05/05/2009 4:22PM

Canonero II. Some pp's


Speaking of improbable Derby results, let's take a trip back in time to 1971, and relive Canonero II's Derby upset through the words of Charles Hatton from his "Profiles of Best Horses" column in the 1972 American Racing Manual.

"Canonero II. was perhaps the most exciting 1971 champion.  He raced but three times in the United States, and not at all west of the Ohio, nor anywhere else for that matter after the Belmont Stakes and his doomed effort to complete the Triple Crown.  But he made a profound and indelible impression in the Derby and Preakness and appropriately was awarded three-year-old honors.
A very assertive horse, Canonero II.  He did not just win the first two classics, in the dutiful and somewhat perfunctory fashion of most other heroes.  He had a distinctive flair and style, turning on turf-goers and TV viewers with his sensationalism as they had not been since Native Dancer and Silky Sullivan."

"As a Kentucky-bred Venezuelan development he had a mystique, and his virtuosity was extraordinary.  He did the unexpected, not to say the impossible, except casual racegoers would think we'd got our terms confused.  Planing from Caracas to Miami, just ahead of VEE, and immobilized in quarantine several days, he vanned the mountain passes to Louisville and won the Derby as a mutuel fielder with a devastating run around 18 horses he beat pointless."

Here is a video of Canonero's Derby win (courtesy of youtube):


"Everyone was so incredulous, but the fact remained he'd done it.  Journeying to Pimlico, Canonero II. demonstrated a breath-taking new facet of his talent when he won as the gripping climax of a desperate pace duel over most of the last mile.  Eastern Fleet, whom he stared down, was never again the same.  It now was crystal clear that whatever our classic colts might do, he could do vastly better, and people from Canada to all Latin America adopted him."

Here is a video of Canonero's Preakness win (courtesy of youtube):


"A throng of 123,284 more or less prejudiced witnesses, the largest crowd in Derby history, had thrilled to the exhibitionism at Louisville.  A record Preakness assemblage of 47,211 overflowed into the inner-field to see this new turf idol in action.  It was popularly held he would capture the Belmont as well, and complete the Triple Crown, and his charisma was such a New York state track record of 82,694 eagerly attended, including several plane loads of his Venezuelan buffs. 
Alas it was not meant to be, and his Belmont defeat is one of the minor tragedies of modern turf history.  It developed Canonero II. had contracted thrush in his right hind standing in an unhygienic stall in quarantine.  Also, in the interval between the Preakness and Belmont, he lost a cap off a tooth and developed a temperature.  His training thus was interrupted, only days before the race, and when finally he worked at all it was on the grass.
None of Canonero II.'s Venezuelan entourage spoke English, which made it awkward for reporters, while forbidding guards were posted around his Belmont accommodations.  But he was the cynosure of all eyes whenever he left his stall, his absence from the morning gallops piqued everyone's curiosity, and the grim details were leaked.
He hadn't got time to be properly prepared, and in the race itself damaged the hock on his right hind, in a dramatization of the ancient wheeze "For want of a shoe..."  It was Machiavellian luck.  His Venezuelan rider, Gustavo Avila, chic in alligator boots, had him strategically placed just off the pace most of the mile and a half, but he finished fourth at 7 to 10.  He went down honorably, struggling desperately to improve during the run in, but his leg betrayed him. So he did not win the Belmont, as we feel sure he should have done.  The immense crowd's balloon had been shot down, but it accepted his reversal with the good grace characterizing turf fans universally, including the large segment of the Latin American populace, who already had formed conga lines on the lawn.
The 16 hands bay was a romantic figure, a storybook horse if you like.  He was bred by New Orleans' Edward B. Benjamin.  He was got by Pretendre, an Epsom Derby runner-up imported by Texas' fabulous Nelson Bunker Hunt, who has some 100 horses racing in the United States, Australia, the British Isles and on the Continent, an interest in Vaguely Noble, and yet was not content without Pretendre. 
You see, Hunt was impressed that Pretendre was unlucky to be narrowly beaten by Charlottown in the Epsom Derby, the Blue Riband of the turf, and admired his bravery, bloodlines, the cut of his jib, etc.  Blase Americans filled his book, though not exclusively with stakes winners or their dams, as they did Whirlaway's.  Exported first to Ireland, to comply with red tape, en route to New Zealand, Pretendre made three stud seasons in a year.  One of the mares, none of them any better than she should be, presented at his court in America was Dixieland II.
These fertility rates were favored with one of those curious one-in-a-million genetic fusions, resulting in Canonero II.  The colt was a large foal and Dixieland II. is a small mare, and she may have carried him wrong, but whatever the reason he came with a foreleg grotesquely out of plumb.  This together with his unproven bloodlines found him assaying just $1,200 at the Keeneland Fall Sales as a yearling.  He raced for Sr. Edgar Caibett, as a wedding gift from his father-in-law, Sr.  Pedro Baptista."

