JC / Railbird

Friday Notes

It’s mid-February, the weekend of Sam and Bob, the weekend Derby preps get serious. Forgive the plug, but if you’re looking for analysis of Kentucky Derby and Oaks preps this spring, consider signing up for the weekly Hello Race Fans! Derby Prep Alert, which this week covers the Sam F. Davis at Tampa, the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, and El Camino Real at Golden Gate. Subscribers last week were tipped off to Zazu’s upset potential in the Las Virgenes.

I’ve been a little preoccupied this week (to readers who are not Suffolk Downs fans, my thanks for sticking around through what’s been a series of minutiae-filled posts about a track on the ropes), and haven’t done much more than glance at the entries for the preps — enough to notice that Jaycito isn’t in the Lewis, a race in which Tapizar seems a solid favorite — and to skim Jeremy Plonk’s exhaustive Countdown to the Crown column, which mentions a few allowance races that bear watching for Derby prospects. [Jaycito will start in the San Vicente on February 20. “He’s ready to go,” said trainer Bob Baffert.]

Suffolk certainly isn’t the only racetrack struggling, and that it’s my local track isn’t all that makes the dispute with the New England horsemen over the 2011 meet purses, days, and simulcasting split so fascinating to me — it’s also that what’s happening here is of a piece with what’s happening in California, where annual handle is down and horseplayers are revolting. It’s all part of the Great American Racing Contraction, a reapportionment of power and money that isn’t going to leave a track, horseman, or horseplayer untouched.