cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
05/20/2014 05:24 PM

Chrome arrives in NY for Triple try

May 20, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - California Chrome arrived in New York on Tuesday to begin preparations for his bid to become horse racing's first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner arrived at Belmont Park after an uneventful four-hour journey by van from Baltimore.

He was backed off the van - he doesn't like walking straight off like most horses - and then led into the barn by assistant trainer Alan Sherman. California Chrome walked several laps around the barn before being taken outside to pose on the grass for a media horde. He later settled into his stall.

''He likes to stand out here and pose,'' Sherman said. ''He loves to get his picture taken. He's a very inquisitive horse. He's always checking out what's going on around him. He's actually been so straightforward to train; he's made our jobs easy.''

California Chrome will start training on the track daily beginning Wednesday.

The 3-year-old colt is set to run in the Belmont Stakes on June 7. He owns a six-race winning streak, including the Derby by 1 3/4 lengths and the Preakness by 1 1/2 lengths. No horse has swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont since Affirmed in 1978.

''I think the industry could really use a Triple Crown winner right now, especially with a story like this,'' Sherman said. ''This horse didn't cost a ton of money to buy him or breed him. This goes to show you never know what can happen in this game.''

Sherman assists his 77-year-old father, Art, who returned to Southern California after the Preakness. The elder Sherman plans to reunite with his horse and son the week before the Belmont.

''I'm so proud of my dad for him to be able to do this towards the end of his career,'' Alan Sherman said. ''He's very deserving.''

Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin accompanied California Chrome on the trip from Baltimore.

Another Preakness starter under consideration for the Belmont is third-place finisher Social Inclusion, who is scheduled to arrive in New York on Friday. General A Rod (fourth), Ring Weekend (fifth) and Kid Cruz (eighth) are questionable to run in the 1 1/2-mile race.

Other probables are Commanding Curve, Danza, Wicked Strong, and Samraat, the second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers from the Derby; along with Tonalist and Commissioner, who were first and second in the Peter Pan at Belmont; and Intense Holiday, 12th in the Derby.

''It looks like it could be a tough one,'' said Todd Pletcher, who trains Danza, Commissioner and Intense Holiday.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
05/25/2014 02:47 PM

Triple Crown Failures

May 23, 2014

11 Triple Crown Winners

After waiting 25 years for a Triple Crown winner, horse racing fans were spoiled in the 1970s by the time Affirmed became the eleventh horse to do it when he captured the Triple Crown with a heart-stopping victory over Alydar in the 1978 Belmont Stakes. After all, Secretariat did it spectacularly in 1973, the first since Citation back in 1948 and Seattle Slew completed the sweep in style, managing to stay undefeated through the 1977 “Test of the Champion.”

Little did they know, 36 years would come and go without another. Overall, 19 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before coming to the Big Apple to get their proverbial clocks cleaned, 12 of them since Affirmed alone. In fact, the last to do so, I'll Have Another back in 2012, didn't even make it to the starting gate as he was scratched the day before the event with a nagging tendon injury.

That can all change on Saturday, June 7th when California Chrome will be looking for his seventh consecutive victory and to make it an even dozen who can say they won the Triple Crown in Thoroughbred racing.

Here's a look at the not-so-elite-eleven that failed in their quest to become number 12 since Affirmed.

Would there really be three in a row? It had never happened before, but Spectacular Bid was 1-5 in the Belmont despite a jockey in Ronnie Franklin that some would describe as mediocre while others would say that was insulting mediocrity and the fact that he stepped on a safety pin the day before the race. Whether it was the awful ride Franklin gave him or the pin that got him beat is still up for debate, as Coastal won the event as the 4-1 second choice. What isn’t is that “the greatest horse to ever look through a bridle,” according to his trainer Buddy Delp, couldn’t get the job done, leaving many to wonder if he couldn’t, who can?

Perhaps the most boisterous trainer of his time, John Campo sure could back it up. He’d trained countless stakes winners and several Eclipse champions by the time Pleasant Colony rolled to a pair of heart-stopping scores in the Derby and Preakness in ’81. Then Belmont week came, and Campo didn’t say a word. He knew he was done. “He’d lost weight and was coming apart in front of my eyes,” Campo would tell me in an interview a few years before he passed away. He was right. Jockey Jorge Velasquez didn’t ride a normal scheduled and meditated most of the week before finishing third to Summing.

Trained by Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg, the fact that Alysheba even made it to the Belmont in one piece overshadows the fact that he was beaten over 14 lengths by Derby and Preakness runner-up Bet Twice. In the Derby, his jockey Chris McCarron literally came out of the saddle in mid-stretch before recovering to win by ¾ of a length then got up in the final strides of the Preakness to win by a ½ length. And while he didn’t have the best trip in the Belmont, it’s hard to imagine he was going to make up that big of a margin.

It’s hard to mention his name without saying Easy Goer’s right afterwards and vice versa. It’s closest the sport had to a rivalry since Affirmed and Alydar and it still holds true today. Sunday Silence loved a wet track, Easy Goer didn’t and that was likely the difference in the Derby that was run in the mud. Their Preakness duel is widely considered one of the greatest races of all time, with Sunday Silence prevailing by a nose after a furious half-mile battle that seemed to last an eternity and surviving an inquiry that could have gone either way. Then they came to Belmont and Easy Goer exacted his revenge, thrashing his rival by eight lengths in a tour de force performance that proved who the better horse was.

“One tough customer” is a good way to describe the gritty gray that first put trainer Bob Baffert in position to win the Crown. A hard-fought Derby score by a head over Captain Bodgit followed by an equally grueling victory over Free House by the same margin in the Preakness set the stage for the most highly anticipated Belmont in close to a decade. Silver Charm was in front turning for home and appeared to be home free but a resurging Touch Gold, who got off to a dismal start in the Preakness before flying up the inside to finish fourth, re-rallied under Chris McCarron, who gave one of the greatest rides in the history of the turf, to cut Silver Charm down by ¾ of a length.

