Jessica Chapel / Railbird

Goldencents fan at the barn to say goodbye. #BC14Untapable #BC14 #Distaff#BC14 #ClassicInside the sixteenth. #BC14 #Classic #latergramThere was a garden for Baby Z at the #Zenyatta statue shortly after the gates opened this morning. #BC14Santa AnitaThe best find during Thursday's Beacon Hill Stroll was this pencil sketch of Man O'War. Now I just have to figure out where to hang it ...

Mis- Names

I noticed Pain and Misery’s name among the early Triple Crown nominations and asked the obvious question, “Why?” Jay Hovdey has the answer:

“Ray and I have had a few horses together, but I’ve always named them,” [co-owner Dr. Leonard] Blach said. “I told him it was his turn with this one, but he kept procrastinating. By the time the name was due he’d come down with the worst case of shingles you ever saw, the poor guy. So he just wrote ‘Pain and Misery’ on the papers and sent them in.”

Here’s the punchline:

Hopefully, then, the Mandella crew has a kinder, gentler nickname around the barn for their new shooter.

“Sure,” the trainer said. “We call him Shingles.”

In his most recent start, Pain and Misery finished second to Bench Warrant in the February 15 Baffle Stakes over the downhill turf course at Santa Anita.

Now, this is funny:

Nightly News is a 2-year-old colt bred by Hal Earnhardt, like his champion half-sister, and you can assume from his name that someone takes a low view of NBC news anchor Brian Williams “misremembering” an incident aboard a helicopter during the Iraq war, for which he was suspended from the network.

Winning Legende

Legende has a ways to go before he reaches the rarefied level of his full sister, two-time Japanese Horse of the Year Gentildonna, but the 3-year-old colt made an auspicious career debut at Kyoto Racecourse on February 15. Michele MacDonald recaps the race for Thoroughbred Daily News:

Legende (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) … entered the starting gate as the even-money favorite in a field of 14 maidens going 1800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on turf. After breaking without incident, he rated kindly in second under jockey Keita Tosaki while the filly Kurseong (Jpn) (Empire Maker) set the pace for much of the trip.

When Tosaki rounded the far turn on Legende, he asked the colt for more and his mount bounded quickly to the lead. Tosaki tapped his flank twice in the stretch and Legende proved clearly best, defeating Kurseong easily by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.4 on a course rated firm, and he galloped out with his ears pricked. Fillies Gold Glory (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) and Juwelen (Jpn) (Deep Impact) finished third and fourth.

Watch the replay:

Dark Pools

Michael Cox reports on “price steaming” in unregulated exchanges:

[It] might sound like a lot of money to bet on horses that you don’t want to actually win, but if the liquidity was high enough on CITIbet, it could easily be a lucrative strategy. Because CITIbet pay-outs are based on the home totalisator dividend, a bet on the exchange of $20,000 — depending on some other factors, including the liquidity available — could have returned around $128,000 to the instigators of the sting for a total spend of around $60,000 — still a tidy profit of more than 100 percent and at much better odds than the 1-to-5 initially showing before the price steaming took place. Still, in this instance, the strategy backfired to a degree as the large investments triggered robotic wagering programs that also took a slice of the inflated odds, and as a result, the payout was much less …

Superior Belief

California Chrome went to post in the San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday as something of an anomaly — he was the first Horse of the Year since All Along in 1984 not to enter the gate as the favorite in his or her first start back the following year. All Along had a few excuses — the 1983 Horse of the Year didn’t return until the Turf Classic at Belmont the following September, 10 months after last winning the D.C. International at Laurel, and had to face the venerable John Henry, in his final season and peak form. He won the Turf Classic as the even-money favorite, and she finished fourth.

Shared Belief also had a recency edge, but it was the widely shared belief (sorry) that he was the better horse — if unlucky in not being able to prove it last year, first missing the Triple Crown races, then getting slammed out of contention by Bayern in the Breeders’ Cup Classic — that made him the odds-on favorite in the San Antonio and California Chrome the 7-5 second.

