Power Cap

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26 December 2010

2010 Year in Review: Win and you’re retired division

This year marked the second straight year the Derby favorite would miss the race due to a career threatening injury. Eskendereya was on top of everybody’s Derby prospect list after an authoritative win in the Fountain of Youth and fortified that assumption with a run away win at Aqueduct in the Wood Memorial. His injury was a sign of things to come, almost every winner of a major three year old stakes is now at stud.

This year’s Derby hero sure didn’t look like a Derby winner in his three starts following his May 1st triumph under the twin spires. After Eskendereya was knocked out with injury, the possibility of Pletcher going another year without that coveted victory in this signature race looked very likely. History repeated itself for the third time though when Borel rode the rail to victory on Super Saver who loved Churchill and the mud. The Preakness was another race that Pletcher wanted to add to his lengthy resume and Super Saver looked like he was in with a chance with three furlongs left only to weaken throughout the stretch to finish eighth. Pletcher gave Super Saver some time off to get ready for the Haskell, this was Lookin at Lucky’s coming out party though and the Pletcher star was caught for third by a resurgent First Dude. The Travers was four weeks later and the shine was completely off Super Saver at that point, he was not particularly well bet in this race and ran a distant tenth. On October 28th the Derby victor was retired not accomplishing much after his successful run on the first Saturday in May. Sea Hero and Giacomo accomplished more than Super Saver did and raced at four. Sea Hero won the Travers and raced at four in turf stakes races for a majority of that season. Giacomo won a grade two stakes at four at Del Mar and finished out his career a decent fourth in the Breeder’s Cup Classic. Super Saver retired with a minor injury that he could have returned from with some rest and relaxation.

Lookin at Lucky was the last of the major retirements and this happened after he finished fourth in the Classic. It appeared as if he would make a return to the races at four where he would have the chance to dominate a depleted division. Most years it would take three or four wins in major races to clinch divisional honors, this year it only took two. Lookin at Lucky won the Preakness in less than convincing fashion and came back in the Haskell to dominate a lot of the same foes he struggled to hold off at Baltimore. Baffert has had a good amount of high quality three-year-old runners and not a lot of them have made it back to the racetrack for a four-year-old season. The last one that comes to mind is Congaree who was a dominant force at Aqueduct, before that he had Real Quiet and Silver Charm come back to compete after their three-year-old season. Silver Charm won the San Fernando, Strub, Dubai World Cup, Kentucky Cup Classic, Goodwood, Clark, and San Pasqual, from ages four to five. The breeding market gets another son of Smart Strike to breed to now though, a field that includes Curlin, English Channel, Papa Clem, and Square Eddie.

What do Afleet Express and Line of David have in common? They both retired shortly after wins in important stakes races. Line of David shocked the betting public by winning the Arkansas Derby over Dublin and Super Saver, he was no where near the winner in the Derby and a stud deal was reached in June. Afleet Express won the Travers and was retired on November 10th, ten days before the announcement of Lookin at Lucky’s retirement.

Drosselmeyer is back in training after an injury that was detected after his victory in the Belmont Stakes. Probably the only reasons he is not standing at stud are that the market for breeding to Belmont winners is not there and his stable mate Super Saver is in the breeding shed for 2011. Drosselmeyer ran in a Belmont that did not feature a winner of either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness. The last time this happened was 2000 when Commendable wired the Belmont field. Commendable did not win a race after his Belmont score. The only difference is there is no Albert the Great or Tiznow running next year like Commendable had in his class.


Anonymous said...

Heck, they don't even have to win anymore, they just have to show that they have "tremendous potential." Some of the crap they write in stallion ads makes me wanna puke.

John C. said...

The breeding industry has gone from bad to worse; it models itself on the same principles that caused the Wall Street collapse. Thousands of overhyped and ultimately unwanted horses will suffer terrible fates.

The only kings left in the sport of kings are pathetically cheap in the most abject sense of the word.

gib. said...

This is crap - bettors play these two and three year olds at great risk as they mature and experiment to find best distances and surfaces. When they should become consistant runners at four and beyond they are gone.

I find myself playing the old pluggers more often and just watching the "hot" newcomers.

Horse racing continues to shoot itself in the foot.

Huge purses for the babies, not that much for older horses. How about breaking them in a little? - the younger the horses, the lowere the purses; leave some big purse money out there for connections willing to bring four, five, six year olds back.