JC / Railbird

International

Cunco Wins

And this is a great opening line: “Frankel remains unbeaten.”

Dreamy Trêve

Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek blows a kiss after Treve wins the 2015 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud

Trêve is traveling well towards a third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, winning the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on Sunday by 1 1/4 lengths over classy Flintshire. Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek (above) said after that she was quite confident:

“I was never worried. She was a little on her toes before the race but Thierry rode her beautifully. I’m delighted as Flintshire is a very good horse. It’s just a dream.”

The Saint-Cloud was the 5-year-old mare’s second win in as many starts this year, a much more promising record than her early 2014 campaign — she was 0-for-2 at this time last year en route to her second Arc victory.

On avait le terrain un peu trop ferme pour elle mais on dit que les bons chevaux vont dans tous les terrains,” said jockey Thierry Jarnet of Trêve’s effort. Google Translate comes to the aid of my high school French to reveal that he was saying something along the lines of, “The ground was a little too firm for her, but they say good horses go in any condition.” Watch the replay:

More on the Saint-Cloud: “Flintshire famously loves a fast surface and he will surely never have a better chance of turning over Treve.”

Chrome Turns Right

California Chrome continued his prep for an anticipated start in the June 17 Prince of Wales’s Stakes, getting acquainted with the right-handed Ascot turf on Thursday. Frankie Dettori on how the colt handled the training session:

“We did seven furlongs,” Dettori said. “The whole idea, because he has been turning left all his life, was to get him at full-on speed round the turn to make sure he gets on his right lead.

“He was a bit surprised going into the turn. He didn’t know what was going on. Then he got onto his right lead, he learned very quickly and in the straight I asked him to quicken to make sure he knew that after the turn he was going to carry on.”

Here’s a photo of Chrome and workmate Aktabantay at the turn, and here he is in slo-mo, galloping past the finish line.

Despite saying that he expects the Horse of the Year to “be very competitive,” the rider will likely be on Western Hymn in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

Alan Sherman, in town to supervise for his father, trainer Art Sherman, wasn’t as positive (or diplomatic) about the American Horse of the Year’s chances:

“He’s running against the best turf horses in the world, so. Like I said, he’s a hard trier. If he’s not good enough, he’s not good enough.”

The elder Sherman is looking forward to Ascot for more than his horse — he’s hoping for an introduction to the Queen: “She loves California Chrome and the story behind him, so I’ve got a feeling we’ll get a chance to meet her.”

Chrome will return to the US after Ascot for planned starts in the Arlington Million, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Breeders’ Cup (race to be determined).

6/7/15 Update: William Buick has picked up the ride on California Chrome. “They wanted one of the good English or European jockeys and William beat them in Dubai so they know him and he’s available,” said trainer Rae Guest, overseeing Chrome while he’s in Newmarket.

No Easy Task

Chris Smith on the likely challengers to California Chrome at Royal Ascot:

A picture is beginning to emerge of the probable strength of the international challenge for the great meeting (June 16-20), and it is abundantly clear that some truly outstanding turf performers from Europe, the Far East, and Australia are being lined up to take him on.

The reigning Horse of the Year is apparently quite happy in trainer Rae Guest’s Newmarket yard post-Dubai World Cup. He certainly looks good.

Gangsters and Bookies

Depression-era horse racing in Cuba:

Like scenes out of an Ernest Hemingway novel, gunfire mingled with mariachi music near the betting ring.

It was an open secret that when track-backed bookmakers thought they were going to lose money on a heavily bet horse, they would call up to the stewards’ stand. Using a system nicknamed “window washing,” the stewards would raise and lower a window shade corresponding to the number of the horse they wanted “protected.” It was the starter’s job to watch for this signal, and to make sure the hot horse was at a disadvantage when the starting tape sprang up.

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 …

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