It's hard to put into words what Joe Hirsch represents to me. You meet so few people in life that you can say that their integrity is without question. You meet so few people in life that did things their way and in the process defined themselves through an unyielding pursuit of perfection within their careers. The greatest tribute to any person is to remember them after they pass away. Elites in society since the dawning of the Enlightened Age built monuments to their greatness while on Earth and their names adorned these physical objects long after their bones turned to dust. Mr. Joe Hirsch isn't remembered because he built a bridge or a building, but because he was revered, honored by the sport that he served. When you wonder what happened to the greatness of horse racing, ask yourself where the dignity and culture of horse racing went to. Ask yourself if dignity can be found at an off track betting parlor. Ask yourself where are the ambassadors to the sport and where its cultural relevance is. Joe's voice has been replaced by legion. The new media has expanded to fill the void left by fading newspaper and magazine coverage. Joe's legacy in print carried on, Joe's legacy of grace, integrity, class and style needs to find its Renaissance. The greatest sport on earth cannot be diminished by the failings of it's human leaders and lets hope that someone will one day have the chance to the next Joe Hirsch instead of toil in virtual anonymity. Let's get it on!
Belmont Park Race 7-10 Late Pick Four
It's wonderful to find weekend after weekend relevant racing at Belmont in the fall and today's edition of Jockey Club Gold Cup Day is no exception. Today is the last prep for many of these horses whose next stop is The Breeders' Cup in early November. The Turk spent most of the week in the greater NY area, and while he would have liked to have stayed for the event in person, he's going to enjoy it plenty with Little Turk from the comfortable surroundings of home, but we are getting pretty excited about our road trip to Louisville for the Breeders' Cup, now just a few short weeks away.
We have an interesting and challenging pick Four in front of us, made more challenging by the incredibly wet weather to hit Elmont in the past few days. Without a very warm sun, the idea that the track or turf will improve to fast or firm seems unrealistic. Make sure your first stop is to See the track conditions, the current weather, and the scratches and changes, as factors beyond the past performances may seriously alter the landscape. I based my handicap on yielding turf and a sloppy main good main track.
In Race 7 we have the Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational . Making arguably the most anticipated arrival from Japan since Casino Drive is Red Desire, grand daughter of Sunday Silence. This 4 YO has beaten and been beaten by some of the best Grade I international talent out there. Getting Lasix for the first time, I'm downgrading just slightly because of the track conditions she'll face, even with wily K. Desormeaux up (not my pick at Belmont all things being even). I'm backing for her first win in 5 starts in 2010 Forever Together. A disappointing last race in Saratoga for Sheppard's runner, I like her on the softer turf and I think Sheppard is a master at preparing for a season's big moment, and the next six week is the season for this Champion. Gomez up. The race features plenty of questionable current form and I like Shared Account, training well since the Diana to be fresh. Trainer Motion is clipping along at 24% off 61-180 day layoffs. I backed Ave (GB) in the Beverly D. and was shocked that she was the post time chalk and she didn't handle the race that well. Has shown an ability to come back strongly in first race back off layoff and has handled soft turf very well in the past. Attfield and Castellano combine for 44% winners on 9 starts. I'd be shocked if Kertanna came up for better than Show. I'm thinking superfecta this race as well and will back three most likely for the P4.
Race 8 is the Grade I Beldame. A six horse field is packed with quality and a bunch of horses who are glad to stop being measured against Rachel Alexandra. Desormeaux, up on Unrivaled Belle, gets my nod here. Trainer Mott at 20% winners on 61-180 day layoffs and the girl has been resting since two Grade I's where she ran a flat effort from the Place spot and couldn't advance and refused to retreat. Came on most people's radar with her stunning defeat of Rachel Alexandra at Churchill Downs, the race where you had to start to worry if the defending Horse of the Year would ever regain her 2009 form. Persistently, the latest Rachel Alexandra slayer, seems to be in a good spot in her form cycle and I like the Phipps Stable runner to give a strong effort today. Life At Ten has four wins in five starts and gave an incredible effort in a bizarre speed duel with the previously oft mentioned Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign. I have no reason to believe that effort took a toll on the 5 YO Malibu Moon mare but that's what I'm saying. Bonnie Blue Flag snuck in under the radar ever so slightly in the Grade I Test and has been training awfully well for Baffert who puts Gomez up. Depending on the price at post time, I may W-P-S this 3 YO Mineshaft daughter.
In Race 9, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic I'm leaning towards Never on Sunday (Fr), another in a long line of Biancone strong turf runners. An eleven horse field, the turf will weigh in on the outcome and as usual, a strong late kick from a pack of horses 1/8 out will be the margin of victory. Paddy O' Prado will get lots of play, rightly so, but facing older horses is never easy and it's the longest race he's run, something is 274 Tomlinson Rating discounts. Those ratings are a minor tool so don't get too hung up on that, I just like others here, like Winchester, trained by turf master craftsman Clement. Should be one hell of a race!
And in the main event, Race 10's Jockey Club Gold Cup, I'm inclined to single Blame but I'm going to take the extra expense and slip in a value horse, which to me Haynesfield is. one win on sloppy dirt and a 460 Tomlinson rating for the 4 YO Speightstown son, toss the Whitney and focus on the Suburban and his 4 wins at Big Sandy, with R. Dominguez up, and a trainer/jock combo clipping away at 32% at BEL. In a real contrarian view, I'm discounting Rail Trip who will have real mud tossed in his 5 Yo face for the first time and instead backing Darley runner Tranquil Manner to bring a good price onto the ticket. I never know what to do with Fly Down.
Last week's post race analysis is up below after the Turk couldn't get to it in a busy week. I had a nice Superfecta win in the first race and ended up slightly ahead on a day when I got little right. Always be honest with yourself about the good work and your bad.
Post Race Analysis of the Late Pick 4 at Belmont September 25, 2010.