“Bullet” Bob wasted little time in positioning himself to make history again after Real Quiet, known as “The Fish” for his narrow build, held off Victory Gallop in the Derby before drawing away from him in the Preakness, was 4-5 to win the Belmont. On the far turn, he looked like “chicken dinner” as the saying goes, as jockey Kent Desormeaux blasted off to a four length. But Victory Gallop came flying through the stretch under Gary Stevens, who just missed aboard Silver Charm the previous year, and nailed Real Quiet on the money by a nose despite being impeded in the stretch by his rival. The stewards would say after the photo was posted that Real Quiet would have been disqualified had he held on. It would have been interesting to see how that would have gone over with the 80,000 plus fans that made the grandstand shake that day.

In November of ‘98 or February of ‘99, you could have claimed him from Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas for $62,500. By June 5, he had earned $2 million dollars, had won the Lexington, Derby and Preakness and was facing, coincidentally, eleven others in his date with destiny. Unfortunately, the rumors that he wasn’t the soundest horse in the world were true and he coughed up the lead in deep stretch and wound up third after getting a questionable ride by the late, great Chris Antley, who it turned out was battling some old demons upon his return to New York, his old stomping grounds, in the days leading up to the race. Still, who can forget Antley, in tears, holding up Charismatic’s leg just yards after the finish in what would be the final race of the colts’ career.

A late edition to the Baffert barn after he was purchased privately after a gate-to-wire romp in the Illinois Derby, War Emblem led them from start to finish again in the Derby, his first start for Baffert before chasing a quick pace and holding off local longshot Magic Weisner in the Preakness. Unlike those before him however, War Emblem’s hopes essentially vanished as soon as the gates opened, as he stumbled badly at the start of the Belmont. He was never able to settle down under his rider Victor Espinoza and though he managed to put his head in front after rallying greenly along the inside down the backstretch, he faded terribly through the stretch while Sarava lit up the tote board to the tune of $142.50, the longest priced winner in the history of the Belmont.

Ahhhhh, the “Gutsy Gelding,” as legendary track announcer Tom Durkin coined. He became the first gelding to win the Derby in close to a century and the only New York Bred to ever do so. After defeating Empire Maker and the rest in the Derby by almost two lengths, Funny Cide rolled to a near tem length score in the Preakness under his rider Jose Santos. A crazy work in :57 and change five days before the Derby was the first sign that trouble was ahead and Funny Cide wound up on the lead in the Belmont over a sloppy track. He was done by the time they reached the quarter pole and Empire Maker, who many thought would be the one trying to win the Crown that season, defeated Ten Most Wanted with Funny Cide five lengths back in third.

The first to try and complete the sweep since Seattle Slew back in 1977, Smarty Jones had won his eight previous starts, including the Derby over the slop at Churchill by almost three lengths and the Preakness by an astounding 11 ½ lengths. He kept his flesh between the Preakness and Belmont, trained brilliantly and received the most ringing endorsement you could get, as Ron Turcotte, rider of the immortal Secretariat, proclaimed Smarty Jones would win the Belmont by 25 lengths on the back page of the New York Post. But Smarty Jones wasn’t himself Belmont Day, and never got into a rhythm according to his jockey Stewart Elliott. It didn’t help that he was surrounded by both Rock Hard Ten and Eddington for most of the way until they had had enough, yet Smarty Jones was better than three lengths in front on the far turn. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Birdstone started coming…and kept coming….and kept coming until the lead evaporated and he passed Smarty Jones fifty yards from the wire to win by a length. It would prove to be the last start of Smarty Jones’ career.

BIG BROWN – 2008
Like Smarty Jones, Big Brown came into the Belmont undefeated off a pair of relatively easy wins in both the Derby and Preakness. But that’s where the similarities ended. His trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. had been suspended numerous times for medication violations, he was owned by a bunch of loud-mouth braggarts and had battled quarter crack problems his entire career. By the time the Belmont rolled around, saying he appeared to be a shell of the horse he was just five weeks earlier in Louisville was an understatement Still Dutrow spouted his mouth and the public believed, sending him to post as the 1-5 favorite. He never raised his legs. He got to within 3 lengths of the lead at one point but never actually had a chance to win the raise and was eased through the stretch as Da’Tara led them around Big Sandy the entire way as the longest price in the field at over 38-1.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
05/25/2014 02:49 PM

Triple Crown hopeful Chrome gallops

May 24, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - California Chrome has galloped 1 3/4 miles over a sloppy track at Belmont Park, with a possible 12-horse field taking shape for the Belmont Stakes in which the colt will try to win the Triple Crown

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner picked up the pace considerably as he ran through the stretch a second time Saturday. Assistant trainer Alan Sherman says California Chrome often loafs the first mile and then works harder.

As many as 11 other horses could take on California Chrome in the Belmont on June 7, including Peter Pan winner Tonalist, who galloped at the same time as the chestnut colt Saturday.

Other possible Belmont runners include Commissioner and Intense Holiday; Wood winner Wicked Strong; Derby runner-up Commanding Curve; Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin; Kid Cruz; Matuszak; Samraat; Social Inclusion; and Candy Boy.

No horse has won the Triple Crown facing more than seven rivals, which Seattle Slew and Citation did in 1977 and 1948, respectively. Secretariat in 1973 and Affirmed, the most recent Triple Crown winner in 1978, both defeated four others.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
05/31/2014 11:21 PM

Sherman says California Chrome is 'ready'

California Chrome is one win away from becoming the first horse in 35 years to win the Triple Crown and according to trainer Art Sherman, the horse is all set to go.

"I couldn't ask for anything more. It was a perfect work," said Alan Sherman after Chrome ran the 5 furlongs in 59.93 seconds Saturday. "He's ready."

