Week in Review

Under Glare of Probing Questions, Curious Answers in Kentucky

The Week in Review by T.D. Thornton In theory, state racing commissions are supposed to provide a layer of checks and balances by making both racetrack operators and horsemen accountable for their actions. In practice though, that often doesn't happen because regulators in many jurisdictions fail to ask probing questions of licensees during open, public meetings. In Kentucky, for example, if you want the most concise on-the-record snapshot of what's going on with the circuit, the best source generally isn't a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) meeting. Instead, the proceedings...

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Week in Review: Out of Nowhere, Rock Your World Emerges as Serious Derby Threat

When Rock Your World (Candy Ride {Arg}) won the Pasadena S. at Santa Anita Mar. 6, it appeared that he could develop into a quality turf horse, who, like many horses trained by John Sadler, would take a while to fully develop. But Sadler had other ideas. This was going to be his GI Kentucky Derby horse. "He had always trained well on the dirt," Sadler said. "Sometimes you run on turf when you don't think they are training well on dirt. He was training well on dirt, but we...

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Week in Review: Off-Lasix 3YOs Have Now Won 25% of This Year's Derby Preps

Besides solidifying his status as a top-tier Triple Crown threat, Saturday's win by Known Agenda (Curlin) in the GI Curlin Florida Derby bolstered the overall case that the phase-out of Lasix in this year's series of GI Kentucky Derby preps seems to be having no adverse effect on performance. Through 20 races in North America since Jan. 1 that have awarded Derby qualifying points, horses giving up Lasix after receiving it in their prior start have won five of those races. Seven others have finished second, an impressive strike rate...

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Here We Go Again: Can Anyone Beat Baffert in the Derby?

The Week in Review, by Bill Finley The year changes and so do the names of the horses. But the story remains the same. It's no longer about beating a particular horse in the GI Kentucky Derby, it's about trying to beat the stable that has an unprecedented hammerlock on the race. Can anyone beat Bob Baffert? After this weekend's results, it's looking more and more like that is going to be hard to do. Baffert already had the early favorite for the Derby in the ultra-talented Life Is Good...

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Whether Riding in The Big 'Cap or the Nightcap, Rosario Is a Master of Timing

The Week in Review, by T.D. Thornton Generally speaking, when your horse is parked near last for most of the trip, fanned six wide on the far turn, fifth with a furlong to go, and still third 100 yards from the wire, your chances of winning are slim. Unless Joel Rosario is riding, of course. That was the exact scenario facing Idol (Curlin) in deep stretch of Saturday's GI Santa Anita H. at Santa Anita Park. Yet "Judicious Joel," who at age 36 is without fanfare blossoming into the absolute...

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Week in Review: More Clairiere vs. Travel Column Rivalries, Please

Turn the clock back a dozen years and recall when a fledgling filly parlayed a November win in the GII Golden Rod S. into a torrid nine-stakes win streak that culminated in Horse of the Year honors. That filly, of course, was Rachel Alexandra. Now it's 2021, and the Fair Grounds annually honors Rachel Alexandra's brief (one win, one second) tenure in New Orleans with a Grade II stakes race in mid-February. Saturday's edition just so happened to feature the one-two fillies from the Nov. 28 Golden Rod S. at...

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NYRA Looks Out for Its Customer; Good for Them

The Week in Review by Bill Finley It's not often in this sport that John Q. Horseplayer gets a break, but that's exactly what happened last week when it was revealed that NYRA was no longer accepting bets from the so-called computer-assisted wagering (CAW) players on its Empire Six wager. The Empire Six wager joined the Cross Country Pick 5 and the late Pick 5 as NYRA wagers that are no longer available to the CAW players. The computer players use algorithms that predict the probability of a particular outcome....

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To Decide 2020's Winningest Horse, Let's Strike a Three-Way Match

The Week in Review, by T.D. Thornton Saturday's Claiming Crown races produced a three-way tie atop the North American leaderboard for winningest horse in terms of victories in 2020. Galerio (Jump Start), Frost Or Frippery (Lewis Michael) and Combination (Alternation) all enter the final three weeks of the year tied with eight wins apiece. How about scheduling a three-way invitational among these relatively matched geldings to settle the score prior to Dec. 31? The category of most victories in a season is annually overshadowed by the purse-earnings rankings, which are...

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The Week in Review: Before Feasting Upon Thanksgiving Fare, Chew On This

Last week's headlines had little to do with on-track action. This coming week though, we awaken from the sport's annual post-Breeders' Cup snooze with an eye toward decent Thanksgiving weekend racing and on-the-horizon stakes that could add a touch of intrigue to the tail end of the 2020 season. But before you feast upon the holiday fare, chew on these side dishes that anchored the last seven days of the news cycle (plus a few other tidbits that didn't land on the front pages): Last Tuesday we learned via federal...

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The Week in Review: Quintessential 'American Way' on Display at Breeders' Cup

Nearly two decades apart, we've witnessed a Breeders' Cup in the aftermath of a devastating terrorism attack, which led to armed marksmen defending the rooftop of the host track, and now during a global pandemic, which necessitated the barring of the general public from the two-day event and kept the relatively few essential attendees masked and socially distanced from one another. Unlike 2001, this year's championships produced no singular "Tiznow wins it for America!" moment to buoy the spirit of a nation in crisis. But the crescendo of Authentic (Into...

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The Week in Review: After Guilty Pleas, Will More Trainers Be Charged?

The next chapter in the scandal that has rocked Thoroughbred racing played out last week when Scott Robinson and Sarah Izhaki both pled guilty to charges relating to the sale and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs used to dope race horses. It was an important development, but the bigger story is this: will it lead to a new and extensive list of indictments against trainers and others who so far have not been charged? That possibility certainly exists. For now, everything is speculation and the Department of Justice has not said...

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The Week in Review: Authentic Represents Baffert's Finest Work

The Authentic (Into Mischief) who won the GI Haskell S. at Monmouth by a nose didn't look like a horse that could win the GI Kentucky Derby. Against a field decidedly weaker than what he would face seven weeks later at Churchill Downs, he nearly squandered a 2 1/2-length lead in the stretch and seemed to be running on fumes in the last few yards of the mile-and-an-eighth race. The mile-and-a-quarter loomed as a major obstacle. Even trainer Bob Baffert acknowledged that Authentic needed to take things to another level....

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