# Thursday, November 7, 2013

Some things we'll just never know. Was there anyone at all behind the grassy knoll? Did Area 51 have the body of E.T. on ice? Was Pluto a planet? Yes, or no?

And what about Orb? If you scroll down just a little bit you will see my last notation to this blog. I wondered if his return to the races at Saratoga was the start of a second coming, so to speak.

I had it wrong. It wasn't Orb being raised from the ashes, it was Gary Stevens. Who could have known?

So yesterday, the headline that read "Kentucky Derby Winner Orb Retired" was not a shock, but a surprise. And while we write about how 'all too often' 3 year old horses, especially ones that are successful in the triple crown, are retired too early, it makes good business sense. It isn't good for the game, but then the money isn't in the game.

It is in the breeding shed. Which is where you will find the Kentucky Derby winner come next breeding season. Then, in a few years, we'll have little Orb's running around.

What we will never know is if there were physical reasons why the horse was laid up in an equine version of a spa reserved for the rich and famous, run twice, then retired. With the breeding shed being such a lucrative place, that sort of personal health information is kept close to the vest. But it serves as a reminder that the triple crown is a difficult road to hoe for a young equine athlete, and isn't without it's price.

Paid by both the athlete, and the sport.


It isn't often we are witness to a real live extinction. But that is what will happen at the end of this year when Hollywood Park closes it's doors for the final time in forever. The history of this place is as unique as the ghosts that roam the grounds in the quiet hours.

Opened June 10, 1938, this amazing race place witnessed ownership with names like Jack L. Warner, Al Jolson, Joan Blondell, Walt Disney, Sam Goldwyn, Darryl Zanuck...just to name a very few. But the real stars were named Seabiscuit, Citation and Affirmed. And John Henry became the first 4 million dollar winner when he took the Hollywood Turf Cup in 1983. And back then, 4 mil was worth 4 mil., and the pennies still had copper in them. And speaking of cups, the Hollywood Gold Cup would be won 11 times by horses who would distinguish themselves as Horse of the Year. Names like Seabiscuit, Citation, Swaps, Round Table, Affirmed Ferdinand and Cigar grace that amazing list.

The park was witness to the first shipper transported by air travel to compete in a specific race. Historian was shipped from Chicago to start in the 1946 Gold Cup. In 1957, fans witnessed a triple dead heat for win, and then again in 1997 a triple dead heat took place 3 races after Sharp Cat participated in a walkover in the Bayakoa Stakes.

The first film patrol for recording races to be reviewed by stewards, the Pick Six, the first million dollar race for 2 year olds, Friday night racing and the revolutionary Amtote's AM 300 wagering system all born on the left coast, and all have left their mark.

Shoemaker, Pincay, McCarron. Whittingham & Frankel.

Were this an archeological dig, it would be touted as the find of a lifetime. A virtual historical record of some of the greatest moments, names and events representing an entire age in the historical record of the sport of kings.

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

I wonder if Joni Mitchell ever played there?


As my wife said after the Macho Man crossed the finish line with Lazarus on his back:

"Another racing season comes to an end."

Pithy, I know. Of course, the other side of that coin is that a new one is about to begin. That's the good news. The bad news is that they go so quickly, the next one is here before you know it. I mean, I said I was going to find a new group of key horses just a few months ago, for the fall. I just checked my calendar, and it says November.

I'm already thinking Gulfstream Park, the Florida Derby, and...well, you know.

This is the third breeders cup I have missed in a row. Last year, I was hauling water from the lake and using it to make a little steam (and flush the toilets). You would be surprised how warm 50 degrees feels in a small room when the rest of the house is 45. And how heavy water is!

This year my schedule played the cruel trick of keeping me from...well...losing my shirt. Along about Wednesday, after I had thoroughly reviewed Friday's card, I made two notes to self: Euros on the grass, and Stevens on everything else. Too bad I ignored them both!

My heart was with Big Blue Kitten even though my PP's clearly show that I circled the two Euros that made up the exacta and even commented on The Fugue in posts the day before it all began to unfiold. I mean, c'mon. Those guys didn't come over here because they have nothing else to do! And come to think of it, those animals must have thought they had gone to turf heaven with the surface something other than a Euro-bog. You can actually run on this stuff. And oh yes, as I look at my marks on the form, what has the biggest circle?

Magician's first time lasix of course.

Handicapping 101, don't you know. It was the second time for The Fugue. The first time, she most likely takes the money if she doesn't get mugged. Twice!

But all's well that ends with a race that plays out just as you see it, and for me, that was the BC Mile. Za Approval is a Key Horse for me and being run down by the reigning horse of the year Wise Dan is nothing to be ashamed of. Especially when the exacta pays a generous $33 and the trifecta pays $210 for a buck. After that, I didn't care if Rudolph won the Classic. Heck, he could have been named reindeer of the year! I mean, we know he can get the distance.

Finally, congratulations to Mucho Macho Man, Gary Stevens, and the miracle that is Katherine Ritvo.

And just like his trainer, Mucho Macho Man was...all heart!

- Slew

posted on Thursday, November 7, 2013 12:51:18 AM UTC  #