LIVE BLOGGING FILLY FRIDAY
Ray Paulick will be live blogging Friday afternoon’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships card from Santa Anita beginning around 3:15 p.m. Eastern. To get the latest news on the “Filly Friday” program, including bettings odds and results, along with Ray’s observations and analysis of the ESPN2 telecast (and a scorecard on his own selections), check back frequently throughout the day.
3:15 p.m. … The first “wise guys” horse of the day is Ventura, the Robert Frankel-trained filly who was 5-1 on the morning line but has been bet down to 2-1 in the Filly and Mare Sprint on the synthetic Pro-Ride track. She is the co-favorite with the morning line choice Indian Blessing. Zaftig is another early bet-down, currently at 9-2 from her 8-1 morning line for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Ventura comes off a strong runner-up effort in the Woodbine Mile on turf. The daughter of Chester House has three synthetic track races, with two wins, one in England and one at Keeneland this spring in an allowance race that served as her U.S. debut.
3:20 p.m. … While we wait for the action to begin, there’s some good news about one of tomorrow’s contenders in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. WinStar Farm’s Colonel John, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes, will race as a 4-year-old next year, according to WinStar’s co-owners Bill and Susan Casner. That news came from the notes team collecting information daily on each Breeders’ Cup starter. Click here to read about Colonel John and all the other Classic entrants in Friday morning’s notes. Click here to read today’s “flash notes,” a quick daily activity report on every horse entered in the Cup.
3:26 p.m. … Post parade for the Filly and Mare Sprint has begun. ESPN2 telecast doesn’t begin for a few more minutes, so there won’t be much time to set up what the Breeders’ Cup World Championships is all about. “We’re on the air, and let’s go to Trevor Denman for the call of the first race.”
3:30 p.m. … ESPN2 is on the air, trying to set things up as best they can. in the few minutes before the first Breeders’ Cup race. There’s a quick money comparison between the Breeders’ Cup purses and other championship events, from the Daytona 500 to Wimbledon. And there are people at Santa Anita! There is a buzz in the crowd. Oh, happy day.
3:35 p.m. … The very capable Joe Tessitore is hosting the telecast, with assistance from Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey. Reporters include Jeannine Edwards, Jay Privman and Caton Bredar. No sign of Hank Goldberg and his piggy bank yet.
3:38 p.m. … What kind of camera angle is that? Where are they….what a great time to use obscure camera angles, at the most important races of the year. “Why is this so hard to follow?” someone said as we tried to figure these bizarre camera angles.
3:40 p.m. … The wise guys were right. Ventura romped, beating Indian Blessing by daylight, with Zaftig third. My pick in the race, Dearest Trickski, set the face pace and then folded like the $10,000 claimer she used to be. Trainer Bobby Frankel’s got that cheshire cat grin working in the post-race interview. Owner and breeder Khalid Abdullah makes a rare appearance in the winner’s circle with one of his horses, even though he’s been one of the most successful owners of Breeders’ Cup horses. He rarely travels to the U.S. for the races. Ventura pays $7.60 to win and the $1 exacta with Indian Blessing pays $12.70. $1 trifecta is $48.70 and the $1 superfecta with Miraculous Miss pays $733.30. Final time is a scorching 1:19.90. Chart.
3:45 p.m. … Tessitore hands it over to someone with an English accent and a made-up name of Nick Luck. I assume that’s just his racetrack name. Nick is the foreign horse expert. Where’s John McCririck? Oops…first bad technical flub. Tessitore is talking about something and some loud music crashes over him.
3:50 p.m. … Privman grabs Dodgers manager Joe Torre for a quick post-race interview. Turns out he and Bobby Frankel are best buddies.
3:53 p.m. … Hank and his bank make their first appearance. “I’m a little bit educated,” Hank insists. Kenny Mayne says Hank would bet on giraffes if he had to, introducing a cute feature about Hank, playing himself and a mutuel clerk. This is a nightmare,…two Hank Goldbergs on one telecast?
