09/18/2009 6:17PM

Dublin (not D. Wayne) Part II

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Before we get started on the final leg of the Dublin trip, here are a couple of snapshots of the journey:

Foal

 The next Sea the Stars?

 

Bookmakers
"11-2 is better than 5-1, right?"

 


HomeStraight

The daunting home straight of the Curragh.  Note the uphill climb for the final furlong.

 


LadyMarian

 Lady Marian, the winner of the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp in 2008

 


Vintage Crop

 Vintage Crop, the first foreign-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup.


WalkingRing

 The walking ring at the Curragh.



WalkingRing2

 One can get right up close to the action in the walking ring.

***

Sunday, September 13:

1:45pm: 
The Curragh hosted "The Vincent O'Brien Exhibition" to honor the legendary trainer, and there were some true treasures of the turf among the items on display.  Locks of hair from Nijinsky, Sadler's Wells and others, trophies from some of the best-loved races on the planet, racecards, paintings, statues, saddles, and more.

ArcTrophy

A trophy commemorating the back-to-back Arc wins by Alleged in 1977 and 1978. 

 

NijinskySaddle

Lester Piggott's saddle when he rode the great Nijinsky to win the English 2,000 Guineas in 1970.  O'Brien would later win the Guineas with Lomond in 1983, and El Gran Senor the following year.  He trained the winners of six Epsom Derby winners, six Irish Derby winners, three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups winners, three straight Champion Hurdle winners, and three consecutive Aintree Grand National winners.

 

NorthernDancerhalter

 One of Northern Dancer's halters.


A racing historian could spend hours among the memorabilia, but alas, the 2:15 Curragh Nursery Handicap was calling.  Honestly, I didn't like this card one bit.  The racing seemed subpar, and I just didn't have a feel for the form.  What did I do?  Instead of showing my trademark patience, I dove right in, and it almost cost me a bundle. 
The Nursery featured a field of 18 babies with 16 maidens.  I had no idea, and my selection, Grace and Virtue, adding a tongue-strap for the first time (another interesting piece of information that could be useful to American handicappers) finished seventeenth at 16-1.  It was a race I never would have bet at home, and I should have just watched this one.  Apprentice Darren Egan earned his first career victory aboard Diva Dolce for Lady O'Reilly and trainer Kevin Prendergast. 

2:45pm - The Group 3 Irish Daily Mirror Renaissance Stakes was up next, and I kinda liked Vocalised, a son of Vindication out of a multiple stakes-winning daughter of Serena's Song.  Vocalised won a couple of Group 3's earlier in the year, but failed badly in the French 2000 Guineas, and didn't do much when turned back to this six furlong distance in his most recent start.  I gave him a chance to rebound, but he disappointed again. 
Snaefell, a veteran gelding adding blinkers for the first time while removing sheepskin cheekpieces, got it done for jockey Fran Berry, the first of his four winners on the card.  Vocalised was dead on the bookies' board.  He was 6-1 and, as I found out on this trip, they rarely give anything away.

3:15pm - The only horse I semi-liked on the card was Corcovada in the Flame of Tara, a listed stakes for juvenile fillies.  Despite stepping up in trip, she seemed in good form, and the favorite, Picture Perfect, brought an unimposing 0-1 record to the proceedings.  Berry squeezed Corcovada through from in between horses going up the hill, and she fought hard to win it at 13-2. 

Scared by my earlier lack of patience, and relieved that Corcovada had saved me from tumbling into an abyss, the wallet didn't stray far from the pants the rest of the day.  The 17-horse September Handicap didn't interest me at 3:45, and my pick, Rainbow Dash, finished thirteenth at 50-1.

I decided to bet the majority of the Corcovada profits on Rayeni in the Group 3 Solonaway Stakes, however.  The Solonaway, a one-mile event, featured some interesting runners.  
Poet, trained by Aidan O'Brien, had finished third in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes at the Curragh on August 16.  Two days later, he won the listed Vincent O'Brien Memorial Ruby Stakes at Killarney.  Twelve days later, Poet won the Hacketts EBF Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh.  Six days later, he won the Group 3 Kilternan Stakes at Leopardstown.  Now, eight days after the Kilternan, Poet was back again. 
On the other hoof, Liban hadn't run since winning a Group 3 race in Rome on April 19. 
Border Patrol had been idle since winning a listed race at Sandown in May. 
Lahaleeb finished second in the Irish 1000 Guineas in May, but was no match for Ghanaati at Ascot in June, and finished well behind Goldikova at Deauville on August 2. 
Zafisio finished second in the German 2000 Guineas, but finished thirteenth in the French Derby on June 7. 
Chintz and King Jock looked overmatched, but Rayeni had just finished second to Mastercraftsman in the Irish 2000 Guineas over this track and trip on May 23.  He hadn't raced since then, and had only that one run the entire season, but I went for it anyway. 
Poet scooted right to the top under Johnny Murtagh, and the pair may have tried to go for home a bit too soon.  Rayeni, tracking the pace in second under Mick Kinane, was under a ride a long way out.  Perhaps if Poet, a strapping son of Pivotal, waited just a bit, he would have held off the late surge of Border Patrol.  He didn't, and Border Patrol necked Poet on the wire. 

