JC / Railbird

Workouts

Chrome Works

David Grening on California Chrome’s breeze this morning (DRF+):

With regular rider Victor Espinoza up, California Chrome went his first quarter in 24.14 seconds and his second quarter in 23.30, according to DRF clocker Mike Welsch. It only got better from there, as he galloped out five furlongs in 59.59 seconds, six furlongs in 1:12.61, seven furlongs in 1:26.34, and pulled up a mile in 1:40.92.

That’s a sharp move. His official time for the four-furlong breeze was :47.69.

“I’m not a clocker but California Chrome looked full of run and seemed to have plenty left in the tank,” tweeted Jerry Bossert.

Here’s video of the work:

More on California Chrome’s work, as well as the other Belmont starters’ workouts this morning, at the Blood-Horse.

General a Rod, fourth in the Preakness and 11th in the Kentucky Derby, has joined the list of Belmont Stakes probables, bringing the number to 12.

6/1/14 Addendum: Welsch weighs in (DRF+). “The best part of the work came after the wire, as California Chrome galloped out with tremendous energy, even with Espinoza rising up in the saddle shortly past the finish line …”

Ride of a Lifetime, In the Morning

Spare a few moments in praise of the exercise riders who gallop Kentucky Derby contenders, often from the start of their racing careers:

As is the case with grooms and hot walkers, these individuals are not listed on the official race chart, or in the program, or in most of the media coverage leading up to or following the big event. There will be no trophy or postrace TV interview on a national network for the one whose horse wins the Derby. Ask how they feel as they gallop their charges beneath the Twin Spires, however, and every one of them will tell you — in the days leading up to the big event, there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.

Caviar Aging Well

After dashing through the second half of an 800 meter work in less than :22, trainer Peter Moody couldn’t help gushing about 6-year-old Black Caviar:

“She’s the complete package now, stupid as it sounds. She could work like that when she was a three-year-old, but it was rushed, not like today.”

Black Caviar starts next (depending on the ground at Randwick) on Saturday in the T.J. Smith Stakes, which is the second 2013 Breeders’ Cup Challenge race on this year’s schedule, released on Monday. Not getting a lot of attention is that this year’s Win and You’re In series is slightly reduced from 2012, going from 73 races to 67, and that among the 15 races dropped are the Met Mile (Belmont, Dirt Mile division), Delaware Handicap (Delaware Park, Distaff Ladies’ Classic), and the Canadian International (Woodbine, Turf).

Frankel Gallops

Have a look:

Of course, the footage is not terrific and we don’t know much more than that Frankel is still alive and a bit faster than Midsummer Sun. Still, you have now seen as much as those gallop-watchers who fell out of bed at 5.30am, which is pretty satisfying. Plus, you get to watch it while glugging coffee and munching donuts, instead of being exposed to Siberian winds across the blasted heath.

The video:

More! Photos from the gallop.

This morning’s work went about as you’d expect: “Everything went very well, it was a good bit of work and we were all very happy. It’s so far, so good.”

Ten days until Frankel’s final start.

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10/11/12 Addendum: How great is Frankel? “Watching Frankel do his thing is almost like watching a driver dominate a Formula 1 race, or Michael Johnson run the 400 meters.”

Odds and Ends

Blind Luck is raring to go for the El Encino Stakes next Sunday. She worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita on Friday in 1:25.20 and then galloped out another seven furlongs. “For a slightly built filly, she has loads of energy,” observed Jay Privman. On Sunday, it was The Factor flying over the Santa Anita dirt, going five furlongs in :58 flat. “He went a little too fast — he got away from the rider,” said trainer Bob Baffert of the 3-year-old colt.

Culture clash at the Big A? “I feel like I’m in an OTB! I feel like I’m in an OTB!,” LATG overhears an Aqueduct patron telling a security guard. Friday was the one month anniversary of NYC OTB’s closure. Funny, but the parlors already seem like something out of the far past, which I suppose says something about how removed from the mainstream life of the city they had become. (If you’d like to remember days at the OTB, here’s an unexpectedly poignant little video that captures the operation’s waning hours.) While there are some pains as the new element is absorbed into the track scene, NYRA’s efforts to attract displaced OTB bettors are paying off with higher ontrack handle and 2,434 new NYRA Rewards customers since December 8. On Saturday, the new Belmont Café took in a high point $137,889 in wagers from 325 players. “It just goes to show you that simple accommodations — a clean bathroom and a decent place to eat — can go a long way,” writes Jerry Bossert. There’s a still a significant shortfall in NYRA’s total handle, but the trend is positive.

So, the investigation into the l’affaire Life at Ten is ongoing, with the Office of the Inspector General in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet being brought in “to have some independent review for certain aspects of it.” That’s KHRC executive director Lisa Underwood talking to Jennie Rees, who also reports that the KHRC has conducted 90 interviews regarding the Breeders’ Cup Distaff Ladies’ Classic fiasco. Ninety? Once this investigation concludes, how about another into what’s been a frustratingly opaque and slow process.

A New Year’s resolution particularly relevant to the above: “Protect the punter.”

Final handle numbers for 2010 were down 7.3% from 2009, to $11.4 billion from $12.3 billion. That’s the lowest annual total since 1995. “Obviously, we are losing bettors to other forms of gambling,” TRA executive vice president Chris Scherf tells Janet Patton. “We are in the midst of an unmanaged, market-driven contraction touching most aspects of the racing business.” Unmanaged is the key word, and nowhere is that more apparent right now that in the date dispute shaping up in southern Florida between Calder and Gulfstream. As for losing out to other games, sports bettors and poker players are pretty upfront about why they’re not paying much attention to racing.

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