4:00 p.m. … The wise guys are out again, this time slamming the odds on the horse I picked in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Consequence. She was 8-1 on the morning and is now 5-2. Former Sports Illustrated senior writer Bill Nack is introduced as the essayist on the weekend telecasts. Good move by ESPN2. Not since the days of the great Jack Whitaker on ABC have racing telecasts enjoyed someone who could comment with intelligence and eloquence. Nack wrote and did voiceovers on the 25 greatest Breeders’ Cup moments that will be sprinkled throughout the telecasts today and tomorrow.
4:08 p.m. … Props on the anchor desk. Tessitore, Moss and Bailey show off a sample of turf from the Santa Anita grass course and the Rose Bowl football field. The point was lost on me. Next up is a Bailey interview with South African horse breeder and golfing great Gary Player (who plugs Sentient jets, a race sponsor). Gary then tees up a golf ball on the grass course and aims it at one of the windows in Frank Stronach’s office. Fore!
4:15 p.m. … Overhead shot of Santa Anita shows dozens of people in the track infield. The infield parking lot looks to be about one-third full. They’re loading into the gate for the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Another horrible directing job….way too many camera cuts to figure where they are on the track. Laragh tried to take this field all the way, but got nipped at the wire by Maram and Heart Shaped. Saucey Evening was fourth.
4:20 p.m. … Maram is trained by Chad Brown, a former Bobby Frankel assistant who went out on his own this year. Johnny Murtagh rode a terrific race, breaking from the outside and getting the Storm Cat filly Heart Shaped into a ground-saving position. Prado took Laragh through some quick fractions, and she was game to the end. Brown’s grandfather died earlier this week and was buried in New York today. Brown said his grandfather would have wanted him to be at the Breeders’ Cup. Talk about the highs and lows of racing. Jose Lezcano rode the winner, who is unbeaten in three starts, including a narrow victory in the Miss Grillo Oct. 1. She’s a daughter of Sahm (beter than a “son of Sahm”). The photo finish shows Maram getting up to beat Heart Shaped by a matter of inches. The winner paid $24.20. $1 exotics were: $175.10 for the exacta; $898.90 trifecta; $5,796.30 superfecta. Our pick, Consequence, finished seventh and was never a threat. Time of the race was 1:35.10. Chart.
4:30 p.m. … C.S. Silk is taking a lot of money in the Juvenile Fillies, bet down to 9-2 from her 15-1 morning line. Stardom Bound is a solid favorite at 8-5.
4:35 p.m. … The obligatory feature on synthetic surfaces shows, guess what? There is no consensus on whether it’s good or bad. Caton Bredar on horse back says the Pro-Ride surface temperature is 145 degrees. Don’t go runnin’ barefoot on that, Caton!
4:43 p.m. … Now seriously, whoever is directing this telecast should try to remember one thing: people who watch horse races are interested in finding the horse they like and following its progress. Constant camera cuts and jumps make it almost impossible.
4:45 p.m. …. Returning from a commercial break, we hear Randy Moss saying he wants to see if someone is perspiring. He can only be talking about the all-time sweat king, Hank “The Bank” Goldberg. Post parade for the Juvenile Fillies. Sentimental pick is Stardom Bound, the favorite, who will be sold by 84-year-old owner Charles Cono in Kentucky after the Breeders’ Cup. Chris Paasch, her trainer, has hinted at retirement because of health problems. He’s a good guy and good for the game. Same reaction I had when hearing that Larry Jones was thinking of hanging it up because of the pressure that followed the death of Eight Belles. I’ll bet Larry just cuts back on the number of horses he trains and will continue. The way things are going it might be my only winning bet of the day.
