09/08/2010 2:51PM

Looking Forward


As a person who absolutely loves summer and has for as long as I can remember, Labor Day is a bittersweet day for me, for obvious reasons. But if Labor Day itself wasn't enough to deal with, the person who selects the music that plays at various points during the day on the NYRA telecasts had to go and make it much worse.

I usually really like the music used prior to NYRA's pre-race prattle or just before the race replay. Who ever picks these tunes has an iPod playlist similar to mine. Lots of Hendrix, some Zeppelin, early Clapton, Allman Brothers ... all good stuff.

But for the last two years, at least, the "music director" for the NYRA broadcasts has on Labor Day, closing day of Saratoga and the unofficial end to summer, completely slayed me by hitting us at about a minute to post with a snippet of Frank Sinatra's "Summer Wind."

That just isn't fair. That's like going duck hunting with a bazooka. If there is a song that better captures how fleeting summer is, I haven't heard it. On a day that is already emotional for us summer lovers, some well-timed five second snippets of "Summer Wind" is more than enough to push you right over the edge. It's enough to make you weigh the feasibility of pulling the sheets over your head until Memorial Day.

What always snaps me out of this melancholy is the critical racing fall always promises, and this year is no different. Looking at it from a Breeders' Cup division context, there are lots of things to look forward to in the coming weeks, such as:

TURF - Given how profoundly mediocre European performers Chinchon and Debussy came over and won our two biggest turf races of the summer, the United Nations and Arlington Million, I can't wait to see what happens when European horsemen send over some horses who are actually of Group 1 caliber.

MILE - Yes, I know Goldikova has a third straight Mile in her sights. But I was so impressed Sidney's Candy's brilliant debut on turf in his last start that I am eager to see what he does against older opponents in the Oak Tree Mile.

FILLY & MARE TURF, and SPRINT - With our best active turf females showing that nine furlongs might be about as far as they want to go, and with the retirement of the injured Majesticperfection leaving a scramble behind him, I think we should be on the lookout this fall for someone to seriously step up and take control these divisions. If, that is, anyone is capable of it.

JUVENILE - It looks like Hopeful winner Boys At Tosconova will train up to the Breeders' Cup, and this was posted before J P's Gusto went for his fourth stakes victory in Wednesday's Del Mar Futurity. They're good, but the 2-year-old colt who has captured my imagination is Uncle Mo, who was awesome winning his debut on Travers Day by more than 14 lengths, earning a 102 Beyer. I would guess the Champagne would be what's next for Uncle Mo. That would represent a huge class jump for most horses. Then again, as sensational as Uncle Mo was in his debut, he doesn't look like most horses.

CLASSIC - Saving the best for last, Woodward winner Quality Road will train up to the Breeders' Cup. But Blame, who conquered Quality Road in the Whitney and then was flattered when that rival came back to romp in the Woodward, is pointing to the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The Gold Cup could provide us with a good barometer of how the 3-year-olds stack up against their elders as Travers winner Afleet Express, whose best races seem like they are still in front of him, might face Blame there. Speaking of 3-year-olds, what's up with Lookin At Lucky? After being ill, can he even be ready for a prep before the Classic? And will Trickmeister confirm he is the monster he suggested he is when he won the Pleasant Colony the day before the Travers, maybe in the Pennsylvania Derby? And while we're asking questions, can Rail Trip finally put his minor issues behind him, get his start on dirt, and prove he is as effective on it as he is on synthetics? It would be great to see that happen in the Gold Cup. Rail Trip is a high class horse and would certainly belong in a race like that.

The Autumn Wind. It might not be the Summer Wind, but it's not too shabby.

Chris More than 1 year ago
In a surprise move, Lookin At Lucky to race in the Indiana Derby as a prep for the BC Classic. Baffert's colt Misremembered used the Indiana Derby last year to really kick off his career as a solid graded stakes horse. Put it on your calendar...Lookin At Lucky in the Oct. 2 Indiana Derby.
Dan Lewin More than 1 year ago
Its a shame that the most impressive 2y old, Kantharos, had to be retired. I really had high hopes for him. It seems like the classic is full of questions.....can QR go 1 1/4, can Z run big on the dirt. I am really hoping that Lookin at Lucky trains well enough in this short time to be close to 100 percent for the classic....and crown him champ 3 year old for sure.
Eve More than 1 year ago
How could you forget to mention the defending champion of the Classic last year, ZENYATTA, in case you forgot. I wonder if she were a male, would you forget to mention the defending champion. (Zenyatta will be 1-9 when she races next in the Lady's Secret. It is obvious to me that we won't learn as much from that as we might learn from the other horses and situations I mentioned - MW)
kate rudley More than 1 year ago
Concord Point?
RobertJohnson More than 1 year ago
Thanks for discussing the intriguing Breeders Cup Classic horses. We won't know anything more about Zenyatta's chances in the Classic until they all cross under the wire at Churchill. There is little basis to compare Classic-wise because she's been running so far out of the Breeders Cup Classic context.
MAT More than 1 year ago
I guess learning if Zenyatta can go 19-0 and tie the modern North American record for an undefeated racehorse isn't enough reason to mention the Lady's Secret.
KLX More than 1 year ago
No MAT it's not enough to mention. Yes, she won the Breeder's Cup Classic last year and the Distaff the year before (with home field advantage and pro-ride on both occasions. which happens to be so great that SA is ripping it out after they were penalized by losing the Oak Tree meeting) but other than those performances she has done nothing but defeat the same old crowd of overmatched rivals 16 times.
ben walden, jr. More than 1 year ago
mike...this is your old oaklawn buddy...ben. i agree uncle mo seems to be the most unique 2yo talent coming out of spa meet...indeed causes anticipation for Fall racing.....yet you and everyone else.......seems to have forgotten the 2yo which may be the largest talent of all..............................Position Limit. she wanted no part of one turn yet she did it...well. wait for two turns??? you may remember her sire .....a reasonable natural two turn talent himself..........Bellamy Road. remember this filly when looking to the Fall. i believe she will play a prominent role in your columns. your old friend before you were famous............ ben (Lol. Ben, I do have Position Limit ranked #1 in the Watchmaker Watch right now! - MW)
Ben Walden More than 1 year ago
you got it mike......it is my pleasure to keep up with you. yours, ben
CV More than 1 year ago
The column is a "look forward" to the horses that are expected to participate in the Breeders Cup races, right? In your own words this column refers to the Breeders Cup Classic as, "Saving the best for last." Zenyatta's owners have said all year she is headed to the Classic, where she would naturally be a top contender because she won it last year.
josh More than 1 year ago
Turf...cape blanco and fame and glory might come over, that would be awesome. FM Turf....sariska, stacilita may come. Midday looks to come over and romp again Juvenile...JP's Gusto impresses me the most and with his del mar futurity win looks like he can go longer. Classic...of course im looking forward to queen z last start in CA and blame v. rail trip in the JCGC Mile...Goldikova, mafki and paco bay from Europe looks like a awesome contingent, sidney's candy will through in a huge wrench with the pace scenario. Sprint...who knows whats going on here but i like crown of thorns
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Mike, Thank you for the information. With regards to the three year olds stacking up against the older horses, I would imagine that they have no shot. I cant see any horse getting close to Z, Blame or QR. I still have reservations about QR because the classic isnt at Gulfstream and I am not sure he can go the distance. Like Pletcher always says though, if he gets the proper target in front of him, he has proven he can do pretty much anything. I really hope that he gets a great stalking position behind a moderate pace. That would set up a great stretch run with Z closing.