"His origins were the stuff of which legends are made, and his progress from a shockingly backward Venezuelan two-year-old into a New World classicist provided an absorbing one.  Turning three, Canonero II. got the hang of it and won four races in Caracas, one of them at a mile and a quarter in March, before planing to this country in spirit of high adventure. 
Actually, he was not yet considered in the first class in Venezuela, and there were horses who could and did beat him.
But Canonero was only just finding his racing legs.  Young people are callously hopeful.  And Caibett audaciously hoped Canonero could accrue a lustre in the North American classics.
On the face of it, the odds were incalculably against this, considering that "Cannonball" had not done anything really explosive in his own backyard.  The U. S. produced 22,542 foals in '68 or about 22,000 more than did Venezuela.
You may read what you like into Canonero's domination of our classics.  One hesitates to disillusion the mathematicians, but we're afraid that class has nothing at all to do with the average and its laws.
Nor has chauvinism.  It is one of the splendid old traditions of the turf to question the value of the form in countries other than one's native heath, and Canonero was not the only invader to flout this rather silly superstition in '71..."

"...We regret to say there are a few selfish interests on shedrow who get stuffy and resent the intruders on their preserves' purse distributions.  But the public interest must be consulted first and Cannonball and Tinajero heightened this interest, sparing the fans some of the ennui of seeing the same old dramatis personae every week end.  One would think the welcome mat ought to have been rolled out.
A good horse may come from anywhere at all..."

"...Certainly Canonero II. is in the course of strutting his brief hour, set some records and some people's thinking straight.  He quite devastated our best three-year-olds in the Derby and Preakness, after they had carefully pointed all winter for these fixtures, and before such shocking numbers of them had been victimized by what are called the vicissitudes. 
One is most grateful for the Eclipse Awards, in which the balloting is nationwide.  Canonero cannot be dismissed because some historian does not much care for certain facets of his origins.  His exalted status is secure, and his fame will endure, after all the characters in the high drama on the Downs and at Pimlico have passed on."

"As indicated, Canonero II. is by Pretendre, a cracking race horse and self-made sire who hadn't yet made it when the transplanted Venezuelan burst on the scene, while the implications in the dossiers of his first several dams are frightening for sticklers for "class in the dam" to contemplate. 
One can prove anything with pedigrees, however, and there are always extenuating circumstances.  Canonero II. came of the first crop by Pretendre, a scion of the St. Simon line through Doutelle, winner of seven stakes up to 12 furlongs and in turn by Prince Chevalier.  This is, of course, quite de rigueur, the male line of Princequillo..."

"...Canonero II.'s own dam, Dixieland II. won a little race in England and is by Nantallah, sire of that stout competitor Ridan..."

"...Leon Rasmussen notes Canonero II.'s Dosage Diagram is 4-4-19-17-8.  It is observed that the right, or stamina, wing of his computed blood typing is formidable..."