4:58 p.m. … Stardom Bound will have to win from last place.Betdown C.S. Silk took the lead, followed by Be Smart. A half-mile in :45.92. Stardom Bound makes a six wide swoop around the turn and takes the lead. What a breathtaking performance! Dream Empress finishes second, with Sky Diva third and Dave’s Revenge fourth. Stardorm Bound was ridden with tremendous confidence by Mike Smith. This is what a championship performance looks like.
Quick story about this filly. Mother-in-law Helen touted me on Stardom Bound at Del Mar when she lost her debut July 20. I got to the track shortly after that race was run, and she said “Stardom Bound is a good one. She was unlucky to lose.” Helen was right. Hope she stuck to her guns and made a winning bet today. The winner paid $5.20, and the exotics were: $24.50 for the exacta; $77.90 for the tri, and $2,538.90 for the superfecta. Time of the race was 1:40.99. Chart.
5:10 p.m. … Stuart Janney, presenting the trophy for the Juvenile Fillies, doesn’t seem to think Charles Cona has the strength to hang onto the miniature Ecorche horse that is emblematic of the Breeders’ Cup. “This is very heavy,” Janney says, “and I’ll give it to whoever would like to hold it.” Cona grabs it out of his hands. Cona is asked about whether or not he is going to go through with the sale. “We’re thinking,” Cona says to much laughter.
5:14 p.m. … Here comes a Filly Friday feature on life at the track, focusing on female trainers Carla Gaines and Helen Pitts. Wayne Lukas, who’s been married to several females, says he never wanted to hire a woman because he’s afraid someone would fall in love with them. Nice. Gaines was asked what she sacrificed for the racetrack lifestyle. “Children….marriage,” she says. Good feature. Uh-oh. Let’s put a little sour taste in it by bringing in Rick Dutrow for words of wisdom. He essentially says, “I have no interest in learning anything from a woman trainer.” That’s why we luv ya, Rick. Dirt bag.
5:22 p.m. … They brought some celebrity with too many lip injections to scare the horses in the paddock. Lisa Rinna? I’m told she’s famous for being famous and that’s about it. “Rider’s up…Woo-hoo.”
5:26 p.m. … What racing telecast would be complete without a Jeannine Edwards-Mike Iavarone interview? Why did you retire Big Brown and take all that money for breeding him instead, she asks him. Blah-blah-blah, he says. “His life is incomplete and my life is incomplete,” Iavarone says. So was mine, Mike, until this interview. Question: Why do you have a bodyguard at the track all the time? Do that many people dislike you? There are billionaires that drive to the track in their own car, walk through the gates on their own, and wander around without a bodyguard. I know you have a nice tan and all, but that doesn’t make you a a celebrity — with or without a bodyguard.
5:32 p.m. … I’m wondering if Hank Goldberg had his sweat glands removed. Or did ESPN2 borrow Sarah Palin’s makeup artist for the telecast? Speaking of sweating, Forever Together drinks a lot of Guinness beer, according to Randy Moss, to make her sweat more. She stopped sweating in Florida, apparently. Hank, were you listening?
Frankie Dettori guns Folk Opera to the lead in the Filly & Mare Turf, gettting the first quarter in a slow :25.46 and half in :50.02. Halfway to Heaven sits in the perfect spot in second and Wait a While third. Slow three quarters in 1:14.78. Out of nowhere comes Forever Together, who sweeps by them all to win, with Sealy Hill second, Wait a While third and Visit fourth. Julian Leparoux gets it done. Forever Together, racing for George Strawbridge and trainer Jonathan Sheppard, comes off a win at Keeneland in the First Lady on Oct. 3 Good thing they don’t do a breathalyzer test for these horses. Forever Together might be DQed because of the Guinness.
Meanwhile, there is a run on Guinness at the nearby liquor store by other trainers.