You have to appreciate that the race was run in such a way — clean from start to finish — that there’s no questioning the results:

How Shared Belief passes California Chrome in the final sixteenth? It’s what I’d feared would happen to Rachel Alexandra if she and Zenyatta met. He’s so brilliant, it’s almost possible to miss that the top pair is lengths ahead of the rest of the field. They’re both monsters; Clark Handicap winner Hoppertunity ended up finishing 6 1/2 lengths behind California Chrome.

Shared Belief was given a Beyer speed figure of 106, and a TimeformUS figure of 112, for winning the San Antonio. Per Ed Golden’s stable notes, he and Chrome reportedly came out of the race in good shape. The two will point to separate races for their next starts — Shared Belief targeting the Santa Anita Handicap and California Chrome the Dubai World Cup.

Closing Day

Bo Badger and Taylor Hole after winning race nine at Suffolk Downs on October 4, 2014
Bo Badger and Taylor Hole gallop back after winning the last race at Suffolk Downs on October 4, 2014. More photos from closing day at the track.

“They should have been here two years ago,” said trainer Kevin McCarthy, looking over the Suffolk Downs paddock fence at a crowd that pressed three deep despite the rain that began minutes before the final race on Saturday. Twelve starters were entered, including McCarthy’s horse, Indy’s Illusion, a 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt who finished ninth in the 2013 Florida Derby.

The crowd began to clap as the field left the paddock. The sound rose and fell as the post parade first passed the clubhouse rail, then turned back toward the grandstand side. What was very likely the last card ever run at the 79-year-old track was about to end. But for McCarthy, newly elected to the NEHBPA board, the day’s last race was only the last race of 2014 meet. “We’ll be here next year,” he said. “I don’t know in what form, but we’ll be here.”

“We’ll be here,” “next year” — the phrases kept coming up in conversation. Paul Umbrello of Charles River Racing, an owner and another new NEHBPA board member, wore an electric blue t-shirt with the injunction, “Keep Calm and Save Suffolk Downs / Vote NO on Question 3,” a reference to the casino repeal measure on this November’s ballot. “We’ll be here,” he said, and talked about the NEHBPA’s effort to put together a plan for leasing the track.

A few of the starting gate crew passed through the scale house on their way to load the ninth race. “See you next year,” they said as they hugged Suffolk’s communications director Jessica Paquette goodbye. “If we’re here next year,” she joked, “I’ll do opening day in a bikini.”

Next year is a longshot, and the mood in the winner’s circle darkened with the sky as the field neared the gate. So much of the afternoon had felt like any other closing day, with familiar faces and familiar horses, presentations honoring the year’s leading trainer and leading rider, and chatter about moving on for winter. But it was impossible to forget that closing day meant something else this year, that it was almost certainly the last day of live racing held in East Boston, and that people were there to witness its conclusion. Lines trailed from every teller window as the 9,153 in attendance (more than had been seen since opening day) placed their bets (wagering $305,814) on races so full there were horses on the backstretch who couldn’t get in. Local reporters prowled the apron. “You’ve got to get the last jockey coming off his horse,” said one news photographer to another. “That’s the story.”

The last race was a mile and 70 yards, and the horses went into the gate in front of the grandstand. The bell rang, and the crowd cheered, and a minute later, the field was in the stretch, Bo Badger and Indy’s Illusion in front, dueling to the wire, trading head bobs to the end. The photo sign was lit. They galloped back and circled near the finish line, waiting.

Glowing bright in the gloom, the “OFFICIAL” light of the toteboard switched on: #2 was first, #12 was second, and there was a dead heat for third. Bo Badger, owned by Eighth Note Stable and trained by John and Kathy Botty, would be the last winner at Suffolk Downs. He paid $21.80, and the crowd applauded as the winner’s circle photo was taken. When it was done and the horse unsaddled, Kathy rushed toward Taylor Hole, the last winning jockey, with a teary face and clasped him to her. “Thank you, thank you,” she said.

Results: Suffolk Downs charts for 10/4/14 (PDF)

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