Updated on 09/15/2011 1:13PM

Don't award Aptitude the Classic just yet


Dress rehearsals are over. Time for the fallout. The last two weeks of Breeders' Cup preview races had had some pretty - and ugly - ramifications. Here are some of this observer's thoughts:

There's no way to deny that Aptitude was absolutely electric in winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but there are still some questions to answer. After all, if you're of the opinion that Albert the Great's threw in a real clunker in his distant fourth-place finish, as I am, then what did Aptitude really accomplish? Aren't there a bunch of other horses who could beat Generous Rosi and Country Be Gold by 10 lengths? Sure there are - Country Be Gold was just slaughtered by Albert the Great in Woodward, but now we're to believe he's nine lengths better? Hardly.

Aptitude won the Hollywood Gold Cup by a disqualification which had nothing to do with him. Sure his Saratoga Breeders' Cup was strong, and he came home big in the Jockey Cup Gold Cup. But are the European stars Fantastic Light or Galileo afraid? Don't think so.

Aptitude may well be coming of age. Blinkers, trainer Bobby Frankel's extraordinary horsemanship, Jerry Bailey and simple maturity may be taking him to his peak, but Fantastic Light and Galileo present an entirely different challenge.

As for Albert the Great, at one point the Classic favorite off his strong form and love of Belmont, he looks to be going the wrong way. It's just hard to see him returning to the form that would make him a top player.

Tiznow not the same

Maybe we should have listened more carefully to jockey Chris McCarron. After Tiznow's big Woodward, where he was a close third off a long layoff and injury, McCarron actually sounded disappointed. Maybe he was on to something. Maybe Tiznow's heart wasn't really in it. That's certainly was the way Tiznow ran in the Goodwood, his next start.

It wasn't just that he got beat in the Goodwood; it seemed like he didn't try, and that's what bothers me. Tiznow looked a bit like Silver Charm at the end of his fine career.

Riddle of the Sprint

When a horse posts a 122 Beyer Speed Figure he has really done something. When he also drills Kona Gold, he deserves a ton of credit.

But how seriously do we take Swept Overboard? After all, a couple years ago many were impressed with Lexicon's 120-plus Beyers, but he wasn't able to duplicate that in the Breeders' Cup Sprint in 1999.

Of course, Lexicon was a dyed-in-the-wool speedster who needed the lead and his pace. In the Sprint, that's never likely to happen.

Swept Overboard, on the other hand, has versatility and can flat bust it coming home, as we all saw in his sterling Ancient Title win. Remember, too, that in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar he almost beat Kona Gold and Caller One when chasing a hot pace. The loss in between to Lexicon? Well, that day Lexicon set the pace on his own and had too much left for Swept Overboard. The Sprint is not likely to be run that way.

What is likely is that Caller One and almost certainly someone else will go hell-for-leather early, giving Swept Overboard his kind of pace. Obviously he has the talent to take advantage, but he will need a break in traffic.

And where does that leave Kona Gold? Well, he ran 1:07 and change in losing, so perhaps he really hasn't lost a step. He also was much closer to the pace than Swept Overboard, and it was a super-hot pace that surely softened him up. In the Sprint he can be more patient, to a point.

There is one concern: How much more does he have left in him at age 7? The Sprint is a bit like the NFL - you can be the fastest guy around, but if you lose so much as half a step 20 others suddenly go right by you.

Look to the 3-year-olds

The Spinster was about as exciting as an infomercial. The Beldame, at least, brought home two points.

First, the 3-year-old fillies Exogenous and Flute are not only good, they're better than the older fillies. Second, the older fillies aren't very good.

This was validated in the Spinster. Miss Linda won off nicely, but she was a speed horse winning at Keeneland - imagine that. Besides, another 3-year-old filly, Starrer, was second, ahead of a bunch of mediocre older fillies. Secret Status and Beautiful Pleasure have gone off to the breeding shed. Gourmet Girl is hurt. Lazy Slusan apparently hasn't come back to her fine spring form.

Flute figures to benefit from her Beldame effort, when she was trapped trying to move through on the inside. Barring something dramatic, it seems Flute and Exogenous will be fighting it out for top honors here - though Spain winning last year and One Dreamer a few years before showed us that the Distaff doesn't have to be chalky.