that just doesn't make sense to me. The move to get near the lead and in a better stalking position? Yeah, that makes sense. Sticking the horse down on the inside of the speed? That's debatable.
Apart from the decision making of Rosario was the quality race by Point of Entry at a distance that probably isn't his best. If not for a tough luck second to Little Mike in the Breeders' Cup Turf, Point of Entry would be riding a seven race winning streak that includes five straight Grade 1 victories. That's a hell of a run by Point of Entry.
The Trakus splits provide a window into the slow early/very fast late pace scenario from the GP Turf Handicap:
|Point of Entry||25.30||50.72||73.32||95.71||107.00|
|Point of Entry||25.30||25.42||22.60||22.39||11.29|
Donn Handicap (Chart)
Well, how about Graydar? There's no need to look at any tactics because this colt just went to the front and ran his competition into the ground. And Graydar didn't get away with a snail's pace on the front end, the opening splits were a legit 23.12 and 46.87 for the half. If we take a look at all the pace of the other dirt races on Saturday's card (chart below) we can see that the Donn pace fits in fairly well, especially considering the distance. The three-quarters split of 1:10.59 was about a second and a half slower than the pace of the GP Sprint the race before.
Prior to the Donn my thoughts on Graydar were that he had the talent to win but would need to "step up his game" versus this kind of field to have a shot at winning. I also had concerns with Prado in the irons but all he had to do was point Graydar in the right direct; that was a big-time effort.