Chrome is currently a heavy -108 fave according to

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
06/03/2014 09:54 PM

Chrome vs. Big Sandy

June 3, 2014

Elite Eleven
Triple Crown Failures

The old adage says that there are a million ways to lose a horse race but just one way to win. Ask any horseman or horsewoman stabled at any racetrack in the world and nearly every one of them would echo that sentiment.

On Saturday, California Chrome will walk over from barn 26 at beautiful Belmont Park carrying the hopes of his connections and those of thousands of adoring fans onto the racetrack looking for that one way to win the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes and become the twelfth Triple Crown winner.

The last six times the starter has sprung the latch on the starting gate, California Chrome has turned away each and every one of his rivals, including the 18 that faced him in the Kentucky Derby and the nine who tried him in the Preakness.

Close to a dozen challengers and a slew of other obstacles will await him. A majority of the tangible obstacles, like a good post position and clean trip, are things horses face every time they race. Jinxes, curses and racing gods, well they’re a story for another time.

Here in New York, Belmont Park throws one more monkey wrench at Belmont Stakes runners and that’s Belmont Park. What I mean by that is the twelve-furlong racecourse that, depending on your outlook or outcome, has been happily or ominously dubbed “Big Sandy.”

Giant sweeping turns……furlongs of straightaway…..a surprisingly short stretch at just around a quarter of a mile…..Belmont Park is the only main track of its kind in the world. The Belmont is once around the 1 ½ mile oval. It’s worth noting that all 11 Triple Crown winners had raced over the track at least once in their careers prior to “The Test of the Champion.

Located in Elmont, NY, a part of Nassau County on Long Island, it has sat on Hempstead Turnpike for well over a century. But for 11 days over the past 36 years, Hempstead Turnpike has turned into the Boulevard of Broken Dreams for the last 11 who’ve tried to reach the zenith.

Come Saturday evening, the magic number will be 12, as in 12 Triple Crown winners or 12 who have failed in their attempt since Affirmed got it done back in 1978. Here’s another important 12: the 12 furlong markers that sit around the Belmont Park course, starting at the gate.

The Starting Gate – You have so much time to recover if something goes wrong so how important can the start be of a 1 ½ mile race? The answer is plenty, as evident by War Emblem who was slammed at the start in 2002. His rider, coincidentally, was California Chrome’s rider Victor Espinoza, who grudgingly decided this year to ride at Belmont the week prior to the race..

Eleven Furlong Pole – It doesn’t exist anywhere else in the U.S. Just an eighth of a mile into the race one would think it would be nearly impossible for anything earth shattering to happen. In 2008, this is where Kent Desormeaux and Big Brown began to panic and make their escape from the rail draw.

Ten Furlong Pole – 1 ¼ mile races, like the Jockey Club Gold Cup, start here. It’s right on the bend of the clubhouse turn. Speed types, namely Funny Cide in 2003 established their front running position here.

Nine Furlong Pole – Now we’re getting into some normalcy. Arlington Park has one of these…’s called the finish line. Back in 1981, Pleasant Colony was shuffling back towards the rear as the field raced midway on the first turn.

Mile Pole – This is the finish line at most tracks as most tracks are one mile ovals. Stewart Elliott famously committed Smarty Jones to the lead, just a half mile into the race, here in 2004.

Seven Furlong Pole – The second of nearly four furlongs of straightaway. If you watch closely, this is where Desormeaux started getting a bit antsy on Real Quiet in 1998, likely thinking there was just a half-mile or so left in the race.

Six Furlong Pole – You’re halfway home. Espinoza finally let War Emblem roll a bit along the inside at this point after having him bottled up for most of the backside run behind a wall of three horses.

Five Furlong Pole – This is where business starts to really pick up. Real Quiet started to make a serious run here. War Emblem stuck his head in front. Empire Maker began to close in on his rival Funny Cide. Sunday Silence and Easy Goer moved as a team in 1989.

Half Mile Pole – You’re on the far turn now. Spectacular Bid tried to sneak away here in 1979, injured hoof and all. Smarty Jones shrugged off Rock Hard Ten and opened up on the rest. In 1999, Charismatic really put the pressure on the filly Silverbulletday at this point.

Three Furlong Pole – A fever pitched is reached midway on the far turn. It seems that this is the place where everything goes down. Sunday Silence, Silver Charm, Real Quiet, and Charismatic all hit the lead for the first time here. Alysheba, who struggled through most of the Belmont in 1987, got into some traffic trouble here, essentially eliminating himself from contention. War Emblem’s day was done. Funny Cide began his fade. Desormeaux asked Big Brown who failed to answer positively.

Quarter Pole – …..and the field turns for home!! Big Brown was eased here. Easy Goer vanquished Sunday Silence. You could tell Pleasant Colony wasn’t getting the money.

Eighth Pole - Five of the last 11 attempts were still alive in or around this point. Spectacular Bid just about gave it up to Coastal. Charismatic was surrounded and passed by one-two finishers Lemon Drop Kid and Vision and Verse. Silver Charm didn’t see a rerallying Touch Gold on the far outside. Yards before the wire, Birdstone ran past Smarty Jones. And Victory Gallop put his head down exactly on the money to deny Real Quiet.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
06/03/2014 09:56 PM

Belmont Stakes Odds

Odds to Win 2014 Belmont Stakes (6/7/14)

Horse Odds

California Chrome 1/1

Ride On Curlin 5/1

Tonalist 8/1

Commanding Curve 8/1

Wicked Strong 8/1

Medal Count 15/1

Samraat 20/1

General A Rod 20/1

Commissioner 35/1

Social Inclusion 35/1

Matterhorn 40/1

Kid Cruz 50/1

Matuszak 50/1

Odds provided by
Updated Tue, June 3 , 10:30 AM ET

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
06/03/2014 09:58 PM

California Chrome on target for Belmont

June 3, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Art Sherman got his first glimpse of California Chrome in action in two weeks, and the trainer liked what he saw.

