Yet another great day at the Big-A. While others choose to waste hundreds of dollars to go to taxpayer park A & B($1.8 Billion in public debt)the smart discretionary money was at the Big-A. Free to admission, free parking and free to scream your lungs off. The weather was a brisk 55F and the forecast winds gusting to 35 knots out of the southwest were blocked by the massive grandstand. The track was very fair to closers and speed, so perhaps Todd Pletcher must be kicking himself for not entering Dunkirk in the Wood who likely could have given a favorable account of himself on a fair surface.
The crowd was boisterous at the Big-A. There were random chats of Tala-mo throughout the day from the third floor grandstand. One side of the grandstand would randomly and loudly chant "tala!" and the other side would return chant "mo!". This went on for most of the day and foreshadowed the Wood heroics. No PA system required to tell the fans what to do as the life was bubbling out of them, no PA system puppet strings required. For a modest sized crowd it was loud and the stakes winners all received rounds of applause when they returned to be unsaddled. It was sort of like a mini-Belmont Stakes day in an edgy environment.
It was was a very interesting card and the track was fair with speed, stalkers or closers all claiming wins on the day. Almost every year a obscene longshot wins one of the undercard races (2005 Livelyupyourself 48-1, etc etc) and this year that tradition was upheld by All Bets Off at 20-1 in race 2. Race 6 winner Montecore is a horse to watch as he won with complete ease. The winner of the Bay Shore Capt Candyman Can looked tremendous in the paddock and ran to his looks. Giant Moon continued his successful return to the races with improving form third off the layoff. He claimed the Excelsior Handicap while pressing a slow pace, his 13-1 price spiced up the exotic vertical wagers surrounding the Wood Memorial. A game Kodiak Kowboy gallantly ran down Fabulous Strike to annex the Grade I Carter, making it graded stakes wins at all three NYRA tracks and wins in over the last three seasons.
The Wood Memorial was touted as I Want Revenge and Imperial Council versus the rest. Only these two were bet with the rest of the horses cold on the board. After looking closer at the race I picked up a few solid knocks on Imperial Council. A generous poster on paceadvanatge.com pointed out that Imperial Council's action was paddle wheel-like. After watching a few head-on replays of Imperial Council's races I agreed, horses with inefficient action tire going long. Imperial Council was a power toss. When Imperial Council made a complete mess of the paddock I felt confident that he would be off the board and I was able to really get involved in the horizontal wagers. With two power opinions in the Wood, (I Want Revenge was a lock / Imperial Council would be off the board) I was able to obliterate the race vertically and horizontally. (sorry for the redboard) Imperial Council's future is in running at sprint distances. His inefficient action will keep him at distances less than 8 furlongs. As Soon as Shug figures this out the better. For my sake I hope he runs long all year.
Imperial Council's Antics
As anyone can see I Want Revenge was very impressive. He had to overcome breaking five lengths behind the field, running into a trap, running in to a jackpot, he got knocked sideways and had to split horses on two occasions. Even with all these obstacles blocking his access tot he wire he won clear as much the best. I Want Revenge's Wood trip is so eventful that you have to wonder if it took something out of him. My gut says he will be okay. Previous class horses to have nightmares trips like this were Invasor in the 2007 Donn, and Alfeet Alex in the 2005 Derby and Preakness. Both horses came back to win their next starts. Class horses and class people thrive on adversity.
I Want Revenge a picture of composure in the post parade
A poor break for I Want Revenge
Jackpot city for I Want Revenge
I Want Revenge powers through the wall of horses
I Want Revenge clear at the wire
A triumphant return for the most valiant of winners
All pics courtesy of Keith & Tara