"...Patently, Canonero II. has tremendous character and individuality.  He is pounds and lengths better than anybody going by the book had right to expect.  The moving thing about Canonero, using moving both as a very and an adjective, was his courage and intuitive will to win.  If he was above his pedigree, as the rather thick saying goes, he had also got to overcome defects of conformation which would defeat most his species.  His superior class was a matter of temperament more than anything else. 
He is a clay bank bay with black points, a star and filigree of white about the right hind coronary band, and stands perhaps 16.1.
To one who has seen the last 60 Kentucky Derby winners, he is of the type of Twenty Grand, Gallant fox, Sir Huron, Lawrin and other tall specimens, rather workmanlike and plain than with the obvious quality of a Regret or Majestic Prince.  He has a slightly convex profile and is wide between large, honest eyes, while the jowl is flat enough, the throat latch clean and the neck carried well. 
If he lacks something of the patrician points one saw in such exquisites as The Manager, or the Ornament referred to above, we daresay nobody will ever accuse him of being "all ruffle and no shirt."
He is a trifle wider in front than the purists could wish perhaps, but they said the same thing of American Eclipse, his scion Spendthrift and the latter's scion Man o'War, and this is our stoutest staying American line.  He has been well enough ribbed up, with fair girth for his height, and is less shallow than Pretendre was in training.  He is distinctly the stayer behind the saddle, with long muscular investiture about the quarters.  His bone is not notable large and the cannons are rather long.
His right foreleg and hock leave something to be desired, the column of the former being conspicuously out of line, the latter set on curiously.  As you might guess, his action is rather crabbed.  He paddles badly and appears to run at comparatively great expenditure of energy.  One would expect he would find this tiresome, but then King James' action was bad you might think he would pant on the walking ring, and no horse stayed better.
R. J. Kleberg Jr. paid a reported $1,000,000 for Canonero II., intrigued by his stud potential, after the colt lost the Belmont, owing a baffling hock ailment, a temperature, the loss of the cap off a tooth, a skin condition and could not be trained properly.
That is one of the finest of all the colt's many accolades..."


With a tip of my cap and a bow to our NHC qualifier, I have picked CD 9 for this week's handigambling race.

Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."   Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. 

I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.  The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are.  I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought process about wagering, it would be appreciated.

Here are the past performances:

Download HandiGambling 132


in your derby review of the contenders mie the bird had the highest doage index of any horse. also with Birdstone in the pedigree he is bred for stamina.

Which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the relevancy of the Dosage system.


Looking at the '93 version brought up one of the best horses ever to race at Remington - Brother Brown. Any chance you can post his lifetime PP's?

Here they are:

Download Brother Brown


I wondered if you had any thoughts on the proposed theory that training at altitude may have had an effect on the winner? Of all the nefarious wrongdoing suggestions and BSF conspiracy theories - this seems a possible valid hypothesis for unexpected, greater than could be believed improvement.

I guess it's possible, but I have no idea whether the altitude contributed to Mine That Bird's unlikely Derby win.  Should we upgrade the chances of all horses leaving Sunland Park due to the altitude?  There just isn't any way to corroborate the data. 


Dan or any other Formblogger owner/trainer,
In that HandiGambling race (CD9 tomorrow), #10 Monk was claimed from Billy Hays & Joe Woodard by Melvin Hurt & Ivan Vazquez in the 3rd race @ BEU on Feb21. However, when he returns next-out in the 12th race @ RD, his owner and trainer are once again Billy Hays & Joe Woodard. What happened? Was the claim canceled? If so, how often does that occur?

Either the claim was canceled or the previous connections simply bought the horse back privately.  I've seen a few example of this happening in the past.  Maybe Monk is the stable pet!


In fact, Dan, if you could post Sarava's lifetime PP's, that would answer the question. 
Dick W

Here they are:

Download Sarava


Dan, could we see Wishingmakesitso's PP's, so i can pin down roughly when my love for this game started. Thank you

Here they are:

Download Wishing


Back tomorrow with some HandiGambling opinions.


Take care,