Sherman arrived in New York on Monday afternoon and watched his Triple Crown contender gallop at Belmont Park on Tuesday morning. It was the first time Sherman had observed the chestnut colt since he captured the Preakness.

''I thought he looked better now than he did after the Preakness,'' Sherman said. ''I couldn't believe how much weight he put on. Going on the Triple Crown trail, it's kind of rough. He's an amazing horse.''

California Chrome will try for the first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978 on Saturday in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.

The flashy 3-year-old with four white feet will be the heavy favorite in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, known as the ''Test of the Champion'' for its history of crushing Triple Crown dreams.

Only 11 horses have swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in the same year. There have been 11 Triple tries since Affirmed, the most recent being Big Brown in 2008. He won the first two legs, and then was eased by jockey Kent Desormeaux in the Belmont.

I'll Have Another won the first two legs in 2012, but was scratched on Belmont eve with a tendon injury that ended his career.

After the Preakness, Sherman, 77, returned to his stable in Southern California. He sent California Chrome to New York in the care of Alan Sherman, his son and assistant trainer. The Belmont will be the colt's third demanding race in a short five-week span.

''He's doing outstanding,'' Alan Sherman said. ''I couldn't ask for anything more right now. I'm just enjoying the ride he's put us on.''

The full California Chrome rooting section will be on hand Saturday. Perry Martin, co-owner and breeder of the colt with Steve Coburn, did not attend the Preakness. He was upset with treatment he received by Churchill Downs at the Derby.

Martin is not going to miss this chance to be part of history.

''Perry and his wife will get here late Wednesday night,'' Coburn said. ''He'll probably lay real low until the day of the race. Him and his family are pretty reserved. That's why he gets out of town real quick so I can do all the talking.''

Coburn and his wife, Carolyn, from northern Nevada are enjoying their first trip to New York.

''It was my first time in Kentucky, my first time in Maryland and now my first time in New York,'' Coburn said. ''Carolyn would like to come back here and see all this when we got more time. We've kind of been rushed from here to there and back again.''

For Art Sherman, it is a homecoming for the Brooklyn native.

''I haven't been back to Williamsburg in many years,'' Sherman said. ''It's changed quite a bit. I probably can't afford Williamsburg now.''

The Belmont draw takes place Wednesday morning. It's not fraught with as much drama as the Derby, where breaking from an extreme inside or outside post in a 19- or 20-horse field can quickly take a horse out of contention.

The Belmont, the longest of the Triple Crown races, is contested over a track with wide sweeping turns. It gives jockeys plenty of time to sort out early positions.

The Belmont lost a potential runner on Tuesday when trainer Linda Rice withdrew Kid Cruz from consideration. He ran eighth in the Preakness, 16 lengths behind California Chrome.

Kid Cruz might try an easier spot on the Belmont undercard, the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes at 1 1-16 miles.

The likely challengers for California Chrome include Commanding Curve, Commissioner, General a Rod, Matterhorn, Matuszak, Medal Count, Ride On Curlin, Samraat, Social Inclusion, Tonalist and Wicked Strong.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
06/03/2014 09:59 PM

Chrome's story may never repeat

June 2, 2014

AURORA, Colo. (AP) - A message to horse lovers and dreamers out there: This will not happen to you.

Well, almost certainly not.

For all the buzz California Chrome's feel-good run at the Triple Crown is generating for horse racing, his too-good-to-be-true story has virtually no chance of repeating itself, according to the numbers.

The horse that will line up at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday is the product of an unspectacular mare and an equally unheralded stallion, bred in a state not known for producing winners and owned by a couple of racing outsiders who were labeled ''dumb asses'' for even pondering such a thing.

Byron Rogers, whose business is scientifically analyzing genetic makeup of racehorses, puts the odds at 50,000-to-1 against a horse with the strength and the stamina of a California Chrome ever showing up again among the 21,000 or so thoroughbred foals born each year. It's the sort of horse that shows up maybe once every three years, but even then doesn't always find his way into the spotlight because success requires a magic mix of the right owner, trainer and opportunity.

California Chrome was born at well-respected Harris Farms in Coalinga, California, and trained by longtime horseman Art Sherman, the 77-year-old who returned to the big-time nearly six decades after going to the Kentucky Derby as an exercise rider for Swaps, who won the 1955 Derby.

''This horse had everything go his way,'' Rogers said. ''He had just about perfect genetics. Art Sherman is a very good trainer. Harris Farms is a good farm. You couldn't predict any of this at the start with this horse.''

In fact, Rogers says, if California Chrome's parents were paired again, odds are only about one out of 10 their offspring would make it to a stakes race.

It's a reality that horsemen on the lower end of the sport, which is where California Chrome's owners once lived, are in touch with every day. Most aren't in it to reach the big time, only to break even with their expenses.

''It's all about luck and timing,'' says Shannon Rushton, executive director of the Colorado horse racing association, speaking recently at Arapahoe Park outside of Denver, where the Kentucky Derby is a distant dream for almost every man and horse. ''Every year, you kind of hope that, at some point and time, you might be the one to lead a horse into the paddock on Breeder's Cup day or Kentucky Derby day.''

The odds, even when the bloodlines are much more refined than California Chrome's, are very much against it.

Rogers says between only about 3.5 percent of thoroughbreds born each year are good enough to run in a stakes race. Only 20 can make it to the starting line at the Kentucky Derby. And yet, those odds have actually improved over the last decade, since the economic turndown also brought a slowdown in breeding. In 2005, the registered foal crop in the United States totaled more than 35,000. Last year, it was estimated at 21,275, continuing a steady decline that began in 2006.

Still, when owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin decided to buy an undistinguished filly, Love the Chase, for $8,000 a few years ago and breed her to an equally ordinary stallion named Lucky Pulpit, they knew they were buying into a fairy tale, the likes of which almost never end like this.

''There's always the dream. I think dreams are great,'' said Scott Powell, who owns and trains horses at Arapahoe Park. ''But you have to deal with reality, too. It's not Kentucky Derby or bust.''

While horsemen like Powell appreciate what California Chrome could do for their sport, they recognize the one-in-a-million nature of the whole thing.

''The goal is that they make money to maintain themselves,'' said Gilberto Dorantes, running his 3-year-old horse at Arapahoe Park on Memorial Day for the first time after growing up listening to his grandfather's stories about being a horseman in Mexico. ''That's the goal. To enjoy the horses and have them do what they were bred for. That's the best thing I can do for those horses.''

Dorantes spent around $500 on Dobes Bee - a far cry from the millions a select handful of very rich owners spend as they look from stable to stable, often turning to science, to find their magic horse.

Rogers said his business of merging data and genetics has burgeoned over the past few years, as big-money investors uncover as much information as possible in the quest to find the right horse to take big.

He doesn't expect thousands of copycat attempts in the next year, though Ian Tapp, a longtime horseman who keeps tabs on the breeding market, says California Chrome's success could produce an uptick in breeders in the colt's home state, much the way the success of Pennsylvania-bred Smarty Jones 10 years ago fueled the horse business in his home state.

''It gives some people at the bottom end of the commercial market some hope that there is an ability for them to have a good racehorse,'' Rogers said. ''It tells them it doesn't have to go to (trainer) Todd Pletcher and be raised in Kentucky and have all these other things that trend in favor of other horses.''

Rogers estimates about 40 percent of a thoroughbred's potential can be predicted by genetics. After that, it's up environment and then a roll of the dice.

''I know people who are obsessed with (winning the Kentucky Derby),'' Powell said. ''What a miserable life if that's all your goal is - to live to try to obtain something that is really not attainable for the average person. They better be doing it for other reasons or it will eat their lunch.''

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
06/05/2014 12:11 PM

Belmont or Bust!

June 5, 2014


We'll be making the trek back to New York for the Belmont Stakes on June 7. After all, we've been there for the last three chances (Funny Cide in 2003, Smarty Jones in 2004, and Big Brown in 2008) horses have had at the Triple Crown. S2o we owe it to California Chrome to see if he can achieve what those three champions and countless others couldn't.

For us, the electricity at Belmont with a Triple Crown on the line is like no other sporting event we have witnessed in person. And we've seen plenty, from Super Bowls to Rose Bowls and the Kentucky Derby.

And if they can call the Kentucky Derby the most exciting 2 minutes in sports, they can call the Belmont the most exciting two-and-a-half minutes in sports.

Unlike the Kentucky Derby, where average race fans have almost no chance to show up on Derby Day at Churchill Downs and actually see the race, or Pimlico, where getting a view of the Preakness is almost impossible unless you can squeeze into the apron or get one of those hard-to-find seats in the grandstand, the Belmont really is a people's event. Anyone can attend, no reservations required (although they're suggested if you actually want a seat in the expansive grandstand).

Belmont's grand size has something to do with it. The big track can easily accommodate crowds over 100,000 without having to funnel fans into the infield (indeed, there is no infield seating, or standing, at Belmont). Moreover, when we say anyone can show up and see the race, we mean it; very affordable grandstand ticket sales the day of the race actually get patrons onto the apron, where if they can find a spot or otherwise crane their necks, they can watch the Belmont unfold right in front of their eyes. By spending a few more bucks, any fan can get into the Club House on Belmont Day and get a view closer to the finish line in a bit more comfy (but still crowded) surroundings. Showing up on race day for the Derby or Preakness might allow a fan to get on to the grounds, but not out to the apron to actually watch the race.

And though some have romanticized about the "infield experience" at Churchill Downs and Pimlico, we have long felt that spectacle is overrated; it often regresses into one more reminiscent of NASCAR events than a horse race, which is one reason Pimlico has stopped allowing patrons to being in their own beer for the Preakness. But we don't have to worry about that at Belmont, because the infield retains its dignity (meaning no patrons) at all times.

Moreover, transportation to the track is a snap via the Long Island Railroad; there's no reason to brave the Long Island Expressway with your car. Trains drop you off right at Belmont Park's own station, and plenty of extra trains are running from Penn Station on Belmont day. In the past, that's been the way to go on our trips up from Washington and Philadelphia; we'll just leave our car at the Metropark station off the Garden State Parkway, take an NJ Transit train into Manhattan, then switch to the LIRR at Penn Station. Convenient, somewhat comfortable, and without the sort of massive headaches associated with parking in Louisville for Derby Day, or in Baltimore for the Preakness, especially since there's no significant parking available at Pimlico even on a day without a big crowd.

Belmont Park, however, is almost palatial, a racing facility that wreaks of elegance and grandeur. When reconstruction was finished in 1968, Belmont Park became a real jewel in the horse racing world, and it still is today. It's also probably the last "mega-track" we'll see built in our lifetimes; facilities built since, such as the Texas tracks in Dallas-Fort Worth (Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie) and Houston (Sam Houston Park), have no use for such expansive grandstand seating. Indeed, the "new Belmont" (although even it is now 46 years old) will probably live on as the last great race track built in the States for a long, long time.

We remember plenty of exciting Belmonts where no Triple Crown was at stake, although we have to admit that there is something special about being out on Long Island when there's a chance a horse can complete the trick.

As mentioned before, We've been there for the last three tries (Funny Cide in 2003, Smarty Jones in '04, and Big Brown in 2008), and can say that the excitement and anticipation before those races exceeded that of any other sports events we've seen in person during our lifetime, including Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, and various other championship games.