4:45pm - A 29-horse field assembled for the Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital Handicap, and I had no clue.  I watched as my top pick, Grisham, struggled home in twentieth place. 

5:15pm -  Seventeen more lined up for the K & M Timber Handicap at one mile.  My selection, Badger or Bust, was the only horse I saw the entire weekend that wore front bandages.  That was enough to eliminate him from the wagering.  Worldly Wise, a close third to Poet on August 30, ran away and hid.  I felt like a dummy for not seeing that Poet line, but a young lady watching the race next to me did use it to her advantage. 

"There are no Poets in here," she yelled as Worldly Wise scampered home. 

She got 5-1.  I got an early trip back to the shuttle bus. 

8:00pm - Back in Dublin, I retired to eat at Frankie's Bar and Grill, a restaurant co-owned by Frankie Dettori and Marco Pierre White (think of an older Gordon Ramsay). 

http://www.frankiesitalianbarandgrill.com/

Digging into the Gnocchi with pesto sauce, I found the irony of a jockey owning a restaurant very amusing.  Jockeys, you see, don't eat.

Monday, September 14

Had to get home early after visiting Frankie's because there was going to be heavy lifting involved on Monday. 

10am: - Had to prepare for the day with a hearty Irish breakfast.  If you're looking to lose weight, don't come to the Emerald Isle.  A "large" Irish breakfast includes bacon, ham, sausage, eggs, black pudding (tastes better than it sounds)...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_pudding

...and all the toast, coffee, and tea that one can down.  Fattening?  Yes.  Hearty?  Absolutely.  Delicious?  I love it to pieces.  I love the States, but sometimes I don't want Special K for breakfast.  I want the good stuff.  In Ireland, it's always the good stuff.

Noon:

Guinness

In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease (no, I'm not drunk) for the St. James Brewery at 45 pounds a year.  Turns out it was a pretty good deal.  For 250 years, they've been making Guinness at St. James with the same barley, hops, and water that turned Ireland on its ear way back when. 
The Brewery is a short walk from the Luas Line stop at Heuston Station, and features everything one wants to know about Guinness.  From the innovative advertising (like the Toucan pictured above) to pouring the perfect Guinness (one gets a certificate, but has to drink the pint that he or she pours) to tasting the barley to seeing the water flow into the factory from the Wicklow Mountains to enjoying a free pint at the Gravity Bar (at the top of St. James Brewery, the Gravity Bar gives viewers a 360 degree view of Dublin), the Guinness factory affords visitors an opportunity to enjoy an interactive experience in the brewing process. 
It's a truly fun spot for anyone that happens upon Dublin, and the proximity to the River Liffey is prime as well. 
After enjoying the factory for a few hours, I walked along the river to the center of town.  With a good tourist map, one could stumble onto some interesting historical sights while wandering along the Liffey. 

***

And so, I'm back home.  Did I find some luck from placing my fingers in the bulletholes at the Post Office?  Well, I did select the HandiGambling, and the following day's Race of the Day winner paid $14.00.  Maybe there is something to luck after all.

***

For this weekend's races, I'm chalking out on most of the stakes except for Jungle Wave (#10) in the Woodbine Mile on Sunday.  I liked how he dueled another rival into ignominous defeat last time out, and still was running powerfully at the end.  Best of all, he'll be a good price in a race that features Ventura, Rahy's Attorney, Sterwins, and Bribon.

More importantly, as always, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know. 

***

Sedonia wanted to know the Beyer of R Betty Graybull.  She received a career-high 89 Beyer for her runner-up effort at Belmont on September 16.

***

Another poster wanted to know stakes Beyers.  Please navigate from this link:

http://www.drf.com/stakeresults/drfStakeResults.jsp

***

Thanks for reading.  It means a lot.

Enjoy the weekend.

Dan