Monday, July 6, 2009

Why We Watch (Weekend Review)

When the non-converted ask me why I love horse racing, I generally respond with the usual stock answers you hear on any NTRA commercial. “The Beauty, the power, the excitement.” It probably doesn’t provide the real answer they are looking for, but the truth is horse racing is something you simply get or you don’t. You either appreciate the beauty of the thoroughbred and their desire to compete, or you don’t.

Occasionally certain horses or performances will really illustrate the appeal of the sport far greater than words could ever describe. The G1 United Nations at Monmouth Park this weekend was one of those moments. It was, for my money, the most riveting performance of the season and embodied everything that we look for in a horse. (Speed, heart, determination and above all, a pure desire to run)

G1 United Nations

Presious Passion (I had nothing to do with the spelling of his name!) has been known for speed and uncanny stubbornness to concede leading the pack around the track. He has put up some dazzling performances in his career before. In the G2 Mac Diarmida he got into a ridiculous duel early before opening a ten-length lead down the backstretch, only to re-rally in mid stretch after the field looked to have him worn out and measured. Presious Passion has found a way to excite one’s imagination before.

Saturday’s performance was extraordinary, in its perfection. Passion broke with his customary flurry, opened the widest of margins on the field, lit the tote board afire with his fractions, and simply never looked back. This is one of those races where you know the horse simply “felt it” that morning when he woke up and was ready to dazzle. Not only was it a visually impressive performance, he also managed to break the course record by nearly two full seconds. Amazing indeed.

If this race doesn’t stir your emotions, check your pulse.

G2 Tom Fool

This race was severely impacted by the late scratch of the top sprinter in the nation, Fabulous Strike. Connections said they didn’t like the post, the pace scenario, the timing of the race and decided to look elsewhere. To what extent the 3yo Munnings played a part is unknown, though I think wheeling the horse back after a rousing effort in the G2 True North Handicap became a decidedly less intriguing prospect with his inclusion.

Munnings went on to win impressively and while he was beating older horses, the race set up quite well for him from a pace and trip perspective. He is a star in the making, but I hope we do get a chance to see him battle Fabulous Strike in the near future. What a race that would be.

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