The New York flavor permeates the track; we recall getting a kick out of seeing the Giants' Michael Strahan mingling with the masses on Smarty Jones' try at the Crown in 2004, and noticed how Jimmy Fallon was enjoying himself tremendously when hanging out with the crowd when Big Brown tried and failed to win the Triple Crown in 2008. And who couldn't notice Bo Derek (left) as she watched Big Brown in 2008, either. Other prominent New Yorkers make sure to be in attendance as well. In fact, we've been so enthralled by our Belmont experiences that when we are asked what are the top sports events someone should see in their lifetime, the Belmont, when a Triple Crown is at stake, now tops our list.

Indeed, the drama and allure of the Belmont is probably best exemplified not when the Secretariats and Seattle Slews and Affirmeds won the Triple Crown, but rather when all of the great horses have tried and failed. Follow along.

In the half-century that I've been following the sport, I've seen 19 horses try to win the Triple Crown. Only three of them, in a 5-year span in the mid '70s (Secretariat in '73, Seattle Slew in '77, Affirmed in '78), turned the trick. Almost all of those who came into the Belmont looked a good bet to win, just as Big Brown did in 2008, the last time a Triple Crown was on the line at the Belmont.

Those favored horses from the past included Spectacular Bid.

Veteran racegoers all roll their eyes when the name Spectacular Bid (right) pops up. This was a magnificent thoroughbred. Ask a lot of knowledgeable railbirds about who was the better horse between the Bid and Secretariat, and you'd be surprised at how many would opt for the Bid.

But he couldn't win the Belmont.

The year was 1979, and for all the world it looked as if we were going to have back-to-back-to-back Triple Crown winners. Seattle Slew was unbeaten when he turned the trick two years earlier, and Affirmed had proven, if nothing else, that he was as gallant as any thoroughbred champ when he outdueled Alydar in all three legs the year before. Neither, however, looked like Spectacular Bid when winning the first two legs of Crown. The Bid, dominant at the Derby and Preakness, would go off at 1/5 in New York, shorter odds than those on Big Brown in 2008 or any of the other Triple Crown hopefuls in recent Belmonts.

The Bid was Dr. Fager-like good, one of those etched indelibly in the minds of any racing enthusiast who ever saw him run. And he looked like he would put the Belmont into his satchel, too, especially turning for home 30 years ago, leading the field. But that final eighth can be a bear, and the Bid, who, like any three-year-old at this stage had never had to run this mile-and-a-half distance, began to waver. Jockey Ronnie Franklin hit the accelerator a bit too soon on the Bid, down the backstretch, and even though he looked clear at the top of the stretch, Franklin had asked for too much, too soon. Suddenly, William Haggin Perry's colt, Coastal, rolled up on the outside, and, to the astonishment of the crowd, went past the Bid in the final sixteenth. Coastal won; the Bid faded to third.

Had there never been a horse named "Upset" to deal Man 'o War his only loss, we might have instead had the word "coastal" instead of "upset" referring to that surprise-defeat term. But indeed, Spectacular Bid had lost. And though trainer Bud Delp lamented at the time that the Bid had stepped on a pin that morning and hurt his foot, most racegoers chalked that down to sour grapes on Delp's part. In the Belmont, The Bid had looked very much like a champ for 1 1/4 miles, 1 3/8 miles, even 1 7/16...but not at a mile-and-a-half.

The pin didn't beat Spectacular Bid. The Belmont did.

Like it has for a lot of great horses over the past 40-odd years. It has now been 36 years since Steve Cauthen and Affirmed (left) fought off Alydar in the stretch to win the '78 Belmont and become the last Triple Crown winner, and when the late, great race caller Chic Anderson, in his last Belmont, told viewers that "We'll test these two to the wire!" But in that span (since 1964), as mentioned above, 19 horses have won the first two legs of the Crown. Sixteen of those, including some truly great runners, have failed. We can remember back to 1964, when the great Canadian champ, Northern Dancer, destined to become the sire of all sires, won the first two legs, seeing off the classy Hill Rise in a grueling Kentucky Derby, then winning more handily at the Preakness. On to the Belmont Stakes, which, for a short span between 1963-67, was run at nearby Aqueduct, while the Belmont facility was rebuilt. An odd sight it was, those Belmonts at Aqueduct, where the race started at the head of the far turn at that 1 1/8-mile oval. And Northern Dancer, under Bill Hartack, was looking awfully good for a mile and-a-quarter in that '64 Belmont, and seemed poised at the head of the stretch to add the final leg of the Crown to his collection. But Hartack could not find another gear, where Roman Brother and eventual winner Quadrangle could.

It was much the same two years later, when Kauai King, a Native Dancer colt under the savvy Don Brumfield, won the first two legs and was ready to become the first since Citation in '48 to win the Crown. Amberoid, however, had other plans that afternoon at Aqueduct, and we would have to wait a bit longer for another Triple Crown winner.

Racing aficionados still cringe at what might have been when the Belmont Stakes returned to the refurbished and rebuilt Belmont Park in asterisk Triple Crown winner! That's because Calumet's Forward Pass had been "awarded" the Kentucky Derby win two days after finishing second in Louisville when Dancer's Image (another Native Dancer colt) had been disqualified after traces of bute were found in his post-race urine sample.

That controversy was one of the biggest in sports in a very controversial year. The bute, reportedly administered by legendary Churchill Downs track vet Dr. Alex Harthill the week before the race, should have flushed out of the Dancer's system in the intervening 152 hours (long before, in fact), but traces were found in the post-race sample. (Bute was legal at most North American tracks in '68, and had been legal the year before and year after in Kentucky, but not '68). Eventually, it took several trips through the courts before the fiasco was settled years later, and Forward Pass' name stayed in the record books as the "official" winner. Insiders have since told us that track officials were going to overlook the test and resultant controversy until Wathen Knebelkamp, then Churchill Downs' president, quickly went to the press with the news. The two weeks until the Preakness became quite a media circus, with Forward Pass now the winner (although it wouldn't become official for years and several trips to the courts).

