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If Ashado can do it, why can't the boys?
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Just in case you haven't read enough post-mortem coverage of the Breeders' Cup, here are some additional thoughts on Cup-related items.
Distaff: Ashado doesn't bust any stopwatches, all she does is get the job done time after time, and when it really counts.
The thing to really admire about Ashado is she is living proof Thoroughbreds can be precocious at age 2 and come back to have a big 3-year-old campaign. Think for a minute about what Ashado has accomplished. She ran second in the Juvenile Fillies, came back five weeks later to score a gut-wrenching nose win in the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle, and came back this season to win the Kentucky Oaks, CCA Oaks, and the Distaff.
The male equivalent would be a good showing in the Juvenile followed by a win in the Remsen, and then coming back to win the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and the BC Classic.
Let's not entertain any more myths about the so-called Juvenile jinx. If a filly like Ashado can hold together so admirably and with such consistency, why can't a colt?
She won a small stakes by 16 lengths in her next start, and was the pace-call leader in both the Frizette and the Juvenile Fillies. These are exceptional results off a claim, but not terribly surprising in view of Dutrow's past exploits when he claims a 2-year-old filly out of a Saratoga maiden race.
In 2002, Dutrow claimed Cyber Secret for $65,000 out of a runner-up finish, and won a maiden special weight and entry-level allowance with her shortly thereafter. A few months later she won the Cicada Stakes, then upset returning champion Storm Flag Flying in the Comely Stakes.
In 2003, Dutrow claimed Pacific Island for $75,000 out of her third career start, and she promptly won three of her next four starts by open lengths.
Mile: The annual homage to the crystal ball went to perfect-trip winner Singletary. That was a tough beat for any bettor sharp enough to latch onto Antonius Pius, a European who fell through the cracks to go off as the 13th choice at 31-1, and finished second after finding trouble from start to finish under Jamie Spencer.
Considering that defending champ Six Perfections had a Timeform top of 121 this year, and Whipper had received a 126 two starts back, Antonius Pius deserved a bit more respect after earning a 122 (beating Whipper) in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp. Then again, I guess you're supposed to get some sort of a bonus for betting on anything ridden by Spencer.
Sprint: After the Vosburgh, Pico Central looked like the champ no matter what. But Speightstown's connections make a very good argument in the wake of his big-time rebound, pointing out that each horse has one loss this year and Speightstown won the biggest prize.
On the other hand, Pico Central has the edge 3-1 in terms of Grade 1 wins, and could make it 4-1 if he wins the Cigar Mile three weeks from now.
This is likely to be the closest Eclipse vote, and there is really nothing to separate them when they fire their "A" race: Speightstown's four winning stakes Beyer Speed Figures this year average out at 115; Pico Central's four graded-stakes-winning Beyers average 114.75.
Filly and mare Turf: No one was going to beat Ouija Board, but it was nice to see Film Maker get a $282,000 payday for running second, not to mention the $43.40 exacta she completed for those who recognized her succession of strong finishes in tough situations this year.
The big lesson, of course, was further confirmation that pace may make the race on dirt, but the keys on turf continue to be class and late speed. Moscow Burning, a Grade 2 winner of over $700,000, was able to stroll along through molasses-like fractions, but she was still overtaken by three Grade 1 winners.
Juvenile: So who's the 2-year-old champion? Do we wait to see what happens if and when Wilko and Declan's Moon meet in the Hollywood Futurity?
Does tough-trip Afleet Alex get the nod after starting off with four wins, but coming up short in both route starts?
Does the Remsen pick up an added starter or two such as Proud Accolade or Sun King?
It's wide, wide open. Still, no matter who wins, don't you get the feeling that the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner was somewhere other than Lone Star Park last weekend?
Turf: Most bettors I know felt that for multi-race exotic purposes, you locked this race up with Kitten's Joy, Powerscourt and Magistretti, and really locked it up if you also threw in the lone speed, Star Over the Bay.
After the bumper-car exhibition, I, like everyone else, looked back at the past performances of Better Talk Now to see if anything had been missed.
Sure, he was coming off the three best Beyers of his life, but it wasn't until a couple days later that something about him clicked: "B.g.5."
Better Talk Now is a 5-year-old gelding in the midst of his best season, and noted handicapping author Mark Cramer had written about such runners in his book "Thoroughbred Cycles": "Five-year-old geldings that discover how to win should be given extra handicapping points in their subsequent outings, especially when the odds are right. . . . . The most mysterious of cycle transformations is the late-bloomer. The most sensational of late bloomers is the five-year-old gelding."
Now I get it!
Classic: My off-the-wall future book horse for next year's BC Classic is Mass Media, a 3-year-old stablemate of Ghostzapper's who has made his mark sprinting up to now.
Consider their similar profiles:
Ghostzapper won the Vosburgh, beating older rivals with a 116 Beyer to cap his 3-year-old season. At the time it was his first graded stakes win, and his lifetime record stood at 4 for 6.
The day after the Classic, Mass Media won Aqueduct's seven-furlong Sport Page Handicap, beating older rivals with a 115 Beyer. It was his first graded stakes win, and his lifetime record is now 5 for 7.
Can trainer Bobby Frankel stretch Mass Media out? Don't bet against it. Mass Media is 2 for 2 at Belmont, site of next year's Cup, and his sire is 1997 Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold.