The natural inclination of most race fans in the United States is towards the Triple Crown series, especially the Kentucky Derby. I can't say I'm wildly excited about the Kentucky Derby right now. I will be as it gets closer, but the way some of the horses have been prepped, or lack of prep with racing, it's just not that fun. There are exceptions: It's been fun watching The Factor and Premier Pegasus, and Soldat gave me a thrill, but The Timely Writer left me cold, no matter how good Uncle Mo may be.
What happened to the ideal of sportsman and women, campaigning their horses, winning some, losing some, but campaigning? Last weekend's races in Dubai, while maybe not a great example because of the purse sizes, is a race and a venue for sportsmen to bring their best; If it doesn't go well the horse can be set back months in training and conditioning, but to win there, the prestige and money, that's what drives people. I'm not sure I can describe any better the feeling of coldness that I have when a horse wins a grade I, gets enough earnings, and then is left on the shelf with a plan of two preps and the Derby. I hate it. Did I mention I hate it? If I was in charge I'd mandate not only graded earnings but I would put a subtractor on the earnings if they were all achieved in one or two races, and I'd discount two year old earnings at 60 cents on the dollar to three year old earnings.
Alas, I'm not in charge, I'm just a fan, and God knows, a fans voice ain't worth much nor will I lament that, as a horse player has to retain a certain amount of dignity. I'm a shelp, and I'll watch the Derby and I'll root for a Triple Crown Winner, and if Uncle Mo wins, every trainer for years will duplicate the approach and the super trainer will feel vindicated, people who have an opinion like me will be mocked and marginalized. Self fulfilling prophecy? Perhaps? Perhaps it's just the fact that my Lenten sacrifice of Bourbon and Cigars is making me crotchety?
Today is opening day at Woodbine, a track that for whatever weird double standard I don't get angry and emotional about the fake dirt like I did at Santa Anita. I don't hold it against Arlington but I've lost interest in Keeneland. More evidence I'm a loon I suppose.
Let's get after it!
Woodbine Race 6-7-8: First Post for the Pick Three 3:28 ET
What I like about Woodbine early season racing is the odd mix of class drops, layoffs, works, preps, even jocks who haven't been up in some time. It's sorta a free for all and you just have to wade in. My picks seem like they will end up pretty chalky, so the bets will be small. Today isn't so much about today, I'm looking for form to see who I'm watching when they run back in several weeks.
In the Debut Stakes, I'm backing Don's Folly who was beaten by a length in this affair last year. A six year old horse, the only non gelding in the field. Training very sharply, especially a 4f handride in :47 and 1/5 at WO last week. The pick!
Drunken Love and Paso Doble will be in the mix; Drunken Love, with Husbands up for Trainer Michael Pino, ran a 5f prep on the turf at GP in late January. Classy and may be ready to challenge for the win. Paso Doble needs no introduction to fans of Woodbine. 2 wins in last 19 starts but 11 of 20 in the money, this 5 year old is now trained by Mark Casse and has been training well but draws the rail in this short 5 panel run. Daniel Be Good and The Boy's Ring round out the superfecta I'm toying with.
Have fun with whatever you are playing today; The Florida Derby looms on Sunday and I'll be back later to take a look and get sucked back into Derby preps.