As it was, the big, powerful Calumet charge went into Baltimore as the Derby winner, then romped home in the Preakness in Big Brown-like fashion, and the thought of the asterisk Triple Crown winner became very real. It was then off to Belmont Park, where the newly-refurbished, palatial facility welcomed back the Belmont Stakes that June 1. And for an awfully long time it looked like Forward Pass was in position to win, leading into mid-stretch, before local favorite Stage Door Johnny (right), under Heliodoro Gustines, found another gear and had just enough time to make a late charge, collaring Forward Pass in the last sixteenth and winning by less than a length. Racing enthusiasts sighed in relief, as there would indeed be no asterisk Triple Crown winner. But we still hadn't had a Crown winner since 1948.

Enter 1969, and that all seemed to change with Majestic Prince, under the irascible Hartack and trained by the legendary ex-jockey Johnny Longden (who won the Triple Crown in '43 with Count Fleet). Majestic Prince, for a time, was Secretariat before Secretariat. He was aptly-named and certainly looked the part of a Triple Crown winner, a big chestnut who prepped in California, and, undefeated, saw off the talented Arts & Letters in bruising Derby and Preakness stretch drives. This would be the one to win the Crown, or so many thought until Longden announced that he didn't want the Prince to run in the Belmont. He didn't like the way he came out of the Preakness, and thought the mile and a half was too much for the colt. Canadian owner Frank McMahon had other ideas, however; the Prince would run in New York.

But "The Pumper" proved prophetic. For a time, many blamed Hartack for the Prince's Belmont failure, allowing the pace to unfold snail-like (:26 first quarter!) instead of dictating the pace in a race that was there for him to take on a silver platter. Instead, it set up perfectly for Arts & Letters, under Braulio Baeza, to win handily.

Longden was right; the Prince wasn't ready for the Belmont. He was injured in the race and never ran again. The Belmont had claimed another would-be Triple Crown winner.

Except for that brief patch in the mid '70s, far more Belmont Triple Crown failures than successes ensued in the next four decades. South American Canonero II was the rage after romping in the Derby and Preakness in 1971. But he came a cropper in the Belmont, failing to fire at the top of the stretch while a longshot named Pass Catcher ran away and eventually held off the charging Jim French at the wire. A classy Pleasant Colony looked the part of a Crown winner in 1981, but finished 3rd to Summing in his try at the Belmont. Alysheba took his stab in 1987, but was outrun by Bet Twice and two others in New York. And then there was Sunday Silence, who had an Affirmed-Alydar type duel going with Easy Goer in '89 after narrowly winning the first two legs of the Crown. Only Sunday Silence wasn't Affirmed-like in the Belmont, Easy Goer romping home.

The last seventeen years have seen seven horses fail to win the Belmont after clearing the first two Triple Crown hurdles. The great Silver Charm, owned by Bob & Bev Lewis and ridden by Gary Stevens, looked worthy-enough in '97, and, after finally putting away nemesis Free House in deep stretch in New York, looked like a Crown winner. Except that the wily Chris McCarron had wheeled Touch Gold on the far outside, out of Silver Charm's view, and slipped past the grey horse to win narrowly in the last 50 yards.

That was little drama compared to 1998, however, when Mike Pegram's Real Quiet, trained by Bob Baffert, after impressive wins vs. good fields at Churchill Downs and Pimlico, was suddenly three lengths clear mid-stretch at the Belmont, cruising home, seemingly, under a giddy Kent Desormeaux. Only that Stevens would get his Belmont revenge, thrown back in the saddle by a violent stretch charge from his mount, Victory Gallop, who nailed Real Quiet at the wire (right). It was as close as a horse could come to winning the Crown, and not getting it. Would we ever see another Crown winner, some had to wonder?

Forward to 1999, when another Lewis horse, Charismatic, looked ready to nail the Crown after winning the first two legs. The Belmont proved too much, however, and the valiant colt faded late, broke down, and lost to Lemon Drop Kid. More of the same frustration a few years later, as first War Emblem, looking every bit Smarty Jones-like in winning the Derby and Preakness in '02, failed badly at the Belmont, a distant 8th behind winner Sarava. In 2003, New York was a dither with home-state bred gelding Funny Cide on the cusp of the Triple Crown, looking awfully hard to beat, too, after his Preakness win. But Empire Maker and Ten Most Wanted wore down Jose Santos' mount in the stretch.

Then, Smarty Jones appeared a near shoe-in the next year in '04, with his contingent of vocal supporters having made the short trip up I-95 from Philadelphia and the rest of the Delaware Valley to cheer him on. But Smarty Jones found that last eighth of a mile a furlong too far. Birdstone, with Edgar Prado up, collared Smarty in the stretch. Again, we would have to wait, and after Big Brown's failure in 2008, when he pulled up on the far turn and Da'Tara romped home, the drought between Triple Crown winners had reached an all-time dry patch. Indeed, after Funny Cide failed in 2003, we exceeded the gap of 25 years between Citation (in '48) and Secretariat. This year marks 36 since Affirmed fought off Alydar and last turned the trick.

A reminder of how difficult it really is to win the Triple Crown is how many other great horses have tried and failed at the Belmont. Rare is the year when everything goes right for a horse in the Triple Crown quest, as it did for Secretariat in '73. That year, Secretariat had no real serious, Arts & Letters, Alydar, or Easy Goer-like challengers. The tracks rolled their surfaces hard in hopes of record-breaking runs. And the weather came up good for Secretariat, too, unlike stable-mate Riva Ridge the previous year (whose Crown bid ended at a muddy Preakness vs. longshot Bee Bee Bee), or the great Damascus in '67, whose Derby was ruined by an off-track (and a loss to Proud Clarion).