5:46 p.m. … Bailey accuses the French jockey of being bi-coastal. Good thing Julian isn’t listening. Trainer Sheppard (one of the great jump trainers ever) gets his first Breeders’ Cup win after seconds with Storm Cat and With Anticipation. He hit the lottery with Storm Cat, however, getting a lifetime breeding right in the horse from owner W.T. Young and enjoying a long, profitable run. Strawbridge says he and Sheppard have been friends who have been “forever together.” I notice Sheppard is sweating a bit from the heat…or was it the Guiness?
On a serious note, Strawbridge is the second cancer survivor to win on Friday, following trainer Chris Paasch. Part of the decision to have Filly Friday was to raise awareness and research funds for breast cancer in women. Cancer is a disease that doesn’t discriminate.
5:54 p.m. … Payoffs in the Filly & Mare Turf, run in 2:01.58 for the 1 1/4 miles. Forever Together, a 4-year-old by Belong to Me, paid $11.80 to win. Exotics: $224.50 for the exacta; $996.10 trifecta; $13,505.10 superfecta. Hank Goldberg had the winner. I didn’t. My pick, Halfway to Heaven, was in perfect position but had nothing left for the stretch run, finishing eighth. Chart
6:02 p.m. … Crowded paddock for the Ladies’ Classic. Everyone wants a close-up look at Zenyatta, and for good reason. She is spectacular looking. Aaron Gryder’s jockey introductions have been an OK addition to the show. Just got some insight from someone close to the Darley/Godolphin camp. Cocoa Beach is jumpin’ out of her skin, but the filly I picked to upset Zenyatta, Music Note, isn’t on her game. Let’s see how good the inside information is. It may not matter. If Zenyatta runs her race, the only contest is for second.
6:08 p.m. … Great feature on Zenyatta…little about the filly, a little about the music business that owner Jerry Moss has been such a big part of. Sting, the Police. But how come no one has asked Jerry why he failed to sign the legendary Captain Beefheart to a contract? Just realized that the Downbeat winning exacta would be Zenyatta-Music Note.
6:16 p.m. … Bear Now sprints to the lead in the Ladies’ Classic, with Zenyatta dropping back to last. Opening quarter in :23.71. Malfunction on the timer for the half mile (it said :58.08). Zanyatta on the move as the field makes the final turn. She’s good, sweeping by the on the far outside, but this was no gimmie. Cocoa Beach got an inside trip and ran hard, making the daughter of Street Cry work for the victory. Music Note gets third, with Carriage Trail fourth and Hystericalady fifth. Big day for Sheikh Mohammed, who stands Street Cry and owns the second and third place finishers.
Zenyatta’s jockey Mike Smith tells Jerry Bailey while on horseback: “Jerry, I’m in awe. Those are the best mares in the world right there. She’s just amazing. … She was there at any time that I wanted her.” Let the Horse of the Year debates begin.”She just makes things happen,” trainer John Shirreffs tells Jeannine Edwards.”She is so special and we are so blessed to have her in our barn.” Randy Moss tells us that Jerry and Ann Moss intend to race Zenyatta next year when she’s five. Would that be cool, or what?
Prices: $3 to win, $6.70 on the $1 exacta; $34.30 on the tri; $116.80 for the superfecta, and $254.50 for the Super High 5. Chart.
6:30 p,m. … Nice touch: Joan Gaines, the widow of Breeders’ Cup founder John Gaines, presents the winning trophy to the Mosses. “This is our first Breeders’ Cup win, and she’ll be our first champion,” Moss says. “It’s pretty amazing, pretty fantastic.” Moss is fighting off tears. “I can’t help it. Applause makes me pretty emotional, somehow. I’m sorry.”
A good way to end a very fine day of racing. It was mostly formful, accident free, and definitive in all of the applicable Eclipse Award divisions: Ventura in the filly and mare sprint division; Stardom Bound, 2-year-old fillies; Forever Together, filly and mare turf; and Zenyatta, older filly and mare and possibly, just possibly, Horse of the Year.
We’ll be back for more tomorrow. I hope my selections for Saturday are better than today’s 1-for-6.
Copyright © 2008, The Paulick Report
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