07/06/2010 2:00PM

Euros continue turf dominance


Ask the trainer of any top turf horse in the United States what sentence they fear the most, and they'll more than likely tell you it's among...

"The British are coming!"

"The French are coming!"

"The Irish are coming!"

"The Australians are coming!"

"The Japanese are coming!"

You get my point.  Whether it's Conduit in the Breeders' Cup Turf, Goldikova in the Breeders' Cup Mile, or Chinchon in last weekend's United Nations at Monmouth, foreign imports continue to dominate North American turf races.  This is hardly a new phenomenon, but one that amazes nonetheless.

Blame medication for thinning out the American breed.  Blame breeders who mate for speed, dirt, and the auction house.  Blame them all, but the fact remains that the longer the distance and greener the course, the stronger foreign horses assert themselves at our highest level. 

Before the United Nations, Chinchon wouldn't be on any European racing fan's top ten list.  After his scintillating last-to-first burst with a final three-eighths in 33.99, Chinchon, along with Gio Ponti and Bourbon Bay, can now be considered one of the top turf horses in North America. 

Chinchon was hardly a Group 1-caliber runner in Europe.  He finished fifth at 53-1 odds in the 2008 French Derby, ran fourth at 12-1 in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup last year, and placed sixth of nine in the Prix Ganay on May 2.  He was even beaten into fourth by Gio Ponti in last year's Man O'War at Belmont in his first foray across the great pond.  How could he dominate what was considered one of our "deeper" Grade 1 fields?

Here's the secret:

You don't have to be a Group 1 horse overseas to win Grade 1 turf races in the United States.  Any exposed foreigner will do. 

While Chinchon did take advantage of a contested pace to win the United Nations, horses usually don't do what he did.  After breaking slowly, like many foreign runners are apt to do, Chinchon raced last on the rail for most of the way.  According to the chart, he was eight lengths behind with three-eighths to race.  But he still gobbled them up with a wide kick to make the rest look like they were tied to the sixteenth pole.

"Today, I was pretty nervous halfway through the race with how slow the early pace was because I knew it would be tough for him to close," said winning trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias.  "After today, we’ll keep the Breeders’ Cup in mind.  We’ll watch the Man O’ War (Grade 1 at Belmont Park, Saturday July 10) next week to see how Gio Ponti does as well.  But we will definitely keep the race in mind.  If we do decide to go to the Breeders’ Cup, we’ll give him a prep in Europe.”

Winning rider Garrett Gomez also felt the solid pace could have been quicker.  "I thought they would have gone faster up front, but the pace was very reasonable.  After the break I just eased him over the fence and sat last most of the way.  He was enjoying himself, being all alone at the back.  I squeezed him a little at the quarter pole and started advancing up the inside; I didn’t want to have to swing widest for the drive.  Just after we turned for home I took him to the outside and he really exploded.  He flew home.”
Prior to the United Nations, Chinchon's best Racing Post Rating was a 115.  If he could beat Grade 1 horses in the United States like that, what would Fame and Glory (128), Harbinger (128), Paco Boy (128), Byword (126), and the dozens and dozens of horses with higher numbers do to that field?

I think we know the answer.

Four of the last five Breeders' Cup Turf winners (Conduit, Red Rocks, Shirooco) were prepared in Europe.  Would it surprise you if this year's winner at Churchill Downs comes from abroad?


Can you post the pp's for a horse that ran in the United
Nations a couple of years ago.(Mr Obrien)?
And a tough sprinter (Spooky Mulder)?
Thank you.....

Here they are:

Download Stakes horses


Sorry for my ignorance, but what's a "walkover" ? Is it when just 1 horse starts? Why would the track run an event (esp. the Bayakoa) with 1 horse?
Confused in Virginia,

From the 2010 American Racing Manual:

"The walkover, one of racing's rarities these days, typically consists of a horse going over the course alone as the only starter in a race.  The 1997 Bayakoa Handicap, in which only Sharp Cat ran, was the first walkover in a major event since Horse of the Year Spectacular Bid concluded his career with a solo gallop under Bill Shoemaker in the 1980 Woodward at Belmont Park.  Prior to that, the last walkover in a major event came in 1949 when Coaltown faced no rivals in the Edward Burke Handicap at Havre de Grace.
Another kind of walkover is a race in which the horses competing all belong to the same interest of individual.  The last known instance of this extreme oddity occurred in 1943 when stablemates Azogue Speed and Clara C. were the only entrants in the Juvenile Debut Stakes at Havana in Cuba."

In the case of Liveinthepresent's walkover at Colonial in 2005, there were four scratches from the original five-horse field. 

The racetrack won't card a one-horse race, but scratches sometimes necessitate a non-betting event like a walkover.


Dan: In the Closer Look for the 7th at Mth on Friday July 2, a 2yo MSW, for #6 Grand Mistress, Brian Mulligan says about his sire, "Grand Slam has hit with about 12% of his juvenile first-timers in an 329-horse sample".
But the previous day, in the first race at Hol July 1, for Grand Maneuver, whose sire is also Grand Slam, Randy Goulding had written "sire 15 percent with first time starting juveniles from 329 starters".
Same sire, same number of juvy first-timers. Is it 12% or 15%?
I'm a dedicated bettor of 2yo races and it would help to know which it is. If you could clear this up I would appreciate it.
Dr Pick

According to DRF stats, Grand Slam is 41-332 (12%) with his juvenile debut runners.


Hi Dan,
I have another handicapping question. When looking through running line of a race and a horse's name is in italics..where or how do you find out what race that horse won next out? Is it formulator information/statistic or do you have to keep looking through all race results? Thanks again and have a great summer.

Chris, the best way to look up next-out winners is by using the Formulator Web past performances.  You can access charts going back to January 1, 2007.  Under "Options," click on next race and you will see the next-out results, Beyer Figures, etc.


Sheriff Dan,
I'm going to the Hollywood Gold Cup on Saturday. My first love in racing, way back in the late 70's was Crystal Water. Any chance you can dig up some PPs. He won the Big Cap and Gold Cup back in 1977. Thanks!

Here's what I have for Crystal Water.

Download Crystal Water


Calling all research junkies- Last older male to win a graded stakes on dirt with a beyer less than 90? I don't suppose this could be unprecedented, could it?

Trick of the North won the Grade 3-C Premier Stakes at Hastings with an 89 Beyer on October 18, 2009. 
The last sub-90 older male graded stakes winner in the United States was City Attraction (87) in the Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct on December 29, 2007. 


Hi Dan,
Would you be able to post pp's for Whothrewslew? This was one of the first horses I got attached with when I first started in the game and he used to real off wins by the bunches in Northern California with pure speed.

Here she is:

Download Whothruslew


Congrats to Primo for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He selects the seventh race at Indiana Downs on Wednesday for this week's race.  Here are the past performances:

Download HG

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.  Please post your plays and analysis to the blog. In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference.  One entry per person please.  I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.

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 processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


Back tomorrow with the HG analysis and last week's top Beyers.