Remember, a lot of big names have only won two legs of the crown, 48 of them, in fact, compared to just 11 who pulled the hat-trick and won all three. Besides Damascus and Riva Ridge, other equine notables like Native Dancer, Nashua, and even Man O'War (who didn't run in the Derby), and dozens of others, only won two legs of the Triple Crown.

But as California Chrome might discover on Long Island, the Belmont can be a tough hurdle for even the greatest horses to overcome.

Like Spectacular Bid.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33099 Followers:38
06/05/2014 12:14 PM

Fading California Chrome

June 5, 2014

If you’ve come here looking for another feel-good story about California Chrome and his quest to become the 12th Triple Crown champion as the racing world counts the hours down to Belmont Stakes 146 you’ve come to the wrong place.

If tales about how his mare cost $8,000 and $2,500 to breed to his sire, Lucky Pulpit, bring a tear to your eye or make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, this story isn’t for you.

If you’re rooting for his salt-of-the-earth owners who keep going to their day jobs, his jockey Victor Espinoza who’s getting a second shot at the Triple Crown or his 77 year-old trainer Art Sherman, who we all know by now, rode the train with Swaps to Kentucky for his Derby score as his exercise rider over 50 years ago, you may want to stop reading now.

You see, we’re not California Chrome fans in these parts. I don’t buy into him saving the sport with a Triple Crown win. We have plenty of problems and there are plenty of solutions but he’s not one of them. In fact, he’s served his purpose. He’s gotten the sport some mainstream attention, like the connections throwing out the first pitch at a Yankees game and Espinoza going on the Late Show with David Letterman. That’s all that’s really needed – the build-up and anticipation. Get people talking and get them into Belmont Park on the big day.

If you’re still with me, I’m here to tell you why California Chrome WILL NOT win the Belmont Stakes this Saturday. And I’m going to lay it out the same way I did when I told you Big Brown wouldn’t win back in 2008. So put down the California Chrome Kool Aid, if you’re one of those partaking, and listen up.

THE PACE SCENARIO – Unlike in the Derby and Preakness where there was an abundance of early speed on paper and enough on the track for him to stalk perfectly, I think he’s going to be on the chase of General a Rod in the Belmont. Or, even worse, he may find himself on the front end, protecting his post 2 draw and hoping the old “you can’t get in trouble on the lead” adage rings true for just 12 more furlongs. Either way, it appears to me that he’s finally going to have to do some of the heavy lifting on Saturday.

VICTOR ESPINOZA – Last time I checked, Espinoza wasn’t one of the most revered or reliable riders in the country. In fact, he’s been on a downward trend the past few years on the national level and isn’t a guy that’s even on my radar. And the last time he was in this position, he completely panicked and dropped the ball after breaking poorly. Many will say I’m being harsh considering how bad War Emblem broke in the 2002 Belmont Stakes but I don’t think I am. You break poorly, you deal with it. You have 12 furlongs to figure it out!!! His ride was abysmal. Who knows how he’ll react if he faces some adversity again.

THE DISTANCE – Saying this horse is modestly bred is an insult to modestly bred horses nationwide. You’ll hear some people talk about going back in his pedigree and finding plenty of stamina, but that’s usually the case with every horse. The pedigree game can get tricky like that. It’s like when the ancients did a rain dance. The only reason the rain dances worked is because they danced until it rained. Go far enough back and you’ll justify this horse getting the distance.

Perhaps a bigger problem in this department is the fact that a few in here have excellent distance pedigrees. Commissioner’s sire and both grandsires won the Belmont Stakes, an insanely remarkable point. Tonalist has a ton of distance pedigree on his female side. Wicked Strong looks like a horse that wants to run all day. Commanding Curve and Ride On Curlin, second in the Derby and Preakness, respectively, were both running at him at the end of those races.

TRENDS - It took well over 100 years for it to happen, but when Commendable upset the 2000 Belmont he became the first horse ever to win having last raced in the Derby. Since 2000, it’s happened six more times. Commanding Curve, Samraat, Wicked Strong and Medal Count all fall under that category this year.

Since 1996 only two horses that have won the Derby and/or Preakness have come back to win the Belmont. They are a pair of Preakness winners, Point Given in 2001 and Afleet Alex in 2005.

No Triple Crown winner has defeated more than seven rivals in the final jewel. Both Citation in 1948 and Seattle Slew in 1977 accomplished the feat. 10 challengers are set to face California Chrome.

Finally, each and every Triple Crown winner has had a race over the course prior to the Belmont.

EAST COAST BIAS – Forget about the fact that no horse based on the West Coast has ever won the Triple Crown. Rather than that, focus on the fact that this horse hasn’t been in his own stall at Los Alamitos in over a month. He’s called three places home in that time and has to up and move just as he’s settling in. Imagine a sports team being on the road for five weeks. Would you like their chances? Meanwhile, Commissioner, Matterhorn, Wicked Strong, Matuszak and Tonalist get to make the walkover from their home base while Samraat has just a short van ride over from Aqueduct.

MURPHY’S LAW – I dare you to find me a racing expert that can show you a horse attempting to win the Triple Crown that has had more perfect trips on the Derby Trail and in the first two Triple Crown races than this horse. At some point, the luck has to run out. California Chrome has a penchant for getting antsy and rocking back and forth in the gate. If that gate opens while he’s rocking backwards on Saturday, he’s done.

KARMA – Trainer Art Sherman started this, saying he’s not superstitious but that he brought his lucky suit with him for the Belmont, the same one he wore to the Derby and the Preakness. So I wasn’t going to evoke the images of the Racing Gods but he’s given me license to with the suit. The horse runs around the racetrack with a jockey on his back that’s wearing purple silks with a green jackass on his back and a “DAP” path on the front that stands for Dumb Ass Partners. Does anyone really think those silks should hang in the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs next to the blue and red of Calumet Farms, the pink, white and black of Harbor View Farms or the white and blue checkered silks of Meadow Stables? If they are out there, that Kool Aid must be REALLY strong.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: