Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Belmont Wrap Up

Like many I picked the wrong Bird. I’ve found some peace with the result because Summer Bird is a horse I expected to run big in each of his Triple Crown races. Perhaps “big” is embellishing my own thoughts as published here, but I did recommend using him in the superfecta in the Derby and did say he was eligible to finish underneath the winner in the Belmont. Ok, so that’s not exactly worth bumping my chest over, but I’ve liked the horse a bit more than his odds have ever suggested his chances were. He’s done a lot in a short amount of time and I think his Arkansas Derby 3rd was a deceptively huge effort for the horse with so little experience.

Where will he go from here? That’s hard to say. I suspect he’ll be hitting the board in some big races, but I wont go overboard on any horse based on a 12-furlong race. He’s a horse with ability and while most Triple Crown participants fade into the sunset in the second half of the year, I think he could be primed to step forward at shorter distances.

It’s virtually impossible to not point the blame for Mine That Bird’s performance at anyone other than Calvin Borel. If you’re going to accept the praise for a genius ride in the Derby you have to own up to a dismal ride like the one Mine That Bird received in the Belmont. The fact that he didn’t ride all week or attempt to get a mount on Belmont day is just mind numbing. You have to get a feel for the track otherwise you stand to do what he did on Saturday, which is panic and press the button a furlong too soon. He was in a favorable position on the backstretch and had he sat chilly until the stretch he likely wins this race by 5-6 lengths. At the ideal distance for his mount his ride forced a regression of about 8-9 Beyer points. Borel is always capable of providing a brilliant ride, but this race serves as a reminder why he is generally considered a notch below the top tier jockies. While I don’t think the race should in anyway jeopardize his status as the first call rider for Rachel Alexandra, you can bet he is hoping that Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen weren’t watching on Saturday.

Has someone figured out what Charitable Man was doing Saturday? He had no hope of out kicking a collection of deep closers and with the track catered to front-runners, the fact that he was lengths back tracking a slow pass was shocking. I thought he was a bit over rated based on his Peter Pan score, but he had no hope once he settled for stalking the pace.

Of course I cant post without wishing a speedy recovery for Dunkirk. He fractured his hind left in the running, which only makes his effort all the more courageous. He was hooked heading into the stretch and displayed a ton of heart fighting back to regain the second spot. Perhaps that heart lead to him being injured or perhaps he was injured and rallied despite it, either way he deserves some respect for leaving it all out on the track. His desire to compete can never come into question. Pletcher said he’ll be back in a couple months, I hope he can come back even stronger.

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