JC / Railbird


Top of the World

This is how good Treve was winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe:

An RPR of 130 is bang on average for an Arc winner, but, if we factor in her 1.5kg (3.3lb) fillies’ allowance, it would have taken a 134+ performance from a colt to have beaten her on Sunday — and the last Arc winner to achieve that sort of figure was six-length winner Sakhee back in 2001.

It’s Like 2008 Again

We knew this was happening in 2013, didn’t we? After Rachel Alexandra, after Zenyatta, after Goldikova and Frankel and Black Caviar:

There will be no gimmes this year. The champions will be beatable; luck will again become part of top level horse racing and the pecking order will be nowhere near as well defined as that to which we have become accustomed.

Of course, there’s still a lot of racing ahead …

Sadler’s Year?

Trainer John Sadler is hardly unknown. Steadily climbing the rankings over the past decade, he’s been among the top 10 conditioners nationally by earnings since 2008, and six weeks into this year, he’s number four, behind perennial leaders Asmussen, Baffert, and Pletcher. On opening day at Santa Anita, he won three graded stakes. This past weekend, he won three of the four graded stakes run at the track — the Strub Stakes with Twirling Candy (“possesses an undeniable brilliance,” gushed Mike Watchmaker), the Las Virgenes with Zazu (Green but Game’s expert pick and newest crush), and the San Antonio Handicap with Gladding. With 4-year-old stakes winners Switch and Sidney’s Candy also in his barn, the Santa Anita press office calculates that he has “serious contenders … in no less than six of racing’s divisions.” Not bad. While Sadler isn’t well stocked in racing’s glamour division — his most promising 3-year-old male so far this winter is Runflatout, a debut maiden winner — with three of the best older horses in training, he seems poised to have the kind of breakout year that leads to an Eclipse Award.

Hold off on adding Cal Nation to your Kentucky Derby top 10:

“Cal Nation came out of his race well,” said Pletcher of the 3-year-old Distorted Humor colt who was impressive in breaking his maiden at first asking in Saturday’s eighth race [at Gulfstream].  “It’s a little late [for him to get onto the Kentucky Derby trail].  We’d have to make up a lot of time.  I think we’ll just take the conservative route with him.”

Kentucky Derby and Oaks prep schedules updated: Beyer speed figures of 88 for Toby’s Corner in the Whirlaway and Zazu in the Las Virgenes.

Brad Free was out with an interesting post on Santa Anita’s new dirt surface over the weekend: “No one wants to knock the surface. Not publicly, at least. But behind the scenes, many are frustrated.” For whatever reason, the track composition is not as as expected; more sand is to be added. Via Derby List comes this report of bruising clods being thrown up by the dirt: “I had the misfortune of being behind one horse while working a set 2 mornings ago …

2/9/11 Addendum: Sadler tells Jay Privman that Runflatout is possible for the San Vicente Stakes on February 20. “I want to give him a chance to get to the Kentucky Derby, but I want to be smart, too, about how we go at it.”

Monday Notes

Frank Mitchell asks, “who are the great mares of the past 100 years?” Coming up with names isn’t a problem (there are so many), but refining the ranking methodology could be tricky. Record in open company has to be one of the criteria. Regarding that, you have to give Alan Shuback credit for pointing out the unpopular fact that, as the two near their final races in the Breeders’ Cup, Goldikova has proved more than Zenyatta.

The Racing Post rates Dewhurst winner Frankel “as the best European juvenile in the 21st century.” On the all-time list, he ties for third. No doubt Frankel’s freaky, and so is Champagne winner Uncle Mo, as measured by Thorograph. [More Frankel: BHA handicapper Mathew Tester bumps his rating up to 124. That’s the second highest for a Dewhurst winner this young century. It’s also second for the season to Dream Ahead’s top-rated nine-length Middle Park win, and as such, “doesn’t do justice” to the colt, sniffs Hotspur.]

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies lost one contender and gained another over the weekend. Oak Leaf winner Rigoletta has been ruled out with a splint injury. Undefeated homebred Awesome Feather earned herself a shot at Churchill Downs after winning the My Dear Girl division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder. “Breeders’ Cup!,” exulted owner-trainer Stanley Gold. “That’s what we discussed going into the race. If she won and did it right, we’d go …

So, I guess this guy plays football? And he visited Zenyatta?