12/03/2010 4:04PM

Champions on the Inner, 2011 Graded stakes


A guaranteed bar-bet winner: Name the only multiple Eclipse Award champion who ever raced on Aqueduct's inner dirt track, which opened for the winter yesterday. I'll give you 10 guesses. Spoiler at end of next paragraph.

The chart below shows that since the oft-reviled IDT opened 34 winters ago, at least a dozen Eclipse champions have raced on the winterized oval, most recently Smarty Jones, who won the first start of his 2004 champion 3-year-old season in the Count Fleet. But the lone multiple Eclipse winner or Hall of Famer among them is the last horse you might associate with six furlongs on the inner in January: Flatterer, who made the first of his 51 career starts on Jan. 16, 1982 on the inner, finishing finished 12th by 16 lengths under Mike Miceli at 76.80-to-1. Eleven months later, he ran ninth beaten 16 in his second and last start on the inner. Four months later he made his first start over jumps, and went on to be named the nation's champion steeplechaser four years running from 1983 through 1986.


(Races in bold face indicate appearances during a horse's Eclipse-winning season. Also, I said "at least" 12 champions because these were culled by hand from eyeballing Eclipse winners' pp's, and I can't swear I didn't miss a dot-inside-the-box start somewhere. Please feel free to bring any omissions to my attention.)

Plenty of other horses including recent G1 winners Jazil, I Want Revenge and Haynesfield, have raced on the IDT. Chime in with any others.

Relaxing appears to be the lone Eclipse winner who won two graded stakes on the inner. She won the G2 Firenze, the G2 Gallant Fox and the ungraded Assault -- the latter two against males -- in a 35-day period in 1980-81. Later that year she won the G2 Campbell against males, the G1 Delaware Handicap and G1 Ruffian against fillies, and ran third beaten just three-quarters of a length, behind John Henry and Peat Moss in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

You may also know the daughter of Buckpasser as the dam of Easy Goer.


--Speaking of graded stakes, here's an at-a-glance table of the upgrades and downgrades announced Wednesday for the 2011 Graded Stakes calendar:


[Update: The Graded Stakes Committee clarified on Friday that the Jan. 1, 2011 running of the Stage Door Betty will be a G3 since it is the rescheduled version of the 2010 raced, moved there from Dec. 18. If the race is carded again in 2011, it will be ungraded.]

In addition to the upgrades and downgrades, another five races were not eligible for 2011 grading because they are no longer run regularly: The Massachusetts H. at Suffolk Downs, Carleton F. Burke H. at Oak Tree, Sport Page H. at Belmont, and the Hollywood Turf Express H. and Hawthorne H. at Hollywood Park.

The overall decrease in graded stakes is appropriate given the smaller foal crops and reduced racing schedules ahead. The lone new Grade 1 is the BC Juvenile Turf, which has not increased in quality but arguably might attract more top European juveniles with a more prestigious grade. Since there was no similar upgrade of the BC Juvenile Turf Fillies -- most "paired" races carry the same grade -- it makes you wonder if that race is a permanent part of the BC program.


