Sunday’s (6-8-2014) Power Page and KHSS for Belmont and Santa Anita are ready for download…

Horse racing can be emotionally difficult and it certainly was on Saturday as my wife and I watched the Belmont Stakes – with Cali Chrome attempt to stand alongside the truly great Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed (and Alydar) and Citation.   First I would want to say that he rated kindly and seemed comfortable in the pocket.  Other horses handled that trip just fine today – i.e Palace Malice and Commisioner, so excuse on path.  And I didn’t see any discomfort from sitting in the pocket, so he was able to CONSERVE ENERGY and that is a clear positive in my opinion.  Victor Espinoza moved him outside on the far turn and CC was able to put in a run (a run that was less explosive) – he never was able to push himself to the lead.  He ran as gallantly as he could to finish in a dead-heat for 4th.


A friend of mine asked me today why no horse had won the Triple Crown in the past 36 years, after doing seminars and talking on Race Day I decided to give a simple answer, “It’s takes an act of G-d!”   It’s just too hard for the above average horse and even too much for horses that are almost great.  Native Dancer, Spectacular Bid, Pleasant Colony, Alysheba, Real Quiet, Smarty Jones and Funny Cide   (others may qualify as well for the following comment) all won the first two legs of the Triple Crown as if they were MEN against LITTLE BOYS.  Yet when they came to the Belmont, the Belmont was the MAN and they became …   CC is now one of the twenty (since 1948) who failed and Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed (& Alydar) did.  And they did it withstanding all the challenges from all who decided to show up.


Tonalist, was a winner who won in fine style, making his run on the far outside, losing ground every step of the way.  He’s got a terrific long stride and that certainly in some ways a good trip, but he still had to manage the overland route.  Belmont is a good place if you have that big stride.  Commissioner also was very good as well.    Here is what is so interesting, horses that have only 4 lifetime races and have not scale weight for stakes horses get beaten in the Kentucky Derby.  The only winner (to my recollection) of the KD with 4 races – Animal Kingdom.  In the Belmont, there have been several who win the Belmont on sporting past performances that would make them unlikely winners of the KD.  So why is that?


I have had several thoughts on that a) the really good horses have been exhausted by the Kd and The Preakness.  b) The horse that wins the Belmont is a true Marathon horse, really bred to go 1 1/2 miles.  c) The horse has to  be comfortable running at Belmont Park.  If you look at these three concepts, it’s easy to see why CC was “up against it”.


For a fair and complete record I did not like Tonalist or Commissioner at all.   The use of the Peter Pan worked out well for them.  Maybe it will become the in vogue prep for the Belmont;  I had previously thought it would become the best stepping stone for the Belmont – especially after tabbing Lemon Drop Kid off his “off race in the slop – in the  Peter Pan” but remember, in the case of Lemon Drop he also ran in the KD.  But the point is it’s an ideal place on the calendar to prep for the Belmont – especially if the connections think they have a Belmont horse and not necessarily a KD horse.  So while I didn’t handicap Tonalist, I do understand what Christoph Clement had in mind.  But the really cool thing is he not only had it in his mind, but he was able to make it come true on the track — when it counted.   One more comment on Commissioner, who is trained by Todd Pletcher.  While Pletcher has been nearly inept by every metric in the KD, he is absolutely fabulous in The Belmont.    He’s won the Belmont with Rags To Riches (a filly)  and with Palace Malice  and now a terrific 2nd place finish by the Commissioner.


My last comment is on Medal Count, who I loved in the KD, but decided he was too challenged by an natural Dirt course.  I thought he ran so-so in the KD and I didn’t expect him to recover and take to the Belmont surface.  He did and he ran surprisingly well…I take my hat off …