Monday, November 3, 2014

Breeders' Cup Thoughts

(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Well, if you read my predictions, you know I didn't have a very successful 2014 Breeders' Cup - I only know a few horseplayers that did (and did they make money!) 

But on to a few thoughts:

"What a memorable Breeders Cup Classic - it's a race for the ages!" - Trevor Denman during his call of the final 1/16th of a mile in the BC Classic.

Trevor Denman had a great day calling the races. I would have written a "brilliant" day, but he did call Karokontie "Karokonite" during the Mile. Given there were so many horses in these 13 BC races, many of whom he had never seen race live, I think we can give him a break on that one.

But was he ever excited during these calls! I suppose if you can't get excited about so many double digit horses winning the BC races, you'll never get excited. But Denman was great throughout the two days, although maybe that shouldn't surprise any of us, as he's been at the top of his game for many years now.


Congratulations to trainer Wesley Ward for a great weekend - not only at the track but at home. He won the first and second BC races of his career, but decided to attend his teenage son's cross country meet back home. What a classy thing to do! He was quoted as saying that his horses "aren't going to run any faster if I'm there," so he made his family his number one priority. No one would have blamed him if he did attend the races at Santa Anita, but his decision instantly won him a lot of new fans.


Congratulations as well to trainer Roger Brueggemann for winning the BC Sprint with Work All Week. Brueggemann has been a solid trainer on the Chicago circuit for years, but that has meant his profile on the worldwide thoroughbred scene has been rather limited. 

That's what I love about the BC - all sorts of trainers, be they famous, such as Bob Baffert or Chad Brown win races and then so does someone such as Brueggemann. Maybe he'll be a factor in future BC races. Regardless, he's a champion trainer and no one can take that away from him!


Take Charge Brandi winning the Juvenile Fillies at odds of 61-1! Wayne Lukas, take a bow! The man owns this race - it was his 6th win in this contest - and at a youthful 79 years of age, he appears as though he'll never slow down!


Finally, a few words about the inquiry of the Classic. Like almost everyone who watched the race live, I thought that the stewards would take a look. I also thought that given the magnitude of the race, the only way for a disqualification would be an obvious bump or two (or three) that would have had direct influence on the finish. 

Yes, Bayern did come over and bother Shared Belief, who in turn bumped into Moreno (interesting how we've heard so little about Moreno, who finished last. He clearly needs the lead to be effective). And of course, Toast of New York did come over a bit after the start and bump into Shared Belief and Moreno, so that was something to consider as well. There could have been a double disqualification, meaning that California Chrome could have been put up as the winner (what a scenario that would have been).

Did the bumping out of the gate affect the ultimate finish? You'd have to say yes, but given how many possibilities there are in a mile and a quarter race, no one can say for sure that Shared Belief or Moreno would have won. I would have taken Bayern down, but as Bob Baffert notes, you have to give Bayern credit - he just wouldn't quit and willed his way to the win.

Bottom line, the stewards went with the California regulations that state that if "an incident occurs in a part of the race where the horses interfered with were not cost the opportunity to place where they reasonably expected to finish" (CHRB rule 1699).. there would be no change. 

The stewards played it by the book - and they played it safe. Maybe the rule needs to be changed, otherwise, as Richard Migliore said on HRTV, "you're going to see a lot of rough riding going on."


Finally, while the two year-old colt Eclipse award is up in the air - given the victory by Texas Red, how much does that win legitimize the performance of American Pharoah in a previous stakes race at Santa Anita? - the two year-old filly award should go to Lady Eli, who dominated the Juvenile Fillies Turf race. No offense to Take Charge Brandi and her win in the Juvenile Fillies on dirt, but Lady Eli was dazzling.

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