10/14/2010 2:31PM

Of Da' Tara, Big Brown, Touch Gold and Silver Charm

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I saw online today that Da' Tara will be sold as a racing or breeding prospect at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Da' Tara, of course, won the 2008 Belmont Stakes at 38-1 that is far better known as the Belmont in which Big Brown was pulled up as the 1-5 favorite to sweep the Triple Crown. That turned out to be the only race Big Brown ever lost.

In retrospect, that Belmont seemed a little cursed. Although Big Brown did come back to win the Haskell and a Monmouth Stakes specially created for him, he never really did go on to do the things many expected from him, and so was something of a disappointment after that Belmont.

As for Da' Tara, he has not raced since last November, so good luck to anyone thinking about buying him as a racing prospect, and he has not won in 11 starts since that Belmont. The closest he came was a second, beaten a neck, in an optional claimer/allowance at Gulfstream. Six of Da' Tara's 11 post-Belmont Stakes starts were in stakes races, and he recorded a fifth, a sixth, three sevenths, and an eased. How did Da' Tara win that Belmont by 5 1-4 lengths?

I also saw online today that Touch Gold is one of a handful of stallions Adena Springs will send to stand here in New York next year. Touch Gold, of course, denied Silver Charm a sweep of the 1997 Triple Crown by catching that opponent in the stretch of the Belmont Stakes. But Touch Gold's place in history as a Triple Crown spolier is very different than Da' Tara's.

I have always maintained that Silver Charm shouldn't have even been in the position of being able to sweep the Triple Crown because he wasn't the best horse in his Preakness. Touch Gold was. Touch Gold stumbled badly at the start of that year's Preakness, ripping one of his feet to shreds. Yet despite that, and despite having to rally from well off the pace over a track at Pimlico that was strongly speed biased, and despite having to steady going into the far turn and again in the stretch, Touch Gold was beaten only 1 1-2 lengths while finishing fourth. Touch Gold was much the best in that Preakness, and he proved it when he came back to win the Belmont on 3 1-2 feet.

This is not meant to denigrate Silver Charm. He had a far better career than Touch Gold did and is thoroughly deserving of his place in the Hall of Fame. But during that Triple Crown season of 1997, you can't convince me Touch Gold wasn't the better horse.

LURESDOUBLE More than 1 year ago
Touch Gold was easily the best horse in the Preakness in 1997. Anyone who has even a 3rd graders comprehension of trips and how they effect race outcomes knows this. He got revenge in the Belmont and he was the best in that TC series. As for his poor Breeders Cup performance that year he had already tailed off prior to the Breeders cup due to his quarter crack injury as he ran up the track in his race immediately preceding the BC Classic at the Meadowlands. The quarter crack became so bad it effectively ended his career. he laid off and made a brief comeback in 1998 and was retired after a few poor performances.
prizboy More than 1 year ago
Touch Gold may have had a horrendous trip in the Preakness, but I wonder if he could have gotten the nod in that crazy photo that he couldn't overcome trouble to be a part. I don't think he won the Belmont on 3 and a half feet.....he would have been in the race if he wasn't sound. I agree with Mel....McCarron is the one who won that Belmont. He rode the perfect race. He knew that Silver Charm was a horse that would re break if he saw Touch Gold. He kept his horse out away from him so he wouldn't see him until it was too late. Touch Gold the better horse???? Please....The better horse on that day...perhaps....but the better horse.....Not even close.
Mel in Arlington More than 1 year ago
Silver Charm was beaten by Chris McCarron. Chris took the overland route and sat outside of Free House so the Charm didn't have the opportunity to look Touch Gold in the eye. Without that brilliant race riding, we would be talking about Silver Charm being the 12th Triple Crown winner.
pemy0508 More than 1 year ago
Mike, I agree with you on that Touch Gold should have won the Preakness that year but looking back I wish Silver Charm had won the Triple Crown. Of all the near misses we had since 1996, one horse who exemplified toughness and true grit and guts, I believe he was it. Still my favorite TC near miss of them all in my lifetime (1996-current) is Real Quiet-Victory Gallop. I loved Victory Gallop after he defeated phoniest of all 2yo Juvenile champion of all time in Favorite Trick at Oaklawn. After that performance I had him win the Derby and so forth but as we all know what transpired before the Belmont Stakes. I believe in redemption and Touch Gold would not be denied in Belmont Stakes. So was Victory Gallop following year.
Cube More than 1 year ago
Easy Goer would have crushed them both, but I'm really not interested in hypotheticals. How about analyzing a likely matchup like the BC Juvenile. Pick your horse and say why. It's a lot more relevant than focusing upon ancient events.
Kelly More than 1 year ago
Mike, I don't care if Touch Gold had eight extra "good" legs, he still would not have gotten by Silver Charm that day. Silver Charm absolutely belonged in the position he was in to sweep the Triple Crown. He was a tired horse in that Belmont and still came on strong. Beaten by 3 1/2 feet is not a trouncing! And, his career after the Belmont, specifically his 1998 season as a 4yo was fantastic. I still still say the Breeder's Cup Classic that year was the best I've ever seen (despite the boneheaded rides by Stevens and Dettori). Where did Touch Gold finish up that day and what excuse did he have? :)