Holly More than 1 year ago
Thanks for all the holiday spirit durring the year. For all players, watchers and readers. May the Day Be Well May the day be well and the night be well. May the midday hour bring happiness too. In every minute and every second, may the day and night be well by the blessing of the Triple Gem, may all things be protected and safe. May all beings born in each of the four ways live in a land of purity. May all in the Three Realms be born upon lotus thrones. May countless wondering souls realize the three virtuous positions of the Bodhisattva Path. May all living beings, with grace and ease fulfill the Bodhisattva stages. The countenance of the World-Honored one, like the full moon or like the orb of the sun, shines with the light of clarity. A halo of wisdom spreads in every direction, enveloping all with love and compassion, joy and equanimity. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya. [Translation: Homage to the Buddha) Definitions •Triple Gem: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha •Four Ways: People, animals, plants, minerals •Three realms: Desire realm, form realm, formless realm •Bodhisattva stages: A bodhisattva's progress is determined by his practice of the six perfections (pāramitās) which are: generosity and morality; patience and diligent effort; meditation and wisdom But most importantly may we have winners and more SC blog Happy Holidays to all.
Barry More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve : I was curious why the last day before the winter break does not qualify as a mandatory payout for the Pick 6 ? Apparently there is a carryover that will become available when racing resumes 12/29. [The winter break is not the end of a race meet. There will be a mandatory payout on 12/31. -SC]
go for_broke More than 1 year ago
Steve, I heard you on Sirius Thursday. I think Byk should have you as a regular guest. I just wanted to comment on something you said. About light campaigns & avoiding other good horses. Blame had a reasonable & tough campaign, even with 5 starts. After a prep, the outside post in the Foster. Then challenged the early season leader in the Whitney. Then a paceless JCGC, then the Classic. That was good racing. Maybe he could have run once more, but to me, 4 races from Foster through BC were what we can expect from top older horses. Check Invasor 2006 & Curlin 2008. After they both went for the dirt race in Dubai. This is what we will get from a top older horse.
Jeff T. More than 1 year ago
I second that motion on Meese Rocks. She just won from the 10 hole (had her in 2 P4's) on a special NY day and then got second despite a terrible start. I like that horse a lot.
onearmbandit More than 1 year ago
Any time frame when the slots open? Hope everyones holidays are pacing well.
Ken King More than 1 year ago
Thanks for the tip on Thunde Rumble! One of my favorite horses of all time. His Jim Dandy - Travers double was awesome and I still think Hollywood Herb McCauley's ride in the Breeder's Cup Classic was criminal. TR battled through insane fractions at Gulfstream Park and was the last of the pacesetters to blow inside the 1/8th pole. His half was under 46. Great horse.
George Quinn More than 1 year ago
RIP OTB. But really, where is anyones incentive today to go to one of those shabby run down parlors anyway. Why would anyone venture to one when all you have to do is stay in your pajamas and bet on TVG or any other service that is offered. I am not a big fan of TVG on air personalities, as I have blogged here often. But I did use it on Breeders Cup day and thought the site was very easy to use and I got to stay in my office with big screen and my doggies and no hassles. Clicked on close and had my check in 4 business days. RIP OTB. George in Tampa
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
If anything good comes out of the OTB shutdown, perhaps it will be that NYRA will finally be able to really reduce winter dates: The days of having to run 95 days between December 1 and April 1 (or April 30) is very much outdated, and in an era of horse shortages needs to change. Monmouth Park proved people want to bet big fields, and with that in mind, if NYRA needs to run in the winter to keep horsemen who can't afford to ship elsewhere and come back in the spring in the mix, this is the kind of schedule I'd be looking at for the winter of 2011-'12: December 2011 (up to the Christmas break): Racing stays on the main track up to the Christmas break (in a change from recent seasons), but with racing cut to four days a week, Thursday through Sunday. First post would be 1:00 PM on Thursdays and Fridays as part of an overall change to where even after racing returns to Aqueduct in late October/early November, first post remains at 1:00 PM on weekdays with cards cut from nine races to eight during the week. Weekends would be 10 races with first post at Noon. December 18 would be the last day of racing before the Christmas break. After the Christmas Break into January 2012: There would be eight consecutive days of racing from December 26, 2011-January 2, 2012. All cards during this period would be 10 race programs with first post at Noon daily. After January 2, racing would be on Saturdays and Sundays ONLY for the rest of January, plus racing on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 16). These would also be 10 race programs with first post at Noon until it stays light out late enough to add an 11th race to such programs. Mondays would be held as a reserve day if racing has to be canceled on Saturday or Sunday (except Monday 1/16 since there would be racing that day, with Tuesday 1/17 the reserve day that weekend) and such canceled card carried over in its entirety under such circumstance. February and March 2012: Racing is four days a week on a Thursday-Sunday basis, plus Monday, February 20 (Presidents Day). First post throughout would be 1:00 PM on weekdays (eight races) and Noon on weekends (11 races thtough Monday 2/20, except for nine on Super Bowl Sunday (2/5/'12), then 12 races the last Saturday and Sunday in February (2/26-27) and the first two weekends in March, then 13 on Saturdays and 12 on Sundays). The four-day race week (eight Thursdays/Fridays, 1:00 PM first post and then a noon post with 13 on Saturdays and 12 on Sundays) could then continue through the end of the Aqueduct main track season in April. Obviously, the focus on racing in this version would be on weekends with many more races on Saturdays and Sundays as opposed to during the week.
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, terrific story. I was up there the same weekend but failed to get over to see Rumble, certainly a fun visit and a worthy cause. I will go check out Illman's blog.
Bernard Downes More than 1 year ago
Walt, please stop advocating a reduced Breeders Cup. The ONLY future for our great (but minority) sport is more international competition, not less. Following another blog reference to TV schedules mix and matching horseracing and college football, I would like to ask why the heck the US doesn't have a dedicated horse racing channel. In Britain, with a population of 62 million and just 62 racecourses, we have 2 wholly dedicated TV channels. One a subscription channel ($30 a month) covering virtually all the best racecourses; and one a 'free' satellite channel covering Ascot, most of the lesser courses, plus all the Irish racing. In addition, one of our mainstream TV channels provides 2 to 3 hours coverage every Saturday afternoon, plus a number of major midweek races. This country is broke, with all entertainment spending being squeezed, and I am not sure that we can sustain that amount of coverage in the long term, but with your much greater numbers, surely your fan base is big enough to support a single dedicated US racing channel?