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"2009 Racing" for $800, Alex
The Answer is: Einstein, Informed Decision, Rachel Alexandra, Stardom Bound.
The Question: name the only four horses who have won two Grade 1 stakes races so far this year.
Here's the Grade 1 tally to date, with the schedule through the end of June:
Bobby Frankel leads all trainers with three Grade 1 victories so far, and five jockeys are tied with a trio apiece: Calvin Borel, Garrett Gomez, Julien Leparoux, Mike Smith and John Velazquez.
By my count, we're at 114 109 Grade 1's this year with the cancellation of the Pimlico Special. So that's 25 down, 89 84 to go.
--Here, according to a Belmont Park press release today, are the "likely players" for the four Grade 1's there on Belmont Stakes Day, listed in alphabetical order:
Belmont: Brave Victory, Charitable Man, Chocolate Candy, Dunkirk, Flying Private, Luv Gov, Miner's Escape, Mine That Bird, Mr. Hot Stuff, Nowhere to Hide, Summer Bird. And "maybe" Rachel Alexandra.
Manhattan: Better Talk Now, Court Vision, Cowboy Cal, Gio Ponti, Grand Couturier (GB), Interpatation, Lauro (GER), Premium Gold.
Acorn: Be Fair, Devotee, Doremifasollatido, Dream Play, Funny Moon, Just Jenda and Justwhistledixie.
Just a Game: Captain’s Lover (SAF), Carribean Sunset (IRE), Diamondrella (GB), Forever Together, Modern Look (GB)and My Princess Jess.
These are hardly set lineups nine days out, just known likely starters. You can find the complete nominations for these races by going to the NYRA homepage and clicking "Stakes Nominations" under "Horsemen" in the left-hand column.
--Real lineups and pp's are up for Saturday's Belmont card, where the $350,000 Guaranteed Pick-4 (which handled $490k last Saturday) comprises a firster-heavy statebred maiden race, the restricted Mckaymckenna Stakes for older turf fillies, the G2 Sands Point for 3-year-old turf fillies (including Gozzip Girl and Magical Affair), and an open maiden turf race.
In the Mckaymckenna, I'm intrigued by Shadiyna, who was entered and scratched from last Saturday's much tougher Sheepshead Bay. She's still eligible for a N2x, but her lone American start was much better than the lowly 76 Beyer it earned -- she was first off a six-month layoff and dead last early behind a ridiuculously slow pace. That she was even nominated and entered for a graded stakes makes me think she's eligible to improve quickly. She's the same 12-1 ML Saturday that she was a week ago and deserves consideration at anything near that price.
--Commenter dale_tillotson: Does the photo at right answer your question?
Popeye(left) and Dondo are resting up for Saratoga, which opens in 62 days. If Dondo is looking a bit more robust since his arrival, well, it turns out that retirement, and extra-crunchy Cheetos, agree with him.
Steve: It's always a good thing to see that great minds think alike. Please check out the current post on "johnpiesen.com" Hope all is well with you.
Steve: Thanks for the Cheetos memory. Back in the day when I was training racing greyhounds at a track in southwestern Vermont, I adopted Tels Shannon, one of my less talented racers who made a career out of running second, or "pacing the field," as we used to call it. No matter the level of competition, Shannon would do her best to run second, once in a while accidentally winning when she met up with another greyhound on the front end who had similar goals. Anyway, after I adopted Shannon, I still took her with me to the kennel everyday so that she could socialize and otherwise hobnob with her still-active former kennelmates. At the end of the morning, after I had exercised, benched, weighed, turned out, and fed the racers and put them up for an afternoon of rest and soft rock music listening before the evening races, I would stop at the local store on the way home for a sandwich and chips. Once Shannon got to know the routine she would lay in the backseat whining until I opened the bag and gave her at least three Doritos. She didn't care much for the roast beef or bologna or whatever. It was the Doritos that she demanded, and she seemed to know when we got to three. I really miss having a greyhound around (lease agreements) but your stories and images are great and whenever I see an adoption group I always stop to give them a donation which buys me several minutes of attention-giving time with their adoptees. Thanks for making them part of your family. By the way, I don't recall if you ever mentioned it or if I ever saw it in one of your photos, but they LOVE bean bag chairs. You know, they have so little fat between the floor and their bones, that anything with padding will do. But there was always something special about the bean bag chairs.
Why are people surprised when Bettors are treated with contempt? The Owners put up tens of millions of dollars, the trainers get no sleep and the jockeys risk their lives. All we do is show up in the late morning and leach a few bucks off the nags. Why wouldnt they treat us with contempt? Get better R. Douglas
I think a masters match race between Popeye and Dondo could probably be the DRF race of the day if you staged it on a Monday or Tuesday.
62 days thank GOD real racing comes to NYRA . Just a thought when I look at your grade 1 winners list and think about the horses that are down with some sort of injury ...... I think this years Taveres could be something else with Rachel, Mine , Quality Road .... If all the horses come back sound it could be better then the derby ......
I hereby nominate as a triumverate to save racing (TB and SB) and bring it into the 21st century Crist, Davidowitz, and Beyer. An abolishment of the old order is completely and utterly justified based on their past performance over the last 150 years. Ignoring a dimishing fan base and treating the betting public with contempt is a sure fire receipe for disaster. That's what they've given us! Politcal hacks that have been apppointed to racing commissions and state boards will be the death of the industry. Think it can't happen? Do these names ring a bell? U.S. Steel, Republic Steel, Oldsmobile - get it? God help all of us that really love this sport/business/gambling interest.
Extra crispy in front - those puffed ones are like eating cheese flavored cotton candy. Enjoyed your last two columns Steve. Maybe they don't refer to the Belmont as "a breeders race" much anymore because breeders aren't what they used to be. As you point out the commercial breeding industry seems to be able to package up a stallion image and sell it successfully, at least for a few years. There just doesn't seem to be the same reservoir of dedicated march to their own tune breeders around anymore. I'm sure the game is not the better for it. Was very interested to read your ideas on the Breeders Cup. Somehow I don't think the folks that brought us "pink day", and demonstrated arrogance astounding enough to place the event in the same location two years running, will be able to digest the plain straightforward thoughts in the article. I'm also sure the game is not the better for that either. Keep after 'em.
...Does anyone have any idea what Zito might do with TWO front running types: Miner's Escape and Nowhere to Hide? They both can't try a steal, a la Da'Tara's sole speed tactic: could Zito think of sacrificing both in a pressure situation of either Charitable Man (r Rachel Alexandra)on the front end, by relaying their speed? Could tht tactic work to set up anoff the pace run from his Brave Victory..who showed a new dimension in the Wood? Any ideas of what he's up to.
Steve, after seeing the photo, I originally thought Dondo was a chestnut entered in tomorrow's 3rd at Belmont, thanks for the clarification. Dondo is obviously living the good life, as well he should. Woke up this morning to find it pouring outside here in Nassau county, I've got to believe that this will effect today's turf races at Belmont Park(slated for races 4,5,7 and 9), with either part of or all of these races being moved to the main track. A week to go until The Belmont, and the question remains whether RA will go or not. I have a feeling the connections are leaning towards not running, but I hope I am wrong. Big Sandy usually plays kind to near the pace types going 12 furlongs, and sans Mine That Bird, at this point she is just a better racehorse than the 3yo colts who are still standing. Give RA a summer vacation after The Belmont, and point her towards a start either late at the Saratoga meet or one at Belmont's Fall Championship meet(which by name has lost much luster the last 2 decades).
Mine That Bird Jockey--If the horse is good enough any of top 25 jockey,s will do. It is still horse racing.